Monday, September 26, 2011


These performers are wonderful.  They are Romano Kalo from Spain and Banjaran from India.  It so clearly shows the connection between our music wherever we are.

Sunday, August 7, 2011





08/05/2011 11:11:45 PM EDT

Most great works of literature are spawned from the author's own extraordinary life experiences. Sonia Meyer's case is no different. She drew inspiration for her novel, "Dosha: Flight of the Russian Gypsy," from both her childhood nomadic experiences and her time living with Gypsies later in life.

Meyer will be speaking at the Northshire Bookstore on Thursday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. -- where she plans to talk about her life, the Gypsy culture, and also the role Vermont played in the writing of her novel.

"Dosha," a story of adventure, history and romance, follows a young Russian Gypsy named Dosha through World War II. The story begins and ends in 1957 during a visit by Nikita Kruschev, the leader of the Communist Party, to Helsinki, Finland.

The reader is then transported back to 1941, when Russian Gypsies' answer Stalin's call to join in resisting the advancing Germany army in Poland. At the time, Russia was friendly and accepting of the gypsies among them. However, upon the Gypsies' return to Russia, their plans to resume their isolated lifestyle are thwarted by a sense of hostility, which eventually culminates in the "Cultural Thaw."

Dosha is destined to become the next leader of her tribe, but must keep her identity a secret to survive. She reinvents herself as Ana Dolova, a moniker which her tall, blonde Russian features help her to maintain. Eventually, she and her beloved horse are recruited to the Soviet Olympic dressage equestrian team. But, even as she finds success as an international athlete, Dosha despises her new lifestyle, finding the outside world "unclean," and can only think of defecting.

The novel concludes at it's starting point, Helsinki, where Dosha is set to perform for Kruschev -- but secretly plans to escape.

Gypsy culture is crucial to Meyer's novel, especially their relationship with horses. Meyer displays the intuitive love between a horse and its rider and also how highly revered horses are among Gypsies.

This aspect of Gypsy culture is unknown to many, partially because Gypsy tradition and history in general is so mysterious to many. This stems from the nomadic and private nature of their culture, in which the outside world is believe to be polluted.

Gypsies have been persecuted throughout most of their existence, and have often dealt with this harassment by avoidance. In the present day, this evasion has become nearly impossible, but they continue to be discriminated against and persecuted by various countries in Europe, as well as in the United States, where approximately one million gypsies are thought to reside.

Meyer is as fit a source as any to tell a story so rife with tidbits of Gypsy culture, as she has various experiences interacting with their famously closed culture.

She describes the first part of Dosha's story as autobiographical, as she was not yet two when she fled Germany with her mother and partisan father during World War II to hide in the woods of Poland.

There, she often happened upon the Gypsies who inhabited the same territory. Upon her family's return to disheveled Cologne, she foraged for food with local Gypsy boys in order to survive. Meyer continued this drifting lifestyle for years, spending time in various European countries and the United States.

As part of her quest to make sense of the war she had grown up in, she decided to look at the war through the eyes of the Gypsies.

This launched a decade of research, including various time spent living with Gypsy -- or "Roma," as is the politically correct term -- groups in Macedonia, Kosovo, and Hungary in 2002 and 2003. While inclusion into Gypsy society is exceedingly rare, Meyer wooed the Roma with the Romani language she had picked up as a child and her status as a horse dealer, a professional considered to be aristocratic among the Gypsies.

Though Vermont may not be home to many gypsies, Meyer claims that Vermont had a profound impact not only on her life, but her decision to begin writing this novel.
During her traveling days she visited Andover; as she recounts, she looked out at the full moon over the green mountains, and for the first time thought back to the war and her time in the woods.

She was struck by the memories of when "the bombs stopped and nature resumed" and the closeness to nature that she felt during that time. Later, in 1974, Meyer decided to purchase a horse farm in Bondville, where she continues to live during part of the year.

