Saturday, July 11, 2009

Poland -- Silesia Folk and Country Festival under way

Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I got in to Ustron, in the way south of Poland, last night, driving from Oswiecim (Auschwitz) of all places....and into the Silesia Folk and Country Festival. It still gives me a thrill? chill? quick hit of the odd? when I hear a Czech band (in this case "Drops" this afternoon), in the market square of a Polish village (Ustron is a spa town at the foot of the Beskidy Mountains near the Czech border) singing "All Across America." Aside from the great banjo player Tony Trischka, who plays with Druha Trava tonight, I'm probably the only American here.

Drops. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

This is called an International Folk and Country Festival -- last night highlighted singer-songwriters: a group called Czerwony Tulipan (Red Tulip), the Warsaw-based singer Tomek Szwed, whom I have heard at other festivals and also interviewed a couple of years ago, and an English troubador called Pete Morton, who "sang out" with an energetic set that I have to admit was a little too spiritually uplifting for my taste! A bit hit with the crowd, though, even though he sang in English.

Tomasz Szwed. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

This afternoon, I was interviewed by Polish TV-Silesia for the feature they are doing on the Festival for the evening news tonight -- will post the link when it is up online!

Last night's concert was free, as was the afternoon performance today on the market square. Tonight's costs 10 zloty, I think -- about $3. It will be a mix of acoustic and more rocky stuff, with DT and the Slovak band Peter and the Rowers, one of the top European country acts.

I MUST photograph the food stalls -- last night I kept eating little pieces of local smoked goat cheese, grilled til almost melting and served with jam. Yum. Most of what else is on offer is what I have come to recognize as festival fare -- grilled sausages and chops, and other meats of various varieties. Oh yes, and beer. And honey vodka...

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