21 October, Stefaneşte; Blondu
Lupu pointed me to a couple of poorer musicians around the area, since I mentioned I had some money from donations to give out. Our first expedition was out to the village Ştefăneşti (note spelling) in the east part of Botoşani county, to meet Blondu, a half Jewish half Gypsy musician whose house was at the very end of a rutted dirt road, on the outskirts of a village which was itself on the outskirts of, well, the outskirts. He was happy enough to play, but he kept drifting towards a repertoire of pop tunes new and old, the high point of which was when his son set up a drum set and they played a great rendition of Stevie Wonder’s hit “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. It was surreal. I kid you not, the drum set looked like it came straight out of a Flintstones episode and it sounded great.
Sound: Blondu Playing Doina (Stevie Wonder tune available on request)
Once I started taking photos the whole family wanted in and some other gypsies from this adjunct village came down the road asking for money and wanting to have their photos taken too. Each time I took picture the person I shot would run over to me to have a look at the result on the screen of my digital camera.
Blondu played a few folk tunes, but like I said he mostly stuck to the pop stuff. He suffered from the same delusion other Gypsy musicians I know have, that non-gypsies want to hear familiar music. Not an entirely wrong assumption, but I know that when I go to hear gypsies play I’m not exactly hoping they’ll play a rendition of BTO’s Taking Care of Business.