Greece and WOMEX. What a combo. Warm weather, amazing music, inspiring colleagues. Not enough sleep, but hey - that's what Greek coffee is for.
And how is Greece doing, you may wonder? 25% unemployment. Empty storefronts on every block. Graffiti lambasting Europe for its cruelty.
And yet...Thessaloniki was anything but a ghost town. The cafes were full full full - people sipping coffee frappes until nightfall, drinking raki and beer until dawn. One person observed that when you're unemployed, you can sit in a cafe all day for 2 euros. True. My cab driver to the airport told me that, on average, he nets 10 euros a day, take home. 10 euros a day. 14 dollars. On a great day, 30 euros. Needless to say, I gave him a good tip.
And how was WOMEX? Cool as ever. My favorites?
Idan Raichel and Vieux Farka Toure, jamming away. Magic. More here. http://www.toureraichel.com/
Idan has agreed to be part of the UN Women theme song. Yay!
DakhaBrakha. "Ethno chaos folk music" from the Ukraine. Three chicks in four-foot-high fur hats, white peasant dresses and harnesses of beads, banging on drums, accordion, cello, singing, birdcalling - you name it. Read more and watch a video here. http://tiny.cc/h0li6 (there was a guy, too - but I only had eyes for the outrageous women).
Felix Lajko. Genius violin/zither player. Hungarian raised in Serbia. Nickel Creek came to mind (who I loooove). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAeYt-swWG0&feature=related
Makoomba. Rock band from Zimbabwe. Pan-african styles and Tonga rhythms, with some S. African township guitar thrown in for good measure. Man, that lead singer has heart. No idea what he was singing, but he was singing it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivakk2MPw0U
And at the closing ceremony, an award to the man who mobilized music stars around the world to support the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot - Alexander Chepanukhin. Timely and moving.