April 15, 2019

Once Upon Two Times

Listening Post 197. Laptops, extended lifespans, the means to reach any point on Earth within 24 hours—modernity has its advantages. The past, meanwhile, beckons with things like community, patience, art, wisdom. The six women of the Latvian folk group Tautumeitas appeal to our traditional vein with polyphonic stories but also remind us—with old-new and local-global beats and tones—that we can meld eras and cultures and have it all. On their almost-debut album, they are entirely beguiling with tales of time-honored activities, rites and ceremonies. Originally, tautumeitas were maidens of marriageable age, but the term has come to connote modern-day women dressed in folk costume. Formed in 2015, the group’s first studio outing was a collaborative record with the bagpipe-drum ensemble Auli that won Latvia’s 2017 award for folk/world album of the year. Venturing forth on their own, their eponymous 13-track collection gives them and their country’s rich folklore a higher profile on the world stage. In Raganu Nakts (Witch’s Night) they sing a hymn to the summer solstice, their stunning voices heralded by erupting drumworks (video 1). Chant coaxes percussion in Raudi Raudi (Weep, Weep), reflecting on a young woman’s search for a husband (video 2). Pāde (Initiation) describes a baby-naming rite, evoking Laima, one of the fate deities of Latvian mythology (video 3). The album highlights traditional symbols of nature: Birch as an emblem of strength; and the wreath—which the ladies often use as headgear—as a token of trust. One song, however, appears to invert past and present: The young woman in Sadziedami (Singing Together) avoids big decisions, insisting she has all the time in the world (video 4). How is it that our lives today are longer but we seem to have less time? Tautumeitas offers an answer that dresses yesteryear in a contemporary frame and sounds just right. (CPL Music)

Asnate Rancāne: voice, violin
Aurēlija Rancāne: voice
Laura Marta Līcīte: voice
Laura Liepiņa: voice
Lauma Bērza: voice, violin
Ilona Dzērve: voice, accordion, diatonic accordion

Featured musicians
Reinis Sējāns: drums, percussion, dulcimer, synthesizer
Staņislavs Judins: double bass
Artūrs Bērziņš: bass trombome
Kaspars Majors: trombone
Sandis Bārdiņš: trombone
Jānis Sirmais: trumpet

Raganu Nakts/Witch’s Night
Lyrics: Traditional/Music: Traditional, Tautumeitas

From the album notes: Summer solstice is the flowering time of nature. Midsummer Night—the shortest night of the year—has a powerful fertile energy that manifests itself in the air, in nature and in humans. During this night it is possible to change your consciousness.


Raudi Raudi/Weep, Weep
Lyrics: Traditional/Music: Traditional, Lauma Bērza

A woman has to make several big decisions in life. One of them is: Who will be the one she’s going to spend the rest of her life and build a family with? A girl spends the days of her youth wondering and looking for the right one. It’s a journey full of emotions.


Lyrics: Traditional/Music: Asnate Rancāne

According to Latvian tradition, nine days after birth a child must receive a name. So the family organizes the name-giving ritual, also called baptizing, at which the child receives the “strength name” that will characterize it and will be used in moments when encouragement is needed. Together with the name, the child also receives a blessing and the idea of its destiny given by the Latvian Goddess Laima and all the people who participate in the rite. But all that strength and happiness we want to give the child we must first find and acknowledge within ourselves—only then are we able to give it. So really this is a story about self-awareness.


Sadziedami/Singing Together
Lyrics: Traditional/Music: Traditional, Lauma Bērza

Mother’s shoes fit me well now. So does her shoulder blanket. But I have no time to get married. Why should I reap wheat early in the morning? I have the whole day for that. Why should I get married now? I have my whole life for that.



  1. Jeff Meshel

    Fine music.
    Fine review.
    Good job!

  2. claude renouard

    Tautumeitas , votre travail est superbe. Découvert par hasard. Tout est réussi , chants, costumes, présence sur scène, videos, et Vous comme personnes.
    On n’a pas du tout votre équivalent dans le “folk” français. J’espère que vous continuerez à créer de la beauté
    encore longtemps.


Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: