See who is playing where and when at Tønder Festival 2018!
With a new album on the stocks, Lúnasa are once more ready to travel the world with a repertoire nourished at the spring of Irish traditional folk music. Lúnasa began in the late 90s around fiddler Séan Smyth and flute player Kevin Crawford. In subsequent years, Lúnasa became one of the trend-setting Irish traditional bands. Their repertoire consists of traditional and newly-written Irish tunes, played with refreshing looseness and perfect timing. The unforeseeable, often daring arrangements drive the melodies with an energy that has delighted audiences all over the world. In 2010 the critically acclaimed album Lá Nua appeared, and Lúnasa also collaborated with Natalie Merchant on her album Leave Your Sleep. Natalie Merchant’s name is also among the imposing list of guest musicians on Lúnasa’s new album, Cas. Here, the band are assisted by Tim O’Brien, Daoiri Farrell and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Besides Séan Smyth and Kevin Crawford, Lúnasa comprises bass player Trevor Hutchinson, a former member of The Waterboys; uilleann piper Cillian Vallely, who plays on Springsteen’s High Hopes; and guitarist Ed Boyd, whose name is known from his work with Cara Dillon and the group Flook.
Back in 1993, with their record Holy Bandits, Oysterband donned the mantle of English folk music, while other English and Irish bands like The Levellers, The Pogues and The Waterboys saw to the alternative music scenes of the day. Oysterband started in Kent as a dance band, beginning early on to experiment, sometimes controversially, with arrangements of traditional dance tunes. In 1989 the band released Ride, including their cover of New Order’s Love Vigilantes, which helped them break through to a wider audience. Next came Freedom and Rain, featuring famous folk singer June Tabor, and attracting attention in North America. Back in England, Oysterband’s faithful fan base was growing, informed by The F-Word newsletter about the band, with invitations to buy special releases.
In Danmark too, Oysterband won increasing attention and they frequently played at Danish festivals – prominently Tønder Festival – and music venues. In 2012 Oysterband and June Tabor played on the new Open Air stage at Tønder Festival. 2017 and 2018 are dedicated to Oysterband’s 40th anniversary tour. This will be their only Danish festival appearance in 2018.
The name means ‘five’ in Scots Gaelic, but now there are four. Four brilliant musicians from Cape Breton play traditional Scottish music in its eastern Canadian seaboard guise, winning prizes for their virtuosity. Originally brought together to promote Celtic Colours International Festival a few years ago, the group proved so successful that they stayed together. Cóig consists of Darren McMullen, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, flute, and vocal; Rachel Davis, violin, viola, and vocal; Jason Roach, piano; and Chrissy Crowley, violin and viola. Each is a distinctive musician in their own right, with solo careers that have ammassed over 30 nominations and awards for albums and live performance.
Assembled as Cóig, they are now on the brink of an international career, bringing with them their new album Rove (2017). One review in The Shetland Times wrote of Cóig: “Four acclaimed, award-winning solo musicians combine explosively. Collectively, Cóig is a triumph for traditional music from Cape Breton”. This is their only Danish festival in 2018.
As everyone knows, Cajun music comes from Acadie, where the French first colonised the eastern seaboard of Canada before being driven south to Louisiana by the English who then called it Nova Scotia. For more than a decade, Vishtén has been playing their own blend of new and traditional songs and instrumentals plucked from the French-speaking Acadian culture. Vishtèn enjoy great respect on the international folk scene as a trio who represent a rich musical tradition, which they mix with rock and contemporary indie folk influences. Vishtèn numbers multi-instrumentalists Emmanuelle and Pastelle LeBlanc from Prince Edward Island and violinist Pascal Miousse from Magdalen Island.
The islands have maintained their French culture and all three trio members grew up with parties and dances where traditional music was a natural component. Vishtèn have toured widely in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and have won many awards, among them the Canadian East Coast Awards and Québec’s Edith Butler Award recognising their contribution to French Canadian culture. Vishtèn’s most recent album is Terre Rouge from 2015. This is Vishtèn’s only Danish festival appearance in 2018.
Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys (UK)
Things are happening fast at the moment for Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, whom the Tønder Festival audience enjoyed at the 2017 festival. They are coming again in 2018, which looks like being a very busy year for the band. In autumn 2017, they released the album Pretty Peggy, which garnered fine reviews. The British music magazine Mojo listed their album in their top ten folk releases in 2017. Prominent musical guests such as Cara Dillon and Michael McGoldrick play on the recording, and among the other musicians involved is fiddler Ciaran Algar, a frequent Tønder Festival guest. Sam Kelly is acclaimed as one of the major new names on the British folk scene. His is a voice that can grip an audience and hold their attention, whether he is singing his own songs or interpreting well-known Irish folk songs, and he does it with compelling energy.
Sam Kelly has made two EPs and an album and won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Horizon Award in 2016. With his band The Lost Boys, Sam Kelly is one of the musicians you must see at Tønder Festival 2018.
