DVD and blog in Dutch

August 17, 2009

Welcome to the original blog of the overland musical journey of folk singer Linde Nijland and multi-instrumentalist Bert Ridderbos. They made this exciting trip end of 2008, together with filmer Hans Meerman.

For those who would like to read the blog in Dutch, there’s now a translated site: http://muzikalereis.wordpress.com/ Nederlandstalig

The DVD (+CD) ‘A Musical Journey – on the road to Bhutan’ with images of musical encounters in Serbia, Iran, India and Bhutan can be ordered here

cover DVD / CD

CD / DVD review

Serbian TV clip + interview on Indian television

February 6, 2009

Here’s a small TV clip of the recording with Danica in the orthodox church in Kragujevac, Serbia.

Here’s one of our interviews on Indian television:

A beautiful journey

February 2, 2009
We’ve been back for a while now and have had some time to adjust.  Right now we’re working on the journey’s  DVD that will be released in about one year.  Meanwhile Bert and I are undertaking new adventures.
Last week  we played at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and at the Cathedral Quarter Arts festival in Belfast and we will start touring with “Het Internationaal Folkcomplot” soon.  I’d still promised to write about the last part of the journey, so..here it is..

After leaving Darjeeling we headed for Kalimpong, a small Ghorka city where we recorded Sandy Denny’s “Rising for the moon” in a flower garden with the snowy peaks of the Himalaya in the background. The next morning as we left quite early, I walked down the hill into town in a very good mood.  As I passed a Buddhist monastery below with prayer flags waving in the wind and the snow mountains in sight, I heard the low sound of prayer coming out of the building and I stopped for a while. It seemed like a perfect moment.

Then we drove to lower India, passed the poor but beautiful province Assam, where we travelled the last few miles with armed police escorte (for there’d been about 30 kidnappings there in the last month). On a desolated road we proceeded through the rural border area.  And then..entered Bhutan.

Being there, after  two hard  months of travelling, was wonderful. Like a fairytale. We crossed  the border at Gelephu, a quite uncommon crossing where no group of western cars had entered before..and there was a welcome commity of Bhutanese school children there. Very overwhelming. It made me smile.

After two days of driving through Bhutan’s  gorgeous mountain landscape we reached the capital Thimphu where we played at the Kilu Music School. Arnold donated the cittern and the other musical instruments. Also a giclee of Henk Helmantel’s still life painting of the cittern was presented to a representative of the Bhutanese Government. To me personally the highlight that day was meeting Namkha and Lhamo, the two royal traditional  singers of Trio Druk Yul, with whom I rehearsed a Bhutanese song that we would record together the next day.

Namkha & Lhamo

Namkha & Lhamo

The next day we also met with Jigme of Trio Druk Yul,  a very special encounter. The five of us rehearsed in our hotelroom, Bert on the cittern, Jigme on his dranyen (a beautiful 6 stringed instrument with a dragon shaped end). Hans filmed it all and that afternoon we went to the Dzong (see the earlier pictures) to make some outside recordings. We repeated our rehearsals the next day and performed together at the finale, the big centenary concert, as part of the festivities of the crowning of the King in the center of Thimphu on the festival grounds aside the river. All was broadcasted live by Bhutanese national television. Afterwards Namkha, Lhamo and Jigme took us to a National Gross Happiness congres in another part of town, where the five of us perfomed once more. As we were about to start the power went off and the lights went out, but that made it all the more special, as we started singing and playing in the dark untill it switched on again.

And then, after our short, but very intense stay in Bhutan, we flew home and entered the Dutch winter.  It has been a tremendous journey of numerous impressions. I’m looking forward to the release of the DVD as well as to future collaborations with the musicians we met along the way. I will still be writing on this blog if there’s any news..

Linde, The Netherlands

p.s.  a special giclee of the still life with cittern by Henk Helmantel (like the one donated to the Bhutanese Government) can be ordered via this link.

The final concert

The final concert

Henk Helmantel's still life painting of the cittern

Henk Helmantel's still life painting of the cittern

TV interview

December 10, 2008

Tonight Bert and I will tell about our adventures in a live broadcast on TV Noord! It will air around 6:15 PM.

