“Tradition is not preserving ashes, but passing on the fire”
Besh o droM is a well known and familiar part of the music scene. They’ve been travelling the world for twenty years, proof that there is demand for a band that simply can’t be squeezed into any single category. Their name has come to represent a fusion of unrestrainable rhythm, melodious tunes, instrumental virtuosity, and a guarantee of cheerful, dance-driven audiences. A much loved warm up for folk dancers and the favourite exponents of folk music to intellectuals, they are envied by folk musicians as rockers for producing the most audacious covers of traditional material. Their tour bus keeps numerous European petrol stations in business, and they recognise many international airports without a second glance. They played at the birth of festivals and at their finales, too. They carried the torch for young musicians and the staff of the old masters. Approaching the halfway mark on their journey, their enthusiasm remains undimmed, and with no need to knock at the neighbours’ door for musical jokes, they courageously shake up musical cocktails from seemingly incompatible flavours and find the unsuspecting tasters asking for more, over and over again. Twenty years is not such a big deal, but that a generation has grown up for whom there would have been no world music without Besh o droM must be a pretty good feeling.
I was born in ‘ 72. I play percussion and viola. Been in the band since ‘ 99, I’m a founder member. My favourite song is Vaságy. The [kanna] is the first instrument I learned to play. My favourite concert experience was Montreal Jazz Festival, where we played 4 times (twice in 2004 and twice in 2012). I have been in so many hair-raising situations with the band that I couldn’t choose.
I was born in 1973.
I play on saxophone, EWI, Kaval, flute, recorders, the ney, leaf whistle, tárogató and clarinet.
I’m a founding member, so since 1999.
I started out playing the recorder when I was six, then played the violin for four years from the age of seven. I started playing saxophone when I was 16.
My favorite song is Túl e vizen, and all the kaval songs.
My best concert experience when we played on a stage near a market in Mexico, in front of a random audience of market-goers, who immediately understood and enjoyed our music.
There are some hair-raising situations that I participated in with the band. As a tour manager, the delay, loss and disappearance of passports and instruments was the toughest to deal with. The most memorable time was before the EU, when we were on our way back from Glastonbury festival, where we had to pass through 8 border inspections to get home, with one less passport in the bus than people. As a musician, the biggest challenges are usually posed by sound technique and sound technicians, but in the following case they are innocent: we were playing on the first year of an East-Hungarian festival that became very famous since then. At the peak of the concert, when the audience’s crazed mood reached its limit, someone threw a glass of beer into the mixing table. The volume died down completely. Without thinking we immediately jumped off the stage, and finished the gig playing unplugged in the midst of the audience. Although the party was fantastic and we were innocent, we haven’t been invited back to the festival again in the last 19 years.
I was born in 1988.
In the fall of 2009, I substituted for the first time in the band, on a 3-Day long Swiss tour. I officially started to sing with them on the summer of 2010.
I learned on the piano first.
My favorite song changes every season… I love the kind of Csujogató with Mangó, I love Úgy elmennék, Ádám is brilliant, there’s about 5-6 more songs. Vaságy, because I feel myself in this, and that feels good! The Cigansko Oro, because the solos are always different, and the boys get to bloom in it, and it’s very good. I love Tortapaír as it is now, that everyone has a short solo, but that’s what gives its essence. Based on the given mood, physical and spiritual states, and the heat of the party.
I have several favorite concerts! I loved Montreal Jazz Festival, it was a very important milestone for me to perform in front of hundreds of thousands of people! Actually, the whole Canada tour is a love story, because I went back to Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver several times, and it felt really good to think: Wow, I played here. Cool!
I think the most hair-raising experience was a Ukrainian party. The wind was blowing, the rain was pouring, all the stage electronics got soaked. We were waiting in a van, frozen solid, hoping there would be a location B. And there was! We had an amazing party in a modern Yurt.
I was born in 1974.
I play on the cimbalom, percussion, and piano.
Been in the band since January 2000.
My favorite song is Katalin.
Cimbalom was the first instrument I learned on.
My favorite concert was in Művészetek Völgye, in 2000, on the football field.
It was a bit steep, for example, when in September 2002, on the first anniversary of 9/11, as we were on our way to the next gig we got stopped at the border of some German city, by special forces, who held us at gunpoint until they checked all our various documents.
I was born in 1986.
I play guitar, but once at a concert in Slovakia I drummed a whole song.
I substituted in Besh o droM for the first time in 2009.
