One of the things I like about the way they organise festivals in the Netherlands is how they change every year. Crossing Border (29 Oct – 4 Nov 2018) was first organised in The Hague in 1993 and Theater aan het Spui was the original location. So in a sense the festival was coming home and turned out to be completely different from last year and the year before. A pop-up church like wooden structure called Katrina was set up on the ground of the Nieuwe Kerk, steps away from where the philosopher Baruch Spinoza was buried.
In order to cater for the crowds a temporary tent with a wooden floor in front of the theater greeted punters, with a bar and rotating djs. This year the festival was spread over the week, therefore the weekend did not feel overcrowded at all, with Friday being the quieter one.
Each year a different visual artist designs the poster and then the image is repeated across all communication, they had a media wall, small wooden boxes on the stages and a big newspaper that was distributed well in advance and available at the library.
The artwork is always different and this year it featured a cool head, which was also made into coasters they distributed for free.
Location Location Location
The absolute magic spot of the festival was the bookshop corner set up by local bookstore van Stockum, where authors were signing their books to excited readers. Having everything in one place meant no extra trips in the cold to go see the next act. The only time I had to cross the road was when I went to the library to listen to Sandro Veronesi and Edoardo Albinati.
In the beautiful Nieuwe Kerk church Dutch trio Rembrant Frerichs curated a musical evening where they presented different guests, among them Hossein Alizadeh, Saba Alizadeh and Ali Boustan for a musical trip to the Middle East. The acoustics and the setting were very enjoyable.
The pop-up Katrina stage was the perfect location for presenting the new London jazz scene, with many musicians coming from Gary Crosby’s Tomorrow’s Warriors, a platform for young musicians who want to pursue a career in jazz.
Emma-Jean Thackray and her band presented their London inspired songs and I got totally hooked by the groove on Ley Lines. I missed quartet Stringting, but I caught them later in the audience whilst listening to talented 26 year old drummer boy Moses Boyd Exodus. The cool thing was that also Gary Crosby was cheering in the audience.
Moses Boyd Exodus
Moses is an extremely talented drummer, winner of the Mobo jazz award and headlining the UK jazz showcase at SXSW. See him in action in this Masterclass with Tony Allen or the video below.
Giordano, at 26, was the youngest recipient of Italian literature prize Premio Strega with his 2008 bestseller The Solitude of Prime Numbers. He had a super interesting conversation on his latest book which took him 4 years to finish, over faith, ideals, growing up and the art of writing.
At the end of the festival we noticed Paolo at the after party, so we just went up to him to show our enthusiasm for the interview he gave earlier. Fellow Italians Sandro Veronesi and Edoardo Albinati also came to say hello. Cool to see some of the best selling contemporary Italian authors hanging around at Crossing Border. I took no photos of them, in today’s obsessed society with images, memory will surely fix this moment.
St. Paul and The Broken Bones
After all this intense European literature the showmanship of a good American band wrapped the festival on a high note. All the way from Birmingham, Alabama soul band St.Paul and The Broken Bones got people ‘feeling it’, catch his act in the video I managed to grab.
There was a lot more than I was able to cover, but enough to keep November busy with listening and reading all the great stuff that was presented at Crossing Border 2018.
Were you there? Post your comments, photos and videos on Culturaal’s Facebook page