13.5.07

Kocani Orkestar


Kocani Orkestra
Originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Continuing the big band theme of the Brighton Festival, last night I saw Macedonian wedding band King Naat Veliov and the Original Kocani Orkestar - their only UK gig - courtesy again of BBC Southern Counties radio. Led by composer and trumpeter 'King' Naat himself, this seven-piece brass band made their name on the soundtrack of Borat and Emir Kusturica's film Time of the Gypsies. They also made life hard for the security staff at the Dome, who'd been instructed, I presume, to escort anyone daring to dance in the aisles out of sight to the rear of the venue! They soon gave up this unpopular policy and everyone was on their feet by the encores. There were a few Macedonian flags around, a cross between a red union jack and a sunburst, and King Naat's Balkan beats certainly brightened up a chilly evening in Brighton, despite the Dome killjoys. But why do I always associate 'macedonian' with those tins of tasteless diced carrots and peas of my youth?

The evening started well with the American duo A Hawk and a Hacksaw, augmented by Budapest quartet The Hun Hangar Ensemble. The set opened with violinist Heather Trost and Balazs Unger on cymbalom (a cross between a dulcimer and xylophone) alone on stage, with Jeremy Barnes on accordian parading through the audience (and briefly pinching my pint) followed by the rest of the Hungarians, on drums, sax and trumpet. On stage, the sax player and trumpeter doubled up on violin, and we were even treated to the Balkan bagpipes! The drummer switched to three-string bass and Barnes played drum and cymbal with his feet. Probably the more interesting of the two bands - hear them on MySpace - their name apparently comes from Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote - someone who has gone mad can't tell the difference between a hawk and a hacksaw! Ten out of ten to the Dome for serving Dark Star 'Festival' ale straight from the barrel.

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