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04.09.2016

The Street Musicians Festival Ends in Success: Gradić Wide Awake

The relocation of the Street Musicians Festival from the center of Novi Sad to the Suburbium of Petrovaradin Fortress during its 16th edition has successfully ended this weekend, after a three-day long fiesta, which once again completely justified the love and trust put in by the citizens of Novi Sad during these past several years. For three Festival days, over 40 thousand visitors circled around the romantic streets of our Gradić beneath the fortress walls, never taking off the smiles from their faces, enjoying the rich and diverse artistic program, aware that the city just received a new environment for urban events.

Fourteen Festival points along Belgrade, Štrosmajer and Lisinski Streets, at the plateau beneath the Drunk Clock, at Belgrade Gate and behind it, at the Army playground and at “Josif” Powder Mill, were almost too tight to welcome all the interested visitors, eager for a taste of some real non-commercial art, and one adapted to fit the style of street performing at that, available to all, without limitations. And there were marvels to behold, such as a true Festival exclusive – the performance of Jenő Lisztes, who confirmed his global status as the best cimbalom player in the world, with a remarkable surprise duet alongside Vojvodina’s guitar virtuoso Đusi Kovač, whom he met and played with for the first time in his life, but so magnificently that ovations the lucky ones present echoed to the heavens and back.

Moon Hooch

The real stars of the Festival were New York’s Moon Hooch, who in just two days of playing in the Suburbium were able to acquire numerous new followers of their incendiary “cave” music. Two saxophones and drums really can be fun, entertaining, and make you trip the light fantastic for two hours or more, even sing, albeit the band playing only instrumental music. At the end of the show, the musicians themselves were left awe-struck faced with the knowledge that the audience in Novi Sad knows their repertoire, despite them flying in directly from their usual place of business – the Subway in Brooklyn. Set in their pace, side by side moved the other musical attractions of this event, like the “Spanish Inquisition” by the didgeridooist Señor Marküsen from Barcelona, Human Jukebox from Swansea, the irresistible Italian charmers from Bologna, Fratelli Marelli, the blueser from Vinkovci, Harp Explosion, Belgrade’s underground sensation Ti, or the local stars Frame Orchestra and Plastic Trees, or one of the biggest Festival discoveries – Deep Steady.

Ludifico

Nothing less attractive, on the contrary, were the remaining, non-musical programs. At the theatre behind Belgrade Gate the box office was “sold-out” and an “extra ticket” was in high demand, even though the entire program at the Festival, there as well, as completely free. However, seeing plays of contemporary theatre, circus, performance art or dance, with blazing props at that, the glade at the foot of the walls under the open summer evening sky – can truly be a great pleasure. The Promena Theatre, troupe Ludifico, the art duo Vulkåi from Budapest and other participants of this “stage” were all up to their tasks. Equally attractive, as well, were the film screenings at the open-air cinema realized by our friendly guest-festival Cinema City, with a selection of motion pictures credited to local film makers, in good part dedicated exactly to – music.

Strosmajerova 1

Social activism at the Festival – this year under the slogan “Gradić Wide Awake” – was directed at the efforts to make this beautiful, but slightly neglected and rundown, or at least inadequately used part of town alive once again, revitalizing it, and turning it into an attractive space for life, work, and tourism. The theory that events and people make specific spaces attractive was proved absolutely right, because with a bit of living décor, good will and fine art displayed at the Festival, the Suburbium truly came alive, attracting and keeping a large number of its many smiling visitors, so much so, that in a way it too was smiling upon this new, beautiful, attractive side of its face. Let it remain like that, as well, same time next year, until the next, 17th edition of the Street Musicians Festival – at the same place!

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