Brass bands are a big deal in Serbia. And ground zero is the legendary Dragacevo Trumpet Festival held annually in the small rural village of Guča, located about 100 miles South of Belgrade. This summer marked the 50th anniversary of the largest trumpet competition on the planet. For a few
days every August music fans from all over the world flood into Guča for one the wildest music parties anywhere. This year the raucous festival lasted ten full days and drew crowds exceeding half a million.
There is a lot at stake for the hundreds of Roma (Gypsy) and Serbian bands that play at Guča: prestige, bragging rights, and most important, money. Most of the brass bands make a living playing at weddings and other celebrations marking rites of passage. Guča is THE place to get noticed and gain notoriety. It’s like the brass equivalent of a networking event.
I traveled to Guča with a group of six filmmakers from the Meerkat Media Collective, to film a feature-length documentary called Brasslands. Over the past year we have been following the NY Balkan brass band heavyweights Zlatne Uste as they gear up to compete in Guča’s international competition round. Once we arrived in Guča we were introduced to Demiran Ćerimović and His Orkestar, a Roma band from the South of Serbia.
The tracks featured here are by four-time Guča winner Demiran Ćerimović and his Orkestar. They competed in this year’s finals round. I recorded Demiran on two occasions. Some tracks were recorded in the informal setting of a restaurant concert, where the band played for tips. You can even hear some of the customers in the background. The other two recordings were made behind a school before the competition finals.
Keep your eyes and ears out for the film Brasslands, which chronicles Demiran, as well as other brass luminaries (Goran Bregovic, Dejan Petrovic, Marko Markovic). To view the trailer and movie stills, and more music visit www.brasslands.com.-Adam Pogoff, Sept 24 2010
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