2010 – Sweden, part 2


Late evening twilight – playing and dancing

July 19 – The workshops are very good at this camp!   Lena and Stäfon led the fiddle workshop for the first two and a half days.   They teach very well and had some interesting tunes to share.    I spent some of my free time walking around the area.   I took long walks around the lake, down snowmobile paths, up the highway, etc.    I also took lots of nature photos, picked blueberries, etc.   The wildflower patches were spectacular, richly colored by the low angle sunlight.

The evening dance parties were always good.   All of the musicians were invited to play for the dance parties. The music was lead by Bengt Jonsson who was the director of our camp.   The evening dances took on a surreal look when one observed the evening twilight colors on the lake just outside of the dance hall.   Magical!

Rosemary, Byron, Lena and Ruth – a special tune occasion

During a break during this evening’s dance, Rosemary decided to play a waltz that we learned from Kesti at a Swedish music workshop a few years ago at Folklore Village.   The tune is on our CD and it is called “Det är i alla fall inte så långt till Falun.”   The tune was composed by Kristina Lundin.  We met Kristina at Bingsjöstämman earlier on this trip.   Unknown to Rosemary and Ruth was the fact that the tune was written for Kristina’s friend, Lena Jonsson (one of our instructors at camp), when she was heading off to a music school.    Lena was sitting with us, had a surprised look in her eye, played with us and then asked, “where did you learn that tune!!?” The details of the situation were then explained to everyone present.  That was a very fun moment!

A meadow filled with rallarros

July 20 – I visited with Bengt about cow horns and goat horns.   He set up an informal informational time to demonstrate how to play the horns.   I love the haunting sound they make.

I hiked around the area today, enjoying the scenery and plant life.  I discovered a meadow  with growth of wildflowers. Large patches of rallarros were especially attractive.

I am enjoying the tunes that we have been learning.  They are similar in nature to the Gästrikland tunes I have learned.Playing with the other musicians at the evening dances is a lot of fun.   I am really enjoying the surreal effect from the long twilight as I look out of the windows every evening.    Having the dance hall so close to the lake adds to this interesting appearance.

Norrlandia dance party – Matt, Lena and Bengt

Time is certainly in some sort of warp mode here.   Time has slowed down significantly and I am enjoying that very much.   It seems as if I have been here for many months.

Late this evening as I headed back to my cabin I heard a weird sound coming from the trees by the lake.  I found out later that it was the baby owls.  They produced this sound only late in the evenings.

July 21 –  It was another day filled with adventure.   I took a longer walk today, discovering more of the nature around here.   Rocks, lichens, moss, tall evergreen trees and floriferous meadows!   The introduction to the cowhorn playing workshop happened today after lunch.   I was also very happy to have taken a canoe out on the lake for a short time!     The music workshops continue to be very good.

Dance party – Ruth, Rosemary & Matt

July 22 – Today was exceptionally interesting.   We went on a field trip to Björn Ståbi’s farm, about 45 minutes from the camp.    It was enjoyable to be driven around, easier to enjoy the interesting scenery.    We were given instruction from Björn Ståbi and Per Gudmundson, both highly accomplished musicians.    I was very appreciative of this time, having the opportunity to learn some tunes from these great fiddlers.

Workshop at Björn Ståbi’s farm – our class

Our class at Björn Ståbi’s farm

Björn’s farm is a beautiful place, and is composed of several buildings, a beautiful garden and hay field.   Björn is also an amazingly good woodworker and artist.   His high ceiling art studio and wood workshops were very inspirational spaces. I also admired his beautiful woodwork – I was always looking at and studying how the tables and other wood things were made.

We were served a very good lunch and supper at his farm.   All of the food prepared for us on this trip was fabulous.  This evening we went to Hovra for an evening dance party.   The dance pavilion was designed very nicely.   Each of the four corners had two sliding doors that opened, allowing air flow into the space and to cool the dancers sitting on the corner benches.     The musicians playing for the evening dance were excellent, as usual.   Bengt’s band played in the beginning and I enjoyed their sound very much.   I was especially entranced by the lady who was playing the pump organ in Bengt’s group. What an amazing sound!   There were about 3 fiddlers and an accordion player in addition to the organ.

