Field Recording Trip in the Ethio-hinterlands: Day 5 of 10

October 15, 2014

IMG_2202A bit sapped from the previous day’s session, we headed north from Dessie in search of a place that could offer us a combination of recording gold and a bit of R&R. The goal was to have a moment to dwell on whether we wanted to shoot straight up to Tigray or head over to the Afar region before looping back to Mekele, Tigray.
IMG_2237The guide book pointed us to a place only 30 odd kilometers up the road to a place called Lake Haik (haik in Amharic means “lake”, so “Lake Lake”). From the town of Haik we took a snarly dirt road down to the lake decorated with water fowl and cattle. We ended up having lunch and some words about the project with the folks running the nice little assa bet (fish restaurant+lodge) that gives on to the lake.
IMG_2229As we lunched on a tasty meal of raw fish and fish tibs with njera and cool draft beer, it was mentioned to us that an old masenqo player lived nearby and could be enticed to do a session. So, Jonathan and Nuhamin once again hopped in the Land Rover and headed with a local armed “authority” (a cop of sorts who was happy to get a little commission for finding the guy) to meet the gentleman. It turns out they were all on their way to some police ball, but were eager to get a little cut from the faranjis before attending the event.
They returned with the masenqo player, a nice old fellow who enjoyed many a pint of St. George. We plied everyone with chat, food, beer, and a little dosh for their efforts. Unbeknownst to us, we ended up setting up in one of the quaint little godjos that overlooked the lake, doing a late night recorded session, and crashing out side-by-side on mattresses laid out for us in an adjacent godjo.
IMG_2212The recording session was magical – Gonzalo set up nice lighting in the godjo, the masenqo player was in fine form (the only concern of ours was to hit record before he got too drunk!), and the cyan colored lake adorned with pelicans was beautiful. I ended up accompanying the masenqo with my banjo for a bit at the end of the session as I had done the day before in Dessie. I was quickly finding that at times it worked well (particularly when the musicians provided me with a theme to latch on to), and sometimes it was exceedingly effortful. Considering that parts change constantly and are delivered at a rapid-fire pace, accompaniment can be difficult!
After the session, we enjoyed more fish tibs and beer before hitting the hay. Another successful day.


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