‘Folk for the 21st Century’

‘Folk for the 21st Century’

Phewph! It has been a busy month. November began with a whirlwind of a week in which two fantastic Norwegian musicians (Erlend Apneseth and Margit Myhr) arrived on the Isle of Man for an intensive four days of rehearsals with myself and fellow Manx traditional musicians Tomas Callister (fiddle) and David Kilgallon (piano/fiddle).

Before I continue, I’ll give you a bit of context… Our collaboration sprang into being in February 2013, funded by the Manx Heritage Foundation/Culture Vannin. Like Orkney and the Shetlands, the Isle of Man was ruled for some hundreds of years by Norway, and there are plenty of cultural links that bind the two nations together. We were commissioned to undertake the project as a way of celebrating the ties between Norway and Mann – fusing our two distinctly different musical styles together.

So in November, we joined together again for the second part of the pilot project, this time with multi-instrumentalist David Kilgallon. Tom and Erlend worked to further understand each other’s style of fiddle playing while Margit and I learnt songs in unfamiliar tongues – her in Manx Gaelic and myself in Norwegian – and weaved these together.

The end of the week culminated in a recording session – during which time we were visited by Paul Moulton of Manx Telecom TV who took this video – Norwegian music workshops, and a sell-out concert at the Erin Arts Centre in the south of the Island. The first half of the concert explored the two musical traditions separately and in the second half we joined forces and showcased our collaborative material. The audience were so warm (as was the auditorium… phew) and the five of us were buzzing afterwards! Videos are being edited as I type and a collaborative tune/songbook is under way… Mannin as Norlann aboo!

Norwegian-Manx project Peel Castle

Project members: (left to right: Erlend Apneseth; Margit Myhr; Ruth Keggin; Tomas Callister; David Kilgallon)

Extract from concert review: ‘Folk for the 21st Century’
Manx Independent, November 21st 2013

‘They all combine for the second half of the show, taking us on a musical tour de force of the product of their recent collaboration … Ruth and Margit’s harmonies are breathtaking, with Margit’s solo vocal able to seemingly suspend time itself. The boys manoeuvre around complex time signatures and changes more aerobatically than the Red Arrows. … Like Rober Plant with sub Saharan blues masters Tinariwen, this is music that’s come full circle and is now being slingshot into the future by a new generation. This wasn’t something I’d listened to before but now I’m hooked. I’m excited and let me tell you, you should be too.’

Bonzo Slater