Dancing at Hovra

Also playing that evening were Björn Ståbi and Per Gudmundson, my fellow classmates at Norrlandia Camp, and Kjell-Erik Eriksson.   The place was on fire as Kjell-Erik played.   I heard him at Östbjörkastämman and was impressed with his exceptional sound.     He also holds the fiddle in a lower position with is a bit unusual.  I did some dancing this evening and was enjoying it very much.   It is especially fun to dance to the high quality music.

July 23 – This morning we left camp early – I felt badly about this for multiple reasons, but I had a difficult to resolve scheduling conflict and have wanted to see Korröfestivalen in Småland for many years.    So after breakfast we drove 10 hours to southern Sweden.   The scenery was spectacular on this very beautiful day (at least I enjoy looking at mountains, hills, lakes, forests, clouds, etc).

On this road trip and others, I frequently encounter signs to villages that are associated with tunes that I know and play.   One notable small village that we went through was Enviken. We play a waltz that comes from here, Enviken valsen.     There is a picture from Enviken in a recent National Geographic – I think it was the May or June 2010 issue.

While driving around in Sweden it is interesting to see so many speed sensor activated cameras on the highways.   There is always a warning sign and then a series of cameras.   I was always careful to drive the speed limit since I don’t want any expensive tickets!    The normal speed limit was 90 km/hr and on a few larger highways it was 110 km/hr.    The roads are mostly normal sized two lane highways and 90km/hr is appropriate.

We stopped in Långasjö (near Emmaboda) to check into the youth hostel and then made our way to Korröfestivalen which is located in the middle of the forest, about 30 minutes south of Växjö, a medium sized town.     Korrö is a collection of dwellings and buildings associated with an old mill that ran off of water power.

The festival was as good or better than expected.   Magnus Gustafsson had told me many times that I must come to this great festival – and here I am.     There were five performance venues plus some space for jamming, etc.   There were many fabulous musicians and groups playing throughout the event.      This evening I met three students from my time at Malungs folkhögskola – Kristian, Hannah and Jonas.    I very much enjoyed seeing them again!

Rainy day at Korrö

July 24 – We were warned last evening that rain was in the forecast.   Today it rained non-stop the entire day.   There was not one minute when it did not rain.    Luckily the rain was not heavy and we were fortunate that it was not any colder than it was.    I was very impressed that there was enough covered space for participants to continue enjoying the performances and dancing opportunities.  I heard lots of very good music!   Some of the musicians or groups that stand out include Sågskära, Väsen, Magnus Holmström, etc.    I will definitely plan on coming to this festival again in the future.

I met a few interesting people today including some friends and was excited to meet yet another classmate that I had lost contact with, Erik.    Ruth and Rosemary sniffed out some jam sessions last night and again this evening.   Some of the jams were very high energy.   This evening there was an eastern European music jam that was fantastic and upstairs there was a Celtic jam that was just about out of control – fast and loud!   I found some some cd’s and books at the festival, most that I had planned to buy.

Dancing and fine music at Korrö festival

We headed home but after a rather touchy situation with the car and 6 inch deep mud.   Arriving at the parking area I found a muddy mire, trenches dug on two sides of my car for drainage and a stuck vehicle behind my car that was essentially resting its undercarriage on the mud and the wheels dug in up to the axels.   A tractor was on the way to pull her out.    I thought that I might be here for a few hours but somehow managed to back the car up a bit and get enough momentum to drive it up the incline out of the muddy hay field.    It was good to be home where it was dry and warm.

July 25 – It is still raining, but lightly this morning.   I read through the Vilhelm Moberg Emigration District pamphlet this morning and realized that I was in the zone (the area that he wrote about in his novel).   I will explore one of the sites tomorrow.   I also started mapping out my route for seeing old ancestor’s farms.

This early afternoon we went to the stämma at Rävemåla, just a short drive down the road.   This was the smallest of the 5 festivals we attended.   There were about 14 fiddlers and another 20 or so people wandering around the local open air museum park.    I had heard or had played at least half of the tunes that were being played.    I wish that I had recorded some to remember.

Rosemary and Ruth at Rävemåla stämman

Ruth and Rosemary sniffed out a small jam session in one of the museum’s old houses with an accordionist and guitar player.   They were making some good music.   Next we had to head off to Växjö to get Rosemary and Ruth on the train to Stockholm.

We got to the train station in plenty of time, so we thought.    It turned out that the ticket we printed had the Monday through Friday train schedule, not the Saturday Sunday schedule.   We arrived and the train came about 3 minutes later.   It was close, but they made their connecting train to Stockholm.

