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Iceland Whatever Vol. 2: 11 Icelandic bands you should get to know.

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Iceland continually maintains a wealth of musicians and bands.  There isn’t a genre missing on the small island, and there is a lot of talent found almost everywhere you look.  From atmospherically haunting soundtracks to the darkest metal, you can always find something you’ll dig.  And while this list doesn’t encompass all said genres, it’s my personal list of bands I’m enjoying at the moment.

Full disclosure, this blog post is about the 11 bands I’ve been lucky enough to compile on the new Icelandic Whatever compilation.  They are 11 bands I truly dig, and I hope you will as well.  The new compilation is released on November 11th, and is available for pre-order for $3 here.  These bands are presented in the order of the compilation.

Most of these bands will be at Iceland Airwaves 2016.  So if you’re going, make sure to check them out.  The schedule and more info for Iceland Airwaves can be found here.

Berndsen – “Alter Ego”

David Berndsen is Berndsen.  I try to describe Berndsen not as 80’s retro, or a blast from the past, but as a continuation of the 80’s, with unique beats, heavy synths, and a booming voice.  It’s not just a pinhole representation of what we loved about the 80’s, it’s a feel good modernized trip back to what we dug.  In my opinion, he’s taken what can be a very dated musical genre and made it timeless.  His music videos are also something of pure genius and are frequently on almost all of my house party playlists.  The video above is “Shaping the Grey” featuring the talented singer/songwriter Elin Ey, and Högni Egilsson of GusGus fame.  It is from his new album “Alter Ego.”  The title track  is on the compilation. Other videos you should watch are  Lover in the dark, and Game of Chance.

Dr. Gunni – “Ég er aumingi”

Dr. Gunni is a veteran punk, he’s been at it since the 80’s.  And as well as the band Dr. Gunni, he has been in the legendary bands:  SH Draumur, Bless, and Unun.  He wrote, “Blue eyed pop” which is the most comprehensive book on the history of rock in Iceland and has also has released a few compilations in his time called the Snarl series which was the inspiration for me to begin releasing compilations.  The song “Ég er aumingi” is on the new comp, and it’s from his upcoming album, “ATVIK”.

Milkywhale – “Invisble”

MilkyWhale began as a musical project between choreographer Melkorka Sigríður Magnúsdóttir  and Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (FM Belfast, and Pluseinn.)  It’s dance pop, with unique breaks and as with their music, their live shows are filled with high energy moments that somehow bring both band and audience together almost as if everyone in attendance had rehearsed their dancing.  “Invisible” is on the compilation.

Boogie Trouble – “Moldun”

Yes, Icelandic Disco does exist, perhaps it’s not well known, but one of Donna Summers favorite songwriters was Icelandic.  I fell in love with Boogie trouble the first time I saw them at Iceland Airwaves years ago.  It’s a super group of talented and seasoned musicians, and their new album, “Í bænum” is one solid disco dance-fest.  I’ve written about it before, and I still thing the song, “Moldun” is about the quest of a lonely space cowboy to find his electric-slide line dancing space cow folk.  Thankfully, the band has let me put said track on the compilation.

Pink Street Boys – “Let it down”

I like contrast, and Pink Street Boys delivers said contrast.  Dirty, sludgy punk infused garage rock.  practically insane in everything they do, they’ve been my go-to rock out band for quite a while now.  I originally wanted “Evel Knievel” for the compilation, but they delighted me with a new gem, “Let it down” and it does not disappoint.

Æla – “Rólegur!

Æla continue to be a treat.  They are a punk band whose live shows are always a must-see for me.  Every year after their gig I say “that’ll be tough to beat next year,” and every year they beat it.  The dedication they put into their show antics are only beat by their dedication to their music, and their new-ish album, Vettlingatök (Handle with kid gloves) is solid.  “Rólegur” is the track on the compilation, and the performance above was at the Iceland Airwaves KEXP stage at Kex last year.

