9th Trans Ethnik Music Festival Review – Valbonne 2010

3 10 2010

The 9th Trans Ethnik world music festival, Valbonne village, France

Unless you live in the small rural village of Valbonne, near the European equivalent, of “Silicon valley”, known as Sophia Antipolis, is it unlikely that you have heard of the Trans Ethnik Festival. Technology has been a good friend to this event, whose website and social media messaging has garnered support over the past decade. The event was publicised via traditional posters around the region, yet they had good publicity on the net. Via their website you could find out about the bus service that would be in place (pretty rare in this area during the evening – but great news for kids without cars, those wanting to drink or simply wanting to live more green), book online, receive a personal phone call back to confirm your ticket reservations (a nice touch), find travel info and learn that kids under 10 could attend for free.

The origins of this event hark back to 1993 when the Valbonne Association for travel decided to help a variety of environmental projects around the world and use this work to discover and share other cultures. During the early years members contributed to projects in Shetlands/Northern Scotland, raised funds to assist a school in Senegal and colleges in Romania and Morocco. The development of this work expanded into an idea to host a festival that would embrace music as well as a cultural exchange. So back in 2002, 11 October, saw the launch of the Trans Ethnik Music Festival in Valbonne. The project was led by Thierry Lespinasse (and others) who undertook the huge organisation to select, recruit and present the world class musicians – not bad for a small French village! The idea was to present information, education, offer debate and music from around the world. This would take the shape over a long weekend via film (at the local cinema), exhibitions (from African charities, Fair Trade, music shops, North African food/drink, as well as jewellery/clothes, local music clubs as well as music performances culminating in a Saturday music festival with a side Expo.

Having been a regular attendee since its inception I was interested to learn if the original spirit to attract an interesting mix of musicians had been sustained – I was not disappointed.

First up, was Haute Couture – who commenced their performance with an acoustic set with Djeep on guitare and vocalist Laurence, singing in a style reminiscent of Heather Nova. A warm reception was given to this duo. Laurence, wearing a contrasting image of folky white lace dress but rock chic red stilettos and black stockings gave a strong performance up front. The rest of the group were talented musicians who played more upbeat jazz/rock/electric numbers as their performance unfolded. Other band members included guitar player – Piew and Greg and Chill on laptop/electronic machines. Djeep also added gnarly jazz tones with his Sax playing and showed off his rapping singing skills during their number “What I got!”. I especially enjoyed their number “On Fire” – slow acoustic start that builds into a feisty rock number. Check out their video on myspace – great to see a young band NOT going down formulaic sexy dance route but rather developing and exploring a more innovative use of film and music. An additional focal point of interest was the inclusion of a local dancer who joined the band to share her ballet/jazz dance skills.

During the intermission band change, there was a chance to visit the outside information tents. The professional large white tent was missing this year – no doubt budget cuts – and so the gathered group of make-shift stalls looked like a refugee camp. Nevertheless, here we grabbed a welcoming hot mint tea served with Moroccan cakes, learnt about the local ukulele group’s jamming meeting (www.vsalele.fr ), picked up a nifty percussion tool for guitar players (from www.exquisite.fr), reviewed the range of goods from Freetrade and admired the African art, clothing and paintings from local French/African artists.

Next up was the inventive Nu K – visual art meets music! A projected film was shown on the back wall of a guy performing amazing somersaults as he jumped up, over and around walls, houses and streets. The band were joined by their own dancers – one wearing a fencing mask and the another clad in a gas mask – clearly some link with their name *Nu K (English Nukes???).

As the two dances gyrated and slithered around the stage the band broke into electronic style jazz numbers. Each composition was led by Cederic Lauer (composer) who played trumpet, keyboard as well as managing the electronic loops. Eric Bruno (on Bass) and Seb Hamard kept things in rhythm on drums whilst Greg Lampis energised the proceedings with his samples and mixes. Nu K blended a fusion of electric fuelled rhythms with undertones of jazz beats with a dash of artistry that delivered a pretty funky end result.

The headliner was Rona Hartner with DJ Tacada. Rona has 10 years experience working in cinema, theatre as well as music. Her latest project includes dance, video and mixing music using influences from Romania.

Her melodic voice and range paid service to the gypsy sound with added Balkan electro touches!
If you missed these performances you can hear each group’s music on their links below.

Otherwise, mark your calendar for 2011 and enjoy the spirit of this now much loved annual MusicFest.


Your comments are most welcome – whilst the system asks for your contact info, this information will remain private and will not be featured online.




4 responses

3 10 2010

Great report. I didn’t know the background to the event but it is great to see such an innovative arts festival in a small village.

4 10 2010

Merci pour votre article! Le festival est programmé/organisé par Thierry et il ne pourrait avoir lieu sans la trentaine de bénévoles qui interviennent tout au long du festival! Merci pour la reconnaissance de notre travail! Et d’avoir compris les valeurs que nous défendons!

4 11 2010
Microwave Cart ·

it is actually fun to be on music festivals because i love music so much “

3 12 2010
Brooke Morris

i always attend music festivals because they are quite exciting and i love music `-:

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