Kronoberg Castle in Växjö

While in Växjö I decided to see two of the three castles in the area.   First I saw Kronoberg Castle which dates back to the 1400’s.  I also visited Teleborg Castle which was built around 1900.    There is a short Wikipedia article here about Kronoberg Castle and a very good PDF download file here describing all three castles.   The other castle ruin in the area is Bergkvara and I saw it on my last trip. It looked like a movie set for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Back in Långasjö I wandered around the small town, investigating the church yard and the beautiful lake behind it.   I also discovered the largest tree I have seen in Sweden, an enormous (five feet in diameter) oak tree growing in the church cemetery.

July 26 – This and the coming days are packed with visits with people and places related to my ancestors and relatives living in Sweden!   I started the day with a visit to Klasatorpet here in Långasjö.   This is a cottage and farm that was the  filming location for  the movie based on Vilhelm Mobergs novel, The Emigrants in 1969.   On the way out of town I photographed a field of what appeared to be rutabaga.   I had never seen a field filed solidly with a vegetable like this before.

Långasjö church yard – Byron next to the enormous oak tree

Large oak tree canopy tree at the Långasjö church

The first ancestor related stop was the church in Ulshult, built in 1808.    I visited the following farms, locations where very distant ancestors once lived:  Klassamåla, Gåsalycke, Buskahult, Hösjömåla.    I eventually arrived in Ryd and proceeded to Sandåsen farm where my relatives Sten and Gun live.   It was very good to see them again and catch up on this and that!

Urshult church

That evening I visited Anders Svensson, a fabulous fiddler that I met at Nisswa Stämman a few years ago.   I think that his chordal harmonies are very interesting and this evening had a chance to gather a few more ideas about this style of making harmony.

July 27 – I spent some time this morning exploring Sandåsen farm, walking through the woods, and looking at the thick granite walled barns and out buildings.   This farm has been occupied by family members for 13 generations – quite amazing.

Sandåsen farm – Byron, forest and stone wall

Sandåsen farm – stone wall

Sten, Gun, Niklas, Tove and Byron at Sandåsen

I drove to Tvetaryd this afternoon to visit with Alf who lives in one of my ancestor’s homes.   He has done an amazing and meticulous job of restoring the old house.  He is very interested in the history of this small community and this house – we had quite a stimulating conversation.   Aside from admiring the beautiful home, I also appreciated the fruit trees, flowers and an ancient maple tree growing around the old house.

Alf and Byron at Tvetaryd

Tvetaryd – Linbasta

Tvetaryd – Byron next to the linbasta

Sod roof plants

Lake Åsnen, Tvetaryd

We walked down to the edge of lake Åsnen, down an ancient pathway bordered by a stone wall and some old trees.    I looked inside the old linbasta (a place where flax was processed) that was built in the early 1700’s if I remember correctly.  It contained all of the original processing equipment including two hearths for drying flax, making beer, etc.

I also enjoyed playing music with Alf and listening to him play fiddle tunes from the local area.   What an amazing visit!

July 28 – Today I said goodbye to my relatives, hoping to see them again soon.   I visited Almundsryd Church in Ryd and then took some photos of Blidingsholmsbron, a stone bridge built in the early 1800’s over the Mörrumsån river.   The stone arches are very interesting.

Next, I drove to Västra Torsås to visit the church.    I drove up to Torsås By to see the village chapel and was sad to see that the Kulturecafet was closed.    They sold some very good quality local hand made items when I was there 10 years ago.   The next stop was “Gravar längs farleden,” not far from Skatelöv.  This is an ancient grave site dating from 500 B.C. to 1000 A.D. and are marked with long tall stone markers.

Ancient grave site – 500 B.C. to 1000 A.D.


Ryd – Almundsryd church – Byron

Next, I visited the Skatelöv parish church.  This was the last parish that my Swedish ancestors lived before coming to America in 1854.    Running short on time, I made brief visits to the farm at Gotåsa and Härodsmåla.   I visited the churchyard at Härlunda and then drove on to Lund, to return the car.

Skatelöv parish church – The front door latch

Lund is in the Skåne province and the landscape changes drastically here.   It flattens out and there are many agricultural fields.  I saw a lot of wheat-like plants.  The vegetation is also very different, more deciduous trees and fewer evergreens.  It actually looked a bit like Kansas.    I also noticed many wind turbines across the landscape.

