Contemporary Manx folk group Nish As Rish (including local band member Ruth Keggin) was recently invited to the Italian folk festival ‘Folkermesse’ after their success at the ‘Festival Interceltique de Lorient’ in 2011, where they walked away in triumph with the Tropheé Loic Raison.
‘Folkermesse’, run by Ethnosuoni, an association which promotes and manages Italian folk groups, has been part of the European folk scene for 29 years, although the economic downturn has forced them to reduce their schedule, so ‘Nish As Rish’ were delighted to be asked to represent the British Isles at the event.
‘Nish As Rish’, a collaboration of musicians from both the Isle of Man and England, performed in the picturesque town of Casale Monferrato in the Piedmont region. Relatively untouched by tourism, the town has retained much of its individuality and as strangers to the area members of the group were looked upon with interest as they strolled about the streets before their gig.
Although scheduled to perform in the Piazza of the town, an increasing risk of rain forced organisers to relocate the performance indoors, presenting an opportunity for ‘Nish As Rish’ to go down to the original location with their instruments and musically escort members of the audience to the new venue in the fashion of the Pied Piper. However, the sky remained an unblemished corn flour blue, although with the town surrounded by Arborio rice fields the indoor location brought blessed relief from rapacious mosquitos.
Now firmly ensconced in the local town hall, ‘Nish As Rish’ played an extended session to a capacity audience who couldn’t resist the urge to get up and dance. Their debut, eponymous album was a top seller and with the aid of a family member band guitarist Dave Pearce translated their song introductions into Italian which strengthened their popularity.
Ruth commented, “The organisers of the festival were extremely welcoming and made it not just a gig, but a real Italian experience! Everyone we met was so kind, warm and friendly; from the man who gave us a bottle of home-made wine and lent us a double bass for use in the concert, to the little girl who showered us with home-made confetti after our encore.”
© August 2012