I'm just back home in Edinburgh after a stunning trip to beautiful Breim in the mountains of Western Norway with one of my oldest friends and musical collaborators Julian Sutton. We were invited by the Norwegian singer and fiddle/hardanger player Sigrid Moldestad to take part in a very, very interesting project as part of a local country music festival. (To say country is huge in Norway is a massive understatement!)
The project entitled 'Blagras' is in it's second year and the premise is a thrilling one. To re-ignite the journey between Scandinavian folk traditions and American music via the British Isles. Sigrid's mission to subtly inspire those country music obsessives with their own music is a wonderful idea and has seen a seriously creative week take place.
Our home for the week was Sigrid's family farm in the beautiful mountains of Breim (Just a short walk up the valley from the Norsk Countrytreff festival) My fellow musicians were from across America, Norway, Sweden and the UK and we were treated to the very, very best of Norwegian hospitality from Sigrid's wonderful family.
Long rehearsals, repertoire learning sessions took up our days alongside wonderful lunches mountain walks and wild swimming. Our evenings with incredibly thorough yet relaxed sound-checks in the beautiful old barn that before our eyes was converted to a spectacular concert venue.
Last night the big concert took place to a sell out crowd under candlelight and intense atmosphere. The unfortunate timing of a huge thunderstorm leading to a few power cuts that actually only enhanced the incredible atmosphere as the audience were treated to new and traditional repertoire from these closely connected nations.
I would very strongly recommend checking out the work of all of the amazing artists that took part in this project. I don't think I have ever worked alongside such virtuosity, humility, positivity and humour. And with very, very special thanks to the wonderful Sigrid and her family for making all of this happen.
The Blagras project were..
Jonas Bleckman - Cello
Anders Bitustøeyl - Double Bass
Julian Sutton - Melodeon
Laura Cortese - Fiddle and Vocals
Kim Rysstad - Vocals
Juhani Silvola - Acoustic and Electric Guitar
Valerie Thompson - Cello and Vocals
Mariel Vandersteel - Fiddle, Hardanger Fiddle and Vocals
Karl-Johan Ankarblom - Fiddle, Harmonium and Piano
Sigrid Moldestad - Vocals, Fiddle, Hardanger Fiddle and Curator/MD
Sarah Jane Summers - Fiddle and Hardanger Fiddle
Kjetil Kristiansan - Sound Engineer and LEGEND!
If you click on the names of these wonderful people it'll take you to various links. Explore their amazing music. You’ll be very glad you did.
Again my heartfelt thanks to all of these wonderful people and all of those behind the scenes that made this one of the best experiences of my musical life so far.
I'll post lots of pictures soon.
Peace, Tom X
So I'm in Norway! Breim to be precise. Yesterday was all about travel with a taxi 4 (yes 4) flights and a bus to get here but it's very, very much worth it. Here to take part in 'Blågras'. A collaborative project curated by Sigrid Moldestad to explore the links between Scandinavian, America and the UK on her family's beautiful farm in the mountains of Western Norway
as part of Norsk Countrytreff festival.You can read more about the project and all of the amazing participants HERE. Today was all about music (and food!) tunes learnt from all sorts of places and ideas flying around. 30C heat outside and beautiful mountains, lakes and scenery everywhere. I'll stop talking and show you a few photographs of our journey and Day 1. I love my job!
Back in Edinburgh after an utterly fantastic week of music making! First up was the totally brilliant Tinto Summer School where I was teaching Flute/Whistles and Guitar for the week. The kids were just amazing and my fellow tutors Maeve Gilchrist, Gordon Gunn, Kathleen Boyle, Ross Couper and Findlay Napier were flawless for both music and craic! Find out more about Tinto and the other amazing opportunities offered by Hands Up For Trad HERE
So after the final concert of Tinto on Friday night I headed for a quick sleep in Glasgow before heading to the first ever Newton Stewart Traditional music festival organised by the brilliant Nathon Jones and his amazing family. Myself and Ross Couper finished up the Saturday night concert in the beautiful 'Belted Galloway' venue before playing tunes into the small hours with festival goers and organisers alike. A lovely day off today in sunny Edinburgh before the next adventure begins..
Well hello and welcome to what I hope will be a regularly updated blog. There's a fair chance it won't be and you'll be reading this in about three months time alongside an out of date diary section and some rather pleasing photographs of Sweden in late summer. I will try though and we'll see!
So Sweden has been very much on my mind recently and myself and Ross were lucky enough to do some wonderful shows there during August including one where we were lucky enough to be on the same bill as arguably the best band in the universe! Vasen! Sweden was so nice that I went back again on holiday. Everything there was lovely and food wise especially it was darn near perfect if a little on the pricey side.
Enough waffle anyway. Welcome to my website and I'll post some more music related topics soon.