I’m a Chicagoan on a working vacation in Iceland, writing about the financial crisis for a hedge fund trade magazine and taking in geysers. When I realized that my trip would overlap the annual Reykjavik Blues Festival, running from April 4-9, well, I had to cover it, too. After all, the only people who love the blues more than white people from the north side of Chicago are white people in Europe. Pinetop Perkins, darker than any Inuit, took the redeye here to sing the blues.

No matter what we look like or where we live, we have all been downhearted, baby, ever since the day that someone left. Right? And the Icelandic people have a lot to be downhearted about these days, between their heavy debt load, their deflated economy, and their stint on the U.K.’s list of terrorist nations, an attempt by the British government to recover British deposits in Icelandic banks. Throw in the fact that the British blue band Led Zeppelin wrote one of its big hits, “The Immigrant Song,” about Iceland, and you have a festival setting that Memphis and St. Louis would envy.

Only some of the musicians and fun this week are imported, but it started with the cars. Saturday’s kickoff event involved the Reykjavik Cruiser Club members driving their classic American cars down the narrow Bankastræti. The lead car was fixed up like Jake and Elwood’s Bluesmobile. Every driver was on a mission from God: to have some fun at the end of a long winter, in the midst of a recession, by showing off their much-loved vehicles.

The Sevar Karl Gallery had a display of classic guitars. Gallery is a loose term here; it’s in the basement of the Sevar Karl boutique. Upstairs, the racks of Dolce & Gabbana sweaters were all 60% off, and the merchandise wasn’t picked over; there simply aren’t buyers for fancy imported sweaters in a country known for its knitting. Downstairs, everyone admired Andy Summers’ guitar.

But here was the best part: local musicians were playing blues in the street. They added life, which was sadly lacking inside the shops. Some of the players seemed professional, but most appeared to be groups of friends who thought it would be a goof to get together and play some blues standards for all the folks walking around outside. The musicians and their audience were having a great time, especially considering that the temperature was in the thirties and rainy. And isn’t that was the blues should do?

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About the Author

Ann Logue

Ann Logue is a freelance writer and consulting analyst who is fascinated by business and technology. She has a particular interest in regulatory issues and corporate governance. She is the author of "Emerging Markets for Dummies" (Wiley 2011), “Socially Responsible Investing for Dummies” (Wiley 2009), “Day Trading for Dummies” (Wiley 2007), and “Hedge Funds for Dummies” (Wiley 2006), and has written for Barron’s, Institutional Investor, and Newsweek Japan, among other publications. As an editor and ghostwriter, she worked on a book published by the International Monetary Fund and another by a Wall Street currency strategiest. She is a lecturer in finance at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her current career follows 12 years of experience as an investment analyst. She holds a B.A. from Northwestern University, an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. How's that for deathly dull?

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