In essence, her visit to Vermont was a catalyst for the writing process, when Meyer determined she "had to get the war out of my system."

The peacefulness of Vermont, and its likeness to the scenery of her early life, allowed her the perfect place to sort through her childhood memories. She says that she was surprised to find that she was not unhappy as a child throughout those years traveling through the woods.

To create the novel, she weaved the historical events of World War II in with her own memories of the Polish wilderness and her own interactions and research of the Gypsy culture.

Meyer's reading at Northshire will be much like her book itself -- she plans to weave in her biography, her research of Gypsies, and her connection to Vermont during her talk; not just reading from her book.

Meyer, like her book's lead character, Dosha, has history and depth that is essential to the story.

Sonia Meyer will talk about her new book "Dosha, Flight of the Russian Gypsies" at Northshire Bookstore on Thursday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. For information call 802-362-2200 or visit
Jennifer Mayer can be contacted through

Monday, May 23, 2011


If you are in the mood for some wonderful violin music, check out this video

Thursday, May 19, 2011


This is a great clip of  Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello)

Break The Spell

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Reinhardt back in the swing

May 11, 2011, 1:32 pm

"I don't want to copy Django," Lulo Reinhardt, the grand-nephew of legendary 1930s gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt insists. "We have hundreds of brilliant guitar players in Europe who just play Django's music. I've always wanted to play my own style of music, not copy someone else."

Along with his international band, the Latin Swing Project, that features Australians Sean Mackenzie on keyboards and Daniel Weltlinger on violin along with drummer Uli Kramer and bassist Harald Becher from Germany, the dashing, ponytailed guitar virtuoso has established his own niche by blending fast-swinging gypsy rhythms with a fusion of Latin styles including flamenco, Cuban and Brazilian jazz.

Over the last decade he's built up a strong Australian following.

"It's like coming home," he says over the phone from Sydney only hours after touching down from Germany. "It's my 11th visit in the last 10 years and my last two albums — Live in Melbourne and Katoomba Birds — were both recorded here."

He remains true to his heritage of "Le Jazz Hot" — the tradition of jazz manouche, started by his famous grand-uncle in the group Quintette du Hot Club de France.

"I grew up with gypsy swing music and everywhere I travelled I brought a little bit of the different music back with me," he says.

"In the 90s I listened to a lot of Cuban music because I had a band with my father called I Gitanos and we had a percussion player from Puerto Rico, who played with the Cuban All Stars. These kinds of influences helped to open my mind to different music."

Reinhardt started playing at the age of five when his father, Bawo, taught him to play rhythm guitar. As a youngster he spent every day rehearsing with an older cousin, Mike Reinhardt, and performed at parties, weddings and family gatherings.

"Mike played solo and I always played rhythm because in our family if you have one solo guitar player the other guys aren't allowed to play solo," he says.

To this day he refuses to sit out front of the band like a leader.

"I'm totally a band musician and sitting out front you have no connection with the other players. I really like it when either Sean or Daniel is playing solo and I just play rhythm. It's a great feeling."

Further strengthening his ties with Australia, the prodigious songwriter and guitarist wrote the new numbers for his latest album, Katoomba Birds, while here on tour in April last year. A number of tracks such as Bossa Lismore, Millwood Reeta and Hobart Swing take their name from the band's many stopovers on the cross-country jaunt.

During his last tour, Reinhardt performed at the Charles Hotel in North Perth, where he was joined on stage by legendary Shadows guitarist and gypsy swing fanatic Hank Marvin.

"My father and his two brothers had a Shadows cover band at the end of the 60s and I grew up listening to the Shadows,"

Reinhardt says. "Hank told me 'You're the founder of Latin swing', and I'm really proud
of that."

Lulo Reinhardt and the Latin Swing Project perform at Friends Restaurant on May 21, the Ellington Jazz Club on May 22 and the Fly by Night Club on May 23. See the venues for tickets.

