Porto Etno, the world music and gastro festival, whose backbone is the communities of the national minorities of Rijeka, people who found their new home in Rijeka and musical nomads from all over the world, in its third year has extended to three days and expanded to three locations: 128 brigade HV Square/Riječka Rezolucija Square, CNT Ivan pl. Zajc and Rijeka market.
Hitting the stage on the festival’s opening day on Friday, 6 September, in Riječka Rezolucija Square, is the 14-piece Italian North East Ska Jazz Orchestra. In addition to solo performances, the North East Ska Jazz Orchestra will also play a concert together with the Italian dub band Wicked Dub Division, with whom they have been collaborating since 2017. Following them on stage is the world’s best Romani brass ensemble, the Boban Marković Orchestra. On Saturday, 7 September, at 7:30 pm, Iva Bittová, a Czech avant-garde violinist of Romani-Jewish descent will perform with the Porto Etno Orchestra at the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc, after the legendary Putokazi from Rijeka. The programme resumes on Saturday in Riječka Rezolucija Square, where Cinkuši, the unrivalled masters of 21st-century Turkish psychedelic music, BaBa ZuLa and Acid Arab, a Parisian electronic duo that blends the sounds of Western electronic music with Eastern sounds and vocals, will serve a multicultural musical brew. The daily programme on Sunday, 8 September, at the Rijeka market and Theatre Square will feature performances by the JeboTon Ensemble, a street band made up of several Croatian bands that has gained notoriety with their guerrilla shows bursting with incredible energy and good vibrations, and EtnoRom, one of the most famous Hungarian ethnic bands that draws on Romani musical heritage. Their music is rooted in traditional Vlach-Roma melodies and rhythms, which, under the influence of gipsy jazz and swing, have gradually evolved into gipsy world music imbued with a unique energy. With their intercontinental and intercultural experience, all the musicians gathered at the Porto Etno Festival bring together people from all over the world with their intoxicating music, regardless of what languages they speak and what cultures they belong to. At the Porto Etno Festival, we all dance to the same beat, the beat of the heart.
The Boban Marković Orchestra, the best Romani brass band in the Balkans, attracted global attention as early as the 1990s, following a successful collaboration with Emir Kusturica during which they wrote most of the music for his films ‘Underground’ and ‘Arizona Dream’. There are no brass band awards that they haven’t already won and they have stormed concert and festival stages across the globe. They won so many first prizes at the legendary Guča Festival that they had to stop competing.
Blending traditional Romani music with Western influences, ranging from jazz and funk to classical pieces of traditional Jewish music, virtuoso musicianship and an electrifying stage presence are just some of the reasons for receiving universal praise from audiences and critics around the world.
Iva Bittová, a Czech avant-garde violinist of Romani-Jewish descent, has already performed in Croatia several times. She claims to draw inspiration from nature – the rustling of leaves, the buzzing of bees, the swaying of grass. Bittová is a bona fide star on the world and ethnic music scene, tearing down genre barriers with her presence and music.
Iva Bittová has released more than twenty albums and collaborated with world-famous musicians, such as Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, Hamid Drake, Tom Cora, Chris Cutler, Fred Frith etc. She has been nominated for the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music in 2003 alongside musicians from the band Madredeus, Manu Chao, Gotan Project and artists such as Femi Kuti and Natacha Atlas. Over the course of her career, she has performed all over the world, from alternative clubs to the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York.
Ever since the beginning of her extensive career in the early 1980s, she has experimented with various genres. However, having the freedom to explore music, she was unable to confine herself to a single genre.
Over the past few years, this mighty electronic duo from Paris has dazzled European festival audiences and clubbers with their intoxicating mix of razor-sharp Western electronic music and Eastern sounds and vocals.
They skilfully fuse all types of Eastern music (North Africa, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Mumbai…) with electronic sounds ranging from acid to powerful techno, being fascinated with Eastern music and complex rhythmic structures. Guido Minisky and Hervé Carvalho were resident DJs at the infamous Parisian club Chez Moune for years and, after visiting Tunisia with DJ Gilba, they fell in love with its exotic music.
Unrivalled masters of 21st-century Turkish psychedelic music, the band BaBa ZuLa was formed in Istanbul in 1996 and they have tried to provide their audience with a one-of-a-kind artistic experience ever since. By mixing oriental instruments, such as the electric saz and darbuka, with electronica and modern sounds, BaBa ZuLa creates a sound that the critics have dubbed Istanbul psychedelia. BaBa ZuLa plays oriental Istanbul rock ’n’ roll that rolls futuristically, inspired by the late 1960s. Their shamanistic shows mix various art disciplines and often include dancers, elaborate costumes, poetry, theatre and drawing, providing the audience with a mesmerising audio-visual feast. Members of the BaBa ZuLa band include Levent Akmana, Murat Ertel, Ümit Adakale and Periklis Tsoukalas.