Ìmar (SCO, IRL)
Five seriously qualified musicians from Scotland and Ireland take a fresh look at particularly Irish traditional music. Ìmar excited their audiences at Tønder Festival in 2017 and are back in 2018. All five members play in a series of other bands, several of whom have appeared at Tønder Festival on numerous occasions. Ìmar comprises Adam Brown, bodhrán, (Rura); Ryan Murphy, uilleann pipes, flute, (Mànran); Adam Rhodes, bouzouki, (Barrule/Mabon); Mohsen Amini, concertina (Talisk) and Benedict Morris, fiddle. They all know each other from Glasgow’s exceedingly active music scene and through Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann, the Irish traditional music network.The group comes bespattered with fine reviews and both individually and in their various other contexts, they boast awards such as the BBC Young Folk Award and several All-Britain and All-Ireland titles in traditional music. Ìmar grew naturally out of the session scene, for as bodhrán player Adam Brown puts it, “It’s just worked from the moment we sat down and played together.” This is your only chance to hear Ìmar at a Danish festival in 2018.
Traditional Scots music is in really good hands in the band called Skipinnish, who after almost 20 years of playing are going from strength to strength. The band tour constantly and play for full houses. As they write on their home page, “2017 has been the best year since we started in 1999.” Skipinnish sounds of bagpipes, accordion and fiddle: they offer a stylish modern take on Scots traditional music. It all began when accordionist Angus MacPhail met piper Andrew Stevenson in 1999, when they were both attending courses at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. Both are from the west – Tiree and Lochaber respectively. Skipinnish soon became a well-established name on the Scottish folk music scene. They have released eight albums, the most recent being The Seventh Wave from 2017.
In 2016, singer Robert Robertson left Skipinnish to focus on his work with the band Tide Lines, who incidentally are also appearing at Tønder Festival 2018. Skipinnish’ new singer is Norrie MacIver. This will be their only Danish concert in the summer of 2018.
The Chair (SCO)
They call it Stomp Music from Orkney, and there will be stomping when the eight musicians in The Chair hit the stage. The Chair deal in highly danceable power folk, starting with traditional music from Orkney and raiding blues, klezmer, dub and much else. The instruments are violin, banjo, accordion and guitar, the energy is the same as we know from Scottish bands like Treacherous Orchestra and Session A9. The Chair, named 2008’s Band of the Year at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, released the album The Road To Hammer Junkie in 2013.
The Chair took Tønder Festival by storm in 2016, and it will be a great pleasure to experience these musical wild things once again in 2018, at their only Danish festival appearance in 2018.
Basco & DR Big Band (DK)
What do you get if you cross one of Denmark’s top folk bands with one of the world’s best big bands? Those of you who attended the concert in DR Concert Hall in 2013 already know the answer, the rest can listen to the live recording released shortly afterwards. Since they began almost 10 years ago, Basco has developed a unique North Atlantic folk music tone, offering infectious melodies, beautiful songs and an intensity we recognise from Dreamers’ Circus and the English band Spiro. Basco is Hal Parfitt-Murray (vocal, violin, mandolin), Ale Carr (cittern), Andreas Tophøj (violin) and Anders Ringgaard (accordion, trombone), and together they weave an eclectic brand of folk music with strands from the Danish, Swedish and British folk music traditions.
DR Big Band has been in existence since 1964, and has seen prominent leaders like Ib Glindemann and Thad Jones. DR Big Band has worked with many musicians, including Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and has an enviable international reputation. When Basco & DR Big Band open Tønder Festival 2018 on Thursday 23rd August, it will be a concert to remember.
The Elephant Sessions (SCO)
They played at Tønder Festival in 2016, and even then they were a band on their way up at top speed. In 2017 The Elephant Sessions released their second album All We Have Is Now, which was praised by reviewers and won Album Of The Year at BBC Scots Trad Music Awards. They are not strangers to awards from that quarter, since they won Up And Coming Act of the Year in 2014. The five musicians in The Elephant Sessions come from the Highlands and declare their musical loyalty to traditional Scottish folk music. The music has deep roots, but this bandet have no qualms about bringing new elements to the table, forging their own brand of neo-folk from Scotland. The Elephant Sessions have been compared to colleagues such as Shooglenifty and Peatbog Fearies. Rolling Stone Magazine wrote of them: “These Scots use their instruments as weapons to destroy clichés. We love them!” The band tour constantly round Europe and Britain, and are back at Tønder Festival 2018.
FolkBALTICA Ensemble (DK, D)
The FolkBALTICA Ensemble consists of 50 young musicians from Schleswig Holstein in Germany and southern Denmark. The orchestra arose at the folkBALTICA Festival, which takes place every April. FolkBALTICA Ensemble is the festival’s youth orchestra, breaching frontiers both geographical and musical, between traditional and contemporary folk music. Violinist Harald Haugaard is artistic director of the folkBALTICA Festival and leads the orchestra, capably aided by colleagues Andreas Tophøj and Rasmus Zeeberg. Tønder Festival actively supports rising musical talents and the grass roots of the folk music scene, and it has become a tradition that FolkBALTICA Ensemble perform at the festival.
