FolkWorld #69 07/2019
© Maria Theessink / Tønder Festival

Article in German Article in Danish

A Pretty Perfect Program

Julie Fowlis @ Tønder Festival

Tønder Festival
22.-25. August 2019

John Prine (USA), Patty Griffin (USA), Kate Rusby (UK), John Moreland (USA), The Savage Rose (DK), Bjørn Eidsvåg (NO), Jonah Blacksmith (DK), Dreamers’ Circus (DK), Gregory Alan Isakov (ZA/USA), Mandolin Orange (USA), Ruston Kelly (USA), Tyler Childers, (USA), John Smith (UK), Jacob Dinesen (DK), Tide Lines (SCO), Daniel Norgren (NO), Folkeklubben (DK), Niels Hausgaard (DK), Joel Savoy, Jesse Lége & Kelli Jones (USA), Les Poules à Colin (CAN), Delgres (FR), Plantec (FR), Startijenn (FR), Vishtèn (CAN), Susto (USA), Shaun Ferguson (CAN), Hudson Taylor (IRL), Breabach (SCO), Elephant Sessions (SCO), Irish Mythen (IRL), Paul Cauthen (USA), William Crighton (AUS), Lion Bear Fox (CAN), Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (UK), Poul Krebs & Henning Kvitnes (DK/NO), Esben Just (DK), Dan Sultan (AUS), Skipinnish (SCO), The Ghost of Paul Revere (USA), Martin Harley (UK), Julie Fowlis (SCO), Finbar Furey (IRL), Chris Smither (USA), Jenn Grant (CAN), Old Man Luedecke (CAN), Leslie Stevens (USA), Caitlin Canty (USA), The Tweed Project (ENG, SCO), James Keelaghan (CAN), Charley Crockett (USA), Max Gomez (USA), Adam Holmes & The Embers (SCO), Maija Kauhanen (FIN), The East Pointers (CAN), Arcade feat. Heidi Talbot und Adam Holmes (IRL/SCO), FolkBALTICA Ensemble (DK/D), Dervish (IRL), Ìmar (SCO), The Unwanted (IRL), Blair Dunlop (UK), Ian Noe (USA), Birds of Chicago (USA), Calum Stewart (SCO), Luke Winslow-King (USA), Folk Spot 2019 (DK/NO)

Artist Video Tønder @ FROG


Artist Video Dervish @ FROG


Artist Video Ìmar @ FROG

The program is complete. More than that, it's also a pretty perfect program for folk, country, Americana and roots music fans. All in all, around 70 acts are performing on the different stages of the Danish festival. In addition to artistic quality, the event, which is only two hours by car from Hamburg, also stands for a relaxed atmosphere. An environment that always motivates the acts to peak performances. "We do everything to make our artists feel at home," says artistic director Maria Theessink. No wonder that some always like to travel to the Danish small town. John Prine has also been there - and is looking forward to his Tønder comeback on August 25th.

John Prine

Artist Video John Prine @ FROG

Finbar Furey

Artist Video Finbar Furey @ FROG

The Unwanted

Artist Video The Unwanted

John Prine (USA)

One of America’s most respected songwriters is coming back to Tønder Festival. John Prine appeared here in 2015 and will do so again in 2019. This is another scoop, and the 72 year-old veteran is still going strong, and still writing excellent songs. John Prine has just released the album Tree of Forgiveness (2018), his first album of new material in 13 years. The album was produced by top Nashville producer Dave Cobb, and Jason Isbell and Brandi Carlile are among the contributing musicians. The critics are full of praise, writing that this new album seals John Prine’s status among the most important and influential US songwriters. Countless other artists have been inspired by him, among them Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash.

John Prine began his career on the Chicago folk scene in the late 60s, releasing his first album in 1971. He quickly earned recognition, and his songs were recorded by other singers: The Everly Brothers, Paradise; Bonnie Raitt, Angel From Montgomery and Johnny Cash, Sam Stone. John Prine has won stacks of awards, among them three Grammies, and he has just been nominated to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame 2019. His only Danish festival concert in 2019.

Finbar Furey (IRL)

A man who has seen decades of Irish music history, Finbar Furey (born in 1946) is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer and has had his place on the Irish folk music scene since the 60s. Along with his brother Eddie, he toured from 1969 as backing musicians for the legendary Clancy Brothers. Then the two brothers toured as a duo, and in 1976 they were joined by two more brothers, Paul and George. The band enjoyed success for over 20 years as The Fureys. They had several big hits, like When You Were Sweet Sixteen and The Lonesome Boatman.

In 1996 Finbar Furey went solo and alongside his career as a musician and songwriter he has worked in films, for instance in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs Of New York (2002). Finbar Furey’s latest release Don’t Stop This Now is a rerelease of the album Paddy Dear from 2017 plus new songs and a live DVD. His only Danish concert in 2019.

