20th fable of Mėnuo Juodaragis tells of God of Thunder and Wardruna(1)
The summer is going to be hot for Mėnuo Juodaragis, the festival of alternative music and modern Baltic culture. On the last weekend of August, the anniversary 20th edition of the festival will take place. The theme of the event will be illuminated with whips of lightning wielded by Perkūnas, the Baltic god of thunder, while the music programme will be headlined by Wardruna, the modern Norse tradition band from Norway. The organisers of the festival have also revealed guests from other countries.
The idea of the Mėnuo Juodaragis festival originates from the Baltic culture, and the theme of the upcoming edition will be reflected in all layers of the event famous for its wide range of activities. "The themes of several recent editions of the festival were rather quiet and dreamy, so we decided to dedicate the 20th anniversary to a powerful and dynamic symbol", said Ugnius Liogė, the head of Mėnuo Juodaragis event. "Perkūnas is not only the key deity of the ancient Baltic pantheon, but also a concept with different modern manifestations that will be creatively explored throughout this year's programme."
In ancient times, the Perkūnas was considered the patron of justice and harmony, the god of rulers and warriors, the bringer of corporal love and heat, the promoter of life and motion. The organisers of the festival claim that beside the weather events, the vigorous Perkūnas also symbolises electricity, scientific progress, spiritual enlightenment as well as noisy music, which will be heavily represented at the festival.
Perkūnas has parallels in the mythology of all Indo-European nations. On the stage of the 20th Mėnuo Juodaragis, the Baltic god of thunder will meet his Norse brother Thor, who will be honoured through sublime music, runic rituals, and genuine ancestry brought to Lithuania by Wardruna, one of the most celebrated Norse bands.
The Norwegian band Wardruna is the most renowned musical phenomenon in the whole modern Viking music scene. During a 15 year period, it has created a unique style with spellbinding otherworldly combination of tones and chorales accompanied by ancient Norse instruments, such as deerskin drums, kraviklyra, tagelharpa, jaw harps, horns and lurs – the magnificent curved war trumpets. Their music also includes nature sounds – whispers of trees, rocks, water, ice and fire. The name Wardruna means 'singing runes', the heritage of the enigmatic magic symbols of the ancient Europe.
The band received world-wide critical acclaim with the trilogy of albums released from 2009 to 2016. Lately, Wardruna reached a wider audience with its musical contribution to and the appearance of the band's founder Einar Selvik in the History Channel's show Vikings. Wardruna are known for doing relatively few, but often very special concerts, and always to high acclaim.
Video Wardruna music in the TV show Vikings: https://youtu.be/_UY3EKzvjeE
This year, the festival Mėnuo Juodaragis will run for four days with Lithuanian and foreign acts performing on four stages. The event is noted for its exceptionally wide range of music styles – the main stages host famous rock, post-folklore, pop and classical music bands, while other scenes are reserved for traditional folklore, sung poetry and alternative electronic music. Throughout the four days, about 60 different bands and sound projects, including particularly interesting foreign guests, will share their original works.
The festival will be honoured to host the leading Sami singer Elle Marja Eira. Her modern rock and electronic music tells the world about this unique Nordic nation. Another impressive world music duo Karolina Cicha & Bart Palyga from Poland perform in 13 different languages and mesmerise the audience with their charisma and musical games.
The anniversary stage of the festival will once again greet the legendary Danish act Of The Wand And The Moon. After 8 years, one of the most intriguing modern neofolk bands is coming back to Lithuania with all of its members and a heavier, more expressive and post-rock'ish programme. The playlist of Mėnuo Juodaragis will also include the seasoned atmospheric ethno-ambient project Nest, renowned for its epic tales told with Finnish kanteles and modern sound effects.
Alternative music fans will be excited to see the crazy wrights of psychedelic kraut-rock from Austria called Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand and led by Albin Julius, the cult personality of the industrial scene. Death In Rome is one of the most mysterious guests of the festival. Their classical neofolk remakes will probably put smiles on many faces, but more often than not these songs are stronger and more exciting than the originals. The lovers of heavy music will enjoy the mystical and powerful black metal from the Italian act Selvans.
The electronic music stage will be opened by the project Vril Jäger – the brainchild of Kim Larsen, the key personality behind the band Of The Wand And The Moon, and Thom Bojden, the leader of the industrial band Die Weisse Rose. They will be followed by Niel Mitra from the noted German medieval collective Faun, as well as a debut project Aurinkopyörä of quiet and subtle ur-folk from Finland.
Traditionally, the celebration of Mėnuo Juodaragis will host selected guests from neighbouring countries. On August 25, the Ukrainian Independence Day, the stage will be shaken by strongmen of ethnic rock Drymba Da Dzyga; modern Belarusian music will be represented by the Irdorath; Estonia will delegate its famous duo Malva & Priks; while Latvia will stir the audience with the post-folklore band Daba San, and Auli brimming with the energy of bagpipes and drums accompanied by the stunning girl choir Tautasmeitas.
"Mėnuo Juodaragis has never seen so many guests", the organisers of the festival claim. "Lithuanian bands confirmed for the anniversary programme will no less amazing. Most of them are preparing exclusive programmes for the event. Clearly, the celebration will be striking, thunderous, and full of ingenious wackiness. After all, madmen and weirdoes are often considered hit by the thunder."
The 20th Mėnuo Juodaragis festival will take place on 24–27 August 2017 on the island of Lake Dūburys near Antazavė village, Zarasai District, Lithuania. Tickets are available on the festival's website and at the gift shop "Ragainė", Skapo g. 3, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Mėnuo Juodaragis is one of the oldest and biggest summer events in Lithuania visited by 5,000–6,000 people each year. The festival was launched in 1995. Its programme covers Baltic tradition, crafts, arts, educational activities, modern art and alternative music. The event is organised by the independent music label "Dangus".
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