They will play their own concert and a huge concert for school children from both sides of the Danish-German border. In 2018, once again, the Tønder Festival audience can enjoy this dynamic youth orchestra.
The Dead South (CAN)
This Canadian band guested Tønder Festival in 2016, and there are many good reasons why they have been asked back. The Dead South deliver a raw mix of bluegrass and folk spiced with satire, blood and guts. Add in the energy of a punk band. This band has found its own sound, and they have been described as outlaws, modern hillbillies and “Mumford & Sons’ evil twins.” From Saskatchewan in Canada, they have been playing together since 2012. Armed with guitar, banjo, mandolin, cello and loads of vocal, The Dead South, fronted by singer and guitarist Nate Hilts, have spent the past few years touring Canada, USA and Europe.
Their latest album Illusion and Doubt from 2016, sees the addition of violin and pedal steel guitar. The album hit the top five on America’s Billboard bluegrass hit list. Their only Danish festival concert in the summer of 2018.
Sharon Shannon (IRL)
Ireland has many musical feathers in her hat, and Sharon Shannon is one of the musicians who bear the international reputation of the Irish music tradition high. Born in 1968, Sharon Shannon, an acclaimed accordionist and violinist, began performing in public at an early age. Her accordion work up through the 80s led to her joining The Waterboys in 1989, and in 1991 she released her solo album Sharon Shannon. This album became the best selling record of traditional Irish music ever released in Ireland.
Tønder Festival veterans will know Sharon Shannon quite well, as she has appeared here many times, first in 1992. Sharon Shannon has worked with many well-known musicians, among them Adam Clayton (U2), Steve Earle, Jackson Browne, Christy Moore and John Prine. Her most recent album Sacred Earth (2017) was produced by Justin Adams and covers a crossover of music from Africa, the Middle East and Ireland. This will be Sharon Shannon’s only Danish festival appearance in 2018.
The return of Romengo from Hungary, masters of traditional olah gypsy folk music, who played at Tønder Festival in 2017. The music is traditional folk songs and music derived from the Roma culture, plus the group’s own compositions. Romengo have been playing together since 2004 and have made a deep impression at cocnerts all over Europe and also in Korea and India. Romengo have released two albums, Kétháné (2010), and Nagyecsed-Budapest (2014). Both releases have topped European world music hit lists. The band’s singer, Mónika Lakatos, has won several awards, including The Ethnic Minority Award in 2014 and the Anna Lindh Award in 2007.
Romengo represent traditional Roma music, but expand the limits of the genre through creative cooperation with musicians of other styles. For instance, Romengo have performed with the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra from Germany and the Indian singer Sumitra. This is their only concert in Denmark in the summer of 2018.
Joik singing is an ancient but vibrantly living music tradition of the Sami indigenous people of Northern Europe. One of today’s most prominent renewers of Joik is the Sami musician Torgeir Vassvik. With his band Vassvik, the vocalist, musician and composer gives a unique, new vision of this trance-like vocal art. He originally stems from the coastal village of Gamvik at the Northern end of Norway, where the winters are long and dark and the summers bright with midnight sun. Torgeir’s voice, like a mirror of the landscape, is a rare, raw jewel. Joik has inspired him since childhood, as well as other vocal and musical forms from around the world. Thus, Torgeir Vassvik updates the animistic vocal tradition and percussion rituals of the Sami for the 21st century. Together with the Kjorstad Brothers, young Norwegian violinists, he opens his heart for different genres – Jazz, Folk, Classical and New Music included.
A fresh Arctic sound experience. Or, as a German reviewer wrote: “Vassvik is a sound magician who moves beyond what our ears have hitherto heard.”
Folk Spot 2018: Huldrelokkk (NO, SE, DK), Louise Støjberg/Martin Rauff (DK), Pøbel (DK), Mary Jean (DK), Vingefang (DK), Raabygg (NO), Hudna (DK) and Elmøe & Hoffmann (DK)
Since 2012, Folk Spot Denmark has been presenting Danish folk and roots bands with the ambition and the potential to reach a broader audience both nationally and internationally. Tønder Festival helps run this initiative, and this year, too, you can meet a series of Scandinavian bands on their way up. As an international showcase, Folk Spot Denmark also invites key actors in the music business in other lands. Again this year an international jury has selected seven Danish folk roots bands: Huldrelokkk, Louise Støjberg/Martin Rauff, Pøbel, Mary Jean, Vingefang, Raabygg, Hudna and Elmøe & Hoffmann. The eight bands involved in Folk Spot Denmark 2018 will play showcase concerts at Tønder Festival on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th August.
Photo Credits: (1) Lúnasa, (7) The Chair (by Walkin' Tom); (2) Oysterband, (3) Cóig, (4) Vishtèn, (5) Sam Kelly, (6) Ìmar, (8) Skipinnish, (9) Basco, (10) The Elephant Sessions, (11) folkBALTICA Ensemble, (12) The Dead South, (13) Sharon Shannon, (14) Romengo, (15) Vassvik, (16) Huldrelokkk (unknown/website).