Yesterday we finished up the first piece in our concert. It is mostly very arhythmic and droney, but it has so many different elements that it keeps it interesting. It leads into a slightly more rhythmic section that I think blends Scottish and Vietnamese music very well together. I have a small solo in which I trade some kind of bluesy phrases with this awesome Vietnamese master, Chu Ninh, who plays the ca nghi (not sure how to spell it correctly) (it’s a bowed single stringed instrument and the body is made out of a turtle!). He’s incredible and it’s so delightful playing with him because I feel like we have a great chemistry. We both kind of just feel the music and don’t need to talk about it.
We finished up early yesterday and it was decided that there would be an all night party to help build camaraderie. Well, in classic Bryan Charles Wilson fashion, I went home and took a nap to prepare myself for the party knowing full well I don’t drink alcohol and was probably going to leave early anyway. I woke up as it was getting dark and moseyed my way over to the other hotel where there was a full on barbecue of like 10 chickens roasting on an open fire. Everyone was already a couple beers deep and yelled at me for being late, which I took in stride as I picked up a bowl of vegetables and started eating them with a skewer (eventually I just used hands because I was too lazy).
By far the best food was by the master instrument maker and musician, Ro Cham Ti. This guy does everything. He can build you a bamboo house, 40 original musical instruments, sew you some new clothes, cook a gourmet meal, you name it, all the while having the most fun and enthusiasm for life I’ve ever seen anyone have in my entire existence. I can barely bend down to tie my shoes without groaning like some old geezer, meanwhile this guy who’s close to 50 years old, is slow roasting a chicken while jumping up and down and dancing like he’s some sort of youthful cherub.
Okay that’s not entirely true, I’m not a complete alter cocker. I did lead people in a dance the other day when I was called upon to do the morning warm ups for the group. I immediately used my brilliant wife’s Dance/Movement Therapy techniques of having everyone say their name and do a movement and everyone else in the group has to repeat that same name and movement. People were quite surprised I could actually do something other than play the cello and complain how hot it was outside.
But back to that CHICKEN! Man, was that chicken good! In Vietnam, it’s the WHOLE chicken. Head, feet. EVERYTHING. The food in Vietnam is all about spices and balance to make sure the yin and yang is in perfect harmony. The music maintains a similar philosophy as well. But let’s be honest, I like to eat. I kept burning my fingers going to grab some more chicken it was so amazing.
By about 10:30 PM people were sufficiently drunk and as a non drinker who honestly isn’t that fond of parties to begin with, when they start busting out the guitar and singing drunkenly (no matter what language it’s in), that’s usually my cue to head back home. I did have a good time though. Lots of good people and plenty of laughs. My excuse for leaving was that I had to teach at 6 am the next morning, which was true, but I probably would have left anyway because I’m not what you would call, “a fun guy!”
One thing is for sure, I might be the only one without a hangover today though.