My songs are Meggyújtom a pipám, and Túl e vízen.
Piano was the first instrument I learned to play on.
One of my best concert experiences was around 2010, in the middle of nowhere in Scotland, where we played in one of the most cozy places, also, the gigs in Kobuci are always great….
Budapest-Crozon-Budapest trip there and back + concert in one sitting, without sleep was probably the steepest experience… Or when they had to rescue us from the mud with a tractor at a Ukrainian festival completely washed away by rain, and we almost missed our flight.
I was born in 1975.
I play the bass.
I’ve been in the band since 2007, but I’ve already appeared as a substitute from the second album onwards (2002).
My favorite song is Túl e vizen.
I first started playing on my grandfather’s mandolin, but even back then, already like Steve Harris….
My favorite concert was in Ördögkatlanban where we partied together with Wombo Orchestra.
One of our hair-raising experiences was a concert in Transylvania, which Adam was not at, and Varga Laci had to drum the whole gig. The rest of the rhythm section got into such a useless state that I was basically leading the rhytm of the band on my own, or at least that’s how I remember. But there were some funny tour stories, for example, when in Germany, Somos Peti announced that he would leave the band and go to the Netherlands to study. Of course, even with a sad undertone, we celebrated it properly if you know what I mean. We gave him some last bits of good advice. During all this, Vili was saying that he had never seen me drink properly. After the hotel house party we went down to a local place to prove that I can do it too. needless to say that there was no need for proving anything at this point, but I fell for Vili. On the way back we had not a single clue where the hotel was, except somewhere nearby. I told Vili we are gentlemen and so I waved down a taxi. We sat in the cab, then showed the hotel key to the driver and asked ‘here please!’ to which he points out the window and says ‘it’s right there!’ It’s lucky we weren’t in the kinda place where they would have taken us on a tourist journey around the city.
Molnár Tamás Gergely
I was born in 1992.
I play on saxophone, kaval, ney, flute, recorders, leaf whistles and now I’m learning how to play a clarinet.
Been in the band since around 2012.
First instrument I learned on was the saxophone,
It’s hard to pick a favourite song. Ha megfogom az ördögöt is my favourite to sing, Mahala is my favourite instrumental.
My best concert experience was last year’s concert in Pécs, where the band was so tired of an all-day music shoot and the concert on the day before that our crazy-factor was completely maxed out. Since I’ve been in the band, nothing hair-raising has happened, everyone is very nice. Occasionally some members got left at home, but they either got there in last second, or the team managed to handle the problem. Also, this one time in Pécs, Somos Peti broke down between Warsaw and Budapest with his car, so Kocka drummed Meggyújtom a pipám, quite memorably, and Ádám played the drums the whole party while singing.
I’m playing on clarinet, tango accordion, saxophone, tárogató, and the bass.
I have been substituting since 2008, but am officially in the band since 2009, so exactly ten years.
My favorite is Tortapapír.
My first instrument was the recorder.
My favorite concert was in Sziget Festival, in the Roma tent.
It’s not exactly a hair-raising story, but I was on the way to Prague as a substitute with the band. Somos Peti was abroad with the band for the first time, so I told him, (I, who’s a substitute in the band), that the first time abroad there’s always an initiation ceremony. Now he was scared what the ceremony was going to be. I tell him I’ll do the ceremony, but it’s gonna be tough. I tell him there’s a Besh o droM song called: penalty (Büntető). Now this song is named after me!
The presence of Szumpi, or Szumper Ákos, became permanent in the band.
-How old are you?
-What time do you like to play in?
In the 2000s… By the way in 4/4 and 7/8. Recently I also came to love 9/8!
-When did you first hear Besh o droM?
In the fall of 2017, Vadi asked me if I wanted to help him, that is, to substitute him. Of course, I said yes. It was a whole new kind of music for me, which is very inspiring and still inspires me that I play with them regularly.
-What is your favorite Besh o droM song?
Pira Mange and the Devil (Ha megfogom az ördögöt…), but I could also say Büntető.
-You are already working with the band on a new album. How is this workflow different from a traditional disk recording?
There’s constant communication, this way the end result is much more accurate, more precise.
-How many drum kits have you ‘gone through’?
On my 11th at the moment, but this is only for the shells (drum bodies), I could easily fill out 4-5 A4 sheets with all the snare and cymbal sets I’ve used up.
-You replaced Vadi several times during the summer. Which concert was the most fun to play?
So far, my favorite was an outdoor party in Pécs, where everything just clicked.