ST JAMES HALL i
3214 West 10th Ave, Kitsilano
Accessible All ages
Three musicians with a singular sound, a playful yet accomplished interplay that seems to defy the laws of physics, an intensity with a great sense of humor, and modernity rooted in tradition. Väsen, a Swedish acoustic trio, now in its 27th year of touring together.
The parts: a five-string viola of sophisticated symphonic taste, an adventurous 12-string guitar, and a nyckelharpa (a “keyed fiddle”) deeply rooted in the traditions of Swedish folk music. All three are instrumental virtuosos in their own right, and together they form a unique supernatural being. To experience Väsen is to witness ensemble playing at its finest.
The band's origins are deeply rooted in the forests and rich earth of the Swedish countryside, in the centuries-old tradition of the folk music of Uppland. It's a tradition spiced with consummate playing skills. But this is more than just a traditional sound. There's a playfulness to their music, a joyousness, and a delight in making exciting new arrangements of centuries-old tunes, and new originals inspired by the tradition. Rock, jazz, traditional, and classical influences weave together, making a music that's beautiful but never cloying. You always hear the inspiration and improvisation of the moment. And we can promise that you’ll never know what will happen next.
Their latest recording Brewed was released in April 2017.
Olov Johansson and Mikael Marin of Väsen started playing together as teenagers around 1980. During the early 1980's they would regularly visit Curt and Ivar Tallroth and Eric Sahlström, older musicians who lived nearby in the Uppland region, where they would play and learn traditional music from them. In this way they became a link in the living tradition that Swedish folk music has enjoyed through the centuries.
In 1989, at a music gathering in Røros, Norway, Olov met Roger Tallroth and asked if he would like to try to jam on nyckelharpa and guitar for a bit. They played for the rest of the day and far into the night. Among the witnesses to this fateful jam session was Olle Paulsson, who thought it was the best music he had ever heard, and made a promise to start a record label if they were willing to be recorded for a CD (and thus Drone Music was born).
The following summer Olov became World Champion of both the modern chromatic and older historical nyckelharpas at the first-ever Nyckelharpa World Championships at Österbybruk, Sweden. The added momentum for the first CD recording, which was entitled Olov Johansson: Väsen. Väsen is a Swedish word with many meanings: spirit, noise, a living being, essence among the most prominent. It was originally meant to just be an album title, but soon people were calling to book the band "Väsen" and the name stuck.
Initially some traditionalists in the Swedish folkmusic community showed some resistance to Väsen. While Olov and Mikael were playing fairly straightforward folkmusic duets, Roger's guitar definitely provided a different twist on Swedish traditional music. Yet it's exactly the guitar chordings and rhythms that also attracted an entirely new audience, and the band's popularity gradually grew, along with their international reputation. They recorded six CD's, expanded the band and went on to tour extensively.
Meanwhile the members of the band were getting older, having babies and facing the challenges of being a musician in the modern age. A widespread U.S. tour in September 2001 had to be scrapped after 9/11. Although the tour was rescheduled for 2002, André's reluctance to tour and economics led to the band reverting to the original trio:
Olov Johansson - nyckelharpa
Mikael Marin - viola
Roger Tallroth - 12-string guitar, bouzouki & octave mandolin
The Rogue Folk Club is pleased to provide great Sponsorship Opportunities for all our shows. For a nominal cost, individuals or businesses can sponsor any of our shows and reap a number of benefits - free tickets, reserved table, recognition on literature, our web site and at the concerts. For more information, simply contact our Sponsorship Director Morris Biddle at firstname.lastname@example.org