June 17, Iceland’s Independence Day. We had a great day that started with brunch with our hosts and their friend, actor Erlingur Gíslason. They cooked traditional Icelandic food for us including smoked salmon, lamb, and dried fish. We had a great conversation filled with their stories of wisdom. We got a three hour Icelandic history lesson which was very meaningful for the day. After brunch we biked downtown to enjoy the festivities for Independence Day. The streets in the city center were closed off and were crowded. We listened to live music and wandered around until finally stopping at a square where people were dancing. As we were watching the dancing a guy came up and tapped Matt on the shoulder and asked if he was a trumpet player from somewhere else. Matt said yes and realized that this guy was Eiríkur, a trumpet player with whom he had previously been in touch. He told us to stop by at his gig at the Volcano House at 8. We told him that we’d be there.
After that surprise, we then headed to a restaurant called Saegreifinn or The Sea Baron. The place, down by the harbor, is owned by an older man who does not speak much English. He catches the fish daily and puts it out in a fridge where we choose what we want, pay for it, and wait for them to cook it. We went with salmon, cod, and some grilled vegetables. Each was on a large skewer and very delicious. The seating (long picnic tables outside) at the restaurant led us to meet some very interesting people. We ended up sitting next to two French photographers working in Iceland for two weeks. They had good advice for us about where to travel and the food situations in each of the places. We also ended up sitting next to the costume designer for the new Tom Cruise movie being shot in Iceland for the next month. Overall, this place had great food, great people, and a great vibe. We ended up sitting there for two and a half hours and will definitely go back.
Following our meal we headed over to the Volcano House to see Eiríkur’s trio, Sway. The group sounded great and Eiríkur sounded killen on trumpet, flugelhorn, and vocals. Matt was invited to sit in on two tunes as well. After that we headed over to the Faktory where there is a jazz session every Sunday run by Baldur Tryggvason. The musicianship there was incredible- everyone was killen. It started out with some straight ahead and quickly moved into hip-hop/funk. There was a lot of Medeski, Martin, Wood, and Scofield. Matt called a D’Angelo tune and they knew it. Overall it was a great night and we actually hung with Baldur and some of the other musicians when we ran into them at KEX the following Tuesday.