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On the Anthropologist Gradus J. Bosklopper


One of my favorite regional artists is Bert Hadders. I promised in my last blog I would write about King’s Day. Well, here I go: I heard him play at King’s Day in my village. He played with his band De Nozems at the central square. In front of him sat some real fans; they spoke dialect and had fun. On the side, on the cafe terrace, the local elite was looking blase over a white wine. A little bit the John Lennon-idea: “Those in the cheaper seats clap. The rest of you, rattle your jewelry.”


But the band was great, as was Bert Haddders. One of his songs I like best is “Elvis, Keuning van de Bunermond”, a song about a local hero somewhere in the Wild East of the Groningen province, the place we call VeenkoloniĆ«n (literally “the Peatbog Colonies”, I guess), also because this song has such an irresistible video clip.


So far for my reports on King’s Day. But last Saturday Bert Hadders had a huge interview in the regional newspaper. He had bought, on an earlier Queeen’s Day (yes, yes, we changed our Head of State), a tape recorder with some tape reels, he claims; and the tape reels contained a collection of fieldwork recordings from the fifties and sixties of he last century. Indigenous songs from the Peatbog Colonies (“hillbilly, blues, rock ‘n’roll, country”, as Hadders describes them), sung in the local dialect and collected by the famous anthropologist Gradus J. Bosklopper, Peatbog’s own Alan Lomax, as Bert Hadders claims. He adds that it is very unusual that the songs are sung in dialect, because all other songs collected in the Netherlands (find them on de Liederenbank) are sung in standard Dutch, not in local languages and dialects – a still astonishing but very true fact, showing that Bert Hadders did his homework. Of course, Boskloppper has by now mysteriously vanished (Hadders claims that the latest known fact is that Bosklopper joined a hippy commune – “… and you know what that means”).


I love all this. Of course, Hadders has made a musical programme out of the tapes, and is going on tour through the Peatbog Colonies with it. “People may dance, we have a licence for that”, he announces – I think that if I would ask him to show the licence he would immediately be able to provide an extremely official document with lots of stamps from the Ministry of Culture of the Peatbogs. He is such a man. His project is much more interesting than the project “Oost-Groninger Wereldmuziek” (“World Music from East Groningen”), I think. But both projects at least show one thing: that not only every African village is entitled to its own anthropologist (I remember a cartoon where two ‘Natives’ meet and the one asks the other: “Who is your anthropologist?”), but that anthropologists of music and ethnomusicologists may think that they should study places far off but that actually the best chance for a High Status Career lies just around the corner.


Bert, if you need me to become your personal Ethnomusicologist, I am yours.


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