At the bagpipe festival back in June I was handed a leaflet for Het Lindeboom a folk concert which takes place in the interestingly named town of Loon Plage near Dunkerque. Quite why loons need their own beach I am not certain.
The concert is in its seventh year and provides a springboard for young talent as well as nightly concerts by well known artists. This year was being headlined by The Dubliners.
Its a bit of a drag up to Dunkerque but for a free concert on a sunny evening it is hard to complain. I did get some exercise on arriving at Dunkerque town cemetery for a photo of one of my village's Fallen for France. The cemetery was closed, and as I hadn't driven all this way for nothing alternative methods of entry apart from the gate had to be employed.
That is another photo off the list !
Off to the beach then. Or as it turned out a field. I wasn't quite certain what I was expecting but a car park that could well have been a battlefield wasn't one of them. Johnny's car would have been hors combat within minutes as his suspension is shot. This is where visiting all those out of the way cemeteries comes into play.
The concert site was a simple affair: stage, refreshment tent with tables and a few friteries out the front. There was one small boutique selling local bits and pieces but that was the height of the shopping facilities.
Over the previous couple of days, six competing groups had gone through their acts and been reduced to two. My arrival coincided with the winning announcement and it turned out to be a trio of lads from the Westhoek in Flanders: Bogus.
According to their web page they have been together for a couple of years competing in a number of arts festivals for young people. Whilst standing in line for my fricadelle frites I had two of the judges behind me and they were discussing with a friend why they had chosen Bogus against the other contestants. It boiled down to musicianship to an almost arrogant degree for people so young.
I assume that the sax player and guitarist are brothers (Florian and Ambroos de Schepper) leaving the percussionist (Hans Depelchin) a schoolmate. All three are 16 years old.
They came on stage and played for an hour mixing folk reels and waltzes with a touch of jazz courtesy of the saxophone. They were very good and soon had a large group up and dancing in front of the stage. How many 16 year old Flemings get to play the warm up for the Dubliners (who must all be at least three times their age).
Despite having lived in Ireland for most of my life I had never really had the chance to go to a Dubliners' concert - but sure we all know the standards, the voices, the fiddle playing and the beat of the bodhrán.
They came on to a warm welcome and having greeted the audience in French proceeded to talk in Doblin for the best part of the next ninety minutes.
I assume they have their own crew with them so that translations of: Can sombody get me a beer, oi'm gaggen; are rendered unnecessary.
The French and Flemish audience seemed to take more to the upbeat numbers where they could just dance rather than the slower ballads. I suppose trying to follow a story, sung in a foreign language is difficult. Mind you for some of the faster songs even my ears were hard pressed to keep up.
I was quite surprised by the number of young people who stayed on to watch 'til the end and it was interesting to see them dancing the reels and hornpipes in their own fashion. Evidently more have undertaken dancing lessons than you might have thought.
Just after midnight The Dubliners took their leave of us, came back on stage to give us The Wild Rover, before coming back again to finally finish with Molly Malone.
Listening to a couple of thousand francophones singing: And it's no, nay, never, no, nay, never, no more is an experience I wouldn't have missed for the world.