Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Fond Farewell to Nordic Roots Fest

Well, I just can't seem to let go of the last Nordic Roots Fest. Although I did miss Fest number 1, I was there for all the other nine and spent the last I don't know how many as the Green Room maven, keeping all the musicians fed and rested.

Although there were a few musicians keeping it going in the Green Room until 6 a.m. (Welcome to Minneapolis, Detektivbyron!!), the atmosphere backstage this year was really, well, sweet, for want of a better word. Lots of fond hugs, fiddle jams, proud musicians showing off photos of cute kids, more cute kids sleeping during afternoon rehearsals... Really, at one point there were two different kids snoring away in their strollers in the Green Room as Frigg ran over the finer points of their set a couple of feet away.

Proud mama Emma from Triakel shows off baby Hampas to former Garmarna tour manager Patti. >>

As Bruce Molsky carries the flame of Appalachian music in our country, seeing the Nordic spelmanen (folk musicians) of our generation carry on the little traditions of their ancestors made me happy. Hoven Droven's Kjell-Erik is often the first guy to pull out his fiddle at the end of the night and start a session( or play along with whatever somebody's cranking on the stereo!) Learning tunes, teaching tunes, jamming with Bruce Molsky or Annbjorg Lien or whoever else had a stringed instrument nearby. Both Petri and Antti from Frigg seem to carry on this role in their band. I don't know how many generations of the Jarvela family have been rocking the Kaustinen area, but you can tell Antti, Alina and Esko are chips off the old block, teaching and learning tunes. When Petri asked me to help round up some strong drink for the traditional "Piiska" toast before their set (early in the afternoon!), it felt like another bit of tradition coming through to the next generation. Some old grandma and grandpa fiddlers are grinning on their front porches somewhere.

One of my co-bloggers did a great job of posting photos
last week (Hey , my kid got on the blog!) but I have a few more to add to the mix. (Thanks to Blanche Sibley from KFAI for a couple of these choice photos - and for geeking out with me all weekend!)

KISS fandom knows no boundaries - Cedar house manger Micheal and Hoven Droven drummer Bjorn share the love

Finally, after all these years! Frigg's secret revealed... they all have 4 hands! and play with 2 bows at once!! NO WONDER they can play so fast.

How do they DO that? A six song medley for an encore...and they played so fast the whole works took about 10 minutes!

Vasen did what they do so well, and their minor key beauty made me start the fest out in a melancholy mood. The long legged Vasen dance, swaying back and forth without moving their feet, as Roger and Michael laid down the groove on viola and guitar behind Olaf's nickelharpa melody. The grins, the eye contact, then swirling off in another direction. Oh yeah, and their encore was a four song medley, linking such disparate audience favorites as "Josephine's Vals" and "30-Year Jig" into a tune of joy that spiraled up into the clouds and was surely heard by Jay McHale somewhere up there.

I think I had little snatches of "One Hour in Hungary" playing sweetly in my head for a week afterwards.

Those darn whippersnappers in Frigg brought tears to my eyes a couple of times too. I knew that "Kaidas" (Oasis) has that vocal bit at the end, so I knew they were going to just belt it out, but somehow, knowing it was coming made the beauty even sharper. Inviting all the students from their workshop onstage for a number was a very classy move...and it sounded great. You should have seen all the proud parents taking pictures!

How cool was it when drummer Jon from Detetivbyron turned to me during Hednigarna's set and said, "Hey, that's "Min Skog" isn't it? I stole my dad's vinyl of Tra and never gave it back!"

Hurdy Gurdy turned in their most psychedelic NRF set EVER. Here is a tiny piece of Skallstyggen. The video quality is extremely low, but the sound quality isn't too bad.

Their set put me in mind of a Diamanda Galas show I attended once long ago at First Ave. Just her voice and her piano. She'd get you so strung out on some crazy dissonance, your ears would be begging for mercy, then when you thought you couldn't stand it any more BANG! key change into some sweet major thing that would lull the audience a bit before taking us somewhere far away again. That's a bit what I felt like during the Hurdy Gurdy set. Strung out to the edge on drones and dissonance, then one note would change, and the whole thing would ground itself in a major key so we could catch our breath before spiraling out of control again. I loved every note!

NOt only did they play us an AMAZING "Manic Depression", just look what else those sweet Hoven Droven guys did! The very top of their website has a thank you and fond farewell to the festival along with an image of the limited edition H.D. t- shirt's backside.
Here's the text of their thank you note. The last waltz" was actually a polska ..
On Sunday night Sept. 28 the last notes of "Årepolska" echoed in the sold out Cedar Cultural Centre in Minneapolis. That was it. After three days of great music, and the meeting of old friends celebrating the great ten year run that was the Nordic Roots Festival, Hoven Droven closed the last night with a lengthy set that made sure everyone got what they came for. Guest appearances were among others Bruce Molsky and Annbjørg Lien who joined the misty eyed band for "Kom Hem". As always a BIG thank you goes out to Rob, Mark, Drew, Michael, Bill, Dave, Chris and all you other great people at the Cedar (past AND present) who made this festival an unforgettable experience for all us musicians who visited you during the last ten years. We hope you all understand how much you have meant to us, and the impact you had creating a meeting place for us that is unsurpassed, even here at home in Scandinavia.

Till next time; LOVE from Hoven Droven!

I hope all you musicians understand how much YOU have meant to us over the years. Thanks for all the tunes and memories!

1 comment:

mrs. yam said...

ok, now I'm teary.