Tales from the Gypsy Trail...2011

Hello from Paris
by Cam Neufeld on Sunday, 1 May 2011 at 16:19 ·

Paris- you have charmed me with your elegance, seduced me with your beauty and wowed me with your extravagance....
So the question is , how many art galleries/museums is it possible to visit in 2 days? In theory , ( the difference between theory and practice is that in theory, they are the same :) a two day Paris museum pass gives you access to 60 places of interest...for us the number was 6 , an amazing blitz of one of the greatest repositories of art in the world! Musèe National De L'Orangerie, Musèe D'orsay, Musèe Rodan, Musèe Du Louvre (twice) Musèe National De'art Moderne ( Centre Pompidou) and Musèe De La Musique as well the Arc of Triumph, the tomb of Napoleon, and the Notre Dame cathedral. With Marianne as my visual guide ,I was able to see these paintings through the eyes of one who has studied them in depth, to look at texture, composition, the use of space, light, color,and perspective; all qualities I attempt to apply to music; to paraphrase "a painting is frozen music"
Paris proved itself to be a city of remarkable charm; to arrive in 23 degree sunshine after a long and somewhat bleak winter was a truly welcome treat; to wander through the beautiful streets with a visual feast at every turn ; to feel the majesty and power that had to exist to create architecture of this scale; to stroll Champs-Elysèes avenue and imagine Proust on his walks; to make a pilgrimage to the grave of Stephane Grappelli in the hopes of channeling a bit of his grace and elegance , and to stumble upon a concert of the Bereli Lagrene quartet together with Didier Lockwood and the jazz angels, two living legends, made Paris truly an inspiration and a source of revitalization ! Contrary to previous experience and popular opinion , Paris was friendly and we met so many helpful people it was almost shocking...always nice to revise preconceptions ....
Next stop Madrid
Love to all
Hello from Istanbul

Hello from Istanbul
by Cam Neufeld on Thursday, 2 June 2011 at 08:41 ·

Istanbul Nights
It's 4:30 am and I'm walking down Istiklal , main st in Beyoğlu , the throngs of people are gone but there is still life in this street...a young gypsy clarinet player calls me over and together with a darbuka we play a couple of Turkish songs... suddenly the street in front of us is filled with dancers, singing along with us, disappearing just as quickly....a little farther down the street I sit with my favorite bağlama player as I do every night.. we exchange the few words I know and I listen to the sad Anatolian songs, he comments about the antics of the late night crazies, a Kurdish street singer comes by and complains how little money she made this night, in spite of the huge number of football celebrants ( apparently the right right team won)...the walk home is beautiful, the view of the golden horn with the Suleymaniye Mosque in the background never fail to impress...arriving at our apartment just as the morning call to prayer starts... at this moment I know that this city has embedded itself in my being in some sort of permanent way...is it comradery of the street musicians, the history seeping through every street, the unique character of the people, the incredible musicians everywhere one turns , the incomparable street life ....in any case I know I will return.
Best wishes and love to all
Hello from Skopje

Hello from Skopje
by Cam Neufeld on Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 05:00 ·

Skopje morning
I awake with the sun pouring in full force through the sliding doors leading to balcony, there are no curtains , a pigeon has flown in through the open door and is sitting on the end of the bed but flies up to the rafters when I raise my head . The room is on the top floor of the hotel ,large with 15 or 20 beds and unfinished in classic Balkan style. I look around and like usual there are a few new faces, street performers, lost travelers , homeless gypsy girls, and professional poker player...it's been a few short hours since I watched the sun rise , painting the Macedonian flag in the sky the misty dawn softening the socialist architecture, from here on Vodna mountain the view is spectacular but it's time for coffee so I walk down the hill to the Albanian coffee shop where 2 large machiado's clear my head and I savor the memory of our last nights performance; the Skopje collective of John, Emily, Jamie,Jez Zoe and myself joined by the gypsy horn section of Ali and Hsuan from the Chercezi orkestar providing a pulsing oriental background and sending searing solos into the warm Macedonian night. Later the full Orkestar is in full swing and enticed by beautiful women I join the circle dance and inept a dancer that I am somehow manage the steps of a 7/8 tune, the effort has drenched me , now listen to the ancient melodies , the deep musicality shining through , beautiful chaos and dissonance reminding me why I am here , in search of new inspiration , absorb the spirit of gypsy music by osmosis , even a little will suffice...buskerfest with its international crew of jugglers , tightrope walkers ,clowns, fire shows, acrobats and musicians lend an aura of surrealism to a somewhat volatile city, an election and the police killing of a young man giving rise to daily protests but I have grown to love this place , the old bazaar a refuge from the somewhat bleak architecture of the rest of the city, market bursting with fruit and vegetables , incredible hospitality from random meeting with a family on top of Vodna Mountain, there is much more to glean here in this gem of the Balkans but Montenegro awaits...
Love to all Cam