Intimately Ephemeral. A Look at a good first edition of the folk festival

According to the dictionary

Ephemeral : \i-ˈfem-rəl\ Lasting for a markedly brief time

It’s a beautiful name for a lovely series of shows that happened so fast, so under the radar that we barely noticed.

This one lasted 2 weeks but I’m not sure how to go about it. I made it to 2 out of 5 nights and I did enjoy it all, but there was some mixed feelings. The festival managed to bring together experimental and progressive folk musicians from China, France and the US amongst others for some interesting nights. There was also some stiff competition every night with great shows all around Beijing which has been a trend as of late.


Night 2 had some interesting names on the bill: Stranded Horse, Li Daiguo, Eyal Maoz and Gangzi.
Gangzi is a regular at jianghu and I was looking forward to checking out the other names that I never saw before and the scheduled 7:30 start made it a perfect fit for a combination with the AIS/Spardac/Nucleus/Wu show at 2 Kolegas later.. in theory! Gangzi ended up starting at 9:30 pm throwing a curveball into our plans. He played his usual set of grassland folk that seemed a bit less inspired than usual but good nevertheless. Eyal Maoz was up next. One man and his guitar, reminiscent of Xiao He, in more ways than one. Think about donkeys….
We didn’t last long after that and left hurriedly for 2 Kolegas a bit disgusted at the fact that we spent 130 RMB to basically watch Gangzi. Moral of the story: Never plan your life around starting time of shows in Beijing.

Night 4 had some really cool names lined up: Wu Fei, Matthieu Ha, Wu Na and L’Ocelle Mare.
Surprisingly enough, even though it was on a friday, the show started early!!! I missed L’ocelle Mare which was not a bad thing according to those who heard them. Wu Na delighted the crowd with an intimate guzheng performance that I wish i could enjoy. As Ruby mentioned, I’m still coming to terms with that instrument and understanding its nuances. Wu Fei was up next for a masterful beautiful impressive display of her awesome skills. ( how is that for a long descriptive?) Her playing of the guzheng is the one i measure everyone else against and i find most of them lacking…. if you haven’t had a chance to catch her, you better try. it’s pure joy and delight!

The surprise of the night came from Matthieu Ha whom I had heard a lot about and was looking forward to. One man and his accordion, using a few pedal effects. I would describe him as Mesmerizing… His lyrics were a bit odd with a lot of numeric elements, including a song that just consisted of counting from 1 to 200+. odd, beautiful, quirky and quite impressive. Another one i look forward to.

Overall, I enjoyed the festival and hope for a second edition.
- The intimate nature of the performances i caught was fantastic and the audience extremely well behaved.
- There was quite a bit of grumbling about the ticket prices with a lot of folks reluctant to shell out RMB130 for unproven commodities… However, judging by the substantial attendance, I’d say there was more than enough people willing to pay that price.
- Night 4 at Penghao was musically great but there were too many tickets sold in my opinion. A lot of people ended up standing behind the bleachers making it hard to see/hear the performance.
- I wish I were able to go to the final night at Yugong Yishan but I couldn’t pass up on catching Black Cat Bone’s return performance.
- While there were cooperative jam sessions during the other nights, I would have loved to see one between the participants in night 4. Imagine what Matthiew Ha and Wu Fei would have been able to produce if given the opportunity to let loose?

Congrats to Johan and the organizing staff… Here’s hoping for a second edition with even more combinations/cooperations.

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