About an hour south of Toulouse, there is a small town, a commune to be precise, called Chalabre (pronounced “Shalab” I believe). It’s very quiet but in between the roughly 1000 residents, there is one couple that a few years ago decided to organise a music festival and make some noise. The couple is called Vinx and Jen with Vinx being a well-established musician from the US with lots of talented friends from all over the world.
In 2019, the festival called “Chalabre en Serenade”, went into its third year and I got to be there. Lee was one of the performers (and is good friends with Vinx) and he invited me to come along.
Artists from all over came to visit, perform, improvise, meet friends and enjoy France. It was amazing and I can only imagine how big it might get one day.
My first experience of the festival were the afternoon balcony serenades. People opened their houses so musicians could sing from their balconies. The audience was guided through the whole town to listen to different acoustic performances on different ends of the streets. What a way to include everyone in the festival!
Later that day, there was live music located by a lake and the evening ended with spectacular fireworks.
The weekend saw a street market where artist and traders could sell their products. Meanwhile a radio journalist interviewed the artists and you could hear music in every corner of the town and beyond. Evenings were reserved for concerts where musicians and friends came together to jam and entertain the audience. The festival was a perfect opportunity for everyone to experiment, learn and have fun on stage.
Obviously I took a few photos while I was there. Here’s what I saw.
This is Chalabre.
Singing from the balconies, this is “Chalabre en serenade”.
The light is gone, the music goes on.
Local press coverage. Lee’s French isn’t good enough for an interview, so Freddy helped and translated.
Saturday night, the final concert. The big one. It went on for probably 4 hours, maybe more. I didn’t take photos through the night, I decided to just enjoy the music instead.
Now I kind of wonder what Chalabre looks and feels like throughout the rest of the year. It could be so quiet that it’s hard to stand or just quiet enough to fuel the creative energy. Who knows. Maybe I’ll find out one day.