Final recording session

December 2, 2008
We’re back home..it’s all gone so fast! Our stay in Bhutan was amazing. I will post a piece about that soon. For now, here are some wonderful pictures of our recording session  with Jigme Drukpa, Lhamo Dukpa and Namkha Lhamo..
Inbetween takes
Inbetween takes
Bert and Jigme recording

Bert and Jigme recording

with Namkha and Lhamo

with Namkha and Lhamo

All together (picture by Arnold)

All together (picture by Arnold)

We’re there!!

November 22, 2008
 Bert recording with Jigme Drukpa of trio Druk Yul

Bert recording with Jigme Drukpa of trio Druk Yul in front of beautiful Buddhist Dzong

Just a short post, for so much is happing right now. I will write all about it later! We’re in Bhutan now, have been  here for a few days and gave our concert at the Kilu Music School yesterday, where the Fylde cittern, along with other musical instruments, was presented. Today we met with and recorded with the wonderfull Bhutanese music trio Druk Yul, with whom we will play again tomorrow night at the big coronation concert here in the capital Thimphu.

I’ll write more soon!

Darjeeling

November 15, 2008

 

gebedsvlaggen2

 

“I am walking on a road

Where the mountains meet the sand

And the story will unfold

As I hold it in my hand”

 

..are the first lines of the “Road to Bhutan” song that I started writing before we left.Yesterday Bert and I walked on a small Darjeeling road with mountain views and plenty of green surrounding us. And fresh air. The temperature is about 18 degrees celcius here. We’re at clouds height.

 

To the both of us, travelling through the hot Indus Valley has been quite hard. With its smog, reckless driving, people everywhere in a survival of the fittest it wasn’t a good place to renew your energy and I am happy to be in the Himalaya mountains now. Also, in the lower, crowded part of India it wasn’t possible to make any outside recordings (and the same goes for cooking off road at the car on a quiet spot..we tried it a few times but it immediately attracted about 10 nosy Indians studying our every move!)

 

Tomorrow we’ll leave for Kalimpong where we will make some DVD recordings. Meanwhile here are a few more pictures…

 

(p.s. iedereen opnieuw bedankt voor alle fijne comments!)

 

surrounded by green

surrounded by green

mountain

mountains

Bert eating a sandwich

Bert eating a sandwich

Longing for mountains

November 10, 2008
Bert and the Ganges
Bert and the Ganges
On the Ganges, Varanasi, being filmed by Hans
On the Ganges, Varanasi, being filmed by Hans
We are in the north of India, getting closer to Bhutan now. After leaving Delhi, with very good memories of the concert there, we first travelled to Agra (saw the Taj Mahal..) and then to Varanasi.
On the road from Agra to Varanasi we had a really nice adventure after driving in the dark for hours in a place where it seemed as if all the trucks of entire India were there, slowly proceeding, thus making it a hard road to travel. At around 12 pm, tired and wondering if we’d ever get there, Bert and I stopped at a small petrol station in the middle of nowhere..
I heard music as they were filling up the car with diesel, coming from a barn just aside and saw people coming near, first the men, then the women, dressed for a party and looking very friendly. They invited us into the barn where a 24 hours Hare Krisna worship was being helt by this family that was also celebrating the birthday of a 20 year old relative. Bert and I were offered apples and bananas from a small shrine where some musicians played and chanted their music. Then we were offered delicious food, for as we were told a guest to them is like god and is equally treated. For about an hour we all sat there, both parties enjoying the encounter, everyone making pictures of one another in a very cheerful mood. Then we left again for Varanasi and were part of a beautiful boat trip on the Ganges the next day. Very special seeing that all…the people ritually washing in the (heavily polluted but to them still holy water), the body burnings on the shore, the boats and light and water…
Tomorrow we’ll be heading in the direction of Darjeeling..the mountains (where we’ll make some more on site recordings for the DVD) and I must say I’m starting to yearn for them. For aside from it’s eminent beauty the  crowded Indus Valley through which we’re travelling is covered with smog and smell and I long for some clean air.
shrine

shrine

“Music with a cause”

November 5, 2008

These are turbulent times and we’re travelling in a bubbly part of the world. One day after we’d left Quetta (Pakistan) there was a severe earthquake just 70 kilometres off the city. Right now I’m watching the Indian coverage of Barack Obama winning the US elections in a hotel room in Agra, India; a special moment in history.

