Wanna know a secret? ( – who doesn’t want to know a secret??)
Some of the best musician anywhere are to be found in the old town of Stockholm known as Gamla Stan.
Since moving to Sweden in 2004, I periodically take the 25 min subway ride straight into the nearly thousand-year-old heart of Stockholm, Gamla Stan. There, medieval dungeons are now home to some of the best blues jams you’ll find anywhere on the globe. And the secret is…the real, live bluesmen of course! The house bands have at their core folks who were born and bred on blues: Derrick “Big” Walker from California (sax, harmonica, vocals) who has hosted Wirströms Tuesday night jam for years; Brian Kramer from NYC (blues guitarist extraordinaire and jam-leader at Stampen for the last 16 yrs!); Chuck Anthony from Philly (electric guitar – his official job description when he was recruited to play in Sweden was “ambassador of funk”!! he toured for a year with the legendary Fela Kuti and has cooperated extensively with Dr. Alban the Afro-Swedish musical dentist); Derek January from Detroit (bass, also a Dr. Alban veteran along with a long list of international artists); Jair-Rohm Parker Wells from NJ (electric bass guitar and el. upright; world-renowned and known from Downbeat magazine); James Bradley Jr. from LA (drums – JBJ was the world’s youngest drummer at 4 years old and appeared on the Jack Benny Show playing with Nat King Cole – JBJ & Nat King Cole – and even played alongside Paul Newman as a child actor in Cool Hand Luke! James has played with Beastie Boys, Slash, Crazy Town, Chuck Mangione, Ace of Base, Lenny Kravitz and many many more artists).
On top of all the amazing musicians in the house-bands, there are the regulars who come out religiously to sharpen their skills, fuel inspiration and see what happens in the new meetings – inevitably, something new always arises – such is the nature of the jam!
Occasionally a tourist will come in and dazzle everyone with a killer harmonica solo, or maybe even Eric Clapton’s drummer will swing by before or after a gig! Once Stevie Wonder stopped by a renouned jazz venue called Fasching before a concert in Stockholm – they were closed! Too bad he didn’t know about the joints in Gamla Stan…
Every once in a while, a spontaneous jam will break out in another part of town – last night I had the chance to jam with Jair-Rohm and a pianist Doru at Noel’s, another expat from Brooklyn who continues his family’s tradition of Lebanese food (his family apparently were the first to bring Lebanese food to NYC!) at a very hip and tasty bar on Stockholm’s answer to Brooklyn, Södermalm, and on a street that rivals the New York’s Lower East Side called Skånegatan (well, OK, not exactly LES, but pretty close). In fact, that part of town is even called SOFO – South of Folkkungagatan!
For those interested here’s a little “jamming in Gamla Stan guide” for ya! Fun even for non-players – an audience is always welcome and it’s always FREE!
Sankta Clara – blues jam on Fri and Sat, open jam on Sun, and jazz jam on Wed (all jams from 9 PM-midnight)
Stampen – blues jam on Sat from 2-6 PM
Wirströms – blues jam on Tues 9 PM-midnight
There’s also plenty of Irish music happening in the old town with some serious fiddlers, tin-whistlers, guitarists, button accordionists and bodhrán spoon and bone players (and the occasional harpist).
Wirströms – Mon session 7-10 PM; Wed Irish nights with Loughy, fantastic troubador from Ireland.
O’Connell’s – Wed session 8-11 PM
The Bishop’s Arms (in Mariatorget) – last Sunday of the month 6-10 PM
HAPPY JAMMING!!! 😀
It’s funny, as long as I’ve been listening to P2 Världen (probably the most eclectic and definitely the best collection of world music I’ve come across), I’ve always hoped to make a song that would fit into their playlist of music from Mali, Sweden, India, the US, and many many other countries. It’s hard to say what the “red thread” (to borrow an expression from Swedish) is that ties the very wide range of genres – everything from folk to jazz, reggae, hip hop, indie and everything between and beyond – together somehow…but I have my theory which is: it’s music with roots.
Of course, all music has roots, but a lot of music seems to have consciously or otherwise tried to distance itself or pretend that it exists despite or in spite of (is that the same thing??) its roots. I’m not one to put down any genre or artist – I think there’s good and less-good music in every style. But really, does the world really need schlager?? Sorry to all fans of Eurovision, really. ; )
Long-story-shorter, I’m of course very pleased that P2 Världen http://t.sr.se/1MXn9dx has decided to add Keops Pyramid to their amazing playlist! Of course, this is thanks to Keops first being played on the P2 show Klingan which features world, folk and now female singer/songwriters on Saturdays at 11 (with reprise on Wednesday evenings). Klingan: http://t.sr.se/1IZnmhM
I didn’t think of Keops as specifically “P2 Världen” material, but now that it’s in there, it kinda sounds good there! 😀
Thanks for spreading the word and if you find yourself in Östhammar (apparently a “dry” part of Sweden??), swing by Ed’s Trädgård www.edstradgard.se on July 12th in the evening. The proprietor Gerrie is an “original” hippie who will talk about his life experiences, followed by musical performances including a set by yours truly. Gerrie has traditionally put together Sweden’s foremost Dylan festival and of course we will have to do some Bobby D then!
