Makfest is a pop festival organized in Macedonia and although the language barrier obviously limited its appeal to local audiences, it valiantly managed to attract artists from all over former Yugoslavia who found convenient gig that resulted with much radio-play in Macedonia. For a while it flourished quite nicely in its own corner and although it was never a threat to big events like Mesam or Split, its charming combination of homegrown and outside guests was a very popular in Macedonia.
As it happened, I would probably never even hear of Makfest if during my national service I wasn't stationed in Štip - this particular recording of songs promoted in 1988. was ubiquitous to such a degree that with time, eventually they all went under one's skin and gradually they became the soundtrack of my days. Since as a soldiers we were not allowed to own photo cameras or tape recorders (it was a matter of security, I guess) radio blasting from a huge speakers on our training field was the only source of music we heard and before you know it, I knew all these songs by heart. Once I have returned to civilian life, I left it all behind and didn't think much of it but in subsequent years sometimes I wondered what on earth happened to all those guys I shared my life back than - not that I was exactly nostalgic about sweat, dust and early rising at 5 a.m. but trough the years one gets a bit soft reminiscing early youth and I really wanted to hear these songs again.
It took me a while, in fact it took me almost three decades but eventually I got my hands on recording of Makfest '88 - it was extremely difficult because no one understood why I wanted old pop festival when Macedonia has so many new, more interesting and contemporary artists nowadays but this one means something special to me. When I hear "Samba vo Štip" my heart jumps from thrill of recognition and I can ever remember the silly words, not to mention see myself at that particular moment of my life, strapped in uniform and marching trough mud and dust. Nothing is seriously earth-shaking here, just usual synthesisers and drum machines galore, but this was very, very popular on local radio back than and it touches the nerve as I was there that summer, ridiculously young and fit to burst from all the exercise. This morning I am sitting here, listening Biljana Damjanovska singing "Zošto te ljubam", it seems like another lifetime now, tapping my foot and humming along - this is what music does, it brings you to another place and time like Proust's Madeleine cookie. Surely I would not return to these times - once was enough - but oh, how much I would love to embrace my ex colleagues who are all lost somewhere around the world and I can hardly remember more than just a few nicknames now. This Makfest '88 is really tugging at my heartstrings today.