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Karavan! International Gypsy Music Festival

 

2012 will mark the third year that the Karavan! International Gypsy Music Festival – Australia’s premier festival which covers all types of gypsy music both old and new – will roll into Melbourne’s famous Corner Hotel. The festival has been expanding in size every year since its inception and so too has the lineup. This year’s event will again showcase the very best international bands as well as the finest local acts. For the festival’s director and curator, Murat, the challenge of putting together an international music festival, one which is expanding every year, is something that he is still trying to get the hang of.

“Definitely, it’s a big challenge,” he says of the problems he faces as director to such an event. “It’s always a challenge when you’re booking international bands and you know, sometimes the language if they don’t speak good English and if I don’t speak their language – sometimes it’s frustrating. It’s always a challenge.”

 

From its humble beginnings which began in Melbourne to now taking in the east coast cities of Sydney and Brisbane, the Karavan! International Gypsy Music Festival has steadily grown both in both size and popularity. And according to Murat, there are no signs of slowing down with his sights set firmly on continuing to expand the festival to eventually include the other far corners of the country. “It started in Melbourne and the last few years it’s been in Brisbane and Sydney as well,” he confirms. “It will keep expanding every year. That’s the idea.”

 

In the current climate of Australia’s almost overcrowded summer festival season, directors and organisers have to continually work on improving and adapting the format of their festivals to stay on top of the game. For a comparatively small, niche festival like Karavan!, Murat has continued to look for ways he can improve and expand his festival each year, and the results seem to be paying off nicely with it now receiving increased global exposure. “Now I have bands from all over the world approaching me to play the festival which is amazing,” he says excitedly. “Yeah I mean, that sort of shows how it’s expanding in Australia.”

 

The growth in both size and popularity is no more evident than in the lineup for 2012. This year the festival will be headlined by Baro Banda from Istanbul; a band that combines the best of underground gypsy roots music with more modern electronic sounds. They’re also a band that consists of Turkish, Romany and Australian members, making them a truly global band. Murat is confident that Baro Banda will be one of the most exciting additions in the festivals so far. “Definitely a highlight will be the band from Istanbul, Baro Banda. They’re a very unique sounding band and it will be something really fresh, amazing and surprising for Australia and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” he exclaims.

 

Playing alongside Baro Banda, will be DJ Click from Paris as well as a host of local acts such as The Crooked Fiddle Band, The Band Who Knew Too Much and plenty more. Murat is adamant that the Karavan! International Gypsy Music Festival is one of the truly unique festivals currently doing the circuit and it’s one that has a vibe and atmosphere that sets itself apart from a lot of other events. “Well the great thing about this festival is, it is a very diverse type of people that go to the festival and everybody seems to be in great spirits, and a lot of dancing, a lot of foot stomping and it’s just a happy party really.”

 

So as soon as the doors to The Corner Hotel are flung open you had better be ready, because according to Murat the party doesn’t waste any time getting into full swing. “Yeah it’s amazing actually, like we start [the festival] pretty early, of course one o’ clock and people do come early and yeah it’s amazing.”

 

BY JAMES W NICOLI

The Karavan! International Gypsy Music Festival rolls into The Corner Hotel on Saturday February 25. Tickets available from the Corner Box office.