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Boat Beam perform 'The Rain Pauly'
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Xambanga de gegantsJoin the parade of 'gegants' (giants and giant heads) at the start of the festival. Starting from the Plaça Àngels then down Pintor Fortuny along the Rambla, and finishing in Carrer Ferran and Plaça Sant Jaume. Xambanga de gegants - September 23rd, 9.30-10.30pm
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Diada Castellera amb les colles localsBe amazed and slightly nervous by watching the youngsters climb the heights of the 'castellers' (human towers). Diada Castellera amb les colles locals - Plaça de Sant Jaume, 24th September, 12.30pm
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Passejada de dracs i bèsties de focMarvel at the daring participants of the traditional 'correfoc' (fire run) as it makes its way through the city centre. Starting in C. Bisbe it snakes its way to Sant Jaume. Passejada de dracs i bèsties de foc, September 25th, 9pm to 10.45pm
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Festival Pirotècnic InternationalThe Mercè festival normally ends with some impressive firework displays. For three days teams from over Europe compete to see who has the biggest and best roman candles and Chinese rockets. Festival Pirotècnic International - Platja de la Barceloneta, 24th, 25th & 26th - 10.30pm
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Music and lightshowsAs well as all the fireworks and traditional events, there is also a packed calendar of concerts and light shows. See website for full details - www.bcn.cat/merce
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FotomercèFotomercè is a two-part event that includes an exhibition of pictures from last year's Barcelona festival by competition participants as well as panoramic shots taken by the official photographer Carmen Secanella. La Virreina - Friday 18th September to October 25th
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BAM 09As part of the Mercè programme, the annual Barcelona Acció Musical festival brings artists from all over the world to Barcelona with a programme of free concerts that mixes established acts with those who are just starting out. Wednesday 23rd to Sunday 26th - www.bcn.cat/bam/2009
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Festival AsiaA shorter programme than usual for this year's Festival Asia but no less diverse. Highlights include Chinese pop sensation Cui Jian in concert, documentaries, food stalls and sport and dance demonstrations.Festival Asia - Parc de la Ciutadella, September 24th; Ciu Jian performs in Plaça Reial, September 23rd, 10pm
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Mercè '09Other events include the 'gimcana' (treasure hunt around the city), wine and cava tasting at Moll de la Fusta, the exhibition 'Centri/fugacions' featuring artists from guest city Istanbul, and a fair of different groups and associations in Plaça Catalunya (24th-27th).Finally, we'd love to feature your photos of this year's Mercè festival in a special slideshow. Send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Boat Beam, where does the name come from?
We like the imagery of boats lost at sea, ghost boats and beams of light in the middle of an eternity of darkness. But also it comes from a now obsolete expression in English "on her beam ends" which makes reference to a ship about to capsize. They used it to describe a person who is about to lose control completely. And that is a mood we sometimes try to capture in our music.
* Your band is three girls from three areas—can you tell me what each of you do in the band - are you the main song-writer?
Aurora is from Madrid, and she plays the cello, piano and harmonica, and sings harmonies.
Alisha is from Wisconsin, USA and she plays the viola, percussion and sings harmonies.
And I am from Sydney, Australia and I play the guitar, the piano and sing. And yes, I write most of the songs, although we are collaborating more and more.
* You're currently touring your album Puzzle Shapes. What's the reaction been? Where has been your favourite place to perform so far?
People are liking the album, which has made us incredibly happy. We're the type of artists that really care what people think, and we try to make people enjoy themselves at our concerts. We've played all over Spain, but some of our favourite places have been Ojén in Andalusía, Ourense in Galicia, and of course, Barcelona.
* Is this the first time you've performed in Barcelona?
No, we've played here before, in the Apolo and at the Primavera Festival this year. And in a museum on Las Ramblas, which we never caught the name of...
* How long did the album take to write?
A few years, because I was travelling as part of another band and only in 2008, after I left Australia and moved to Madrid, was I really able to devote myself to it completely.
* Where do you get your inspiration for your songs?
From friends, books, documentaries, dreams and experiences.
* Can you tell me a little about the creative process behind them?
Usually I write lyrics in a notebook and at the same time I'll be playing around with a chord progression on the guitar or piano. And when they seem to match each other, I put them together and that's how the song comes about. Then I show it to the other two girls and we arrange their parts. Sometimes a song evolves for a long time, like 'Lion Hunt', which changed a lot from the first rough drafts to the final album version.
* What lies ahead for Boat Beam? Are you working on new songs or just touring with the current album?
We're writing a lot of new songs and working with other musicians, developing our live show, and thinking about new elements for the next album. But we're still excited about playing the songs from the first album, because we keep adding new instruments and people to the mix.
* Which bands/artists would you love to work with in the future?
Lots of them, from as many different countries as possible. We listen to music of all types, from indie to classical to reggae to Cuban to flamenco and we'd love to be able to experiment with different styles.
* Which bands/artists do you admire, both here in Spain and elsewhere?
We love Leda Tres from Cádiz, The Sounds of Lucrezia from Barcelona, and at the moment we're really inspired by Grizzly Bear and the Dirty Projectors.
Boat Beam - Plaça del Rei, Thursday 24th, 9pm - see our link for full listings for all the BAM concerts in this year's Mercè festival.
For information about what else is happening at the Mercè, check the slideshow