The city’s heart beats in various rhythms. Sometimes it is the most sought-after pop, rap or hip-hop, with which the capital of Upper Silesia is strongly connected. At other times it’s the best classics, jazz, electronic, and alternative or even heavier guitar sounds. Welcome to Katowice, the UNESCO City of Music, and discover the 7 most interesting music festivals worth attending.
The music festival season in Katowice is in full bloom from early spring until late autumn. No wonder the city resounds with various trends and cultures, connecting generations of festival-goers. In 2015 Katowice was named a UNESCO City of Music. As we read on the official website of the initiative, “UNESCO appreciated the intensity and diversity of musical life, the work of artists associated with the city and their contribution to the development and dissemination of musical heritage, as well as an impressive infrastructure for both creators and residents.” See what music festivals take place in Katowice and move on to discover various musical sounds.
Tauron Nowa Muzyka (Tauron New Music)
The beginnings of one of the most important and best-attended music festivals in Poland dates back to 2006. Tauron Nowa Muzyka Festival was created in the heart of Katowice at the initiative of a group of enthusiasts associated with Jazz Club Hipnoza. The premiere of the event brought an interesting line-up. At the former site of the Wilson mine appeared, among others: DJ Krush, Swayzak, and Cristian Vogel.
The next two years the event took place in Cieszyn and then to permanently return to Katowice. The festival was first held at the closed Coal Mine “Katowice”, then it was organized in Dolina Trzech Stawów (Valley of Three Ponds), and eventually moved to the Strefa Kultury (Katowice Culture Zone). Futuristic sounds mingled perfectly with post-industrial locations of the subsequent concerts. From the beginning in 2006, such electronic stars as Autechre, Prefuse 73, Jamie Lidell, Amon Tobin, Flying Lotus, Battles, Bonobo, Fever Ray, and many others performed. Every edition of the festival is a big event!
Today many fans of fresh alternative sounds cannot imagine a map of the most interesting music events without the OFF Festival. The originator, creator, and artistic director of this event is Artur Rojek – musician, once the frontman of the legendary band Myslovitz, today known for his solo projects in which he constantly searches for new sounds and means of expression. The first year of the OFF Festival took place in Park Słupna’s swimming area in Mysłowice, in Rojek’s hometown. Lech Janerka, Maria Peszek, Norwegian group The White Birch and reactivated Lenny Valentino – one of the originator’s musical projects – appeared on stage.
After four years, the festival was moved to Katowice, right in the heart of Dolina Trzech Stawów (Valley of Three Ponds). The change of venue also brought greater momentum to the initiative. Since then, music genres such as folk, noise, punk, indie pop, jazz, metal, and even rap have resounded on OFF Festivals. OFF earned the title of the most eclectic Polish festival, and the line-up with each subsequent year has delighted us more and more. Remarkable artists who have appeared on stage include: Iggy Pop, PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, The Flaming Lips, The National, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, Belle And Sebastian, Run The Jewels, Charlotte Gainsbourg, MIA, Grizzly Bear and many more. There were also Polish favorites such as Hey, Apteka, Skalpel and Molesta, Pro- lament, Old River, Fury, and Zbigniew Wodecki with the Mitch & Mitch group. No wonder that American “TIME” chose OFF Festival as one of the 14 most interesting festivals in the world.
Rawa Blues Festival
Can you hear Irek Dudek singing out loud the name of the festival with his recognizable vocal tone? It would be difficult to react differently, because Rawa Blues Festival is an iconic event, and everybody knows the characteristic jingle from the television announcements. The initiative, which took its name from the Rawa River, today is one of the largest and oldest music festivals in Poland, as well as one of the most popular blues events in the world. Since the beginning of its existence, Rawa Blues Festival has been faithful to Katowice and Hala Spodek, as concerts have been held there consistently since 1981. Blues fans come from all over the globe and treat the event as one of the biggest blues music festivals.
Irek Dudek, a bluesman, composer, vocalist, songwriter, and one of the most colorful birds on the Polish music scene, has been the creator and organizer of the festival for many years. For the first 10 years, the festival was organized as all-day blues sessions. Over time it has evolved becoming an international blues festival. Since then real legends have appeared on the scene of Spodek, including Robert Cray, Keb ‘Mo’, JJ Gray & Mofro, Elvin Bishop, Otis Taylor, Marcia Ball, Luther Allison, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers, Marcia Ball and Big Bill Morganfield. In 2012 the largest international blues association, The Blues Foundation, awarded Rawa Blues with the Keeping The Blues Alive award in the International Festival category. Rawa is a “must go to” for blues fans and those who want to attend a top-notch event. Tune in this fall!
If we were to point out a festival that year-on-year enjoys the unflagging interest of fans, with tickets selling like hotcakes, it will undoubtedly be the Męskie Granie festival. For the first time the event was initiated and originated in 2010 by Zywiec. This is a unique festival on the map of musical events, all thanks to its formula. Only Polish artists appear on stage at Męskie Granie. As the organizers emphasize, the goal of the initiative is to present the creative side of the Polish music scene and to encourage listeners to musical experiments. Despite the name, not only charismatic musicians and vocalists can be seen on the festival stages (including Wojciech Waglewski, Ørganek, Dawid Podsiadło, Krzysztof Zalewski, O.S.T.R. or Tomek Lipiński), but also intriguing artists such as Katarzyna Nosowska, Natalia Przybysz, Krystyna Prońko or Mela Koteluk.
In 2014, as part of the event, a group of artists called the Męskie Granie Orchestra was also created. Its composition is different every year, and the repertoire includes both new songs and legendary ones in completely new arrangements. There is a great deal of excitement about the new annual single promoting the Meskie Granie tour. The song usually has its premiere on Trójka radio (Program Trzeci Polskiego Radia), a few weeks before the tour begins. For years Piotr Stelmach – a festival announcer and music journalist – has announced the single. A few months after each completed tour a music album is released with a record of the most interesting performances from the edition.
Katowice Jazz Art Festival
Although Katowice Jazz Art Festival is a relatively young event (premiering in 2014), it quickly won both the hearts of jazz enthusiasts and all those interested in the new initiative. Musical meetings with jazz are organized in many different places in Katowice, which are closely related to culture: NOSPR, Rondo Sztuki, Muzeum Śląskie, Kinoteatr Rialto, IMP Institute of Music Performance, Katowice Miasto Ogrodów or Pałac Młodzieży. Interestingly enough, on the festival map there are also jazz-filled, intimate clubs such as Jazz Club Hipnoza, Winkel Club, Absurdalna, and Drzwi Zwane Koniem (Doors Called a Horse). Every year in the spring Katowice blooms with jazz sounds and the list of artists from all over the world is impressive.
Each edition of the festival is accompanied by a motto associated with a chosen, often legendary figure from the world of jazz music. This year’s event was accompanied by the words of Miles Davies “You should never be comfortable, man.” As the authors emphasize, the latest Katowice Jazz Art Festival gained a moon-related name: oneiric, dreamy but still bursting with creative energy. The organizers of the event this year opted for intimate venues where musical meetings become more intimate, and the viewers are in closer contact with the artists. Getting out of the comfort zone, as Davies said, this year the musicians started from themselves.