There is a place in Viljandi, the so-called Koidu Seltsimaja (Association House of the Dawn), a building or more precisely a strange complex, built in many stages, rich in history. It is nowadays used by different kinds of artists for their projects. In one wing of the complex there is a sound-art and experimental music venue, from another wing you can find a jazz bar. The whole complex has become one of the epicenters of the burgeoning cultural life in Viljandi, a small town known for its many talents and possibilities.

But for many years, this strange building was used as a theater house. Since then, it has changed a lot. But there is still some theatre in the house. From time to time, there are different acts being played. This week it has served as a stage for NOTAFE, a festival of sorts, containing different workshops, performances, talks and discussions.
Wednesday, July 13, was not an ordinary day, if there ever is any. It was mostly a day off for the participants of NOTAFE, culminating with a concert at the old theatre house where the stage is now reserved for seats and the former seating area is used as a stage instead. It was a world premiere, the very first time live together for Maarja Nuut feat. Hendrik Kaljujärv.
The house was fully packed with people from all over the world, the international quests of NOTAFE and local folks alike. Maarja Nuut, a fiddle player and singer, has already become one of the brightest stars of Estonian music export. Her latest album “Une meeles” (“In the Hold of a Dream”) got great reviews in the Guardian, the Independent etc. She has toured a lot, but mostly as a soloist.
It was not the first time for me to hear Maarja Nuut live. She was great before, now she is amazing. It seems that she has really reached a new level with these technologically advanced folk songs. Loopers and live electronics are certainly a step forward.
And her haunting tales from the fairyland of dark dreams are rather smooth, calm and even tender, not horrific in the sense this word is usually understood. This seems to be the same kind of dreamscape that has been explored by Unejõgi (The River of the Dream), a new project by Meelika Hainsoo and Mirjam Tally, combining traditional themes with new forms of expression. Probably a new trend.
The concert lasted nearly an hour and a half, but the time went by so quickly that it felt like 50 minutes. The audience wanted more, of course, but got very little. Some people went on to Jasm, the jazz bar, where Fjordwalker, a musician and eternal traveler from Russia, was performing his stuff (check it out from Soundcloud), while others went home to sleep or to write blog posts:) And soon a new day arrived. The previous evening turned into a memory, a good one.
Nuut feat. Kaljujärv is performing again in Viljandi on July 29, as a part of this year’s Viljandi Folk Music Festival. So does Unejõgi, just like many other great artists worth listening to. So, if you haven’t done this already, book your tickets today!