What better way to celebrate the beginning of fall break than with a festival? Most of us spent Saturday in Uppsala at the Oktoberstämman with concerts, dances, workshops, and jamming. Headliners for this year included Björn Ståbi and Bengan Jansson, Pers-Hans Olsson and his son Alexander, Torbjörn and Pär Näsbom, and an arm-long list of others.

Highlights of my day, in roughly chronological order:

  • Torbjörn and Pär, of course. Also they both tried out my new violina, which was fun to listen to.
  • Accidental last-minute discovery that unfamiliar band name “Anderströms” on the program means our friends from NFF, Mats/Ulf/Nils Andersson + Anders Hällström!
  • Super-fun hallway jam session with Anderströms after their set
  • Dance set with Björn Ståbi and Bengan Jansson (though, sadly, almost no dancers actually dancing Orsapolska to Björn’s stunning Orsa tunes! and also sadly, they didn’t bring their CDs to sell)
  • Late-night dance with Norwegian 5-fiddle band Majorstuen

I was somewhat disheartened to discover (belatedly) that the handful of friends I was hoping to play with were pretty much only around for the afternoon, which was when most of the concert program concentrated — so I ended up largely missing them in pursuit of hearing Pers Hans and dancing to Olov’s solo dance set and seeing both of the brief Näsbom sets,… and then later in the evening, when I was hoping to find people to play with, I consistently encountered the opposite of the friendly stämma welcome I expected. Seriously: edging closer to make sure I don’t become part of a small circle playing tunes I clearly already know, and then obviously making room for the friend who comes along some minutes later — was that Strictly necessary?

On the bright side, I did finally get to play a Sahlström harpa for a few minutes, and that was lovely.

Hadn’t seen this before: nyckelharpa players often transported their instruments for the day without cases, fiddlers more often with. (The venue is several floors tall with lots of escalators.) Hence, lots of free-range nyckelharpas in the audience at concerts.

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