Beautiful guitars, sunny mood and new feathers

Tempel Folkfest – JZ Tempel, Duisburg; June 15th, 2019 

It was about two, maybe three weeks ago that I learned Árstíðir were going to play at Folkfest on Duisburg. Luckily I did not have any other plans for that weekend yet and it made me happy that I’d see them before Secret Solstice. 🙂 Checking out the line up I realized this was a chance to see Jaimi Faulkner again as well. All the better. 🙂

Set out towards Duisburg in the early afternoon, remembering from the last time I’d been there eight years ago, that this festival was happening on the outskirts of town. It took me 40 minutes by train to Duisburg and another 40 by bus from there. Luckily the weather was a lot better than predicted for the day and lots of people were out and about already.

Checked out the location, spotted Gunnar and Daníel, who didn’t see me at all and then bumped into A.’s parents whom I didn’t recognize at first. They had come for Jaimi and told he was getting better all the time. Not having seen him play in years that made me curious and I was soon going to find out.

When Jaimi Faulkner was announced we went to the front row and a few others joined us. I don’t know his songs very well, so I have no idea what he started with, but I liked it. 🙂 He was quite talkative and told us how Neil Young’s Harvest was recorded in a barn and he wanted to do the same. Thus he posted about it on Facebook and his German teacher replied that he did not have a barn, but a nice Fachwerkhaus in a small town between Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven. “It (the town) was smaller than this stage, but I liked it.” So his latest album Back Road was recorded there and we got to hear the title song. It was pretty awesome.

Jaimi shared a lot of stories about the origin of his songs. For instance ‘Highway Life’ was written after playing at a cafe by the railroad tracks in some Mississippi town and ‘Five Flights up’ in an apartment he used to live at in Paris, where he would go out every morning for fresh baguette or croissants and enjoy the view from the fifth floor. At one point he joked that every folk concert needed some harmonica, but i can’t remember which song he played it for. The more interesting Instrument was a Weissenborn lap guitar though. It was used on two songs and sounded beautiful. One of the songs ‘All my Hope is gone’ he introduced by telling us that this is the mood you can get in when you watch or read too much of the news these days.

“Two years ago I released a song on Spotify,” he started and then let us now it had been played 30 million times, wondering if that meant 30 million people had heard it or one person had heard it that often. “If you’ve played it 30 million times come to me after the show and I’ll buy you a beer”. A.’s mom pointed to her dad and said that he listened to it every morning. 🙂 It is a nice song for sure.

Jaime grabbed a beautful guitar and asked if we liked it. Apparently it was the fisrt one he bought when he was 18 and worked at a music store, seeing it there the day he started and making a deal with his boss to pay it off 50 dollars a week. It took too long, so he took on a second Job and eventually a third, because “it was a very expensive guitar”. The third job was washing dishes on weekend mornings which isn’t any fun when you’ve been up all night drinking. He managed to pay it off though, only to discover more guitars he wanted. 😉

Towards the end of the show he even got us to clap along and incorporated  tidbids of a few other songs into his own. If I’m not mistaken he played parts of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ and Paul Simon’s ‘You can call me Al’ among others. It was a perfect finale and the organizers allowed him to play one last song, even though his allotted time was already over. 😀 No more encores after that though. It was a great start to the festival for me.

pictures of Tempel Folkfest

Setlist (as much as I remember)

Back Road
Five Flights Up
Highway Life
All My Hope is gone
Early Morning Coffee Cups
Dublin Girl
Burning Love

As I walked around after to get myself some food and a drink I passed by the other stage and caught a glimpse of St  Beaufort. They sounded nice, very folkish, but didn’t grab my attention enough to make me stay.

Back at the other stage Mr. Weazley brought some Caribbean charme and Reaggea influenced music that had everyone moving. The guys on stage showed us how and apparently enjoyed doing it. Watching them was great fun and I could not help but move with the music. Their singer called for the sun to come back out and it did. Then he hopped off the stage to hold the mic out and get us to sing along. Many people did, it was all very relaxed. After a while I had enough and left in search for some food only to return in time for the end of their set

Soon they were done and despite calls for an encore they had to leave, because the stage needed to be set up for Árstíðir. The guys walked out carrying their stuff and all of them waved or nodded at me. It felt like home and I could not stop smiling. 🙂

I wondered how long they would be allowed to play and what the setlist would be. During line check they sang ‘Days & Night’ with Gunnar sharing vocals with Ragnar and it sounded so beautiful I was happy already. I had a good feeling about this. First though the festival organizers made an announcement about the nature of this free festival festival being financed by what we ate and drank there and who the leftover money was for. Before the show started I spotted a few people in Sólstafir and Árstíðir T-Shirts. Also S. parents were there and asked me if this was the usual keyboarder. It really made me grin because Ragnar had his hair down for once and I don’t think that makes him look that different. 😉

