SLOVENIAN FIDDLE GANG
Whenever I visit a new country I always like to try and get a feel for the local music so when I arrived in Ljubljana and checked out the listings to see what concerts were on that night in the city, the name 'Slovenian Fiddle Gang' stood out as an act that might be worth seeing.
They were playing at a venue on the other side of town so, in the shadow of the formidable Ljubljana Castle, I wandered through the streets until I reached the outskirts of the city centre. Walking down a dark road past residential apartments and tower blocks, I initially thought I'd taken a wrong turn but as I continued around the corner I found Prulček, a tiny music bar, nestled in amongst the surrounding buildings. The place was packed when I arrived so, after squeezing my way through the crowd, I got a drink and stood at the bar just as the act on stage finished the last note of their last tune. With the break in between sets sending people to the bar to replenish their drinks, the floor opened up and I found a small spot near the front to wait for the Slovenian Fiddle Gang to appear. Since I only had the name of the act to go on, I had no real idea of what to expect for the performance. To be honest, I had in my head that it would be a group of older men playing traditional Slovene fiddle tunes, but it was actually a group of young teenagers who appeared and stepped onto the stage joined by an energetic guy who seemed to be the 'leader' of the group
Picking up their instruments which - as well as the fiddles - included mandolin, ukulele and double bass, the band went on to perform a variety of tunes each differing in styles and tempo from lively foot-tappers to slow emotional numbers. As well as Balkan-type tunes, I could pick out Irish and maybe even Scottish influences in the music- how ironic. The wonderful tune 'Epic Reel' by Keith Murphy was my favourite performance of the evening, along with a superb rendition of Another One Bites the Dust.
Throughout the evening I clapped, cheered and hollered along with the rest of the audience right until the last song where the band upped the energy of their performance and a couple of band members even did a bit of head-banging as they played. All of the young musicians were extremely talented and professional performers, and a special mention must go to the small boy playing the double bass who handled the instrument perfectly, despite it being almost twice his size. Wandering back through the streets in the darkness I couldn't help congratulating myself for picking this random show at a random venue in a completely unfamiliar place, and finding what was probably the best gig in the city that night.
As i found out afterwards, The Slovenian Fiddle Gang is part of a music education program called Godalkanje, run by respected Slovenian musician Bojan Cvetrežnik (The fun/energetic guy on stage). In addition to being a member of the group Terrafolk and the founder of Symbolic Orchestra, Bojan has worked as a violinist-soloist in Cirque du Soleil and a principal viola player in the Slovenian National Opera Orchestra.
Find more info on Godalkanje here.