Myrra Rós – “One amongst others”

Myrra Rós, is well known in Iceland for her solo project as well as a vocalist for the band Var. She is an enchanting chanteuse, her soothing  voice soars only grounded by heavy instrumentation below her.   Her new album, “One Amongst Others” is an atmospheric collection of other-wordly songs.  The title track shown above is on the compilation.

Svavar Knútur – “Wanderlust”

Svavar Knútur is the traveling troubadour.  From the west side of Iceland his folk songs are a contrast of serious topics happily sung.  He takes his audiences on comedic journeys and with or without a backing band an audience is never left without.  The song above is an acoustic version of the song”Wanderlust” from his newest album, Brot (The breaking) and the album version is on the compilation.

Cyber – MÁVAR

Cyber is an interesting duo.  Formerly they were what I can only describe as disco/metal/rap duo, and now they are hip hop. I was stoked when they agreed to be on my comp, as I really like their music + lyric combination.  Typically they rap in Icelandic, but the video above is in English. MÁVAR is the track they’ve let me use for the compilation, trippy beats, Icelandic lyrics.

Reykjavik! – Flybus!

It’s no secret that Reykjavik!  is one of my favorite bands.  They are somewhat garage/punk rock legends in Iceland, and they are a band I thought I would never get to see live.  So last year when they played a surprise gig at Kaffibarinn, I became that happy little kid on Christmas morning.  It was sweaty, and nobody could really move except for the band, which managed to hang off the ceiling, bars tops and audience members, you can see the pics I took of the gig here.  So you can imagine how happy I was when they let me put their classic track, Flybus! on the compilation.

Futuregrapher – Shemale

I was beyond stoked when Futuregrapher agreed to be on the compilation, even more so when he sent a brand new track.  he mixes multiple layers of trippy broken beats combined with the atmospheric noise to create unique songs you can’t help but get wrapped up in.  He’s a breath of fresh air to see live, and you get sucked in not only by the music, but by his unique style behind the machines.  I’ve written about him before, and the new song, Shemale, which is on the compilation is something different I’ve never heard from him before.  It’s the perfect ending to a great list of musicians on the compilation.

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Iceland Affair 2015

It’s time again for another Iceland Affair.  This charming Icelandic festival celebrates it’s sixth year on Saturday October 17th.  Nestled in the picturesque towns of Winchester and Norfolk CT, Iceland affair will take over the Winchester center and Infinity Hall for cultural presentations, unique items for sale, food, and a night of music.

During the day Winchester center will play host to multiple presentations, Icelandic horses, food and merchandise.  there will be a silent auction table as well as a slew of products from Lopapeysas (Icelandic sweaters), cakes, soaps and other Icelandic items for sale throughout the event.  There will be Pylsur (Icelandic Hot-dogs) on site, and their free!  They are the best hot dogs you will ever have, in my opinion.

The presenters will lecture on topics such as the science and beauty of the Aurora Borealis, geology of Iceland, Viking lore, ICESAR (Iceland’s search and rescue teams,) Arctic foxes, and there will be a Gyrfalcon, Iceland’s national bird giving a show.  The day festivities are free, and you can learn more about the schedule here

FireandIceNighttime will bring the Fire and Ice concert.  A cozy evening with 5 fantastic Icelandic artists at the Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  The artists tend to play together and interact with the crowd making it a rather unique and intimate night of great music, laughter and fun for both the artists and audience.

Kristjana Stefánsdóttir, Svavar Knútur, Sóley, Björn Thoroddsen and Myrra Rós will be gracing the stage this year, all of them veterans of the festival.  Most everyone playing has new material or albums that have been released recently, so I’m envisioning a lot of fresh material will be performed.

The festival typically sells out, and with less than half tickets left I would suggest getting them sooner than later.  Along with the the bands, there are always surprises that pop up during the concert.

IcelandaffairmusicianI’ve put a very brief description and sample of the artists music below:

Kristjana Stefánsdóttir has been a vocal coach to many Icelandic singers over the years.  her command of Jazz is rivaled only by her smooth and strong voice.  No matter what or how she’s singing it’s rare not to be completely sucked in to her songs.

