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