Travelling through Pakistan was interesting and the images were beautiful, but as we were constantly escorted by policemen it was hard to really experience the country and its people. Whereas in Pakistan there seemed to be large areas with still a hugely ‘traditional’ lifestyle, crossing the border to India we entered an eclectic world of the new and the old, the rich and the poor. Sacred cows at the motorways eating the garbage alongside the roads; tuk tuks, walkers, bicycles, fancy cars and the occasional elephant all using the same road in a dangerous driving style. Bert and I drove to Delhi (an enormous city with 16 million inhabitants) for a concert that was scheduled for November 3rd in the outside auditorium of the Vasant Valley School.

The concert was organised via Roger, the man who has lent his Landrover to us, by Round Table India (an organisation that does a lot of benefit projects) in support of their project, ‘Freedom through Education’ and they did an impressive job of organising it all. The main organiser Khushroo Kalyanwala, an Indian architect, invited us to stay at his house the first night and took us to the Delhi main TV station the next day for a live interview announcing the concert. We told about our journey and our aim to connect with people through music in all the different countries we cross and on the studio monitor I could see them broadcasting the both of us with the subtitle “Music with a cause” (quite an impressive title…). It was a nice, sparkly interview and we played two fragments of songs (“Follow the Heron” and “The snows..”). That evening we slept at the beautiful farm house of another man, by the name of Puneet Gupta, on the edge of town.

The next morning Bert and I were taken to the school site and met with three very fine musicians (mr. P. L. Dhandra: Sitar, mr. Uday Debanshi: harmonium, mr. Sukumar Kolley: tabla) with whom we rehearsed some songs for the concert later that evening (the traditional indian way, seated on the ground carpet together). And the concert was a special event…in contrasting Indian style. Bert and I played two sets of 40 minutes, joined on some of the songs by the beautiful sounds of the Indian musicians and as we played our songs about..winds, seas, love, birds and spring in the outside concert room, every 4 minutes a noisy airplane flew over after it’d just had taken off from Delhi airport. Still we played very well I think and I enjoyed it a lot. Kind of surreal was the small media hype that took place that evening. For apart from Hans recording there were many, many cameras of multiple TV stations there filming the event with its unique mix of music, travelling and the good project. We were interviewed by three national TV stations (i.e. CNN IBN) as well as some smaller ones and it was definitely one of the highlights of the journey.
 
The Delhi concert

The Delhi concert (see the large posters in the background! We've never had them this big before..)

Bumpy roads

October 28, 2008

Just a short post. We are in Pakistan now.. A completely different world. There is no time for music (though I watched some nice Pakistani music on the hotel television last night) for we’re trying to cross the country fast. I have seen beautiful images; people, houses, nature but all from my car seat. 

 

Most of the time we are being escorted by armed policemen. It started in Iran when we reached the Iranian/Pakistan border with all 8 cars and entered Baluchistan. I must admit it felt strange to see guns and machine guns, but now after three days I’m getting ‘used’ to it. Is Pakistan unsafe? I don’t know really. There are armed checkpoints everywhere where all Western travellers must sign their names and receive almost constant escorte. Yesterday Bert and I left Quetta (I just read on the internet there was a bomb attack there that same day) and headed to the city of Sukkur at the river Indus. We drove 9 hours in a row, with a new armed military vehicle assisting us every 20 kilometres, all over very bumpy roads. A beautiful sight by daylight was the crossing of the Bolan pass. Driving in the dark through the steamy, tropic area with lots of unilluminated vehicles and donkeys, along the road we met with friendly inspector Abdul who helped us with finding a hotel. Here, in Sukkur we are in a hotel with constant armed protection. When Bert went into town earlier this morning he was obligatory escorted by four armed policemen. Like he was some very important person…


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