Svavar Knútur is a riot, he not only entertains with great music, but his personality and ability to naturally engage the audience makes for a good time for everyone.  He has a new album out, and so there will be plenty of new material to enjoy.

Sóley has been touring all over, but this will be only one of the few times we on the East coast get to see her this year.  Her new album was so impressive I actually attempted a review on it.  And I can’t wait to hear the new stuff live.

Björn Thoroddsen is a magic man with a guitar, and always puts on a good show with original or highly improvised versions of classic tracks.  Not only does he command complete attention when he’s center stage, but he has this amazing ability to play back up for anyone at any time and not miss a beat.  He never disappoints.

And Myrra Rós, with her haunting vocals and up-beat melodies are just right for an autumn concert.  her new album, “One amongst others” was just released and I really enjoy it.  I can’t wait to hear some of the new material live.

So come get a hot dog, learn about Icelandic culture, and spend the night being entertained by an extremely engaging group of musicians.

14 Iceland bands you ought to be listening to: Introducing Iceland Whatever, Vol. 1

It’s finally time to announce the next release on Theory of Whatever records, Iceland Whatever Vol. 1.   A 14 track compilation of bands I really enjoy and think you should as well.  Spanning multiple genres all brought to you for as cheap as I could get away with.  The liner notes will be available on the Theory of Whatever website, and will include a bio of the band and links where you can hear and purchase more of these bands music.

Much like the old independent compilations I grew up with, the point of this album is to help these bands get a bit more exposure and hopefully increase your music library.  So, here’s presenting “Iceland Whatever Vol. 1 it will be released on October 20th, and you can pre-order here. pre-orders get a dollar off, making the physical CD $5.50 and the digital download $5.  If you would like to purchase the physical CD and are out of the United States, please contact us and we will arrange it

The compilation cover is by the incredibly talented Lóa Hjálmtýsdóttir, a musician (FM Belfast), illustrator, and cartoonist (Lóaboratorium) She frequently contributes to the Reykjavik Grapevine.  The cat on the album cover is Roxy A.K.A. Doom.  She was the only cat I’ve ever gotten along with, ornery as hell but a sweetheart.  She passed away earlier this year, and so I felt compelled to put her photo on the album cover.

There are new and classic tracks from the artists, if the song isn’t available online to listen to yet, I’ve selected another song from the band I enjoy.  Click the band name to go to their Facebook pages.

1. Knife fights – “Panic Later”

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Knife fights is a refreshing nod to the Northwest United states in the 90’s.  Consisting of Sigurður Angantýsson, Helgi Pétur Hannesson, Gunnar Petur Hauksson, and Þórir Bogason.  They are energetic, slightly noisy and well composed.  They were one of my favorite new bands from last year.  I am pleased to open the compilation with their track “Panic later”

You can read an interview I did with them at the release of their first album here.  Very energetic, slightly noisy and well composed the compilation opens with their new track, “Panic later::

2.  Þórir Georg – Hunger

thorirgeorg

Þórir Georg comes in many flavors.  I first was introduced to his music from his band, My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, and have enjoyed every project he’s come up with since, from folk to crazy to goth.  The track on the compilation is a new song from an upcoming album of his solo stuff.   and so I have put a track from his previous album, Ræfill “The idiot song” here for you to listen.

3. Plúseinn – Empire

pluseinn

Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson is Plúseinn.  He is one of the founding members of FM Belfast, the energetic party band that typically leaves folks pantless by the end of their sets.   While Plúseinn and the track “Empire” can be safely listened to without fear of losing clothing, it is one of the best earworms you’ll experience for quite a while and you’ll be on repeat for quite a while,  electro-pop heavy on the synth.

4. Bambaló – Impress the Boy

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Kristjana Stefánsdóttir is Bambaló.  Kristjana has helped Icelanders with their singing for years.  Her past projects and albums have been Christmas hymns, Jazz and she frequently performs at Iceland Affair in Connecticut every October.  Her very rich and full voice dominates this song about Impressing a boy.

