The birds of passage take their way from the North to the South of Europe for the winter, FolkWorld takes the other direction, introducing with this issue a new series, taking up what Tom Keller began in the last couple of issues with his Austrofolk-series about Austria (in the German version of FolkWorld).
All of Europe and quite a bit of the rest of the world learned this September two Danish words, being quoted in all the news around the world: "Nej tak". No thanks.
And of course the "Nej tak" referred to the introduction of the EURO currency. On the 28th September 2000 the Danish could decide - once again - wether or not to join the EURO currency; and linked to this referendum was for most Danish much more than just currency and economy: It has been a referendum about the Danish identity, about Danish culture. It has been something like the eighth referendum of the Danes about the state of Denmark in the European Union, and always the country has been devided. The same this time: 54 % voted against the introduction of the EURO, 47 % for it. Although joining the EURO would not have really changed anything for the Danes, as the Danish Kroner is linked up to the EURO. But as said, it's been a vote for more than just getting the EURO. Denmark and the European Union, this has always been a difficult question. It's more the fear of losing the particular Danishness, the identity of this small country, than a missing internationality.
An interesting moment to start the Scandinavian series of FolkWorld, the only real European folk music magazine. Scandinavia, a definite part of Europe, both geographically and mentally, still very critical in means of European Union. The Scanfolk series starts in Denmark, and will move on in the next year to Sweden, wanting to give some impressions of the national folk music scenes and beyond of that.
Speaking of folk music, Denmark is pretty much internationally minded, though there are not too many relations to the European mainland. The attention in the folk scene goes more to the North, to the British Isles on the one side, to the Scandinavian countries on the other.
Tønder Festival, in late August, cares especially of the British Isles. For Celtic music lovers, the last weekend of August was also this year definitely the place to be, with all the great names there. Speaking of Danish music, Tønder has not that much on offer - this year the brilliant duo Haugaard & Høirup were the Danish exception in the programme. But you also meet there always those involved more in the Danish traditions.
Erling Olsen is the boss of the Go' Danish Folk Music Production and Distribution, as the name says a distributor specialised in Danish music. Since a couple of years he has added to the distrbution job also a label, bringing forward some of the new and exciting talents of new Danish Folk, and keeping up the memory of the old masters.
Danish Music. A kind of a well-kept secret internationally; only very seldom the Danes make it to international European stages. The Olsen Brothers won this year's Eurovision Song Contest, and of course the music is as bad as it is usual at the Eurovision Song Contest; still their success is still quite alive in Denmark.
Still there is quite a bit of great music in Denmark, also in the folk music sector, and quite a bit is also interesting for the international market. The magnificent fiddle/guitar duo Haugaard & Høirup was introduced in the last FolkWorld issue, and speaking of internationally known Danish New Folk Bands, Harald Haugaard is definitely an important person, playing also in Sorten Muld, a band, that has brought traditional songs and melodies into modern dance sounds, and attracting with this mixture quite an attention in Denmark. If this is of everybody's taste is another question of course.
Haugaard & Høirup are one of the acts of Go' Production; Harald's third project, Serras, has also released their debut on Erling's label. Serras combine Danish music of the 17th century with rock and saxophone, and with a spectacular live performance. While Serras is still a very new band, Phønix has already a bit of an international reputation as a young and lively band, a band playing (traddy) dance music combining fiddle, recorder, (bass) clarinet, harmonica and percussion. Taking up the influence of the "harder" Swedish bands like Garmana and Hedningarna, Fenja offer an exciting Danish folk of the new folk music generation. And there is a lot more.
It seems like there is a lot to discover in Denmark. The initiative of Erling Olsen gives international audiences the best opportunity to wander around in the Danish scene. At his website, www.folkmusic.dk, he offers not only a huge selection of Danish CD recordings, but also a great information ressource, featuring infos on many bands, clubs etc. And as said, here you have the possibility to check out about all those Danish CDs which you would normally not get in your local shop. Definitely worth a visit.
Speaking of recommended Danish folk music websites, one has to mention also the website www.folkemusik.dk (not to be confused with Erling's one), which is the home of the Danish secreteriat of folk music - which is financed by the Danish government!
So take the opportunities and check out the wealth of Danish folk. And experience that there is a kind of a destinctive Danish sound to discover, and this sound is very likely to survive with quite a few talented bands around.
No matter if Denmark joins the EURO or not...
Further Reading and Info on the Danish Folk Music Scene:
Photo Credit: Photos by the Mollis: (1) Traditional Danish towns like Viborg. (2) Haugaard & Høirup
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