Thursday, July 23, 2015

Garezers-Palooza Music Festival

While there were many wonderful things about the Garezers 50 weekend, one stands out as a particular blessing and bonus, as it's not something that can be planned - outstanding weather. The entire weekend was sunny, dry, and not too hot. Like most summer camps, Garezers has little indoor space, and certainly none to accommodate enormous crowds, such as the over 1,500 people who had turned out for this celebration. As one of the organizing committee members honestly told me, "We had no Plan B" if it had rained, so we can all thank whichever Latvian goddess or god is responsible for weather, as they apparently realized how imperative good weather was for this momentous event!

On Saturday practically all events were held outdoors, where we all relished the sunshine. The morning official opening ceremony and subsequent panel discussion about Garerers' future took place a tad too early for some of us (and would have involved too much passive sitting for the kids!), and regrettably I did not make it to the Grasis Pavilion for that, as I was interested in the panel discussion. However, a very full day stood ahead of us - we were heading to the Atbalsis area for the first ever "Garezers-Palooza" music festival! While for many years Atbalsis was an independent entity, the fact that it recently became a part of Garezers was welcome news, and it was the perfect setting for this day-long event. In the spring volunteers had built a large addition to the main house's porch, and that served as the stage, while in the future the porch will be the perfect settings for parties and many outdoor meals.
Lini entertaining with their folk harmonies
Happily we arrived early enough to snag seats in the shade and enjoy the first performers, my good friends Lini, whom I know partially due to time spent at 3x3 camps in Garezers. They entertained with songs from their recordings, as well as new pieces. Lini was founded in 1994 in the Twin Cities, and has several recording to their name, but due to one member now residing in Latvia performs infrequently, so it was a rare treat to hear them. Their songs from a beautiful 1996 recording can be heard on YouTube. Two of my Lini favorites are Zviedzi zviedzi and Silta saule, karsta saule.

A couple of the other groups - Bob & the Latvians (founded in 1985, and very popular in the late 80s) and Frikadeļu zupa (founded in 1975, with performances and one record released in the late 70s) - had not performed in a very long time, thus it was also a fantastic treat to savor their music. Additional performers were the always popular Čikagas Piecīši and Adam Zahl, as well as the supremely entertaining rapper/hip-hop artist Delete who may have been performing his last show according to a rumor I heard. He was once part of the duo Latvian Syndicate, best known for their song "Riga-Detroita". Delete is a child of Garezers, and I particularly liked his artist bio in the printed program, where it stated that when in Garezers Delete likes to splash in the lake and visit Kantīne (the little store beloved by the camp kids for its candy and ice cream selection).
Frikadelu zupa
While adults listened to the music and chatted with one another, kids could keep themselves entertained in several large inflated "bounce houses," as well as a variety of games that had been set up on the lawn. Our appetites had also been considered in the planning, as a food stand was selling sausages and pulled pork sandwiches with sides and drinks. Many people came prepared for an all-day music festival - with their own seating, coolers full of drinks and snacks, hats, and sunscreen, and certainly a good percentage of us spent at least several hours in Atbalsis.

The atmosphere was relaxed and very social - it was wonderful to see a friend or acquaintance wherever one turned. I was able to catch up a bit with several friends I had not seen in a couple of years. At the same time, it was almost frustrating that the weekend was so short and the acquaintances so many, as there were many with whom I chatted for only a minute or two. Of course, as someone who tends a bit more towards introversion (while needing a decent amount of social interaction), I am also not the type of person who can just chit-chat all day long, and occasionally these short superficial conversations can be disappointing. Amusingly, I did have one exchange that afternoon in which an acquaintance and I seemingly read one another's minds: we saw one another, smiled, greeted one another while hugging, then - without launching into the typical "How are you?" exchange - almost simultaneously sighed, said "Yeah...", smiled again and then parted ways - having fully understood one another, while at the same time each having been glad to run into the other.

Having spent the better part of the day at Garezers-Palooza, and with both the kids and some of the adults having become restless and needing a bit of a break, we headed back to the house for some quiet time and dinner. The weekend's biggest event was taking place that evening, so the opportunity to recharge our batteries was appreciated.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love having visitors, so let me know you stopped by!