Toasaves is a Belgian music collective with a fascination for archaic Flemish folk songs and their relationship to early music and Eastern music. Toasaves is written phonetically and means “home ports” in the Antwerp dialect. The band was founded in early 2021 by oud player and artistic director Tristan Driessens. It brings together nine musicians from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and Cyprus, each with a broad artistic background and expertise.
On the first album “Zwerver” (wanderer in Dutch), Toasaves starts from the compositions and the ‘Groot Liedboek’ by Wannes van de Velde (1937-2008), the singer-songwriter who blew new life into the oldest surviving ballads and litanies in his home port of Antwerp. Tristan Driessens wrote new arrangements of both anonymous medieval songs and original work by Van de Velde. It goes without saying that an eclectic dialogue with the East, which runs like a red thread through Driessens' career, was not missing. It ties in with the nomadic spirit and openness of Wannes van de Velde, and reveals and reinforces the primal power of the early music repertoires.
The Toasaves’ exceptionally rich and rare set of instruments fulfills a connecting function. Thanks to virtuoso performances on traditional instruments from East and West – Medieval flutes, drums, cisterns and fiddles, Oriental violin, Turkish lutes (lavta and 'ûd) and frame drums (daf, bendir, pandero cuadrado), hurdy-gurdy, Flemish and Irish bagpipes, Indian dilruba and bansuri, Afghan rebab, Persian santur, … – new light is shed on the actual source of musical traditions that, separated in time and space, often contain the same poetic and musical secrets. Starting from the folk repertoire of Wannes van de Velde, the travelling companions surprise us by mixing it with early music, traditional dance music from the Greek islands, classical court music (makam) from Istanbul and even folk music from Afghanistan.