- I had the privilege and great pleasure of meeting Katy Carr in Glasgow after watching her and her band The Aviators perform in the city. It was awesome. I canMessage 1 of 1 , Feb 2, 2013View SourceI had the privilege and great pleasure of meeting Katy Carr in Glasgow after watching her and her band The Aviators perform in the city. It was awesome. I can honestly recommend her latest album Paszport to every single member of this great group. Even reading the liner notes alone is worth the money. What other musical artist has written an album entirely about Poland in WW2, with a song about the Kresy deportations, Wojtek, an escape from Auschwitz, two lovers parting because one has to go into the woods to join the partisans, etc. Amazing.Below is my review of the concert.Martin StepekAuthor “For There is Hope”“this astonishing poem... is at once a monument, a meditation, a prayer and an epic. It is a memorial... to the fate of hundreds of thousands of Polish civilians deported to the Gulag. This book should be on every table where Poland is discussed.” Neal AschersonAvailable from Amazon, Waterstones (UK), or direct from the publisher www.ettadunn.comKaty Carr and the Avaiators, Oran Mor, Glasgow 26 January 2013
Let's face it, it's not often you go to a gig to be confronted by a young lady playing the ukulele, singing songs from wartime Poland or regarding incidents from that dark time. It is even less often that as we listen to the music we are treated a film showing a bear wrestling with the Polish soldiers who bought and reared him, first in Persia, then Iraq, finally Scotland. It's not often we experience such a concert but we should all hope to catch the wonderful Katy Carr as many times as we can because she is a unique splendour. This was her first concert in Scotland and a full house loved every moment of it.
For those with Polish family connections this concert was going to be an emotional roller-coaster. No country suffered in the war as Poland did; invaded by both her neighbours, Germany and Soviet Russia, and split between them, the western half to suffer the Holocaust of its Jewish peoples and the mass murder of millions of Poles, whilst almost two million Poles from the east were transported in cattle trucks to the vast swathe of Soviet Siberia. One in five Poles died during World War Two, so any person from a Polish background had direct family losses. This is what the keyboard and ukulele playing Miss Carr delivered to Glasgow, ably supported by her colleagues who played the double bass, accordion, trombone and acoustic guitar.
The lyrics ranged from the dramatic true story of Kommander's Car, about a daring escape of a Polish boy scout from the German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz using the then camp commander's (Rudolf Hoess) own vehicle, a Steyr 220 car, to the deceptively understated words of the song 'Mała little Flower' and the lyric "Going into the Woods" suggesting picnics or romantic encounters but actually about leaving one's loved ones to fight in the forests in the resistance. Red Red Rose was a song that hinted at Robert Burns love song 'My luve's like a red red rose' but in fact related to the odyssey of thousands of miles endured by Polish refugees travelling through Siberia, Persia and finally across the globe, always hoping to return to their homeland, destined never to do so.
While the lyrics engaged the heart and rendered subtle shadows of darkness and grief in an atmosphere of fierce patriotism, the music danced and swayed. The unusual combination of trombone, keyboard, ukelele, accordion, guitar and double bass worked fantastically, creating classic moody music of the 1930s as jazz met central European traditional folk and Berlin burlesque. One of the films (allowed with kind permission from the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum and the Royal Air Force) used as a visual backdrop had Polish couples in a pre-war field, dancing first slowly and gently then speeding up with the men lifting their partners high into the sky, their long bright skirts flouncing out with each lift. It showed another world, a world lost in slaughter and followed by forty-five years of Soviet communist dictatorship before Poland returned to the family of European nations in 1989. By then these wholesome, gay in the old-fashioned sense of the word, dances and costumes had been eradicated, as much a victim of war and conquest as were those whose remains lie in Katyn or Birkenau.
Katy Carr and her group the Aviators not only bring back a glimpse of a decimated culture, but revive it even while they reimagine its music in a twenty-first century mode of expression. Her lyrics commemorate the dead, and the survivors of brutal suppression, while her music resurrects something magical that was nurtured in pre-war Poland, that fractious inter-twining of many cultures - Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, German and others. In a sense we are only now beginning to understand our true European roots and to express them in artistic terms. Katy Carr is one of the finest exponents of this renaissance and it will be fascinating to see what she makes of her cultural and spiritual explorations in future years. I can't wait.
For more details visit www.katycarr.com and go straight to Amazon or itunes or wherever and get her fabulous album Paszport. You'll love it.Sent from Windows Mail