The eighth edition of Balkan Trafik! is bound to be a festive occasion once more, with concerts, films, discussions and workshops relating to south-eastern Europe. This year the festival broadens its horizons to include for the first time groups from Ukraine and Poland and will also include special focuses on Roma culture and original Balkan jazz.
The festival headliners are Mahala Rai Banda, with special guest singer Jony Iliev, along with Turkish icon Selda Bağcan, the Macedonian gypsy queen Esma Redžepova, the Greek living legend George Dalaras and an original show entitled Femmes des Balkans. To make the Balkan experience complete, you can drop in at any hour of the day or night to the Rembetiko Kafé or the brand new Istanbul Meyhane, a traditional bar in authentic 1920s style.
Lovers of the Greek blues are in for a treat. The Balkan Trafik Festival will be opened by the Greek living legend George Dalaras. On Thursday 1 May 2014 the Rembetiko Show 2014 comes to the Centre for Fine Arts. Dalaras will pay an unplugged tribute to the rembetiko tradition. For his new tour, he has made a special selection of a number of traditional songs that he and his ten musicians will perform as authentically as possible. The Greek instruments (bouzouki, bağlama, oud, and tzouras) will be amplified by microphones only.
On Friday 2 May, the cream of the Balkans will treat you to authentic sounds from the region; they will be joined by a few cracking Belgian groups influenced by Balkan music, including the Antwerp Gipsy-Ska Orkestra, the Balkan Trafik Band and the Ambrassband. In addition to Selda Bağcan, an icon of the Turkish counter-culture of the 1970s, look out for some musical fireworks from the Serbian band KAL. And you won’t be able to sit still once Mahala Rai Banda – made famous by a remix by Balkan god Shantel himself – starts playing. For the occasion, the group is joined by a musical friend, Jony Iliev from neighbouring Bulgaria.
On Saturday 3 May, it will be all power to the women at Balkan Trafik! Femmes des Balkans, featuring the three Fates in the form of Amira Medunjanin, Biljana Krstić and Tamara Obrovac, are bringing the Serbian jazz pianist Bojan Z with them. Together, they will show us just how exciting Balkan music can be. The phenomenal voice of gypsy queen Esma Redžepova will be backed by the Amazing Roma brass band from Macedonia. The Greek group Imam Baildi was such a success last year that we have invited them back; they will be joined by the Kristijan Azirovič Orkestar, winners of the Guča Trumpet Festival, and a whole array of musical stars.
The last day of the festival is dedicated to film with a masterclass in Romanian film, an interview with the Romanian director and screenwriter Corneliu Porumboiu and a selection of the artist’s films.
1 – 4 Centre for Fine Arts