Monday, February 01, 2016

back in G(h)ent

I was over in Gent (the city in Belgium where I lived in the mid-90s) the other weekend. My musical brother Sven has been going through some difficult times, so I headed over to see how he was doing. The first night there we ended up at a jam party at Scottish Dave's, a double bass player who was part of a recent musical project of Sven's. This involved me on saz, Dave on bass, Sven and another guitarist, some percussion, singing and young hang player called Pieter (his C# tuning rather limited things, but here's a nice chunk of the proceedings I recorded at my Zoom H2):

As the local council's busking policy has just been re-liberalised, Sven was considering getting onto a positive flow again by going out busking every day (he's well known in the city, and once he gets out on the streets, things start happening for him). He was talking about learning a new song every day and asked me for suggestions. "Here Comes The Sun" came to mind, and he soon had a nice version of that together to take to the people.

There was a bit of inconsequential spaced out saz/guitar jamming in his attic room, but mostly just talking at great length and wandering the city. The day after he was learning "Here Comes The Sun", we got a bright sunny day (after three grey drizzly ones), so we walked up to the marshy Bourgouyen nature reserve, and I saw my first red squirrel since (I think) the late 70s — nice. We also ran into his friend Abdul Kader, and dropped in on our mutual pal Mickey to drink coffee and watch some cycle racing (a national obsession) — both of them played a little bit on the Ail Fionn Chouchenanna sessions which I recorded with Inge and Sven back in 2000 [there are no photos of Mickey's involvement, but Abdul Kader is pictured upper-right with Sven]:


There was also an evening cooking in the downstairs kitchen listening to, of all things, the new ELO album ("Jeff Lynne's ELO" — he plays all the instruments), which was strangely comforting. Likewise, some of Roy Orbison's A Night In Black and White tribute concert.

Also, while out and about, we ran into Sven's old percussion teacher drinking tea in a Moroccan cafe (a Tunisian who urged me to check out Samir Loussif) and local legend/poet Coenraad De Waele, cheerfully drunk outside the Trefpunt in Bij Sint-Jacobs, talking enthusiastically with us about the art of The Beatles and Dylan.


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