Last weekend I was in Poland. For quite a while I have been reading about it and as my interest in the country kept growing, I decided to find an excuse, any, to go there and see it for myself.
The excuse I chose was Kurna Chata's concert in Szczecin, which took place at the Ducal Palace on September 23rd.
If you do not know who Kurna Chata are, they are a band specialized in making ethno / folk music, sung in Polish. They play with traditional instruments such as the accordion, acoustic guitars, transverse flute, hurdy-gurdy, contrabass and many different types of percussion instruments. If that is not cool enough, their lyrics are taken from traditional polish folk songs.
I cannot claim that I am a long-time fan of the band. I just discovered them because they are part of a booking agency called Coral Riff, with which I recently started collaborating.
I was going through the artists, listening to their music and learning more about them when one of the band members of Kurna Chata, Pawel, emailed me to welcome me and to let me know they were very interested in getting more concerts and to ask me if there was anything else I needed from them to start working.
I had not listened to them yet, so I went to their Facebook page to read more about them and found the above video. I instantly fell in love with the music and the voices.
From that moment on, I became a fan of them and of what they do. I decided I had a moral obligation to help them spread their music. The world MUST know about Kurna Chata!
To my surprise, their music was not available online, yet. So I talked Pawel into letting me carry their digital distribution as a start, so that more people can listen to them and also as part of a strategy to increase their online presence and get them more shows. This is how I got involved with the band.
I arrived in Szczecin on Friday, two days before the concert, which gave me enough time to explore the city and learn a lot about their (tragic) history. On Saturday, I met the two band members that live in Szczecin: Maja and Aleksandra, and together with Maja's sister Martyna and a friend, Dawid, went to a Food Truck Festival to eat something. What a cool way of meeting new people!
On Sunday, I met with my new friend Martyna, who joined me for a visit to the Museum of Technology and Transport, and then took me to an incredible vegan restaurant called Jak Malina.
After eating, we walked to the Ducal Castle to attend the concert. It was a cold day, but that did not prevent people from showing up.
The time had come, and the band appeared on stage among the cheering from around 200 people. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon concert.
One of the two leading vocals, Kasia, began the show with an impressive a capella interpretation. The song is still unkown to me and I did not understand what she was singing, but the atmosphere and her voice made me shiver. There is something mystical and overwhelming about listening to music you do not understand nor you know the lyrics to. It forces your mind to focus on the sounds without the distraction of feeling like you have to sing along. The second song, if I remember correctly, was Gospodarzu, the song from the above video and also the very first one I heard. Here is when the full show began and I could feel the power and energy the band have on stage.
Something magical happens when you get to see a band who have been together for a long time. You can tell they understand each other and they know what they are doing. Pawel playing the guitar and the hurdy-gurdy, Jan on the accordion, the incredible Aleksandra and her ability to play percussions and Maciej dominating the contrabass.
All instruments playing and both vocalists, Maja and Kasia, with their distinct and unique voices combined, made for an unforgettable day. One sings and the other one complements the melodies, without hesitation. Song after song I felt myself fully immersed in the music. The only way I can describe it is to compare myself with those sailors being lured by the enchanting singings from sirens we all have heard about.
For over an hour, I was there, but at the same time I was not. My body was present, but my mind and heart had been hijacked. For over an hour I did not care about anything else. All I wanted was to hear more. I did not want the concert to end.
After they played what seemed to be their last song, and as a response to the chants of people asking for more, they played the one that was missing. The song that I had had in my head for weeks and that I had been singing nonstop at home. They played the earworm: Rumba Demencja and with that, the concert came to an end.
After the concert I met the rest of the band and we went together to have something to eat. It was a brief meeting, as they had a long drive home. I was able to share a few moments with them and tell them my impressions. I must confess I went full on groupie and told them how they were the best band ever. I was not lying, though.
To end the night, Maja, Aleksandra and Martyna invited their friends Ewa, Krystian and me over to their place where we could relax, drink something and spend the rest of the evening talking about pretty much everything.
On Monday it was time for me to come back to Germany. This is how my story about going to Poland to see Kurna Chata ends. A weekend full of memories, amazing music and incredible people who I now call friends.
As for Kurna Chata, they are about to celebrate their tenth anniversary. They are preparing some nice things and we are all very excited about what the future will bring them. I reiterate my commitment to helping them conquer the world, but that is a story for another blog entry. ;)