Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 25

Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 25
ICELAND REVIEW 23 “I was born in this building,” she tells me, as we follow her father to his favourite instrument on display, an unmarked accor- dion nearly 100 years old. It’s #48 on the exhibit list, and Ásgeir drove all the way to the northeastern coast of Iceland last August to retrieve it from 91-year-old Jóhann Jósepsson. “It’s my favourite one in the collection,” Ásgeir says through his daughter’s transla- tion, “because Jóhann was one of the first Icelanders to play the modern accordion. He popularised it by travelling around Iceland to perform for all the people.” The museum is packed with visitors, some fans of the accordion, others are just trying to find out what all the excitement in town is about. Sigrídur informs me that this is just a temporary exhibit and that Ásgeir is searching for a permanent home for his varied collection. “Until there’s a museum, he will keep them all at his home. But he has a big house and if people ask, he will invite them over to see them,” she tells me. Night dancing Ísafjördur is surrounded by mountains to the south, west and east. To the north are the fertile fishing waters of the North Atlantic. During the summer, the step from day to night goes relatively unnoticed here, except for the wash of deep purples and light pinks colouring the mountainous skyline at dusk. Normally the sidewinding streets of this northwestern outpost are as empty as a desert well. And eerily silent. Tonight, the carnival sound of accordions fills the air as locals and visitors hit the streets in force. My friend and I are tagging along with the filmmaker and his crew of one, bearing witness to this odd festival that has all the cheese of a Las Vegas convention. It’s 11:30PM and we’re standing in the parking lot of Samkaup, the local shopping market. In front of us is the body of a gutted-out purple semi-trailer. Inside, a band of seven accordion players plus a drummer perform to a crowd of 30 plus. Some listeners dance to the band’s polka sounds—a mother and her son, an elderly couple dressed up for the night out. Even teenagers too cool to listen to this forgotten form of music pause. We leave. Return within an hour. The band has shrunk to three. The parking lot has all but emptied. The trio plays on. Most revellers have congregated inside Krúsin Pub, located below the local movie theatre that, as the sign reads, is only open on Sundays and Mondays at 9:00PM. Despite the fact that the clientele inside the pub is pushing 90, the alcohol flows as if this were a college graduation party. Onstage, an eight-piece band performs swing jazz. This bar is rocking so hard that the humidity is unbearable - it has a sweaty, velvety feel. I move to the lobby where pic- tures of Rita Hayworth, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe decorate the walls. The under-35 crowd is represented only by the four of us, who feel a bit like intruders. Sweating and gasping for fresh air, we retreat to the parking lot. Indoors and outside, day and night, the festival was a big hit. 20 IR302 - Harmonikkumót bs-km 2.9.2002 14:28 Page 23
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