Tales from the Road – Damh karaoke in Prague
After the Austrian Broomstick Rally our next port of call was Prague in the Czech Republic. I remember a good number of years ago meeting Eurich and Jo whilst they were in the UK. They came to one of our open rituals at the Long Man of Wilmington and Eurich shook my hand enthusiastically saying “you’re Damh the Bard! Your music is HUGE in our country! We all sing them around our camp fires!” and I remember thinking, “But I’ve only sold one CD to the Czech republic…” and now I was on my way to play my third annual concert in Prague. Selling that first CD and having it passed around the Czech Pagan community led directly to these concerts. It’s a funny old way to make a living is music.
The Monday before the concert we met up with people at the Prague pub moot. The Czech people have a seemingly endless energy and zest for life and being around them this feeling is infectious. The beer flows, the folk songs are sung at the tops of their voices, they seem to have no fear of judgement or inhibition when it comes to singing, and dancing their traditional dances. It’s a delight to be around. And by the way, I have to say that Czech beer is some of the best I’ve ever tasted! Miraculously I awoke the next morning hangover free.
Before the concert we made a visit to the Mucha museum. Art Nouveau is one of Cerri’s favourite periods of art history. I must admit that I’ve never really understood the attraction. My favourite period of art is probably the pre-raphaelites but this gave me the opportunity to take a good look at it, and Mucha’s work. So what did I think? Well, I understand it a bit more. It doesn’t fill me up like it does Cerri, but at least I can appreciate it more, and a couple of the posters I found incredibly moving.
Later we made our way to the Mandragora Bar, the same venue I played last year, and I was so happy to meet friends there, old and new. Some of my concerts I know that people will remain seated and listen to the words and sing along. With the Czechs I know this is never going to happen. By halfway through the opening song of the first set I could hear them singing, and by halfway through the dance floor was full and the singing had moved up a number of notches in volume. By the end of the concert I was being beaten in volume, and for Lughnasadh I stopped singing altogether and just played along with them in a groovy Damh karaoke. As the organiser of the concerts said, the first concert was a one-off treat, the second was an encore, the third makes it an annual tradition. I do hope so, and look forward to playing again in Prague in 2012.
The next day I hadn’t managed to entirely avoid a hangover having indulged in some very fine wheat beer and mead after the concert, so after a little bit of a lay in we made our way to Prague’s finest monastery to visit it’s gallery and library. I love being at places of faith, and I really enjoyed the architecture, but by the end of the monasteries gallery I had really had enough of seeing paintings of Christ on the cross, and the torturous deaths of myrtyrs. I found myself wishing to see a painting of a positive point in Christ’s life, some point of celebration, but then the culmination of his life was his dying for the sins of the people, so I guess that’s why most of the images portray his death. It obviously works for many people as an image of faith, but it doesn’t for me. Each to their own. The library was fascinating though, and I would still recommend a visit to both.
So the next day, and after another wonderful trip to Prague, we found ourselves at Prague airport heading to Frankfurt for the OBOD Germany camp. But that, as they say, is another story for another blog…