Borrowed Days – the last single before The Smoky Smirr o Rain comes out in full – is out now! You can on Bandcamp, on Spotify and all other good streaming services.
Until a couple of years ago, we lived on top of a hill on Nesodden, a peninsula in Oslofjord. One wall of the house was completely glass, and we had an crazy view of Oslofjord. It felt like we lived inside the clouds, and stormy days were especially exciting. Late one evening, towards the end of March, I was sitting at the kitchen table playing the fiddle, watching a dark storm. The black clouds were swirling madly, and I kept thinking about the birds whilst I was playing, hoping they would be ok.
Borrowed Days throws you straight into a raging storm. The temperature is then turned down in an interlude which is the psychedelic ‘eye of the storm’, where time stands still and the main character hallucinates away, accompanied by birdsong from alien planets. The intensity slowly builds up again, and the song ends in the same storm it started in.
The title refers to a fable that exists in several countries, including Scotland, Ireland and Spain. It tells of an old cow who boasted that even the harshest weather in March could not kill her. March therefore borrowed three days from April and filled them with all the rage it could muster, killing and skinning the old cow (!!! 🙁 … ) The last three days of March were therefore known as ‘Borrowed Days’, and people who are superstitious neither borrow nor lend during those days.
Woohoo!! Super excited about this concert at Førdefestivalen in July. Any concert these days is exciting, but to get to play with such an amazing bunch of wonderful musicians is, well, wheeeeeee!!! Imagine getting to create your own chamber orchestra and play at one of your favourite festivals?! That’s not an everyday thing!
Celtic Connections released the programme for next year’s festival last night and we are part of it! Can’t wait!
We’re playing twice, firstly as part of Sarah-Jane’s New Voices commission on Sunday 28th January, alongside these truly wonderful musicians: Hayden Powell (trumpet), Morten Kvam (double bass), Leif Ottosson (accordion) and Bridget Marsden (fiddle). If you don’t already know them, do check them out!
By the way, Bridget & Leif are playing a duo concert as part of Celtic Connections at The Piping Centre on Thursday 25th January. Their music is spellbindingly beautiful; music for the soul.
Secondly, we are sharing the bill with the wonderful Adam Sutherland, who was also taught by Donald Riddell, on Friday 2nd February in the New Auditorium at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. I’m sure it’ll be a great night. A night for fiddle lovers for sure!
We are really proud to be of this beautiful new album Songen Om Guro by the traditional singer, Ingebjørg Lognvik Reinholdt. A song cycle from the Telemark tradition, it tells of the beautiful Guro Heddelid, who caught the fancy of pretty much every male from far and wide. Flirtatious and enjoying the attention, she had trouble deciding who to marry. Eventually she narrowed it down to the only two men who were strong enough to lift a particular sword: the rich and charming Torgeir and the poor fiddler, Tore. Tore had the soul, Torgeir the bluster. In the end, bearing in mind her deceased parents’ advice to marry someone who could keep the farm intact, she chose the wealthy Torgeir. Tore was devastated, utterly heartbroken and ran off into the mountains having lost his mind with grief. Torgeir was a terrible husband, drinking, fighting and not taking good care of the beautiful Guro at all. They had three children, all of whom ended up dying from the plague.
The album was recorded in Flatdal Kirke in Telemark in February. Such a beautiful time of year to be in the countryside in Norway. Several mornings I was woken up by the snowplough going past the house we were staying in.
I first met Ingebjørg when we were studying together at Norges Musikk Høgskole (The Norwegian State Academy of Music) and I was instantly bowled over by her rich voice and her ability to get the story across even if you don’t understand the lyrics.
The line-up is:
Ingebjørg Lognvik Reinholdt – vocals
Sarah-Jane Summers – fiddle / viola
Juhani Silvola – guitar
Morten Kvam – double bass / church organ
Recorded by Roar Nilsen
Mixed by Juhani Silvola
Mastered by Morgan Nicolaysen
Record label – ta:lik
The lyrics are poems from the local Telemark poet, Jørund Telnes, written in 1880.
“This duo goes straight to somewhere near the top of the ‘Musicians to See Live’ list.”
