on the road – Riga (Nov'18)

We are on our way to Riga. I visit Riga often. As a child I went to Riga mainly during the summers to visit my grandmother. Actually I don’t have any childhood memories of Riga during winter, just the summer ones. Also my dad used to travel many times a year from Tallinn to Riga to visit his mother. And when he returned home he always bought Latvian breads, cheeses and sweets along. A year ago Ringhold took the same route together with anti-folk boss Jessi ‘Cannonball’ Statman. Very much the same rout, as we make a stop at the same road-side restaurant as we did with Cannonball and have a meal before entering the city. We will also play at the two same venues this time in Riga as we did last year with Cannonball. And the timing is also more or less the same. sO, the venue we will play at tonight is Aleponija. Aleponija has expanded with a room and a new stage. The cat here is still the same dark grey and furry Bruto – spending his time couch surfing the venue and climbing it’s wooden poles and walls. At about 2100 we are ready to give the stage a Ringhold testing. Some friends from Riga also come to the show. Later we witness Richard and Sabine drinking hot black currant juice with black currant flavoured Riga Balsam – we take the lead, as it is an icy crisp time of the year made for this kind of drinks. Crisp is also the next day that we spend roaming aimfully as well as aimlessly in the suburbs of Torņakalns and Āgenskalns situated on the west bank of the Daugava River. Already my great great great grand parents roamed round these areas, so it feels like a thing to do on a November day embraced by icy crisp air. Also tonight we will have our second Riga concert in Āgenskalns at the Hāgenskalna Komūna. We start the soundcheck at HK round 1800. Dāvis, boss of HK is here and also some early customers. We set up the set up. HK has become like a second home for Ringhold in Riga. Our music sounds authentic here, some venues are more like that than others. Tonight there is a weekly meeting of historians at HK – this means that a historian comes and sits at a table in the corner and waits for one or more historians to appear and join and then they – meet. As we are from Estonia, our conversation easily wonders to Ruhnu/Roņu Island – the most remote island in the Baltic Sea that is situated much closer to Latvia but belongs to Estonia. And – Estonia has hundreds of islands, Latvia does not have a single one. The Baltic countries are celebrating their 100th anniversaries this year, I propose that Estonians should give this island as a 100’gift to Latvians. Digging in some historical facts it appears that Latvia has offered to buy this island from Estonia more than once during the recent 100 years. Each time a referendum has taken place and the people of Ruhnu have preferred to stay as part of Estonia. Well, the reality is that before becoming part of Estonia in 1918 the main inhabitants of the island were Swedish. They left after WWII when Estonia became part of Soviet Union. The name of the island is Ruhnu in Estonian and Roņu in Latvian. Ronis means seal in Latvian and these animals live around the island even today – in diminishing numbers, as the trend with all the species except humans tends to be on this planet at the moment.

map of Ruhnu
by Ludwig August von Mellin, 1798

sO, at one point Ringhold starts to play and once more Hāgenskalna Komūna and it’s people help us elevate some space. After the show we catch up with regular visitors of HK we have met before and also meet some new faces. This time the walls are covered with photos of HK life and people – we also find an image of Ringhold among the exhibition. Our friend and harmonica player Janošs is also here tonight. Some time during the evening Kalle and Janošs play an improvised set. The night at HK lasts long, while the air outside still. icy. and crisp. Next day we sleep till noon and then hit the streets to spend couple more hours in Riga. We have breakfast at a bakery Richard and Sabine suggested to us already last year when we were here with Cannonball. After some delicious Latvian style bakery moments we step back into the icy Riga. We catch a bus that will take us to our car that we left waiting for us in HK back yard. Dāvis is there to meet us. He will have a rehearsal today with his band that plays songs in Livonian. They will have a concert at the Latvian University Botanical Garden next week. Livonians are a Fenno Ugric nation that are considered to be extinct. Dāvis can speak Livonian. There is a small yet active group of people in Latvia that have Livonian roots and are keeping the tradition alive. There also exists a group of non-Livonian Livonians fans – I think this group also plays a part in the preserving and developing the still existing Livonian sense and I am starting to suspect that Kalle and I would like to participate in this.

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