Combining an outdoor outing with an important staple of our newly-congested social calendar, we went this weekend to the semi-annual КСП festival.
КСП, as I once mentioned, is loosely translated into English as Author-performed Song Club. It is a cultural tradition widely spread amongst ex-Soviet intelligentsia: Gathering together around a table – or better yet, a gently-crackling fire, – for the primary purpose of singing under guitar accompaniment.
We went in the past and obviously could not pass up the first opportunity to go upon our return to the States. The event is held in Pennsylvania mountains, on a wooded campground. The weekend was spent on singing, complemented heavily by eating and drinking, with the requisite sleeping in a tent, however little time for that was left after all of the festivities.
There are always a number of organized concerts, featuring both local performers and occasional well-known guest bards from Russia and various diasporas. There are spontaneous performances at whatever sites on the grounds happen to host the most active guests. People often migrate between sites, stopping in to listen to whoever is singing at the moment, picking up a morsel of food or a cup of hot wine, and staying for as long as they desire before moving on to the next site. Some are lazier, preferring to spend the time mainly at their own site, in the company of friends, singing to their heart’s content.
Kids are free to spend the time as they please; younger ones go to the playground, older ones tend to gravitate towards teenage-centric locations. Becky and Kimmy both sang in the kids’ concert, but other than that, they spent time with friends their own age, both old and new.
Friday night was rainy, Saturday night was pretty cold (cold enough that when we finally went to sleep around 4am, we had to keep on several layers of clothing even inside sleeping bags), but we still had fantastic time overall.
I had another opportunity to recognize my grave shortcomings as a guitar-player, compared with all of the virtuosos I saw and heard around the camp. Which did not preclude me from taking a singing lead whenever I had a chance. It’s a good thing I don’t have any meetings in my diary today – my voice is rather hoarse from all the singing and imbibing…
I think the idiomatic English translation you’re searching for is “singer/songwriter.”
Ah, yes, as a matter of fact, Singer/songwriter Club does roll off the tongue better. Thanks, Brian!
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