FolkWorld Issue 36 07/2008; Article by Morten Alfred Høirup

danish roots

Danish Roots
Bringing Danish Folk & Roots Music to the World

The project "Danish Roots – Growing in the World" was launched at one of the largest folk music events in Europe, the Tønder Festival in August 2006, in order to: "support a group of carefully selected Danish folk and roots musicians/bands in their international ambitions - and of course to make the world aware of all that Danish folk music has to offer."

The sponsors are Danish music business organizations including the Danish Jazz, Beat and Folk Composers (DJBFA),
Instinkt, photo by The Mollis, Rudolstadt 2004

Instinkt @ FolkWorld: FW #24, #35

Icon Sound @
the Tønder Festival, Kopifon, the Danish Musicians Union (DMF), and more. The program receives no support from the Danish State.

The Danish folk/roots scene includes a diverse selection of musicians and bands who perform in a wide array of venues. Some specialize in playing school concerts, others mostly perform in churches, for traditional dancing, at folk club–like venues and festivals, or have their focus in theatre music. Often musicians and bands take part in a mix of these activities. The Danish folk/roots scene features a number of bands that tour internationally, playing venues and festivals all over the world.

Solo performers and bands like the Faroese singer/songwriter, Eivør Palsdottir, the Danish violin and guitar duo, Haugaard & Høirup, the saxophone, violin and bouzouki trio, Færd, and the young violin, saxophone and guitar trio Habbadam, have toured throughout the Nordic countries, Europe, Canada, the U.S.A, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan for the last ten years.

The list of traveling bands is long, and they all face many challenges in their work to feature Danish music. Bands often must use a rather large part of their income to create promotional material - posters, flyers, press photos, websites, audio and video demos - and keep it updated. It's very difficult to find dependable agents who are able to book bands internationally.

Icon Sound Ástarstund, Føroyar, Mín Móðir, Vakrasti
Travel expenses have been growing for years, especially for bands touring in countries like Canada, the U.S. and Japan. Costs are rising not only for transportation, lodging, and meals, but also for the essential work permits.

Danish Roots supports bands by financing websites, posters, translation work, transportation expenses, work permits and much more. They help bands get in touch with festivals, agents and the media, and by sponsoring a certain amount of travel expenses when possible. The organization has put more than €200,000 into the project, which is enough to really make a difference for the musicians involved.

Since the beginning the project has had three bands leading the project, called "Spearheads," as well as five "Front-runners" who are close behind them.

The Spearheads are:

It´s worth mentioning that the band Instinkt played their last concert at Folk Baltica in Flensburg in April 2008,
Phønix @ FolkWorld: FW #8, #16, #24, #31, #35

Icon Sound Halmværket, Majvisen, Ulv, Ræv og Hare
and will be followed by another Danish band very soon.

The Front-runners are:

  • Afenginn
  • Phønix
  • Trio Mio
  • Habbadam
  • Henrik Jansberg

    But changes will happen in this group as well, during the summer of 2008. Bands are leaving, and new bands are taking over the empty seats.

    Danish Roots has been planned to run through June 2009, and right now the sponsoring organizations are trying to find the best way to continue the project and hoping to obtain the Danish State's participation. The sponsors must re-evaluate their experiences in the project's first three years, and then decide which direction they want to go with it. It's certain that the Danish folk/roots scene can profit from any kind of support in its effort to bring Danish folk and roots music to the world.


    Eivør Palsdottir (Faroe Island): Singer/Songwriter working with traditional as well as original Faroese, Nordic and international material. Performs solo as well as with her own band. Just got a Golden record in Iceland. Has been touring with Bill Bourne (Canada), Yggdrasil (Faroe Island) and The Danish Radio Big Band amongst others.

    Haugaard & Høirup (Denmark): Violinist Harald Haugaard and guitarist and singer Morten Alfred Høirup perform their own blend of traditional and original Danish music arranged for concert.
    Trio Mio
    Trio Mio @ FolkWorld: FW #30, #32

    Icon Sound Dronning Marianne og Kong Oscar,
            Fars 60-års Polska, Kolle Polle
    One of the most traveling bands on the Danish folk scene. Has performed more than 850 concerts internationally during the last 10 years.

    Færd (Denmark/Sweden): The band has had a lot of changes over the years, but since 2005 the trio, on violin, saxophone, guitar/bouzouki and vocals, has performed music based on traditions of the Scandinavian countries. Has been touring a lot in Australia and New Zealand, as well as many other countries.

    Habbadam (Denmark/Sweden): Young trio playing music from the small Danish island, Bornholm, on instruments as violin, soprano sax/flutes and guitar.

    Færd: FW #24, #24, #34

    Haugaard & Høirup: FW#15, #15, #20, #20, #24, #24, #27, #31, #32

    Henrik Jansberg: FW #30, #35


    Several of the aforementioned bands will be performing at Tønder festival 2008.

    The violinist and singer, Ditte Fromseier Mortensen, grew up on the island and has been studying the tradition of Bornholm, just as she masters the special dialect of the island.

    Phønix (Denmark): Plays modern interpretations of traditional Danish music and old ballads and has toured throughout the Nordic countries, Europe and North America playing at venues and festivals as well as doing a large number of school concerts. Instruments: Vocals, accordion, bass clarinet and percussion.

    Trio Mio (Denmark/Sweden): Playing new Scandinavian music for violin, piano/accordion and guitar/bouzouki. Centered around the Danish fiddler, Kristine Heebøll, who has a leading roll as a composer on the Danish folk scene. ”The heart and soul of Trio Mio´s musical motivation is the burning desire to show the world that Danish and Swedish folk music is full of innovative possibilities”.

    Henrik Jansberg (Denmark): Born into the Danish dance music tradition, he has the touch, rhythm and the swing that is the essence of this music. He has gathered inspiration for his violin playing from many sources, as can be heard on his double award winning debut CD "Signatur" and on the brand new CD "Omnivor", which also shows off his compositional skills.

    Danish Music Awards 2008:

    Best Album: Trio Mio "Stories around a Holy Goat"
    Best Traditional Artist: Phønix "Folk"
    Best Contemporary Artist: Trio Mio "Stories around a Holy Goat"
    Best Vocalist: Karen Mose (Phønix)
    Best Instrumentalist: Nikolaj Busk (Trio Mio)
    Best Lyricist: Las Nissen
    Best Composer: Kristine Heebøll ("10 Point", Trio Mio)
    Best Debut: Habbadám "Bornholmsk Folkemusik"
    Best Song Album: Stine Michel "Natravn"
    Best Blues Album: Blue Junction "Live - Out of Love"
    Best Country Album: Christian Alvad "Hillside Tunings"
    Best Foreign Album: Sofia Karlsson "Visor från Vinden"
    DMA-Folks Award: Torben Laursen
    Formidlingsprisen: Peter Uhrbrand
    Afenginn (Denmark): Afenginn's unique home-brewed style has been categorized as "bastard-ethno, with a sigh of Nordic melancholy and a twist of cheerful madness," and they are now poised to release their third album, Reptilica Polaris.

    Morten Alfred Hoirup Morten Alfred Høirup (*1961) is a Danish musician, composer and music journalist. He is playing the guitar and singing in the Danish violin and guitar duo Haugaard & Høirup, as well as working freelance for, amongst others, Danish Roots.

    More info:,

    Photo Credits: (1) Danish Roots logo, (3) Eivør Pálsdottir, (4) Phønix, (5) Trio Mio (from websites); (2) Instinkt, (6) Morten A. Høirup (by The Mollis).

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