This post will be a little bit different from my others. Rather than simply reporting on the music from the Fes Festival (which I will do in other postings) I'm going to try to convey the experience of being there. I've taken everything I shot from my first full day and laid the most vivid parts out, travelogue-style. So you're getting a full day in under 9 minutes.
A word on the video quality: I went with my Flip camera which was fine for some things, and truly inadequate for others. So you are going to see some pretty grainy stuff every now and then (low light, fuzzy zoom, or both). You are also going to see some very high quality video that was kindly supplied to me by a REAL filmmaker with a REAL camera. So all in all it will be a bumpy ride. But frankly, Fes is a bumpy ride. That's why I start out with a statement from my colleague Cindy Byram, who has attended the festival for 6 years in a row, and who speaks from experience. In the end I agree with her 100%.
There are four main venues for the festival: three paying, one public. One generally starts the day at the Batha Museum courtyard, an intimate setting with a magnificent Barberry tree that spreads its shade over 65% of the area. After a dinner break, you head on out to catch the "Big Act" at the impressive walled Bab al Makina (another paying venue) and then pass through the Bab Boujloud public performance area on your way to the last musical event, at the lovely Dar Tazi, where you can sit at a table under the trees, sip mint tea, and listen to Sufi chants. The public performances have been added in the last few years, and this is where you will find your everyday Moroccan, since the paying venues are too expensive for most. The music there is more local, and I was particularly taken with this venue, as you will see.
As to the music? Everything I saw had merit on some level, and some even made my heart sing. But to put in my two cents, I believe that for the most part making music and listening to music is a transcendent act, so what is NOT sacred music? Still, I guess calling it "sacred music" makes it easier to give the Festival a theme, and since the event and the vibe are so dogma-free and tolerant, how can I complain?