Epic Nordic Folk: Scandinavian Band SVER Launch Fall 2019 Tour on Sept 5;
From Norway and Sweden, Group Makes Traditional Folk Music “Electric without Electricity”
SVER Builds North American Fanbase, Signs with FLi Artists in Los Angeles;
American Singer & Composer MOIRA SMILEY Joins Band for Select East Coast Dates
“Fire and energy...[they] thrill audiences wherever they tour” – SONGLINES UK
“An intoxicating brew that will keep your head spinning” – RNR
“The band knows how to whip dancers into a frenzy” – ROOTSWORLD
VIDEO:“Mysoxen” (The Cozy Ox) https://youtu.be/eUMjqrAGpk0
SOUNDCLOUD: Reverie CDhttps://soundcloud.com/sver/sets/reverie/s-gUwnH
** mp3 and WAV files available on request**
SVER – Fall 2019 North American Tour
Olav Mjelva (fiddle, hardanger fiddle), Anders Hall (fiddle), Adam Johansson (guitar), Jens Linell (drums, percussion)
Sept 5 Portland, OR Nordia House
Sept 6-8 Sisters, OR Sisters Folk Festival
Sept 9 Olympia, WA Traditions Café
Sept 10 Bellingham, WA Wild Buffalo
Sept 11 Seattle, WA Triple Door
Sept 13-15 Montreal, Quebec, CN La Grande Rencontre (w/ Moira Smiley 9/15)
Sept 17-18 Cambridge, MA Club Passim (SVER and Friends 9/17; w/Moira Smiley 9/18)
Sept 19 Glens Falls, NY The Folklife Center, Crandall Public Library (w/Moira Smiley)
Sept 20 New Haven, VT Epic Little Folk Festival, Tourterelle (w/ Moira Smiley)
Sept 21 Shelbourne, VT Shelbourne Farms Harvest Festival (11:00am)
Sept 21 Hamden, CT Best Video Film and Cultural Center (8:30pm)
Sept 22 Bryn Athyn, PA (House Concert)
The Scandinavian group SVER plays instrumental folk music with the energy of a rock band and the elegance of a chamber group. Featuring Nordic and traditional fiddles, accordion, acoustic guitar and drums, SVER (pronounced “Sfeer”) can make you get up and dance one moment and then, with casual virtuosity, evoke images of open spaces and delicate beauty the next.
Praised by Rootsworld as “sounding electric without electricity,” there’s a vitality to this music, whatever the groove or the mood -- joy spiced with touches of humor, music that feels at once familiar yet stunningly new.
SVER (the name translates as “grand”) features two Norwegians, Olav Luksengård Mjelva (fiddle and hardanger fiddle, Norway’s national instrument) and Leif Ingvar Ranøien (accordion), and three musicians from Sweden: Anders Hall (fiddle and viola); Adam Johansson (guitar); and Jens Linell (drums and percussion).For this U.S. tour, however, SVER will perform as a quarter, without accordion. The music is firmly rooted in Norwegian and Swedish folk music, but the group draws freely from a broad range of musical traditions, from American bluegrass and jazz to rock, pop and even dancehall.
SVER has released four albums, most recently Reverie (2018), and in their decade together they have earned, as Songlines magazine noted, “an enviable reputation for being one of the best live bands on the circuit.” This is their fourth tour in the United States, and their efforts have created an avid American fan base, often by playing outside the traditional folk circuit.
“We want to bring Scandinavian music out to new audiences. We love it when we get to play in places like a pub or a rock club, before young people,” says Jens, once a punk and hardcore drummer, now a subtle and resourceful percussionist as adept with the standard kit as with the cajón. “A lot of people may be a bit scared off by terms like ‘folk music’ or ‘traditional.’ Who knows what pictures they have in their mind? But that has nothing to do with our music. The cool thing is that this is vibrant music. These are not museum pieces. It's a tradition that is alive, and SVER is very much part of that.”
The group grew out of a collaboration between Olav, the fiddle and hardanger fiddle player and main composer of the band, and his childhood friend Leif, the accordion player, in 2002. They added a guitar and released SVER’s self-titled debut in 2007. A year later, the trio grew into a quintet, releasing Fruen (The Missus) in 2010, and Fryd (Joy) in 2015.
Interestingly, the members of SVER have never lived in the same city.
“We are scattered all over the place,” says Jens. “Olav lives in Røros (in southeast Norway); I live in Oslo; Anders lives in Hälsingland in central Sweden. So when we rehearse, we meet up and hang out for maybe three or four days, prepare food together, and then we sit, and we play. Our tunes are mostly arranged in that sort of jam session vibe. We try stuff, we listen to it, scratch it, and start over until it works.”
Playing this music in a group is in itself a departure from tradition, says Jens. “A lot of hardanger music is solo music. When you play for dancing with the hardanger fiddle, you play solo. That's the most common way to do it,” he notes. But Olav, considered one of the living masters of the instrument, wanted more. “I really liked the idea of bringing the hardanger fiddle into a band, especially a band playing contemporary music. It gives us a different sound.”
A much-sought-after studio musician, Olav received the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy award for his debut solo album in 2010, and in 2013 he was also recognized as Norway’s folk musician of the year. The hardanger fiddle, an instrument that dates back to the 17th century, is similar to a violin but has four or five sympathetic strings that run underneath the fingerboard that add echoing overtones to the sound. In SVER, the presence of another fiddle and the accordion amplifies the effect, creating a cloud of sound that seems to hover over the melodies.
While the group plays instrumental music, American singer and composer Moira Smiley will join SVER for several shows on the New England portion of the tour. Always improvisational in her approach, Moira marries her study of traditional folk-song with an avant-garde sensibility. In addition to performing solo and with her vocal group VOCO, her credits include indie-pop favorite Tune-Yards, Irish supergroup Solas, and Grammy-winning jazz pianist Billy Childs.
“We met Moira and her music in 2014 when we were teaching at Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp, up in Northern California, and she was the vocal teacher there,” recalls Jens. “At the camp, you teach the whole day and then at night you get together, have drinks and jam until the morning and we had a lot of fun.”
Last year the band invited her to perform with them at a show in Berkeley, CA and then Moira visited the band in Oslo, then joined them for a concert at Riksscenen, Norway’s national folk music venue.
“We played each other's tunes,” says Jens.“We played some of her songs, and then she took one of our tunes, “The Doctor,” and wrote some words for it.” Now there are plans for a recording with Moira next year —but that is further down the road. Next is this American tour and, no doubt, more fans for SVER’s new-generation Nordic folk.
“Whether we play for people dancing, or for when people sit and listen, we just love to play,” says Jens. “We want to get people to think of great energy when they think of folk music.”
Website: http://www.sverfolk.com/en/ IG:https://www.instagram.com/sverfolk/ FB: https://www.facebook.com/sverfolk/