Mixing Culture in Concord

I intended to write a separate blog post for each of the performances at the Concord Multicultural Festival. Unfortunately, I just ran out of time with a wedding to photograph in Vermont tomorrow and another event to photograph on Monday (the Breathe NH golf tournament). Hopefully, everyone won’t mind if this post covers all the other performances of the day.

You can see all of my photos from the 9th Annual Concord Multicultural Festival here.

What I really enjoy about the Multicultural Festival is watching all the people with various cultural heritages mixing together so easily and with friendliness. It would be nice if we could extend this feeling of togetherness to more people more of the time. Events like this certainly help.

Thank you to Jessica Fogg of JFogg Social Inspirations for providing the information about the performers (which I reworded a little bit, but not a whole lot). Jessica puts together the Concord Multicultural Festival as well as Midsummer Night Merriment in Concord (view some photos in my blog posts here and here,

The Drunken Landladies play a variety of traditional Celtic music. No, there are no drunken landladies in the group (although there is one woman). The group consists of Jeff Fetter on fiddle, Barbara Heggie on flute and whistle, and Brian Kugel on guitar. On one of their songs, they were joined by Ankara Rose who performed a traditional Celtic dance.

After the Celtic music, we switched to Hindi and Nepali music. Three girls wearing brightly-colored traditional dresses  danced in a style common in their home country of Bhutan. They dedicated their first dance to Shree Krishna Shrestha who recently passed away. The song is from his new Nepali movie.

The entertainment continued with more dancing. This time, taking us back western Europe with Ankara Rose and Celtic Fusion Belly Dancing. Her unique style combines elements of Irish Step, Scottish Highland, Middle Eastern Belly Dance, and Mediterranean Dance styles. She teaches classes in southern New Hampshire and, since 2005, travels across North America to perform professionally. She loves to share her passion of world dance and tradition.

The musical tour took us next to drumming, dancing, and singing traditions of Western Africa and Cuba with the Timbre Drum Ensemble co-directed by Grace and Lindsey Schust. Grace and Lindsey teach drumming at the Concord Community Music School and Timbre Drum Studio. Joining them on stage were their students and percussionist Emilie Meadows.

We stayed in the West African drumming and singing tradition with New Hampshire-based group Landaya, who have been playing together for 12 years. The group’s founder, Dave Kobrenski, spent over two years in West Africa and met Sayon Camara while in Guinea. At age seven, Sayon got his first djembe drum for his father. He practiced for thirty years before moving to the capital city to study under the great djembe player Fomoudou Kanate. Sayon now lives in Vermont with his wife and plays with Landaya.

Their performance became even more fun when the Bhutanese and Nepali watchers got up and started dancing.

From West Africa, we head next to Nepal to hear the Lok Dohori. Lok Dohori is a cultural song from the mid-western part of Nepal. Typically, it is sung as something of a “debate,” or back and forth song, between men and women singers. The lyrics often share a love story and depict the lifestyle, history, and culture of Nepal. They determine the winner of the debate by whomever uses the most creative and expressive words. Years ago, men used to try to impress women with the song in hopes of enticing them into marrying them.

Almost a week later and this song is still stuck in my head. It’s quite a catchy tune.

Leaving Nepal, our musical tour takes us back to Europe and the German band Alte Kameraden (Old Comrades). The band consists of Al Brogdan on tuba, Donna Maria Regis on accordion, and Doug Rickard on guitar and vocals. They played traditional German music you hear in biergartens (beer gardens) and Oktoberfest. While in the Army, I was stationed for five years in Germany. These songs certainly brought back memories and, although my German is a bit rusty, I could understand most of what they were singing in German.

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