Alex Akela and Birgit Wijdemans in Cafe Peter en Leni

Last Friday I went to see Alex Akela and Birgit Wijdemans in a cafe in Steendam, a new location for me, but a really nice café and it was good to meet up with some old friends.

I first met Alex on Vanessa Peters’ first tour in the Netherlands bakc in 2007 and have seen him with nearly every concert Vanessa held here. Also I saw Alex playing in Andre van den Boogaard’s band in 2013 during the Bluesnight in Assen and at tht concert I also met Birgit.

Alex Akela & Birgit Wijdemans – Click image for full set

That was over five years ago and since then Alex and Birgit have started touring together, bringing a mixture of covers of the great singer-songwriter artists, several Russian songs either in Russian or translated to English or Dutch (by Alex) and some original work of their own.

Alex Akela & Birgit Wijdemans – Click image for full set

Alex is a classically trained Russian violinist that moved to the Netherlands and who got interested in playing guitar. The violin sounds fantastic, but he’a really gifted guitarist too. Both technically and in sounds he draws you in. The stories he tells about Russia and being a Russian really help put the songs in context.

Alex Akela & Birgit Wijdemans – Click image for full set

This combines really well with Birgit’s voice: either strong and powerful or really fragile when it needs to be. And in between the songs they both tell the stories behind the songs and give a bit of a greater insight in Russia from a different perspective.

Alex Akela & Birgit Wijdemans – Click image for full set

The combination of songs, the Russian lyrics and the setting simply sound great. the two sets of songs are a joy and it’s really good to catch up with Alex and Birgit before and after the gig.

Alex Akela & Birgit Wijdemans – Click image for full set

Also, it has to be said, even though it’s a bit of a drive… the Café Peter & Leni is a really nice location and they have a well filled agenda so I’ll definitively be back there again sometime soon. Great to find new locations with a taste for good music! Thanks for hosting the evening!