impressions of the harvest party

I BARELY ATTENDED this year’s Harvest Party (Lõikuspidu) at the Viljandi Folk Music Center (Pärimusmuusika Ait). I saw two concerts: Johanna-Adele Jüssi and Peko Käppi, a jouhikko musician from Tampere, Finland. Folk music is repetitive music, and from this repetition, one can extract or achieve serenity, provocation, insight, inspiration, or true ponderous burdensome boredom. I appreciated Jüssi’s music because she knew when to begin and end her songs. Each one was a well-crafted knot, perfectly tied up. Käppi’s music was like a tarred old coil of ship’s rope, hastily discarded at the docks. His songs were longer and wilder, but he managed to well conjure the ideal folk musician, a traveling bard who goes from town to town telling stories with a sack of instruments slung across his back. That’s the twist when it comes to institutions like the Folk Music Center or the Viljandi Cultural Academy. How can you institutionalize traditions that always existed outside of institutional caretaking? Of course, much of the Harvest Party is about making an appearance, socializing with old friends, partaking in the long jam sessions upstairs. Estonia’s extended folk family is tightknit and its nice to be a part of it. Yet, maybe I am getting a bit older here, but I preferred to be in bed watching Harry Potter with my youngest. I’ve done my time downing bottles of whatever and shamelessly carousing. A warm blanket sounds far more enticing.

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