SARAH-JANE SUMMERS & JUHANI SILVOLA – Widdershins
Dell Daisy Records DELL006
A real cultural mix produces the goods here in this thoroughly likeable album. Widdershins is Highland Scots for anti-clockwise, or against the norm, and that is what is served up here. The combination of Inverness’ Sarah-Jane’s Scots-inflected fiddle and the virtuosic guitar of the Finnish Juhani Silvola is an exciting one. They live and play in Norway and must sound rather exotic there as well.
Most readers of this magazine will probably come at this via the fiddle, which has echoes of Shetland about it. At first glance, you might expect it to be the lead instrument, with the guitar getting second billing as an accompaniment. It is not, however, as simple as that. Juhani’s guitar is played with such attack and such imagination that it often seems to be straining to take centre stage. The result is, as the sleevenotes claim, “Virtuosic and innovative with a dark Nordic edge” – something that will chime with the current popularity of Scandinavian drama, perhaps.
This is not music, though, which hangs around admiring its own credentials. The other description that fits it very well is “powerhouse”. The 11 tracks were recorded live, in the same room, and were left completely unedited. Hence the infectious spontaneity achieved on tracks like Juhani’s Silver Spring Reel and Sarah Jane’s Spike On A Bike. There are times on those numbers (and on others) when Silvola, in particular, sounds destined to inflict terminal damage on his instrument. Happily, we all come out safely at the other side.
This duo goes straight to somewhere near the top of the ‘Musicians to See Live’ list.
For those of you who read Swedish, a review from Lira.
Lägg ordet Sydänyö på minnet! Hur svårt kan det vara? Lättare än att säga skotskt-finskt. Sydänyö betyder midnatt, eller mer poetiskt: Nattens hjärta. Denna cd:s första låt inleds med att Juhani Silvola lugnt plockar toner ur sin akustiska gitarr och Sarah-Jane Summers glissandon låter som om hon spelade med fiolstråken på såg. Fascinerande och ljuvligt melankoliskt.
Titellåten Widdershins kunde vara Sarah-Janes roliga performance om nordiska myggor, hon sågar med stråken på ett irriterande, vinande sätt i gitarrens ökande mörker, men det är enligt konvolutet hennes grandfather som bygger en klocka som råkar gå moturs (”widdershins”).
En låts historia kan vara underhållande, men resultatet är förstås viktigast. Det blev en schottis som får hjärtat att hoppa och benen att spritta. Sen fortsätter skivan med traditionella och nyskrivna reels som en antingen gillar, beroende på läggning, eller fort tröttnar på.
Skön andhämtning från hoppandet ger låten Vaajakosken Maija, skriven av Sarah-James till en väninna, den går att dansa en gangar eller stillsam slängpolska till.
Invid titeln på de egna kompositionerna står Tono, Norges motsvarighet till Stim. Tono har i höst, från sin största kvartalsavräkning någonsin, delat ut 131 miljoner till in- och utländska kompositörer, textförfattare och förlag. Det var ändå innan nyheten med Bob Dylan detonerade. Gilla Tono på Facebook! Och gilla Widdershins, förstås.
“An album full of contrasts…Widdershins makes a great case for seeing Summers and Silvola in concert.”
Album review: Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola, Widdershins (Dell Daisy)
2 Dec 2016 / Rob Adams, Folk & Jazz critic
Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola
Widdershins, Dell Daisy
THE Scottish-Scandinavian alliance continues with this Norway-based fiddle and guitar partnership’s second album.
As with another of the teams with connections from this side of the North Sea, the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Inverness-born fiddler Sarah-Jane Summers and Finnish guitarist Juhani Silvola pay due respect to their native traditions but are imaginative in their arrangements and pretty fearless in taking the music out into the margins.
Summers’ rugged title track borrows a word she learned from her grandfather but it’s unlikely that her esteemed fiddle teacher, the late Donald Riddell, is responsible the wild, atmospheric and exciting bowing style she brings to its more adventurous developments.
Silvola’s playing ranges from dainty and nimble to swashbuckling as the pair show a superb musical understanding and an easy interchange between melodist and accompanist roles.
An album full of contrasts – as illustrated by the delicately picked and pizz’ed Silver Spring Reel and the robust, characterful strathspey Donald Morison – Widdershins makes a great case for seeing Summers and Silvola in concert.