Furuvik Zoo, Sweden
August 20, 2013
After five years the Swedish Police welcomed us with their special-but-familiarl brand of hospitality. Marcus got pulled out of line and strip searched all within our first two minutes in Sweden. Police dogs swarmed through the travelers coming and going. I really don’t want to believe that’s business as usual here. Everyone’s got their problems.
Except perhaps for Yared, a Swede and an African, and our good friend, who really welcomed us to Furuvik Reggae Festival. A first class set of bands came through, and he had hot rice & peas, dumplings, and brown stew chicken for all. After our performance, Kim and Jhamiela hung out with Marcia Griffiths in the circus ring that served as our back stage while I grabbed my camera.
Furuvik is famous for its animal park, and it held some strange fascination for me from the moment we arrived. They have some serious rides, and a Disney style-castle, which is always cool, but I was more interested in their chimpanzees. I spent half an hour trying to talk a zoo administrator into letting me take pictures of them.
“They don’t like to be woken up,” She said. “They get very irritable.” She told me that their alpha chimp, Santino, stockpiles rocks in the morning to throw at the annoying humans who file past his enclosure every day. A Swedish primate scientist made his career telling other scientists about this behavior.
“Sounds dangerous”, I said. “But I’d bet he could pitch a fastball at a hundred and seventy. That’s like 250 kilometers.”
“Luckily, he has bad aim,” she said. She looked nonplussed. Probably most Swedes don’t care much about baseball.
Furuvik Zoo is not the strangest place we’ve played. We’ve played on boats touring Boston Harbor and the East River, bowling alleys, basketball courts, and the water park formerly known as Wet ‘n’ Wild in Salvador, Bahia. A few days ago we played in a defunct casino in Slovenia.There can be a surreal element to such experiences. I don’t care, just tell me where to point my trumpet and when to start blowing.
The strangest moment of the tour so far was Freedom Taking Over in Ostroda, Poland. It’s the last song of the set. I’ve got my eyes closed because I’m so into it. I’m waiting to hear Kim, because she sings the part Don Carlos sang on the original recording. The recording of that song marked an important moment in Groundation, like the climax of a chapter in a book, and a kind of musical nexus. If you don’t feel the vibe at that moment, you probably never will. Anyhow, I’m waiting to hear this part and then I can’t believe I’m hearing the actual voice of Don Carlos. I open my eyes and he’s really there, on stage with us, singing: “Oh yeah, oh yeah now.” And it was snowing in August*.
*If you thought I was tripping that it was snowing in Mid August in Poland, you were right. Apparently some bubble machine broke down and began launching thousands of little floating clusters of foam. I knew it was too good to be true.