Orust - Tjo
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Orust
Tjo
Footprint (www.footprintrecords.com)

Orust, an accoustic trio of fiddle, diatonic accordion, and mandola, takes its name from Sweden's third largest island. Popular for summer homes and vacations, Orust attracts Swedes who love to fish and sail. The boatyards of Orust build half of all the small boats in Sweden.

Göran Premberg, fiddler and leader of the band, has a summerhouse on Orust, where he learned to love the local dance music. Premberg, who lives in the large western Swedish town of Gothenburg for the rest of the year, taught the tunes from Orust to two of his friends, Johan Kullberg and Tomas Larsson. Kullberg won the Swedish championship for diatonic accordion three times. Larsson, who plays the mandola, grew up in the north of Sweden, in the Sami region.

Orust's musical repertoire is from the county of Bohuslan, in western Sweden. It is influenced by English and Scottish traditional music. The dances there include the hornpipe, or Engleska as they call them, and mazurka.

If you look at a map of the North Sea, you can how the English tunes arrived. Any ship that set sail from the British-Scottish border, heading due east, and would arrive at the Island of Orust. Unlike the rest of Sweden, where folk dances have the 3/4 beat of the polska, hambo, and waltz, the Bohuslan dances are primarily in 2/4 or 4/4.

Folk fans might compare Orust to the super-group Swåp, whose Swedish accent comes from the heart of folk culture, the region of Dalarna, the home of Swåp's fiddlers Carina Normansson and Ola Bäckström. Swåp's musicians are famous for their contemporary spin on folk-based arrangements.

Orust is a more traditional band but not simplistic. They celebrate the music of the sea as well as the dance floor. Most of the tracks are danceable tunes, waltzes, mazurkas, and Engleska. English, Scottish, and American country dancers will recognize the roots.

Fiddler Göran Premberg was born in Skåne (southern Swede) where the local dance is slängpolska. That influence can be heard on "Slängpolska efter Abrahamsson."

Not everything is for toe-tapping though. A serene solo, "Grötlåten," is performed by Tomas Kullberg on the mandola. Grötlåten means "Crying tune," but this one is not tragic. It is the kind of dreamy, drifting melody that could restore lost memories, and bring back images of the sun setting over the North Sea.

Tjo will appeal to fiddle and accordions fans, as well as to dancers of all northern European folk styles. They are keeping the cross-sea exchange of tunes alive, from boat to boat, from village to village, adding their guarantee that the music of Orust will stay afloat for another century. - Patrice George

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