Bicycles in Lund

My friend lives in the heart of the old part of town in what is one of the oldest cities in Sweden.  The old church near his apartment was started in the early 1100’s.    The old part of town is filled with interesting old buildings, and winding cobblestone streets.

Lund city cemetery – Sculpture at a Polish Jewish grave site

City cemetery in Lund

I had a very enjoyable walk around town.   We saw the old city cemetery which looked partly like a well manicured botanical arboretum.    An amazing piece of sculpture marked a grave site for some Polish Jews during WWII.    People’s gardens were very impressive, as they have been all around Sweden.

We met another friend of his on our walk, Lotta, who writes books about gardening and has an amazing yard filled with fruit trees, flowers, roses, etc.   One could get lost in the various winding paths through the garden.   Her nephew is Ale Möller, a well known Swedish folk musician playing the bouzouki.    I have enjoyed his music greatly over the years.

Rune stones in the older part of Lund

July 29 – Got up early to head out on a the X2000 fast train to Stockholm.  This train travels around 200km per hour which is about 125 mph.  The 4 hour trip seemed to go rather quickly.  Along the way I saw some interesting landscapes and some wild animals.    I saw a moose, some sort of large deer with a large rack and a smaller deer.    It started to rain along the way and was raining when I arrived in Stockholm.    The rain stopped just long enough for me to make the 25 minute walk with luggage to the apartment.

Train exiting tunnel

I found some food and started walking around town, getting soaked in the process despite having an umbrella.    My waterproof shoes were only waterproof on the sides and bottom but did not prevent them from filling up from the top…   I visited the book shops in the architecture museum, the national art museum and the music museum, seeking some books on old furniture and music.  I did not actually visit these museum collections since I was short on time.    The Visarkiv was closed for the month of July unfortunately but I did find some of the desired books at the music museum.

Byron, Lena and Gunnar

The misery of the wet day quickly disappeared after taking the subway to see Gunnar and Lena. That was one fabulous evening!   We visited and played music till very late in the evening, a perfect way to spend a wet day.

July 30 –  This is my last day in Sweden/Stockholm and was exceedingly happy that it was a cool sunny day, perfect for walking around town.    I headed out on foot to three used book stores about 30 minutes away.   I found a few interesting music books and then visited the Nordiska Museet.   It is a grand building and has many good cultural displays.

Musikmuseet, Stockholm (music museum)

Stockholm – sculpture

Historisk museet – rune stone

I had just enough time to make a quick trip to the Historisk Museet which I think was one of the best museums I have seen on this trip.    It was loaded with Viking artifacts and other items from different time periods.   I enjoyed seeing the many rune stones, the old gold and silver jewelry and the medieval wooden items.

Historisk museet – rune stone

Late that afternoon I pick up a goat horn from the son of the maker of this instrument.   I have always wanted one of these “forest” instruments and am very happy to have a good one.   After that meeting, I walked out to the Katarina lift which is an old elevator for lifting products and people up the bluff to Södermalm.    I think it was about 80 feet tall.

View of Stockholm from the Katarinahissen

View of Stockholm from the Katarinahissen

I spent the rest of the evening walking around the area near the apartment where I was staying.   I spent some time by the waterfront, watching the sunset and then ventured over to the grounds of the Armémuseum (Army museum).   I stumbled upon some surprisingly beautiful works of art on some old cannons dating back to the 1600’s.  These cannons were seized from the Danes at Glückstadt in 1814.  It was an amazing find.

Armémuseum (Army museum) – old cannons

Armémuseum (Army museum) – old cannons

Armémuseum (Army museum) – old cannon art

That evening I spent time carefully packing all of my items so that they would be protected.

July 31 –  Time to head home.   Looking forward to seeing friends and family!   I walked to the bus station, and arrived at the airport two hours early which was very fortunate.    The check in line was extremely long and it took 1 hour to get through.   The trip to JFK in New York City seemed to go quickly but then I had a very long layover.  The plane to Kansas City was delayed. I arrived about 12:15 and was in bed by 2:00.   It was an amazing trip, am glad to be home and am looking forward to the next Swedish adventure.    Everything made it home safely and passed through customs, including three lichen specimens that I collected!


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