Castlefest, Lisse, Netherlands, 1-3 August 2008

Friday, August 15 2008 @ 01:00 AM PDT

Contributed by: ChAwech

There we were again at Castlefest. Previous year was simply the best festival I have ever experienced, so I simply had to go again this year. This year we were with a larger group; five in total. Two more than previous year. I was prepared for another three days filled with folk music, fantasy atmosphere and a pleasant crowd. I was prepared for three days of a festival of light. Alas, the light part didn't go as planned. Even though it was during the first weekend of august, we had rain on the saterday and sunday. Nothing hard, luckily, but a continious drizzle.

The most important part for the festival for me was of course the music. Besides the music, there's a lot you can do. For instance there's a rather big market, with various sections divided in medieval, fantasy, pagan and gothic. It already shows the diversity of the people on the festival a bit. You can buy kilts, but also beautiful dresses, corsets and mail armor. Plenty of jewelry, mead and house and garden decorative stuff. The food on the festival was completely in style as well, just like previous year. Perhaps a bit too much like previous year; it was the exact same as far as I could tell. A bit more diversity would be welcome, but everyone could manage this way easily though.

Then there was a tent with writers and magazines, mostly fantasy oriented. I met an acquaintance of mine there I haven't spoken with for a while, so that was nice. The second day I went to a lecture of a Dutch fantasy writer, WJ Maryson. Before he started, a colleague of him, Peter Schaap, played some songs while Maryson was getting ready. This was in itself a nice surprise, even more because I have books by this writer as well, and it fits the whole Castlefest atmosphere perfectly.

As it's a festival, the emphasis lies on music. Omnia traditionally kicked off the festival, while playing as very last on the saterday and sunday. Indeed, this is not a festival where you have 40 bands passing by in three days on two stages. This is a festival where most bands play at least twice, and there's only one stage. Well, there's actually a second stage as well, but there are magicians, traditional dance (balfolk) workshops and dancers. The main stage is where the bands are at.

I will include several links to youtube video's here, but I can not be held responsible for their quality, or if they work at all.

Anyway, Omnia. This was the first time I saw them with their newest bandmember, Mich, playing live. Mich adds drums to the music, giving it some more body and making it even more dancable. When Omnia closed the day on saterday, there was the traditional burning of the wickerman. I manouvered myself to the front when that started, as I was very cold from a day of rain, and the fire warmed me up sufficiently. Here are some video's of the wickerman burning, with Omnia playing their songs 'Lughnasadh' and 'Auto Luonto';
High quality and the other side
Full burning, but low quality:
(part 1) & (part 2)

And some video's from Omnia; Dil Gaya and The Raven (2007)

The last one is from last year indeed, but it's such a great song I just have to try and make you see it.

The second band was Lebocha. Even though their music is rather good, it's also a tad boring since there are no vocals and it's purely intended for balfolk dances. However, for balfolk it's indeed excellent! On the sunday I danced the 'magic circle' ('tovercirkel' in Dutch), and I even discovered a video on youtube of that. So if you know me, you can watch me here.

Irfan played two days; an acoustic set on friday and an electro-acoustic set on saterday. Both sets were really enjoyable, and I really relaxed while listening to their music.

The Transsylvanians is a band I really looked forward to seeing play live. Their music is called 'hungarian speed folk', and is extremely danceable and hyperactive. The violin player is a highly skilled musician as well as an excellent performer. Both days they played were excellent, and I danced and jumped my ass off.

Faun was the last band playing on friday, and this was their only performance this year as well. While I really enjoy Faun live everytime I see them, I never got around buying one of their CD's for some strange reason. I was also a bit surprised to see Lisa Pawelke wasn't there. I later discovered she has left the band to focus on her studies. Still, Faun's show was highly atmospheric, and Oliver Sa Tyr's performance as excellent as ever. Here's a video of Faun performing 'Wind & Geige' together with Steve & Luca of Omnia: .

These collaborations are requent on Castlefest. Especially on the last day you can see musicians joining up with eachother, mostly Omnia people with other bands, or other bands with Omnia. Jenny performed with Malbrook and complete Valravn with Omnia. Previous year, one could see complete Omnia, Faun, GOR and some Transit Poetry members performing together.

The friday ended with a fireshow. In contrast to last year, they build a podium in front of the main stage this time, rather than having them perform on the ground. In this way, a lot more people could actually see what was happening. Also, the fireshow was a whole lot better than last year, thanks to the excellent performance of the Las Fuegas crew.

Malbrook played on saterday and sunday, but on sunday the harpist was gone. Still, both sets were excellent. The lyrics were on the verge of understandable, but just outside my grasp. This is because Malbrook sings in low-german, if I'm not mistaken, which is rather close to (Western) Frisian, my motherlanguage. I heard a lot of familiar sounds, but still could not make up the words. Wolfgang Meyering talked a lot in between in Dutch (!), while being from Germany. This was one of the very nice surprised of Castlefest this year. See a short performance here (yes, I'm on there again!).

The last band I need to describe is Valravn. I was really excited seeing them live again. Last year I discovered them on Elf Fantasy Fair, where I bought a promotional CD, which was excellent. I heard their first full length a few months later, and I was still enthousiastic. On saterday, it was raining during Valravn, but there was still a big crowd. You could see on the faces of the bandmembers they were grateful with so many people dancing to their music in the rain. But we had a sun still; Anna Katrin in her bright orange dress. She enlighted us, while the rays of music warmed us. It was excellent to see the band having so much fun, and I'm sure they gained several new fans during this festival.

Lastly I'd like to show you a photovideo with music from Faun (Von Den Elben). It's impossible to make a selection of photo's to post with this article. I you want to see some pictures, please go to the photo thread on the Castlefest forum, and follow the links. There are literally hundreds of photos to be found.

I'm absolutely sure to go again next year, with possibly a bigger group again!