Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Walking on Sunshine in Stockholm

Stockholm winter by eGuide Travel
Stockholm winter, a photo by eGuide Travel on Flickr.
Dialogue of the Carmelites Swedish Royal Opera
Jazz Fasching Jam Session Amanda Sedgewick,
Thomas Prim and the Full Hand Blues   Stampen  Happy Jazz,
 Sunshine/ Walking on Water/Breaking the ice  
 Milk (Band), Darts and Dinner at Engelen
  Music Instruments Museum, Mohammad Rubaie,
  Lunchtime Shostakovitch  at Opera Cafe ,   Learys Sports Bar
 Sculpture God OurFather on the Rainbow 
Sightseeing  boat trip around archipelago

We  flew to Stockholm, the 'Venice of the North' for a winter break to explore  the Scandanavian capital  and seek out some live music.

Cuban jamming at Fasching
Jam List
Bass Clarinet
First up was Fasching   a Jazz venue in the Noralm district with quite a Bohemian, retro feel to the interior with red curtains and spindly chairs  Following a  West Coast style set by anchor musician, saxophonist Amanda Sedgewick, ensembles were formed from musicians in the audience and we stayed for three changes of stage lineup . This was a very entertaining evening and (relatively inexpensive as there was no cover charge).  I liked the blurring of the lines betweeen platform and punters and I loved 8 piece Cuban outfit with  bespectacled vocalist. Because  very few people seemed to be dining,  we ordered in some trepidation.  Although the reinder mousse with lingonberries was tempting, we settled for elk burgers and a surprisingly good beef bourgignon and can report that both suppers were very tasty and added to the enjoyment of the evening. Music lovers cannot survive on jamculture alone. While there was a mix of ages in the clientele and performers, the age range was predominantly 20-35 age group and there was a sense that jazz in Stockholm was a thriving scene and female input among the instrumentalists noteable.

Back nearer our base on Gamla Stan, we caught the end of the set in  Stampen Jazz venue,
Happy Blues at Stampen
a former pawn shop with an alarming amount of ceiling mounted  stuff.  The venue proudly promises a 'Happy Jazz' experience and  although  happy jazz and blues might seem oxymoronic, the  Thomas Prim Full Hand Blues Band seemed a cheerful enough of  and went down well with the mix of tattooed and tweed jacketed punters  .  In the nearby Engelen, we also enjoyed a  good reasonably priced meal and  a good covers band called Milk.  There was a very entertaining and highly competitive darts match amongst local pub teams.
Stockholm is choc full of museums covering all manner of memorabilia.

 I visited the Music and Theatre Museum hoping to see some Hardanger  fiddles . Housed in a very nice building, the museum displays though eclectic were underwhelming and featured more ethnic percussion than any other
Arabic drumming at Music Museum
instrument type.  There was an exhibition dedicated to Jenny Lind the famous songbird  and I was just in time for a demonstration of ethnic drumming, a global phenomenon it seems and not unknown in Clare (see Tribal Spirit pot).  The most striking display of folk instruments was the collection of  the late Kurash Sultan, a refugee Urgyar
Poet and Musician Kurash Sultan Display at Music Museum
musician, and folk music collector who had settled in Sweden. Listening to the snatches of recording I was reminded of Andy Irvine who is a bit of a magpie and collects influences from all over Europe in moulding his own style. It wouldn't surprise me at all  if they had gigged together.

Arriving late into Gamla Stan I was just in time to catch  Scotsman, Dave Stewart's closing numbers at the Liffey Bar. Anticipating Christy Dignam's eagerly awaited  gig at the same venue, Dave sang a heartfelt version of the Aslan classic, Crazy World. While a Scotsman singing songs songs by an Irishman was not quite what I had expected  for a musical experience in the Swedish capital, it was heartfelt and memorable.

Wednesday is given over to lunchtime and evening events at the Royal Swedish Opera house where I saw a production of Dialogue of the Carmelites by Poulenc. (My review of a day at the Royal Swedish Opera)

The strange sensation of jouneying on a boat through ice was one of the thrills of a sight-seeing boat trip. Our guide Ana Li was excellent and at pains to include as much local insight as possible including our own national
Arctic Cat
obsession, local property prices.  The  brilliant sunshine allowed  great views of the archipelago and many of the sights  including the famous sculpture God Our Father on the Rainbow,  rejected by the UN it appears for its religious overtones.

Stockholm was a very relaxing city to spend a few days in. Getting around is easy and most sights and venues can be reached on foot. Eating out and drinks are very expensive but gigs and the opera tickets were cheaper than other capital city prices and there was plenty of diversions for a winter break.  Lagom which loosely translated means an elegant sufficiency is a good word to sum up this Scandinavian capital.
God the Father on the rainbow

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