5. Vigri – Breathing

vigri

Vigri is the creation of two brothers, Hans and Bjarki Pjetursson.  I heard them first at Airwaves years ago and if they are playing I make sure to attend.  Their music floats effortlessly between atmospheric moments and heavy beats and I’m pleased to offer a new track from their upcoming album.  The song above, “Animal” is one of my favorites from their first album, “Sinking ships”

6.  KVÖL– Dropar

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KVÖL is Þórir Georg and Júlía.  It’s Goth punk with dark, strong beats and moody synths.  Dropar is a new track from them not available yet.  So I present, “Get Away” from their first E.P.

7. Kælan Mikla – Ekkert Nema

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Kælan Mikla is an all female poetic punk band.  Consisting of Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir Margrét Rósa Dóru- Harrysdóttir Laufey Soffía, they blast away with raw vocals and hard rhythms. They’ve quickly become one of my favorites over last couple of years.

8. kimono – Lee Harvey Oswald

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kimono are 15 year veteran rockers consisting of Alison, Gylfi, and Kjartan.  post rock and heavy rock have been used to describe them over the ages.  We released their first single off the new album last year, and are pleased to introduce the new track, “Lee Harvey Oswald” on the album.  The track above is “Specters” which you can still purchase the 7″ for here.

9. Var- Varma

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Atmospheric, lightly feathered with darkness but with equal dashes of heavy drums and haunting vocals is a good way to describe var.  The project of Myrra Rós and her husband Júlíus.  This track is a new track from the upcoming album.

10. Brött Brekka – Genie 454

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Of course I couldn’t do a compilation without some hard hardcore on their.  Brött Brekka was a 2015 discovery for me, consisting of Sturla Sigurðarson, Sigurður Ingi Einarsson, and Hallvaður Jón Guðmundsson  they wildly swing from heavy rock to Hardcore.   They’re working on a new album as we speak, and I can’t wait for it.

11. AMFJ – Esja

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Energetic, emotionally organized choatic musical noise.  Aðalsteinn Jörundsson has been at it a long time.  Part of the Falk label in Iceland, he is a veteran to performing and creation.  One of the first blog posts I did was on AMFJ.  He warned me that this new song wasn’t his usual sort of song,  I really dig it and hope you do as well.

12.  Dj. flugvél og geimskip – Draugur Í Kastalanum

Dj. flugvél og geimskip

Her live shows are ethereal environments full of color, spiraling lights and dancing disco balls.  It’s her own style of music and difficult to classify.  She’s recently been touring all over and I was pleased she could add to the comp knowing just how crazy her schedule was.  One of my favorite live acts to see when I’m in Iceland.

13. Antimony – Purity Control

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The second Goth band on the compilation.  Consisting of RX, Biggi, and Siggi, Antimony are goth pop done in their own unique way.  They’re newly formed and have been extremely active around Reykjavik.  They are the perfect band to powerfully begin the compilation wrap up.

14. Ghostigital and Kimono Mash up – Codomatopoeia

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And to wrap up the compilation I bring you one of my favorite classic tracks from Ghostigital’s album Antimatter Boutique.  Ghostigital is Einar Orn and Curver Thorodsson.  Two of the longest working musicians in the Icelandic scene, their music has the ability to pump you up.  People go crazy at their shows, almost as crazy as Einar.  Simply put, I love this band.

As this is the first compilation I’ve put together, it’s filled with the bands I have always dug.  The genres are all over the place I know, but I believe I’ve ordered the CD in a manner that makes it listenable from start to finish.  I really do love all of these bands, and I am pleased they contributed to the cause.

You can pre-order either the CD or the Digital download here.  Please give them all a listen and share what you dig with your friends, regardless if you purchase the album.