Monday, May 9, 2011


  BY Timothy Snyder
This is a seemingly well researched book about the slaughter of millions of people in the lands of Eastern Europe and Russia by both Hitler and Stalin. 

There is however, nary a mention of the Romani people who were slaughtered in these lands during the years before and during the "Porraimos" or Great Devouring of the Romani.

This either reflects shoddy research or a deliberate, dare one say, racist indifference to the fate of Europe's Gypsies.

And the beat goes on.

I cannot recommend this book.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Gypsy Stars Taraf de Haidouks & Kocani Orkestar to Perform at Blaze Festival 2011 in London

By WMC_News_Dept.– April 29, 2011
Taraf de Haïdouks

Two of the major Gypsy bands join forces to create a big band under the name Band of Gypsies. Their concert will take place Wednesday 6 July 2011 at Hackney Empire.

Taraf de Haïdouks and Kocani Orkestar are two of the most famous, emblematic and brilliant Balkan Gypsy bands.

Formed in 1991 the “band of honourable brigands” (“Taraf de Haïdouks”) is celebrating its 20th anniversary by launching an ambitious project: a kind of Balkan big band, in which the 13 Taraf musicians and singers are joined by the 13 members of Macedonia’s Kocani Orkestar, one of the top brass bands around.

Be ready for a wildly entertaining evening of raucous new music and exhilarating arrangements of old favorites as the swirling and fiery violins, cimbaloms and accordions of Taraf de Haïdouks battle it out with the mighty, funky brass and percussion of Kocani Orkestar.

Expect the unexpected as the two bands draw on traditional music from the Romanian countryside, urban Balkan pop, medieval ballads oriental brass band music, Turkish influences and even Bollywood film music in what promises to be an unforgettable encounter between two of the world’s finest Gypsy bands.

Taraf de Haidouks recordings available:

•In North America: Band of Gypsies 2, Musique des Tziganes de Roumanie, Honourable Brigands, Magic Horses and Evil Eye, Dumbala Dumba, Taraf de Haidouks, Band of Gypsies, Maskarada, Continuing Adventure of Taraf De Haidouks

•In Europe: Band of Gypsies 2, The Continuing Adventures of Taraf De Haidouks: Live, Dumbala Dumba, Taraf De Haidouks, Band of Gypsies, Musique Des Tsiganes De Roumanie, Honourable Brigands Magic Horses and Evil Eye, Maskarada

Kocani Orkestar recordings available:

•In North America: Band of Gypsies 2, Ravished Bride, Alone at My Wedding, L’Orient Est Rouge, Une Fanfare Tsigane

•In Europe: The Ravished Bride, Alone at My Wedding, L’Orient est rouge, Band of Gypsies 2, Une Fanfare Tsigane, Cigance, Gypsy Follie

Monday, April 25, 2011



Gypsy life... it’s not all about spray tans and grabbing girls

Alex Ross, Reporter

Sunday, April 24, 2011

NOTORIOUS for their spray-tanned brides and ‘girl-grabbing’ grooms - but also associated with underground crime and general mischief - the Romany gypsy community often gets a bad name but one Weston woman, who was born into a gypsy family in Hewish, claims the common public perceptions are wrong and has written a book to shake off the typical stereotypes and raise understanding of true traveller life.

Rosemary Penfold, aged 73, has revealed her experience as a gypsy child in A Field Full of 
Butterflies, already selling more than 20,000 copies in major book stores such as Waterstone’s.

The Dunster Crescent resident admits she may have since ‘settled down’ from her gypsy upbringing, leaving behind her teenage home to marry into a ‘godje’ lifestyle, but she has never lost her roots.

Born in a caravan in land called Heathgate, purchased by her family for £150 in the 1930s, Mrs Penfold says her ‘special childhood’ was a far cry from that portrayed in the recent hit Channel 4 TV series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

“Our lives were nothing like what has been shown on TV.

“We started from scratch with no money, bought some land and lived off it - completely self-sufficient.

“But the image the TV show portrays is of big, glitzy caravans, flash cars and lots of money. It is so wrong.”

