FolkWorld Issue 41 03/2010; Article by Morten Alfred Høirup (Translation: Rod Sinclair)


På Dansk

If you think folk rock is dead...
... you haven't heard Tumult

Today, in 2009, it is 10 years since the young Danish fiddler and singer Jørgen Dickmeiss started the folk-rock band Tumult, out of the desire to play fiddle and tap into the raw power of the music. Since then, the band has played a long, long series of concerts in Denmark and abroad.


Jørgen Dickmeiss: fiddle, mandolin, bodhran, jews harp, melodeon
Mikkel Grue: acoustic and electric guitar, dobro, lap steel
Morten Jørgensen: acoustic and electric bass
Jens Kristian Dam: drums, cajón, percussion

Tumult @ FolkWorld: FW#31, #36

Icon Sound/Icon Movie @,

Tumult has four musical components: guitars acoustic and electric, bass and drums, and, in front, the 38 year-old band leader, Jørgen Dickmeiss, on song and fiddle. Dickmeiss is a graduate of the Folk Line at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense, and it was while studying here that he conceived the idea for Tumult. For years he had been singing Irish songs in English, and his course at the Academy brought on ’... the need to sing in Danish and to sing some of the old songs I picked up at the Academy and on the folk scene. Then there were all my own tunes that I wanted to get out there. I ran into an old pal who had played with my big brother, and he helped me get a band together. I invested a few thousand in putting the band into the studio right away, to focus the process, and that was the best money I ever spent.'

Tumult's decade has been a story of musical development from pop-folk-rock to a more bluesy folk-rock and the line-up has changed entirely except for Jørgen Dickmeiss, still at the helm. The material is still a mix of Dickmeiss’ own tunes and traditional songs in new acoustic or electric arrangements. Tumult's musical design is to break down the genre barriers and to release the raw power that is ‘urban folk music.’ ’Tumult's plays on a broad register from American-influenced folk through Nordic melancholia, through hard rock to singalong folky.’

’The line-up has been stable since 2006, and playing over 300 concerts has knocked us into shape both musically and socially,’ relates Dickmeiss, and continues with the story of a tour that took them to Moscow, and involved many of the kind of experiences that forge an entity out of a band. ’That tour was pure euphoria! We were welcomed with open arms, and we amassed quite an audience in the course of the week we were there. We played every day that week, and many Muscovites came to hear us at least twice. Then they stood loyally at their posts when we returned 10 months later. Playing in Moscow was great fun, very different and very exciting. We were billetted with a real Russian mama who served us fantastic Russian grub day and night. Her husband was our private, round-the-clock driver, and their son was our tour manager for the duration. The venues were something else: everything from East German army surplus style to big, fully-equipped stages with the last word in sound systems...and some of the drum kits we were given – wow!


It was not only the musicians in Tumult who had a good time in Moscow. A glance at some of the reviews the Danish folk-rock band generated shows that Tumult made a major impression in the Russian capital: 'Music for intellectual hooligans’, ’Traditional Danish folk fiddle tunes backed with electric hardcore,’ and ’wild, weird, wonderful musicians’, and concluding: ’Tumult's music hits you like hot coffee laced with vodka!’ The following day, after Tumult's final concert in Moscow (for the time being), the Russian website Veresk hailed Jørgen Dickmeiss' tribute to a country that had given Tumult and Tumult's music such a tempestuous welcome: ’He crowned the performance and himself with a Russian fur hat and sang us a song accompanying himself on the accordion!’

Jørgen Dickmeiss and the band love playing small, sweaty clubs where folk come in and forget the world around them, escaping for a while to another reality built up around this band and their music. It could be anywhere in the world. Could be in Denmark, could be in Moscow or it could be in a northern Italian town, where a critic wrote after a Tumult concert: ’Dickmeiss plays so the tunes melt the skin off his hands.' Or it could be on the US eastern seaboard, where the review read: ’If you think folk-rock is dead, then you haven't heard Tumult.’.

In April of 2009, Jørgen Dickmeiss and Tumult took the folkBALTICA Festival in northern Germany by storm. Tumult are planning to follow up on the rapturous reception and the many good contacts they got there. ’We played at a country life museum in Unewatt. The rural setting was fantastic and the German audience, people of all ages, were extremely responsive. That was an unforgettable concert where the Germans proved once again that they are wide open to fresh, different input. They are up for new adventures, much more than Danish audiences, and this is only 20 km south of the border.
Morten Alfred Hoirup
Morten Alfred Høirup (*1961) is a Danish musician, composer and music journalist. He has been playing the guitar and singing in the Danish duo Haugaard & Høirup, and is currently working freelance for Danish Roots.,
Tumult introduced their music in German, and had the audience singing along on Danish choruses – in Danish! We finished the concert playing a set with "Die Landstreicher" – a bunch of young, local musicians, and that was a lot of fun. We sold all the cds we had with us – we're taking twice as many next time we go to Germany.’

It won't be long before Tumult are back in Germany, and then the German audience can see if the Russian reviewer was right to compare Tumult's music with hot coffee laced with vodka.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Tumult (from website); (3) Morten Alfred Høirup (by The Mollis).

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