Iceland Airwaves 2015

And, the final announcement is out. Almost 230 bands will be at Iceland Airwaves 2015, and while we’ll definitely miss Björk and Mammút, The Airwaves staff have outdone themselves with the roster this year. This is the most bands I have seen yet, 155 of the 230 bands are Icelandic, and they span the spectrum of every genre. Here is the new announcement, Directed, edited and created by the wonderful Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir, Sin Fang once again is credited with the music, and… Now we all know who Gangly is.

Also announced for this year is a festival within a festival. On Sunday, the final night of the festival,the mini-festival called Extreme Chill will happen at the Vodafone Hall. One last hurrah and “laid back” night of music, featuring Hot Chip, Introbeats, dj. flugvél og geimskip, Agent Fresco, Emmsjé Gauti, Sleaford Mods, Úlfur Úlfur and FM Belfast. You can learn more about it here. It’s a fantastic idea, because if you have done Airwaves right, nothing will sound better than only having to go to one place to finish off in musical bliss.

As I did for 2014 and 2013, I’ve listed all of the Icelandic bands playing into loosely divided into genres on this page.  Clicking on their name will open a new tab with the Iceland Airwaves info page for that artist, which includes Soundcloud, Social media links, and a short bio.

This list is just the Icelandic bands playing, if you want to see the full line-up go to the Iceland Airwaves Line-up page.

RocknRoll – Indie Rock – Pop Rock – Rock Rock
Agent Fresco Bárujárn Borko CeaseTone
Dikta Dr. Gunni Elin helena FM Belfast
Fufanu Geislar Hallelewah HAM
Hide your kids Himbrimi Hjaltalín John Grant & the ISO
Just Another Snake Cult kimono Kiriyama Family Klassart
Lára Rúnars Low Roar MAMMÚT Mosi Musik
Mosi Musik Mr. Silla Oyama Red Barnett
Rhytmatik Runar Thorisson Russian.girls Sindri Eldon & the Ways
Teitur Magnússon Toneron Trúboðarnir Valdimar
Var The Vintage Caravan Vio Þórir Georg
Singer/Songwriter – Folk – Blues/Jazz – Composers – Classical
Árstíðir Aurora Axel Flóvent Beebee and the Bluebirds
Brim DALÍ Fura Grúska Babúska
Helgi Valur Hymnalaya Jónas Sen Júníus Meyvant
Justman Lucy in Blue Magnús Leifur Máni Orrason
Markús & The Diversion Sessions  Mógil My Bubba Nordic Affect
Par-Ðar Soffía Björg Sóley TUSK
Þórunn Antonía og Bjarni Ylja
All things Electronica – Dance / DJs / Composers / ambient / ElectroPop / noise
Agzilla Arni Vector Arnljótur Art is Dead
Asonat Auður Berndsen Bistro Boy
Brilliantinus Daveeth dj. Flugvél og geimskip DÖPUR
Dream wife Exos Futuregrapher Gangly
Ghostigital Good Moon Deer Gunnar Jónsson Collider Gus Gus
H.dór Hekla HimBrim Jack Magnet Quintet
Jóhann Eiriksson Jón Ólafsson & Futuregrapher Kiasmos Kippi Kaninus
LaFontaine Lord Pusswhip M-Band Mafama
Mankan Milkywhale Miri Mikael Lind
Mike Hunt Mr. Signout Odinn OHM
Royal Ruxpin Serengeti by President Bongo Skurken
SMURJÓN Snooze infinity Súrefni Sykur
Thor Tonik Ensemble Trptych Vaginaboys
Vök Waage Yagya Yamaho
Young Karin
Punk – Hardcore
Æla Börn Caterpillarmen Grísalappalísa
In the Company of Men Kælan Mikla Muck Pink Street Boys
Skelkur í bringu
All Shades of Metal
Beneath Bubbi Og Dimma Endless Dark Kontinuum
Misþyrming Momentum-Malneirophrenia Severed Sinmara
Svartidauði
Hip-Hop – Rap – Reggae
AmbAdama B-Ruff Cell 7 Cheddy Carter
Emmsjé Gauti Epic Rain Gísli Pálmi Herra Hnetusmjör
Kut Grapje Ojba Rasta Reykjavíkurdætur Shades of Reykjavik
Sturla Atlas Úlfur Úlfur

