Just hours ago I arrived back home from a near monthlong musical adventure in Edinburgh, Scotland where the annual Festival Fringe (www.edfringe.com) takes place.

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This event is hailed as the “largest arts festival in the world” and based on the hundreds of stage acts taking place each day throughout the city from comedy to street performers, folk bands to orchestras including choral, dance, theatre, art and a host of other creative expressions – it’s hard to dispute the adage particularly in light of the festival’s phone book size program guide to all things Fringe (which they mailed to me here in the U.S.).

In the midst of attending nearly twenty concerts, I managed to spend sometime in a local music store with an expert on Scottish folk music who inspired me to purchase a heap of recordings.

IMG_2119.jpgCentral Park, Edinburgh, Scotland

This was a transformative adventure for me, listening to, talking with and learning from so many established and ‘up and coming’ artists rendering music from diverse traditions around the world – of course various adaptations of Celtic and Irish music flourished throughout the festival – couldn’t return home to Wisconsin without several choice CDs. I was fortunate enough to be granted media credentials by the Fringe Organizers, which allowed me access to a host of events, performances, concerts and interviews with artists.

IMG_1953.jpgSuperb Saxophonist Sue McKenzie (also associated with Salsa Celtica) performed at Fringe

Among the most impressive aspects of Fringe is the shear amount of acts each day – you could attend fifty each day and still miss another fifty or so.  Now it’s fair to say that not all of the performances and presentations are by well-established artists.  Some are just beginning their journey in the arts and from my end, that’s perfectly okay.  Why? – because in my estimation the Fringe is the right venue to launch your career.  Artists-Read This!  Get to the Fringe to introduce your creative work and, if you are a seasoned artist, this is one of those events worth coming back to annually.

I also marveled at the number of stage venues set in churches, halls, clubs, museums and the like.   By the way, if you are a street performer, mark your calendar for the 2017 Fringe and get there.

Festival Fringe Organizers – Bravo!!!

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One of the performers at the festival was Youssou N’dour – among the globe’s greatest world music artists. What a gracious soul! It was a treat to visit with him once again.

I was equally impressed with the beauty of the city, the Highlands-Isle of Skye and the area’s many historical buildings and markers.  In truth, I fell in love with Edinburgh, it’s people and it’s vibrant arts movement.

 

IMG_2212.jpgIsle Of Skye, Portree, Scotland

However, I was most taken by the genuine warmth and welcoming-spirit of the Scottish people.  As a man of color, a world traveler, and a celebrant of other cultures, this has not always been the case.

IMG_2127.jpgAboriginal Artist, Archie Roach performing at Festival Fringe, Edinburg, Scotland

Frankly, I was taken by the city’s cultural diversity and, with each passing day, I became more convinced that Edinburgh is truly an inclusive and welcoming city to all people.  I could live there without a doubt.  In fact, I’m exploring buying a flat in Edinburgh for semi-annual visits.  I hesitate to say this, but, as much as I love my hometown Milwaukee, Wisconsin and my country, I felt more welcomed in Scotland than I ever have at home.  I believe firmly that you can learn and tell a lot about a city by the manner in which it treats a ‘stranger’.

IMG_2192 (1).jpgIsle Of Skye, Portree, Scotland

For the next few weeks, I’m just going to relax, reflect on and relive some of my favorite moments at the Fringe.  Along the way, I’ll post photos and a few other recalled ideas from the trip.   –Jonathan

More about Edinburgh: https://www.list.co.uk/article/32185-the-best-parks-and-green-spaces-in-edinburgh/