Friday, 30 April 2010
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
I love a good movie with a top musical moment: Free Bird in Elizabethtown, complete with its burning prop induced sprinkler downpour, would be a favourite example. Of course, a generation of kids are now being raised on Disney's take on the song and dance that is the high school experience. Naturally the premium peddler of fairytales presents an alternate reality where unrehearsed performances reach stunningly choreographed crescendos. In the real world that just doesn't happen.
This morning I was in a local high school to take part in a rehearsal for an end of term variety performance. I'm teaching one student how to play Soba za tugu by Toše Proeski on the keyboard. At his request I'm accompanying him on guitar. Another student is singing, although by the end of the morning at least three other vocalists had had a go singing the song. While the performance was by no means a disaster it was a million miles from Disney slickness. That said so were most of the the turns, which included a Balkan-accented rendition of Britney Spears' breakthrough hit...Baby One More Time. However everyone seemed genuinely happy with not just their own artistic achievements but with everyone else's too. I'll take that over a fake fairytale finale any day.
Thursday, 22 April 2010
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
We had a timely reminder of the complexities of revisiting history the other night. A friend was recounting a version of the events surrounding Srebrenica in 1995 that she had heard from someone, who heard heard it from someone who had said they were there. The story was very different from the one widely reported, the story the has Karadzic currently on trial in the Hague.
It'd be too easy to say they were obviously misinformed. So much depends on perspective. I grew up being taught history from an English (or British, if you prefer) perspective; the things that are invariably told as triumphs are also someone else's tragedies. History is so often left in the hands of the victorious. The official version that is. But if the vanquished live to tell the tale they will tell it and the two will not agree.
Is true objectivity obtainable? Somehow I doubt it. Should we seek it? Probably. I know I should type an emphatic yes but permit me my pragmatism. Those who do not want to believe will never buy a version of history they don't agree with, however high the court that decreed it. The 'probably' recognises that some will find closure in the establishing of facts. My question is whether, so long after the fact, any ruling will be enough to heal the hurt and hatred. Are such changes of heart a usual result of judicial decision making?
The future lies not in attributing blame but in enabling reconciliation. The person who discovers the perfect prescription for that can take out the patent on world peace.
Saturday, 10 April 2010
'Is this the set list?' I put down the cable I was coiling and glanced up at the table where the bar owner was pointing. I nodded. 'And you wrote all the songs?' I replied that, yes, apart for the obvious inclusion of some U2 and Lenny Kravitz, I'd written all the rest. (Truth be told, I co-wrote three of the track with musician-friends from previous bands, but I felt this was unnecessary detail at the time!) 'Good. Very good band.' My denim and leather clad critic pointed to the first track and then somewhere towards the bottom of the set list. “These song are the best. Very good.”
We not the only band to receive such praise. “U2. Very good. Not heavy metal but very good band.” Iron Maiden are his favourite. U2 and Dire Straits make up his list of good non-heavy-metal bands. Then came the comparison. I've always had mixed feelings when people start down the 'that song sounds like...' route. As a song writer you know what's in your record collection and where your inspiration comes from. No one wants to be accused of being a sound-a-like to some band you don't listen to or, worse still, have never heard of!
“A little bit Green Day, a little Offspring with a little bit Oasis” That's a rock-lover's assessment of Gilgal. Officially punk rock with a dash of Brit Pop. It could be worse! After a good gig, which while not being a perfect performance showed we're getting better with plenty more to come, I was happy to take that. (Insert your own Take That related joke here!)
Thursday, 8 April 2010
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
We were driving off to a rehearsal late this morning. (First Gilgal gig of 2010 happens Thursday night!) At one end of Mostar's Bulevar our progress was hindered by a guy trying to pull off a reversing-off-the-pavement-into-traffic manoeuvre. His move was a little ill-timed but we stopped anyway. The car coming the other way sort-of did too, but not completely. It kept trying to squeeze through the ever-decreasing gap between the opposite curb and the rear light cluster of an Opel Zafira.
Having nudged himself suitability back into the face of the oncoming traffic the driver of the blue Opel turned his face towards us, pulling a blame-it-on-the-other-guy face, with accompanying shrug and hand gesture. I turned to Rowan: “I know that person, aren't they an actor?” She thought for a moment before nailing it in one. Alex Baldwin. Put politely, the real Alex Baldwin carries more weight but the likeness was uncanny. For this we forgive the driver his impatient exit from his pavement parking space.
However, Bosnia and Herzegovina can boast a real, bonafide celebrity sighting, even if we can't. Yesterday Brangelina (that's Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to the celebrity averse) lent their weight – although not in the Alex Baldwin sense – to the plight of Bosnia's many refugees. Thousands are still displaced fifteen years after armed conflict ended in the country. Jolie has been an ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 2001. As volunteers with an organisation that has been personally involved in the lives of displaced people since the mid-nineties we only too aware of how important it is that these people are not forgotten.
Defining 'not forgotten' would be a long and complicated post. Perhaps one day I'll offer my opinion on it but for now let's just hope this flying visit plays its part in building a better future for the disadvantaged in Bosnia and Herzegovina.