You can listen to all the bands playing this year via Iceland Airwaves Spotify playlist here:

And here are the previous video announcements:

Video four was Directed, produced, and shot by Máni M Sigfússon, starring Kælan Mikla, with music by Sin Fang:

Video three was produced by Les Frères Stefson, directed and written by, Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson And the banker was Haraldur Ari Stefánsson:

Video two with Hrafnkell Örn Guðjónsson drumming away as band names float across the screen:

First announcement with Dj. Flugvél og Geimski:

I would suggest getting your tickets sooner than later, especially if you are planning on doing a package you’ll have more hotel options in the beginning now than you will in a month. Typically the festival sells out, but with the line up looking as good as it does this year, I would imagine it will sell out sooner than later. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of “you snooze, you lose”

If you want to see what the past has been like, here is a link to all my Iceland Airwaves related posts.  And here is the link to the Iceland Airwaves Flickr page if you want to see just how fun this festival really is.

Hope to see you there.

Björk at MoMa

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photo credit: Gisele Regatao

While in New York this past weekend I ventured up to the Björk exhibit at the MoMa.  After the mixed reviews I had read, I was curious to see what a musician’s exhibit at an art museum could be like.

If you take your time and follow the advice they give you you’ll enjoy it, I certainly did.  But if you rush through you will miss the big picture and it will be understandable why you only remember seeing creepy mannequins and hand written lyric notes (a summation of one reviewer.)

In the lobby of the MoMa sits a few of the instruments Björk created for Biophilia.  Such as the gravity harp, midi-organ and gameleste/celeste combo.  I was bummed the gravity harp wasn’t working, but the midi-organ was on auto play so that was cool.  Iceland’s only pipe organ builder, Björgvin Tómasson, helped create these wonderful sounding instruments. As a side note, he is the father of Júlíus Óttar, a musician in one of my favorite bands of 2014, Var.

The exhibit is two parts spanning two floors.  There is the audio tour, Songlines, that you have to get time reservations for, and the music video experience Black Lake, which is followed by a room you can relax in and watch Music videos from the Björk catalog. I highly suggest you get your timed reservations first, then go to the Black lake portion while you wait.

After getting our timed tickets we ventured off to wait in line for Black Lake. As you’re in line and look over, there is a multi-floor projection of the “Big-time sensuality” music video slowly playing on a massive wall which gives the impression of Björk watching over you as you enter her exhibit.

Black lake is in a cave-esque room with walls covered in sound insulating cones reminiscent of Volcanic rock. The only light is coming from two gigantic screens that face each other from opposite walls and there are over 45 speakers located on the ceiling and walls throughout the room. While waiting to begin, the screens display a message about the set up, and in big letters state that you should walk around, as the multiple channel set up means you will experience different parts of the song depending where you are in the room. I was shocked at how many people just stood still.  I’m no audiophile, but the changing emphasis of the intricate parts of the song from different areas of the room really changed the feel of the song for me.

Once you leave the cave you move over to another room with a high ceiling and a massive screen showing Björk music videos. There are flowing fluid like couches that stretch out down the room, and it’s just a place you can rest and watch videos and be consumed by the large soundsystem and screen.

US-ART-BJORK-MOMA

Photo by Timothy A. Clary

Songlines is the audio visual part of the tour.  This is the part that requires the timed ticket, and you’ll appreciate the wait as without the timed stagger between entrants the tiny set of maze-like rooms you go through would be too packed to enjoy.  You wear an iphone around your neck that they call your “heart”, and as you move from room to room it changes dialogue to that specific room.

In the introduction, they tell you to take your time, that the tour takes 40 minutes and that you should wait until each room’s audio is done before moving along.  You’re free to move at your own pace but in this case, heed the advice and take your time.  It’s the difference between a fantastic experience, and a blah one.

