They set it up behind a church, a hundred stalls and produce vendors with the occasional snack wagon in between. One guy has an espresso machine in the back of a VW van. I need one of those.
A lot of the best stuff seems to come from Italy, just like me, and I hear several people speaking the language. It figures -- who else would sell peppers stuffed with Mozzarella? If Italian isn't the best in the world, why can you find it everywhere you go?
The Galway Arts Festival is not just about music, but also consists of theater, dance, opera, poetry, and , of course, twelve foot-high giant insects roaming the streets and preying on humans. As it says on the poster for one of the more colorful acts, called Warlords of the Pez: “Please mistake us for Art.”
The could be a good motto for many of the acts, like the "performance installation" about feral children called "Slat," or an audience with cross-dresser extraordinaire, "The Divine Peaches."
But that's OK, because we are focused on the traditional music. It's another concert over lunch today -- lunch once again being Guinness -- and the same kind of crowd shows up. This time a banjo player and mandolin are the stars, with a flute thrown in occasionally. It’s fine music, the crowd tapping and whooping again like before.
What does it mean to be good at music like this? Does it mean playing it exactly like people have been playing it for hundreds of years, or is there a way to put your own personal stamp on it, to express yourself while hitting the exact same notes? I don’t know, and neither does Dave, but these guys are clearly in the big leagues.
The highlight comes that evening, when we go to an album release party for singer Roisin Elsafty. Singing almost all in Gaelic, she holds the room in her hand for over an hour. The musicians are all excellent, and they can really rock out on these antique instruments. She sings lullabyes about fairies as well as political activist songs, often written by her mother, about tragedies in Iraq and Palestine.
And there we sit, two citizens of America.
The Galway Arts Fest is winding down. It's been terrific. We’re ready to move on.