I MET JAAK JOHANSON few times, and several times during Viljandi Folk. I recorded some notes while I was working on a chapter for My Viljandi about the festival. These are from July 2019. // I was seated at a table when he just happened to appear across from me. “But Jaak. You’re so much older than me, but you look so young,” I said. “How do you do it?” “Simple,” he answered. “I breathe very slowly.” Jaak’s people are from Viljandi area. He has deep roots in the soil here, but they were actually gypsy traders. “They came here with the Swedish king in the 1700s,” he says. “And they liked it so much that they stayed behind!” One can see why they liked it. Behind his brushy bush of dark hair, one can see the light on the rooftops from that almost Islamic crescent of moon in a light blue night sky, crossed with the spire of St. John’s Church. Later, during a concert on Kaevumägi, Johanson comes out on stage with a bag over his head. It turns out that he is the guest of honor. // In memory of Jaak Johanson (1959-2021).
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