We live in a time where we seem to take a photo of what we are looking at before actually looking at it, and then move on to the next photo.  We no longer take the time to consume what we are experiencing in the present, instead snapping a pic for later.  If you run through this exhibit snapping selfies and photos of the lyric sheets and mannequins dressed in Björk clothing, you will miss the the best part, and you will never experience the full program.  It is after all, called an audio tour through her 7 albums and history, not just an artifact hunt.

maskIn one of the most minimal rooms in the exhibit (there are only two items) the walls have benches spanning each side of the room.  You sit and relax with two red parenthesis-type red neon lights above you and you listen.  There is an oddly loud bleed-through of the music video exhibit below, but you just rest, and listen to your “heart.”  This room became my favorite part of the exhibit, and here’s why:

In the dialog from the “heart” around your neck, well past what you would hear if you just entered the room to look at the two items and left, you hear a beautiful account of the girl in the story’s realization of the child growing inside of her.  In the story, the girl starts to hear, and realizes there is a new heartbeat inside her, the heartbeat of her daughter.  And while you are listening to the story of her realization of her daughter’s heartbeat, through the “heart” around your neck, you can hear and feel the heartbeat of her music from below.  It’s an all encompassing triumvirate of heart so to speak.  It was really beautiful to me, and I left that room feeling really warm and fuzzy.

Now I don’t know if I’m stretching, and maybe it’s not what they intended, but I have to say I smirked and thought to myself, well played.  And how fantastic to not start the room dialog with that but leave it for those who are actually listening and enjoying the exhibit.  Once outside the exhibit I thought… Don’t be in such a rush, listen fully to your heart in good or bad times, and you’ll get the big picture.

So go to the exhibit, but don’t just go see it, go experience it.  Take your shoes off and walk through the moss-fields barefoot.  Don’t just snap photos, but think about what you’re hearing, seeing, and feeling.  Live in the present for 45+ minutes, and it will all be worth it.

Endnote:  This could very well be the most spiritualistic touchy-feely thing I’ve ever written or mentioned, and we can only hope my very spiritual touchy-feely mum who thinks I’m a stick in the mud doesn’t go into shock when she reads it.

Iceland Affair 2014

Icelandaffair

There are times in life when the elements align themselves just right, and the blood sweat and tears of someone creating their dream shines through the end product in such a way that one can’t help but be moved.  That is what happened this past weekend in a beautifully autumn colored town in middle-of-nowhere Connecticut.

This was the 5th year for Iceland Affair, an all day festival consisting of daytime lectures, Icelandic horses, goats, falcons, A lot of Icelandic food, and coffee mugs, let’s not forget the coffee mugs. All of this followed by an Icelandic concert at the very homey and cozy Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.

gerri

Gerri Griswald is the lady behind Iceland affair, and once you’ve come within 50 feet of her, you can’t help but get swept up with her charming personality, glacier-sized determination and outpouring of love to everyone and everything that helps her put this on year over year. Speaking with her can’t be done without 90% of what’s audible being laughs.  And the sincere love she has for what she’s doing is beyond impressive.

Arriving at the festival I was greeted by people riding Icelandic horses, Lopopeysas (Icelandic sweaters) and other Icelandic merchandise for sale out on the front lawn.  Downstairs from the lectures there were free pylsurs (Icelandic hotdogs), dried fish, and very tasty cakes.  Upstairs from the dining hall, and merch tables was the lecture hall.

Unfortunately due to scheduling and life, I arrived at the festival later in the afternoon, and was only able to hear the last half of Dr. Gunni’s lecture on the history of pop music. Along with other tidbits of Music life in Iceland, Dr. Gunni’s presentation followed his book, Blue Eyed pop, with audio/visual aids and a Q&A with the audience directly afterwards.  A browse around the merchandise, fantastic cake, and a few pylsurs later and off to the concert I went.

flags The concert was at the Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  It’s a cozy ornamental building, and the concert hall’s warm woodwork really played into what would be a cozy, intimate gathering.  On their way to their seats, the crowd was given Icelandic flags, and told to wave it during applause as a surprise to the musicians on stage.

