Els Laietans at the Fira Mediterrània de Manresa from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

My first night at the festival I was told that if I wanted to hear the real down home Catalan music, the place to be was the Taverna, a tent performance space in the center of town. Throughout the festival that held true, but the first night deviated in that there was a competition of four young local bands. There was a jazz ensemble, a folk big band, an a capella group all performing traditionally based music, and ……this, which sent me spiraling into a Catalan Twilight Zone. In a good way. The shawm-like instruments being played are gralles (pronounced GRAI-yas) and they are most closely associated with that other unique Catalan pursuit, the building of human pyramids. Yes, when they build one of those there is always gralle music. But I doubt that it’s ever “Waka Waka.”
Anyway, these guys are absolute charmers, and they won the contest. I think they should be playing at every soccer game half time in Spain.
The sound of the drum was so loud that it shook the floor. That’s why frequently the camera loses focus, as the monopod and tripod reacted to the floor vibrations. Nothing I could do about it…..(that and the spotlights also drove me mad, but hey, that’s guerilla vlogging for ya.)

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Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.