Finally it was time and started with me laughing, because the woman who announced them had written down how to pronounce their name and yet got it completely wrong. The band could not help smiling either. The first song was ‘Ljóð í sand’ and it set the mood right away, drawing people closer and making everyone cheer. It is not only a good album opener, but works just as well to get everyone into the show. They continued with ‘Someone who cares’, not telling us more than the song name and they stuck to short introductions through the entire set. It left more space for the music to speak for itself. As much as I love it when they tell stories, for this settings fewer words were just right. They sounded good too – I already loved it. 🙂

To my surprise ‘Heiðin’ was next. I had not expected them to put that back on the setlist. It really worked so. After not hearing it for some time it felt fresh to me again and this was a beautiful version too. “The next song is very dear to us,” Gunnar announced and I could not help but respond with a “YES!” as he said “It’s called ‘Sunday Morning'”. Ragnar smiled at me – he knows how much I love that song. A gorgeous rendition of ‘Sifurskin’ followed and we smiled at each other again, that song also being one of my favorites.This happened so much that A’s mom, who stood next to me noted “I think he really likes you, doesn’t he.” It made me smile even more. Friends. 🙂

Finally we got to the current album with ‘Passion’ and ‘Entangled’. I loved both and had the Feeling People around me were really enjoying it too. The guys picked a great setlist to introduce new listeners to their Music, covering each Album. This time they only mentioned that ‘Nivalis’ means snow, and how they are fond of it, but didn’t ask if anyone knew that. they did, howevre, ask if anyone spoke Icelandic and coujnted two (or three?) People in the crowd. Still they challenged us to saying ‘Friðþægingin’ correctly and powered through the song. 😀 I had really missed the band, but didn’t feel it until I heard them again then and there. It had been a Long time since early March. The first notes of ‘Nú gleymist ég’ seemingly led to something softer only to get more dramatic as the song went along, showcasing what they do best. All the way through the set I felt some sort of happy melancholia that was perfect right then and there.

The guys unplgged their guitars and gathered around the central microphone. As Guillaume and Jean-Samuel left the stage there was some feedback from the cello’s mic, but they fixed it soon and asked for quiet. Sadly that did not keep some people to my left from talking, but they stood too far from me to make them shut up without causing any more disturbance. As soon as the music started I just ignored them. We heard a gorgeous version of ‘Með hallandi höfði ‘ – it felt like the best I have ever witnessed and as if that wasn’t enough already they added ‘Kill us’ too. It was perfect. <3

Back to the latest album with ‘Mute’, which reminded me of the first time I heard it at Iceland Airwaves. Must have been something about the mood that night. ‘Lover’ and ‘While this Way’, two of my favorites on ‘Nivalis’ brightened my mood even more, if that was possible. Everything about the festival felt right – the surroundings, the audience, the mood. Just super relaxed enjoyment where everyone let everyone else be. 🙂 A strong ‘Þar sem enginn fer’ led to ‘Himinhvel’ and right into ‘Things you said’.

“We’re down to our last song,” I heard Ragnar say and a choir of “ooooh!” answered. ‘Shades’ killed it, leaving us all cheering loudly. After a brief debate they were allowed one more song and settled for a a cappella version of ‘Góda veslu göra skal’ – it was absolutely brilliant. As soon as they started someone behind me exclaimed “Wie geil ist das denn?!” (“That’s fucking amazing!”) – I second that. 🙂 They left to great cheers and if time had allowed they could have easily played some more.

A woman asked me about their CDs, how many they have and which the best one is. I gave her the speech about them all being different and tried to describe which is which so she’d get an idea. She ended up buying all four of them, saying they were “the discovery of the year”. I helped a few others with their buying decisions as well, said hello to the guys, got hugs and finally asked Guillaume and Jean-Samuel to draw me a feather each. Now my collection is complete. We talked a bit more before they left to back and Guillaume said goodbye since he had a concert the next morning. Everyone else said they’d be around, so we’d see each other later.

pictures of Árstíðir at Tempel Folkfest

Setlist

Ljóð í sand
Someone Who Cares
Heiðin
Sunday Morning
Silfurskin
Passion
Entangled
Friðþægingin
Nú gleymist ég
Með hallandi höfði (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover)
Kill Us
Mute
Lover
While This Way
Þar sem enginn fer
Himinhvel
Things You Said
Shades

Encore:
Góda veslu göra skal

Now that my work was done,i.e. I had enjoyed the band I wanted to see and taken pictures, I decided it was time for a drink. They had cider and it was good so I had two and equipped with the second one I was back in front of the stage for Amsterdam Klezmer Band. The organizers had said they’d wanted to get them to their festival for years and I was really curious to hear them. They played a multitude of instrumenst and several of them sang. It was good music to dance to and I enjoyed listening to them for a while. They obviously had fun and remeraked how nice it was to have kids in the audience too. People really liked them, but for me the highlight was over and after 30 Minutes or so I left in search of some food. Didn’t find any, but caught a glimpse of te other stage were KUF was just ending their set. Can’t really say much about them.

Had just decided to leave on the next bus when I bumped into Ragnar and Jean-Samuel, so I stayed chatting with them. Gunnar joined us for a while too and some other fans stayed with us. It was nice and relaxed and almost made me miss the next bus as well. 😉 That was the last good option to get home though. I thanked the guys, hugged them goodbye and listened to their music all the way home.

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