You would think that the morning before a festival would be a mad panic of last-minute changes, electricity faults, artists stuck in transit or sudden rain, but with a few hours to go before gates opened, Kwagon, the host village of Ngayogjazz 2019 was a remarkable haven of calm.
With the festival weaving through the village streets, final preparation involved old ladies of the village set up stalls of traditional snacks, men on bicycles riding between the stages with bamboo poles, and children looking on a little confused. This is possibly the only festival where you can find hens and their chicks scratching about the main stage and the homes of villagers opening into small shops and information points. The whole village has been transformed, with large woven bamboo structures made during Festival Bambu Sleman snaking around the site, small stages under the cool shade of coconut trees and the hills of Godean creating a dramatic backdrop.
As artists began arriving and sound checks reverberated round the site with one-twos and drumbeats, a sneak peek of the sounds and sensations of what will come later, the anticipation grew tangible. With more than 30,000 people anticipated to descend on Kwagon, this looks to be the biggest year in its history, and with the sun shining down on the site, here’s to 2019 being the largest, most memorable Ngayogjazz yet. A feast of jazz, community, and local, national and international creativity.