Sunny Weekdays, Rainy Weekends
by Paul Miazga
Few living in Kyiv this summer would argue that over the last month the weekend weather has been atrocious and, conversely, the weekday weather amazing. It might almost make sense to switch the two around so that all the working stiffs in this city (that includes me) would at least have a chance at a nice weekend, to lie on the beach, get a suntan, enjoy a cold drink – the kinds of things summer weekends are meant for. Fat chance, but at least there are rays of hope.
Despite the weather, Oleg Skripka, easily Ukraine’s most celebrated musician and celebrity icon (if not including sports figures such as Andriy Shevchenko or the Klitschko brothers), hosted the fifth Krayina Mriy (Land of Dreams) folk music festival in Kyiv last weekend. It’s feel-good events like this that make one forget the rainy day blues. This year’s festival combined rather obscure musicians (at least unbeknownst to me) from across Ukraine and more well-known figures such as Algerian-born Frenchman Khaled and Red Cardell of Brittany (some would argue that’s not quite French). Together they made the three-day festival shine despite the rain, wind and cold temperatures. Skripka deserves much credit for not just hosting the festival but for putting together such a good show – and for free, I might add (thanks in large measure to festival sponsorship from the likes of Raiffeisen Bank Aval, Coca Cola and the French Cultural Centre).
Whatever the popularity of big name performers such as Elton John and George Michael (whose concert Monday night was that of a seasoned performer with a genuine love of playing before crowds large and small), folk music remains closest to Ukrainians’ hearts as does the idea of a relaxed, come-as-you-are type of atmosphere which the outdoor, decidedly ethnic festival helps promulgate. Skripka has done a tremendous amount in Ukraine to try to foster a sense of pride in Ukrainians in their language, culture and even ethnic traditions. Ukrainian vyshyvankas and syrokas (traditional ethnic tunics) and garlands of willow branches, flowers and other natural items provided quite a dose of ethnic flavor to the festival.
The festival’s opening night, which was held on the same night as the Ivana Kupala pagan rite in Pyrohovo – included the burning of a tall straw human-like figurine and a bonfire over which young lovers (decidedly ambitious ones, I might add) jumped to seal bonds of love, promises of marriage or just to have fun for fun’s sake. The festival provided a huge dose of fun on an otherwise grim weekend, weather-wise. So, hats off to Skripka. At least there’s one Ukrainian who’s working to change things for the better in this country. Can’t really say the same for many others in his position of influence.
As for the weather bit, this week will again be sunny and hot, the weekend miserably wet and cold.
While the National Opera and other state-run theaters and orchestras take a break for the summer, summer party music continues unabated. This weekend, on July 14, Kyiv will host a leg of the Global Gathering dj music concert series that will tour many other cities in Central and Eastern Europe. On tap will be headliners Sasha & Digweed, a host of other internationally known djs and even some local talents. The virtually all-day affair at the Chaika Airfield west of Kyiv begins at 2pm and runs until 8am. Tickets are Hr 100 each (general admission) or Hr 250 (VIP zone access). For more information on the festival in English, check out http://www.residentadvisor.net/event-detail.aspx?id=25509.
Hopefully the security and organization for this event will be better than that of the Brahma Open Air event two weeks ago. Disorganized, frustrating, lacking in common sense – I could go on, but why bother?
Anyway, Global Gathering should be a good time, so long as the weather holds out. Glastonbury, this is not.
“The ‘Krayina Mriy’ folk music festival turned five this year. The weather sucked, but the festival didn’t.” (www.wumag.kiev.ua)