The opening act at the concert last night was a Swedish folk trio named Väsen. How Swedish musicians came to be playing at the Sebastopol Celtic Music Festival is kind of mysterious, but they were very entertaining, in their mild-mannered Nordic way. The three members play the guitar, the viola, and a native instrument called the nyckelharpa, which is a keyed fiddle. There was a kind of power in the combination that drove the music, mostly polska (a Swedish dance) but also a beautiful waltz one of the players wrote for a niece’s baptism.
It’s a good thing they were good, because by the time we got into the big tent, I was sort of defying anyone to entertain me. The show was supposed to start at 7:15 pm, but it was half an hour after that before any of the gates (or tent flaps, actually) opened. And naturally the people who paid the most got in first, so my friend and I were nearly the last ones to be allowed in.
That part was okay, because we always intended to sit at the back, but when someone in our line asked why we had been delayed and one of the volunteer ushers said it was because we were “general,” I felt sort of insulted. General, indeed!
The second act was a lively, animated ensemble from Quebec called La Volée d’Castors (translated as “a flock of beavers”). They featured many instruments, and a lot of percussion, including foot stomping. This was the only act we saw that included any vocals, and even though they sang only in French, we enjoyed it. In fact, we even sang along, although we had no idea what we were saying. This outfit was all over the stage and seemed to be having more fun than anyone else in the building.
The showcase act of the evening, an Irish acoustic group called Lúnasa, didn’t take the stage until 11:00 pm, after a twenty-minute intermission during which I was tempted to sneak off for home. I’m glad I stayed, though, because they were wonderful, and the flutist kept up a lively patter between numbers that was very engaging. He talked about his vacation on the Jersey shore, and about nearly being shot in Bloomingdale’s. Really, it was the most fun I had all evening, and it at last made up for the long wait in the dark before we could get inside.