Kenny Mathieson looks at the colourful cultural mix which makes up the Edinburgh Mela.
According to the organisers. over 44.000 people looked in on last year's inaugural Edinburgh Mela at Meadowbank. The event is back again this year. with a music programme which lacks the instantly recognisable star names like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Papa Wernba from last year. but concentrates instead on presenting a range ofdifferent musical cultures.
Stardom is relative. of course. and it may well be that the millions of viewers who soak up the glitzy productions of Bombay's hyper-active ‘Bollywood‘ movie industry would be tearing their hair out at the suggestion that artists like singer Kavita Krishnamurthy or her collaborators. Bappi Lahiri and his daughter Reina. are anything other than major stars.
lfthey represent one facet of India's rich cultural mix. singer Swapan Gupta offers a quite different perspective. A classically trained singer who has been blind since the age of three. he is particularly known for his interpretations ofthe work of one of India‘s greatest poets. Rabindranath Tagore. and they will be the subject of his recital.
Bhangra is a tnore contemporary manifestation of the sub-continent's love for music. and its distinct mix of Indian and western forms has developed in the UK’s Indian
communities. The festival will feature the Scottish debut oflazzy B and The Boyz. with a guest appearance by Edinburgh‘s own Arnrit Landa.
It is only right that the music of India and its close neighbours should feature most strongly. since the concept of the Mela — a Sanskrit word meaning ‘assembly‘ — comes originally from a Hindu religious celebration. The idea of the Mela as a communal gathering- cum-festival later broadened out to include secular activities. but it remains an important part of the cultural life of the sub-continent.
That broadening out again takes in the
Bappi lahlrl: Bollywood superstar
African community. with a visit from the Senegalese nrbalax outfit Super Diamono de Dakar. who share common musical roots with Africa‘s biggest superstar. Youssou N‘Dour (now. sadly. priced well beyond the Mela's range). There will also be lots of community music events. dance from Nahid Siddique and Company and the Mrittika Arts Dance Troupe. and all manner of other events. stalls and general festive goings-on.
I Edinburgh Mela (Fringe) Meadowbank Sports Centre (Venue l5l). 668 4l(X). 3| Aug—l Sept. concerts at 7.30pm. £l0 (£7).
m Brendan Power/ Frank Kilkelly
‘I’m lucky,’ admits Brendan Power. ‘The band is tuil ot brilliant musicians, all great tun.’ The ilew Zealand genius oi the harmonica is talking about his ‘regular lob’ in the lliverdance band. Playing to capacity houses in London, he takes the solo stage spot, holding the attention oi 2500 people with an instrument little bigger than a Mars bar.
llaytimes tree, and tinanclal security means that the musician can
Brendan Power: harmonica hero
stoke his creative tires. ‘l’ve been talking with Bill Whelans, the composer. iie’s agreed, so I’m going to make a small-scale album of the Iiiverdance music.
‘I’m also putting down tracks with Steve Cooney tor an album ot Celtic music, part improvisation round trad tunes and ones l’ve written for the harmonica. It’s my own music, but I think it’s valid. Blues in reel time, that sort oi thing.’
Sting, Paul Brady, Ray Charles, Donal lunny and others have all called in his session skills lately, but he still loves playing live and is oil on a wee Highland tour with guitarist Frank liilkelly alter his Edinburgh appearance. (tlorman Chalmers) Brendan Power/Frank Kllkelly (Fringe) Famous Grouse House (Venue 34) 20 5606. Aug 31, 9pm. £6 (£4).
THE LIST’S TIPS FOR FESTIVAL MUSIC
I iphlgenie aut Tauris Pina Bausch is back in town to direct and choreograph an all-singing. all-dancing version of Gluck's opera. Anyone who saw her performance Nelken at last year‘s Festival will be drooling to know what surprises she will pull out of the bag this time around.
Iphi geni e auf Titan's
( International Festival) Edinburgh Festival Theatre. 225 5756. Thurs 29—Sat 3/ Aug. 7.15pm. £5—£45.
I Teenage Fanclub Bcllshill‘s finest export rounds off the Planet Pop festival with an extremely rare chance to see the Fannies in a venue smaller than the Barrowland.
Teenage Fanclul). Cas Rock. West Port. 229 434 I. 9pm.Sat 3 I Aug £5.
I Iltés de Castro Edinburgh plays host to the world premiere of James MacMiIlan's first full-scale opera adapted from the play by John Clifford. MacMiIlan's reputation is already solid in Scotland: this work looks likely to turn a lot of heads his way. The critics are predicting the first great Scottish opera. See feature.
Ine’s de Castro (International Festival) [Edinburgh Festival Theatre. 225 5756. Fri 23/5101 25 Aug. 7.15pm. £5—£45.
I Emma Christian Atmosphere aplenty as Christian unleashes her haunting vocals and frees her harp and recorder to explore the Celtic fringe in a series of venues that look as though they are probably haunted.
Emma Christian (Fringe) The Magdalen Chapel (Venue I85) 220 [450. Tue 27. 9pm. £6.50
( £5 ); Rosslyn Chapel (Venue [18) 440 2159. Wed 28, 9pm. £6.50 (£5); St Mary is Cathedral And Chapter House (Venue 9/ ) Sun Fri 30. 9pm. £7.50 (£6); Stockbridge Parish Church (Venue I40) 332 0/12. Sat 31. 9pm. £7.50 (£6).
52 The List 23 Aug-5 Sept 1996