Goan Cowboy Meets Icelandic Cowboy

Last week we drove to the remote village of Skagaströnd in north Iceland to meet Hallbjörn Hjartarson, famous all over Iceland as the “Icelandic Cowboy.” Now 76 years old, he showed me around his Kántrýbær and radio studio. He spoke in Icelandic and I in Konkani, and communication was flawless.

From Frommer’s:
The youngest of 16 children, Hallbjörn Hjartarson developed his mania for country music in the late 1950s, while working at the American military base in Keflavík. In 1963 he returned home to tiny Skagaströnd, and in 1983, after singing in various bands, founded Kántrýbær (Country Town), his restaurant, bar, radio studio, and all-around country-and-western shrine. (He lives across the street, and is rarely seen without a ten-gallon hat.) He has only visited the U.S. once — in 1988, to record an album in Nashville — but never ventured outside Tennessee. For several years he organized a C&W festival in Skagaströnd, complete with barn dancing, rodeo stunts, and can-shootin’ competitions, but unfortunately it’s been on hiatus since 2002. Hallbjörn’s 24-hour radio show, usually hosted live from 2 to 6pm and 8pm to midnight, airs on FM 96.7, 102.2, and 107.0; it can be heard from as far as Akureyri and the Strandir coast. On air he insists on thanking Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, and other favorites each time their music is played. The request line is tel. 452-4774. To listen online, visit www.kantry.is and find the “Hérna getur ?ú smellt á á Kántrýútvarpið á Netinu” link.

Here’s a sample of Hallbjörn‘s music –

Hallbjörn Hjartarson

Hallbjörn Hjartarson of Skagaströnd, Iceland
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS L II

Presenting CD of Indian Music to Hallbjörn

Presenting a CD of Indian Music to Hallbjörn
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Hallbjörn in his radio studio

Hallbjörn in his radio studio
5D Mark II, 24-105L

  • David R. Levine - May 14, 2011 - 2:55 pm

    Forgive the presumption, but my son, age 21, and I are traveling to Iceland this summer and wanted to meet Hallbjorn Hjartarson. Might you be willing to advise how to make contact? Also, do you know a B&B or hotel either in his town or nearby to stay overnight?
    Any help would be much appreciated. Beautiful photos, by the way.
    PS: Our interest is that both my son and I love music; I’m more involved in country, particularly alternative country, but my son loves it all.

    David R. Levine, MD
    Rockford, IL 61103
    Ph: 815.965.3139ReplyCancel

  • Magnus - June 28, 2010 - 2:00 pm

    The photos are amazing
    Hallbjorn is singing about, lonelyness after chasing away son and wife, and how much he misses them and how he wants to start all over again with them.
    All the best to you

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