Best Midsummer wishes from Stockholm!
The big day is finally here!
Keops Pyramid is out on Spotify, iTunes and on your favorite digital downloading/streaming services! Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/7cfRSfvyKFZrunkfzmHRwm
The song itself is by living-legend Mikael Wiehe, who at the time (1972) was part of one of Sweden’s biggest progg (not to be confused with “prog”) bands, Hoolabandoola Band. Very rich history, I can recommend Wiehe’s big book, Aldrig Bli Som Ni, which means “never be like you (as in “you all”): http://www.mikaelwiehe.se/sanger_boxen.htm
Fast-forward to 2014 – over 40 years later(!) – another artist Malmö (in the South of Sweden), Frida Appelgren, records a live video of Keops Pyramid. The song uses the symbolism of The Pyramid of Cheops to illustrate the gaping inequalities which exist in the world. http://www.abfplay.se/videos/roda-sangboken-keops-pyramid-e297fbd5-d0a1-4c9d-8237-342cd760b1fc
During that session, Frida told Mikael she’d like to do Keops in English, and he said, “then you need to talk to Diipak.” A few weeks later, I emailed the song in progress and she wrote back thrilled about it and said she loved it and that she was just happy someone was putting it out in English. A few days later, she wrote again and said “I couldn’t help it, I just had to try putting some harmonies on there” and voila! Recorded right there in the kitchen in Malmö. Sounds pretty good!
On Keops Pyramid:
Andil Dahl – saxophone
Chuck Anthony – guitar
Henrik Lörstad – keyboards
Jairrohm Parker Wells – bass
Jonas Fogelström – organ
Marque Gilmore – drums
Mia Törngren – congas
Miguel Pavez – trumpet
Pedram Lahijany – dumbek
Stian Grimstad – trombone
Mixed by Troy Jamz, mastered by Mikael “Berkan” Bergström.
Cover art by Ville Danielsson
An amazing group of people to work with, and a truly timeless song!
THANK YOU to everyone involved!!
Also, thanks to my family for the love and support and to the Black Mountain Music crew.
Tonight is the release party at the historic venue Engelen in the old town of Stockholm: https://www.facebook.com/events/1386030641717469/
In 2 weeks, on April 19th, Diipak & band will perform at Kolingen (downstairs from Engelen) in the Old Town of Stockholm. This in order to celebrate the release of Keops Pyramid, Diipak’s latest single. Keops Pyramid is a classic Swedish “progg” song by the legendary Mikael Wiehe, now in English and with some Irie reggae vibes!
Andil Dahl – saxophone
Derek January – bass
Elin Jacobsson – voice
James Bradley Jr – drumset
Jonas Fogelström – organ
Mia Törngren – percussion
Miguel Sopy Pavez Acevedo – trumpet
Niklas Alexandersson – guitar
Stian Grimstad – trombone
Zamân will open for us!
Zamân spelar en stor variation av de orientaliska klangerna från öst. I form utav egna kompositioner och traditionella folksånger bjuder dom med dig på en resa genom din inre och yttre värld. Med Naomi Runa och Arsalan Nasiri.
On the last day of this month, I’ll be partaking in a concert for diversity and equality at Katarina Kyrkan, a beautiful church on the South side of Stockholm, Södermalm. The church is part of Katarina Församlingen which includes Allhelgonakyrkan, Sweden’s most highly-attended church. When I was there the first time, I was struck by how many non-Christians were in attendance, including Jews, atheists, plus many recovering alcoholics (some Christian, some not). The priest himself is a recovering alcoholic and a big Dylan freak, which only goes to show you…not sure, but it’s a cool congregation!
I’m excited to be taking part of this concert. Partly since I haven’t played since February, but also because it feels at least symbolically like a really important event. There will be many excellent and some better-known artists, such as Swedish-Iranian rapper Behrang Miri, who I met at shul once(!)
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/736500293058011/
The concert is called Sida vid Sida, meaning “side by side” which can be interpreted in various ways; right now in Sweden, and really all over Europe and in the world, there seems to be an increase in intolerance…it’s always hard to make general statements like that, but I can say that the generally accepted feeling here is that there’s a lot of negative energy going around. This concert is an attempt to give a dose of positivity to the climate here, less than two months away from the general elections where voters will have a chance to choose a new (or old) government!
Sida vid sida is also a line from an old “progg” song (check out this link about the Swedish genre, progg: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progg), Staten och Kapitalet, which was later turned into a really heavy punk song by the legendary and mystical Joakim Thåström of Ebba Grön. There, sida vid sida refers to the state and the banks working side by side to basically f- over the people…once again, a blanket statement!