Photographer's Note

They like to run naked through the snow, they never say no to free beer and they think Icelanders are cool: The street musicians Jude Sarsfield (23) from Ramsgate, England, and Seamus (22), from Dunkeld, Scotland. They are also known as ‘Bad bread and the rotten rolls’.

By Joachim Schmidt

An Icelandic sea breeze in the hair, the guitar on the back, the thumb stretched in the air, not knowing what the next evening brings; everyday life for Jude and Seamus. The two street musicians from UK perform in bars, coffee houses and on street corners. They play well known song from the Beatles or Johnny Cash, as well as their own stuff. Then they move on, from place to place, from experience to experience …
Indeed, they are free like the wind; however, their life is no luxury. The wages for the gigs are not much but enough since they get by with little. Most often they are invited to overnight stays and they get easily a ride while hitchhiking. Iceland treats them well.
So far, their trips brought them to Finland, Sweden and Germany and down to Cyprus. Iceland is different. They are visiting the island already for the second (Seamus) and the fifth time (Jude). "It's the best country in the world", both say and mean it. The women, they say, are extremely beautiful: "Everything about them is great", says Seamus full of fervour and draws the curves of a woman in the air. The people here are cool and very generous and in contrast to the UK, here in Iceland the rich people are also very generous, they say. More then once they’ve gotten rides from them. For example from Arngrímur Johansson, co founder and former CEO of Air Atlanta. He even invited them to spend the night in his summer house and he brought them two bags full of groceries. Jude and Seamus relaxed in his private hot tub under the open sky, drank expensive whisky and for a moment, they felt like kings.

The storytellers
Jude and Seamus know how to tell stories. While tramping around Iceland, anything can happen. In Borgarnes they were kept an eye on by the police while trying to get a ride. Jude and Seamus feared - with a police car in site - that nobody would pick them up. However, soon the cops stopped a young driver and took him for questioning into the police car. After a little while one of the cops came to Jude and Seamus and announced that they had found a lift for them.
Instead of giving the young driver a ticket for speeding, the policemen had told him to take the hitchhikers to Brú. "The cops here are really cool", say the boys from the UK.
How about another strange experience? In spring last year Jude was alone in Iceland, playing on the streets of Reykjavík, when he was engaged by the liberal party (XF Frjálslyndi Flokkurinn) as a mood setter for the election campaign. They took him on a tour all around the country. "Some people say, they are racists, but I'm not sure about that", says Jude. They actually treated him well and he had a good time. And who cares about politics anyway, if the food is free?

To good to be true?
Nevertheless, from so much nice experiences and good luck one becomes suspicious. Have they never experienced setbacks? Have they never been offended by drunks or left alone in the middle of nowhere? Well, left alone in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the Westfjords, seems to be the only bad experience they had.
Jude was ill and the weather was cold and wet, but they had no other choice then to camp beside the road. It took them two days to get from Reykjavík to Ísafjörđur. But they do not take it amiss of the Icelanders: "If there’s absolutely no traffic, you cannot get a ride", says Jude. This spring the luck was on their side. It took them only eight hours for the same distance. Now they want to try their luck in the Westfjords one more time.
It’s Saturday night: ‘Bad bread and the rotten rolls’ perform in Kaffi Edinborg. For a moment it feels like being in one of those pubs in England. Jude and Seamus joke with the audience and play one hit song after the other. One notices that they got their skills from playing on the street, not practicing in a basement or being taught in a school. Jude, on the other hand, studied music, but only for one year. Then the street called his name. Seamus concluded with the college and then he was gone too. If Jude has the role of the head of the band, the propelling strength, then Seamus has the role of the heartbreaker. They complete each other well. After the gig in Kaffi Edinborg follow a few more gigs in the few other bars in the Westfjords.
Jude and Seamus like it here and plan to stay for a while. However, they cannot play constantly in the same bars. Therefore, they are looking for work. But the search turns out to be difficult. If they can’t find any, then the music’s over in the Westfjords. The street already waits for them.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Joachim Schmidt (joaschmidt) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 22 W: 2 N: 49] (565)
  • Genre: People
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2008-03-31
  • Categories: Daily Life
  • Exposure: f/5.6, 1/125 seconds
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2008-05-25 6:49
Viewed: 3234
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Additional Photos by Joachim Schmidt (joaschmidt) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Note Writer [C: 22 W: 2 N: 49] (565)
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