I’ve spoken about the ability Icelanders have of including the crowd in their performance.  And Agnes ErnaSnorri Helgason, Svavar Knútur, Lay LowMyrra Rós, Kristjana Stefánsdóttir,  and Bjorn Thoroddsen. fulfilled and exceeded any expectations in that regard as they chatted, joked with, and shared laughs with everyone on or off the stage.  It was a collaborative effort as the musicians took turns at front stage while being supported by the others, all ending with Dr. Gunni’s fart song and a special two-toned tutu wearing host belting out an old classic with the rest of the band.  I also should mention that drums were mostly handled by Myrra’s husband Júlíus, I unfortunately did not catch his last name.

By the end of the concert, the crowd was completely on their feet singing loudly and waving flags furiously, and it seemed that neither the musicians nor the audience wanted it to end, so the party headed downstairs where the musicians talked with and autographed Icelandic flags for people. the lingering about and business of the downstairs made it evident, nobody was in a hurry to leave.

Plans are in the works for next years event, and I would highly suggest you check it out by following the Iceland Affair facebook page throughout the year.  She tends to post videos or updates on the bands that have played, as well as updates on the festival itself.

I have to say that I am glad me and my label got to do our small part to help out on this festival, it’s truly a labor of love for Gerri, and the quality, attitude, and atmosphere created a charming night I won’t soon forget.  I’m already looking forward to seeing what she comes up with for next year.

Iceland Affair

Icelandaffair

In a small town nestled in the middle of Connecticut there resides a peculiar lady.  She raises bats, tends to porcupines, and single handedly puts on the second largest Icelandic festival in the U.S.  Gerri Griswald is her name, and Iceland Affair is her festival.  The festival will be happening October 18th in Winchester center, CT at the Winchester Grange.

Iceland affair began 5 years ago when Gerri decided to bring some of the acts that had entertained her travel guides in Iceland back to the states.  Relying on donations and a very forgiving husband, Gerri has been putting the festival on ever since slowly bringing more and more Icelandic talent stateside so that people who may not be able to make it to the island could experience it’s wonders here.

While some would be pleased with just a concert, Gerri has put together a day of presentations including Icelando-centric falconry, goat raising, ornithology, nature and geological talks.  As well as authors presenting on things such as the Icelandic sagas, and the history of Icelandic music. To learn more about the presenters, click the image below.

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From left to right, Brian Bradley (Falconer), Dr. Gunni (Musician/author of Blue Eyed pop), Jóhanna Bergmann Þorvaldsdóttir (Goat farming and preservation), Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson (photographer, ornithologist), Jón Baldur Hlíðberg (Naturist, illustrator), Nancy Marie Brown (expert on the sagas, author), Tom Alena (Geologist, meteorologist, entertaining lecturer)

And of course, how could one celebrate Iceland without music.  The festival ends with the fire and ice music festival at Infinity hall in Norfolk, CT.  The concert consists of 5 well known Iceland artists, ranging from indie, to jazz and folk.

fire

From left to right, Svavar Knútur, Lay Low, Snorri Helgeson, Agnes Erna, Kristjana Stefánsdóttir, Myrra Rós, and Bjorn Thoroddsen.  Click on their names to learn more about them.  While the festival is free for the most part, the concert requires the purchase of tickets, which are selling out quickly, so learn more and get your’s here.

Ragnaarbastiaan.com and Theory of Whatever records are pleased to help out with this years festival, and even more pleased to be attending.  So if you’d like to learn more about Iceland, hear some fantastic Icelandic music, this is the festival for you.  For us it’s the perfect appetizer for the upcoming Iceland Airwaves.  Go to Iceland Affair to learn more including directions and places to stay while attending.  And we’ll see you there.