This original Italian group is made up of 14 formally-trained young musicians that imbue jazz with ska, reggae and rocksteady rhythms. The male and female vocals are inspired by Jamaican and African-American styles, while saxophones, trumpets, trombones and a rhythm section provide musical backup. Ever since their formation six years ago, the North East Ska Jazz Orchestra, has been creating an uplifting and rich ska-reggae-soul-jazz sound. The big band consists of four trumpets, three trombones, six saxophones, three vocals and a rhythm section comprising drums, bass, guitar and piano. The North East Ska Jazz Orchestra has been collaborating with Wicked Dub Division since their joint tour in 2017. This year, the bands have started working on their collaborative album.
Wicked Dub Division is an Italian band that seamlessly blends reggae and dub. The band consists of the legendary members of the B.R Stylers (Michela Gren – vocals and G. P. Ennas – drums). Wicked Dub Division started performing in 2014, although the band members had been active on the dub scene for over 10 years. They released their debut album Dub Drops in July of 2015. Their song New Slavery won the 2015 Voices for Freedom Critics’ Choice Award, which is organised by Amnesty International Italy.
The music of Cinkuši is rooted in the rich folk heritage of Croatia, especially the Kajkavian-speaking region, and is a combination of original songwriting and interpolations of their literary role models, including clichés that evoke collective emotionality. It is a perfect example of «translating» traditional songs into the explosive fragments of punk rock, freak-folk, brilliant ballads or subtle combinations of waltz and cabaret with a touch of neo-folk underground. They are fully open to numerous metamorphoses of rock, psychedelia and jazz through to hints of expressive and even chamber music. Their albums Špiritus Sanctus (Spiritus Sanctus) and Krava na orehu (Cow in the Walnut Tree) won the Porin Award for Best Album in 2010 and 2018, respectively.
Members: Tihomir Kruhonja (vocals, double bass); Mirko Radušić (vocals, guitar); Natalia B. Radušić (vocals, mandolin); Nebojša Stijačić (vocals, electric guitar); Nikola Santro (trombone); Marko Meštrović (drums, djembe), Marko First (vocals, violin, “dude” bagpipes) Krešo Oremuš (vocals, harmonica).
Putokazi was formed in 1984 and is one of the longest-running bands on the Croatian music scene. Since then, ten different generations of vocals, including more than 400 female and male singers, have left a mark on the creative output of Putokazi. Over the course of their 33-year career, during which they have explored evergreens, themes from films and musicals, Croatian ethnic music themes, world music, trip-pop and electropop via familiar polyphonic vocal performances, they have released 13 albums and two DVDs. Putokazi has represented Croatia twice in the Eurovision Song Contest and has won three Porin Awards, the Status Award for outstanding contribution to Croatian music, as well as two City of Rijeka awards in 1988 and 1994. When creating music, each project becomes a new exploration as they push boundaries in terms of style, genre, vocals, performance and energy.
The JeboTon Ensemble is a street band that has been delighting audiences with their guerrilla shows for years. The band is an offshoot of the JeboTon music collective, which includes members of the bands Spremište, Hren, Prazna lepinja, Lobotomija, Antidepresiv and Porto morto. Together they started making acoustic covers of their own songs in order to make them more suitable for busking. The JeboTon Ensemble has outlived almost all the previous bands of its members and today reigns supreme with a never-before-seen intensity. The ensemble consists of more than 30 rotating members, with 6 to 15 members performing at a time. Members of all the bands participate in the ensemble, often playing an instrument in which they are less proficient and that they don’t usually play in their main band.
EtnoRom is one of the most famous Hungarian ethnic bands that draws on Romani musical heritage. Their music is rooted in traditional Vlach-Roma melodies and rhythms, which, under the influence of gipsy jazz and swing have gradually evolved into gipsy world music imbued with a unique energy.
Porto Etno Orchestra
The Porto Etno Festival assembled its own orchestra, the 2019 Porto Etno Orchestra. It comprises musicians from Rijeka and its surroundings whose names (and music) may sound familiar even to those uninitiated in ethnic and jazz music. Members include Zoran Majstorović (Arabic oud, saz, mandolin, ukulele, electric guitar, band leader), Branimir Gazdik (drums), Bojan Skočilić (double bass, electric bass guitar), Dorian Cuculić (piano, keyboards), Zvonimir Radišić (electric and acoustic guitar), Vanja Vitezić (percussion) and Luka Vrbanec (alt, tenor and soprano saxophone). Most members of the Orchestra attended (or still attend) jazz conservatoires in Graz, Trieste and Klagenfurt. Between them, they have given hundreds of live performances and as many coveted music awards and live collaborations with world-renowned musicians.