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  • Claudia Schwab

Family of Friends

“But why do you go home now?” “No reason .... I will wash my clothes”... “What about Indian food? Sauna?” “I know!”... ... ... “I guess you live there, that's a reason” ...

It's a good few years ago now that I made my first trip to an astoundingly beautiful village in the south of Slovenia, belonging to the terrain of Istria. After having been urged to join this annual gathering of folk musicians for several years by a childhood friend, I finally found myself free to do so: I had left behind bartending and waitressing jobs and entered the life of a student at UCC.

Falling in with this crowd of folk musicians from all over the world has meant so much more than I could have imagined.

These gatherings, also referred to as “Ethno” music exchanges, happen all over Europe and across the world (I believe the first one happened in Sweden in the 80s). Several intense days are spent exchanging songs and tunes from each others' worlds of music, living, eating, dancing, jamming and laughing together. In Slovenia, these workshop days are followed by little concerts around some villages and towns, and an amazing festival at the end.

Numerous bands have grown out of these meetings (for me this was the Claudia Schwab Quartet, my work with Kate Young, Hannah James, Matija Solce ...) and most importantly, invaluably close and important friendships.

Every time I am with this gang – be it in Slovenia, Istanbul, Spain, Sweden or Prague – time is completely suspended and it feels like I am right where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to do, finally having found my pack. We learn, we hug, we create, we live. It is a circle of friends that has to deal with many a goodbye and long periods of separation. But it only makes the re-gatherings that more intense, precious and ectatic! (Sometimes so ectatic it takes a few days to recover and get back to the ground as it was the case for me there after an epic meeting in Prague for the Nekropolis Festival ... footage to follow... ) Looking forward to the next adventure, wherever that might take us -

we always manage somehow! (Photo c Damúza: Nekropolis Festival 2021, Praha)

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