Unlike many of her friends, Mrs Penfold received full-time education at St Andrew’s Primary School in Congresbury.

Outside of school, she would help her mother with the cooking while her father and brothers ran the family scrapyard, spending days picking up metal to melt down to sell.

She said: “People say I had an underprivileged upbringing, but in fact I say I had a privileged upbringing.

“Despite times sometimes being tough, we were always smiling, happy and socialising. Childhood was a lot of fun for me.”

At the age of 18, however, Mrs Penfold moved out of her gypsy community to marry husband John and live in Weston.

She began a career in care work and has had four children, but she claims to have maintained her Romany roots.

She said: “I’ve written this book to help non-gypsies understand a little of how real Romanies lived in the early part of the 20th century, not in misery or deprivation but enjoying a way of life that many today would envy and yearn for, even as I do still.”




Though this wonderful book was published in 2005, I only recently discovered it.

It reminds me of Latcho Drom, the movie by Tony Gatlif, in that it tells the story of the Romani through their music, and musicians.

Cartwright does an excellent job of presenting the history and reality of the Romani in Europe.

The chapter on Porraimos, the Romani Holocaust, brought me to tears.
I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I'm going to reactivate this review blog.  It's been getting a sizeable number of visitors, even since I stopped reviewing.

I can't make a committment as to the frequency of posts, but I have a pile of books, films and music to read... and review.

I thank everyone who continues to visit this blog and urge you to visit the main blog

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I've tried to incorporate reviews into the Lolo Diklo blog and let this one go, but every day more people visit this, the review site. 

I wish someone would leave a comment or email me directly with any thoughts on the relevance and value of this blog.



PS.  There are hundreds of things to review.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I have a real conflict about closing down this blog.  The number of visitors is increasing at a very nice rate.  No one has left any feed back about how they feel about incorporating reviews under the  LoloDiklo blog.  If we don't hear from anyone who thinks the separate review blog is important we'll have to shut it  down.  if you have any ideas or an opinion, please leave a comment on this blog, or email me directly at

Saturday, October 30, 2010


We are phasing out this blog.  For reviews please visit

Reviews will be interspersed with other entries.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I've finally tracked down a copy of RABBIT STEW AND A PENNY OR TWO, the latest book by MAGGIE BLENDEL-SMITH.

I hope to review it shortly after I receive it.

But realistically, I have not yet reviewed DOSHA, the wonderful novel by SONIA MEYER, and many others on my list.

I am considering closing down this blog and committing to doing a review a week on the Lolo Diklo blog.  Somehow this seems like a time to consolidate.

If anyone has an opinion or comment please leave it on this blog or email me directly at
www. punkaheron@yahoo.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Paul Polansky generously donated his three latest books to the Romani Museum.

Two are books of poetry--

Both of these books are beautiful and tragic and both set in Kosovo where Paul continues to do amazing work with the Romani living on lead mines.

I love the photos in UN-LEADED BLOOD, but was completely captivated by the paintings in GYPSY TAXI,  by a Romani man living in the camps, Bajram Mehmeti and his sister Farija Mehmeti.  They are stunning and emotional.

Here is a poem from GYPSY TAXI

anound two o'clock in the morning
I heard an animal howling.
when the village dogs didn't answer back
knew it was a call from the wild.

asked Ali about it over morning coffee
he said Kosovo was now a UN protectorate
since no one could have a gun
wolves were coming after the village hens.

if Lassie wasn't byt he front door
sleeping on our shoes
Ali told me not to go out at night to pee
wolves would be strolling the streets.

I thought my only problem
going out at night
was a landmine, a sniper
a terrorist throwing a grenade

now I know
wanted her revenge

The third book is titled
I think that title speaks for itself.

I highly recommend all of Paul's books and thank him for the work he has done for years, and continues to do, for the Romani of Kosovo.

To learn more about the Romani of Kosovo, please visit

To order Paul's books