Eric Sahlström’s 100th birthday in Tobo

Folks around here have clearly been working hard on preparations for this celebration for months, if not years. Day one was on Friday here in Tobo, and day two was on Saturday at a big venue in Uppsala. Nyckelharpa players came from all over the world, including Japan and the US, and many who couldn’t come sent video greetings (à la YouTube) that were incorporated into the celebration. (Hi, Bronwyn & Sheila & Ben!)

The party in Tobo began with a series of afternoon events by invitation only, for important people like big donors (and not for less important people like tourists/students from America), so we mostly tried to stay out of the way. Instead we got to serve tea and cake to our friends Ingrid and Thomas, who came out from Borås for the weekend. (They were dropping off their son David, who will be in the dance course here for the year.)

The public festivities began with a 7pm concert by Eva Tjörnebo & Viskompaniet, whom I was thrilled to see again since we last heard them on the first (jetlagged) evening of our 2007 trip, and before that I learned a few songs from Eva at the 2005 course in Ekebyholm. I’m looking forward to seeing her again during the school year, since she comes here as a guest lecturer sometimes. In this case they were performing to an overflowing hall that passed the standing-room-only stage at about a quarter to the hour, and had mobs of people standing outside each doorway craning to look in. We lucked out and found room to stand in the back with an unobstructed view. It’s not surprising, I suppose, that an amazing historic event with great musicians and fancy cake and free admission would be a hugely popular occasion, but still we didn’t catch on fast enough to claim seats at whatever early hour would have been required. Several people have said they don’t think we’ve ever had that many people here before.

After kaffe och tårta, the main hall turned into a dance floor and most other spaces turned into buskspel. I managed to miss most of the big dance sets by Trollrike Spelmän and Söderfors Brukskapell, since I was somewhere upstairs playing Sahlström tunes. But during the rest of the evening, I did float through the dance a few times, enjoyed some great players, and got to dance a little with Mills and with Andrea. No photos from me of any of this last part, I’m afraid, since I was all busy. I am learning to ask, when I see a really fabulous player, not “do you know who that is?” but “who is that?”

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