We hatched a plan to play at Sambafest Heerlen. This is an annual event in the Netherland. Our band size went up, down until we almost abandoned the idea and then back up. The result was a very bijoux band of 6. We’ve played with a band this size before so we decided to go for it. A rehearsal was held to check that we sounded good enough and we were very pleased with the results. After another two rehearsals until we had gone over every track and every break that we knew.
Friday morning was spent traversing Bristol in a minibus collecting drummers. After a midday ferry and a few hours driving we arrived at Heerlen for the early evening. We met up with organiser Richard and his band Diversao. We liked their gothic bondage look. Richard had been very helpful with arranging the trip and his emails were so good that I thought he was maybe English.
On the Saturday things didn’t start until midday but then it was very intense: three street performances, a parade and a mass jam fitted into six hours. We were the smallest band there by a fair margin. After our really confident rehearsals we were slightly apprehensive when the time came for our first performance. We’ve all played for several years and most of us a group together for a few years too. Small bands sound best with walls to bounce the sound off and being outside we weren’t quite so loud. We warmed up and started enjoying ourselves. A lady in the crowd said “that’s a lot of music for a small group”. We relaxed as the day went by. At our third performance outside a bar we had calls for an encore which we just fitted in before running to join the parade.
We didn’t really get much time to watch the other bands. We caught Outra Vez who I’ve seent at the Glasgow Encentro and Sambafest Nijmegen and the kilted band Sambanda. The most visually interesting were Bloco Mosa who describe themselves as “post-apocalyptic percussion band”. I have previously played with Ola Samba at possibly the largest European encontro, Samba Festival Coburg.
After the parade there was a mass jam with local drumming legend Cesar Zuiderwijk who seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage. After this we were pretty tired so cleared up the drums and met up in a restaurant for a meal. We’d parked in the minibus in a multi storey car park with a very low roof and thinking about the insurance excess kept us entertained as we dodged low hanging pipes and signs. We had a look at the town from the roof in the sunset.
Sunday consisted of a late breakfast and then a long day travelling back to where we came from.
When I returned to work after a short holiday I found a parcel on my desk. Inside was food and a card from the rest of the band thanking me for organising the trip. Thanks guys. We really enjoyed our trip and had a lot of fun as a tight little unit.