MEL LEHAN HALL AT ST. JAMES i
3214 West 10th Ave, Kitsilano
Accessible All ages
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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 forced the band to become the original trio:
Olov Johansson - nyckelharpa
Mikael Marin - viola
Roger Tallroth - 12-string guitar, bouzouki & octave mandolin