A day is a long time in carnival. Blink and you’ll miss it. That was certainly not the case for Pigtown Fling, as we didn’t miss a moment on their trip to Kurentovanje Carnival, Ptuj, Slovenia.
The trip started with Stephen leaving his home on the Isle of Seil at 4.30am in his motorhome to pick up Rab in Oban at 5am, then on to pick up the other carnival band members, Rob Welsh from Lochwinnoch, and Sara Ann Cull from Glasgow. A non-stop 48 hour drive through 9 countries then ensued. When we finally arrived in Ptuj, carnival was already underway. We had enough time to grab a few precious hours of sleep before we introduced ourselves to carnival for the second time.
We were invited back after their last successful trip 2 years ago by Peter Vesenjak, owner of Hotel Mitra, to bring the Scottish connection back to the town. Castle Ptuj, in the centre of town, was once owned by the Clan Leslie, and Peter wanted to bring a taste of Scotland back to the town by creating a special “Scottish Week”. Each night Pigtown Fling would introduce different aspects of Scottish music and dance to the people of Ptuj, whether it be highland dance demonstrations, pipes and drums, or a full blown ceilidh, held in the main suite of the hotel. We even played for a mothers and toddlers group, run by our event organiser Simona Gaiser, who has taken time out of work to be a mother to little Ela.
Hotel Mitra had previously undergone a massive expansion last year and had only just been re-opened, so carnival and “Scottish Week” were seen as the perfect way to mark a new era for the hotel. The band were asked to bring some Scottish beer for the weeks festivites, so the guests could get more of a “taste” for Scotland and its culture. This was kindly provided by the Islay Brewery. 180 bottles of different varieties of ale were driven halfway across Europe, and the guests of Mitra thoroughly enjoyed the experience, with the bottles going rapidly from the bar.
The week’s festivities were such a success, plans are already underway for next year, where a further expanded and refined programme will be introduced. This could include an introduction to a Burns Night or St Andrews Night, with the band introducing and demonstrating different aspects of Scottish culture and social events, from music and dance to food and drink.
Ten gigs in 6 days marked a very busy time for Pigtown Fling, who are about to embark on another busy season, with regular gigs throughout Argyll and the islands, plus a tour of Brittany in August. A previous visit last year to the Friends of Jean Langlais Festival in La Fontenelle proved such a success we have been asked to play more in the area this year with 4 gigs planned so far, plus a day of teaching celtic music to local people.
Every day of Scottish Week, Stephen created and updated a blog for this website, which can still be viewed here. This year the site is due for expansion, to not only be the web presence for Pigtown Fling, but for many other bands and music and dance projects that are ongoing in the area.
The band also are planning to record an album this year so our brand of music can leave a lasting impression on the different people and cultures we encounter.