Dervish (IRL)

In 2001, Dervish marked their decennial with the release of Decade, summing up ten very successful years. From the start, the traditional tunes and songs of County Sligo and Leitrim have been the stem of Dervish’ music, informed by the wildness and beauty of the north-western Irish landscape. At the forefront of the naughties wave of new Irish trad bands, Dervish toured the whole world, and at home were considered in the same league as influential groups like Bothy Band and The Chieftains. Dervish has consisted of the same faces since they began: Cathy Jordan, song and bodhran; Brian McDonagh, mandola; Tom Morrow, violin; Michael Holmes, bouzouki; Shane Mitchell, accordion, and Liam Kelly, flutes. They have spent the past 25 years perfecting their playing together while retaining their enormous joy in the music of their home ground. In April, Dervish put out their first album in over five years, The Great Irish Songbook, which features eminent guests, Steve Earle, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill and Kate Rusby among them. Their only Danish festival concert in 2019.

The Unwanted (USA/IRL)

A transatlantic musical match, combining Irish traditional music with American folk music from the Appalachians, The Unwanted trio is Irish singer Cathy Jordan from Dervish (also on the Tønder Festival poster this year), Irish Séamus O’Dowd, (a former Dervish member) on guitar, violin, mouth organ; and American Rick Epping, concertina, banjo and more. Rick Epping has lived in both USA and Ireland, and masters both American and Irish folk music. The Unwanted make a smooth blend of the different but related musical traditions, tracing the migrations of music and folk from the Old World to the New – and back. Their only Danish festival appearance in 2019.


The members of Ímar met through the Glasgow session scene. Uilleann piper and fluteplayer Ryan Murphy is the band’s only Irishman, but Irish music is prevalent in the quintet’s repertoire. Ímar play lesser-known polkas and slides, and though their instrumentation can seem very traditional, the unexpected twists in their arrangements, surprise shifts in tempo and a playful approach to the traditional material supply a fresh originality. Besides Ryan Murphy, Ímar is Andy Brown (bodhran), Tomás Callister (violin), Adam Rhodes (bouzouki and guitar) and Mohsen Amini (concertina). The musicians in Ímar have won many prizes, both individually and with other bands like Mànran, Talisk, RURA and Mabon. Ímar’s play is tight, and highly regarded on the international traditional folk scene. Their only Danish festival concert in 2019.

Vishtèn (CAN)

Did you miss Vishtèn last year? You’re getting a second chance. For over a decade now this trio have bewitched audiences with their unique blend of French songs and original tunes that draw on Celtic and French-Canadian music traditions, dipped in indie tones and a modern rock sensibility. Vishtèn are: Emmanuelle and Pastelle LeBlanc, from Prince Edward Island, and Pascal Miousse from the francophone Magdalen Islands. Between them they master a wide range of instruments: violin, accordeon, mandola, guitar, bodhrán, piano and jaw harp, and the tunes are kicked along by the foot-tapping that the eastern Canadian seaboard is famous for. Vishtèn have released six albums, among them Terre Rouge from 2015, which won the prestigious East Coast Music Award for Roots/Traditional Group Recording of the Year. The trio have toured extensively in North America, Europe and Australia. Their only Danish festival concert in 2019.

Les Poules à Colin (CAN)

It cannot be denied that the music of Quebec has won hearts and minds at Tønder Festival. In the nineties, it was La Bottine Souriante that got the party going, and later, bands like Le Vent du Nord have delighted Tønder Festival audiences. Les Poules à Colin, from Montreal, show us new aspects of Quebec music. Based firmly on Quebec traditions, Les Poules à Colin play trad folk with an intensity and musicality that carry the day. The group are: Colin Savoie-Levac (mandolin, banjo, lap steel and foot-tapping), Marie Savoie-Levac (bass), Sarah Marchand (song and piano), Éléonore Pitre (guitar) and Béatrix Méthé (violin). Together, they have toured Canada, Europe and Australia. Les Poules à Colin give you Qeubec music as you never heard it before. Their latest album is Morose from 2017. Their only Danish festival concert in 2019.

Elephant Sessions (SCO)

When Elephant Sessions play Tønder Festival for the third time this year, it is with a new status. Last year, they won the prestigious Scots Trad Music Award for Live Act of the Year. Those of you who have already heard Elephant Sessions’ explosive live show know what is in store. Elephant Sessions mixes traditional folk, funk, electronica and much more in a potent neo-folk cocktail which has intoxicated listeners all over Britain, Europe and Australia. Euan Smillies violin and Alasdair Taylor’s mandolin blast out the tunes, while guitarist Mark Bruce, Seth Tinsley’s bass and synth and Greg Barry’s drums and samples lay out the groundwork with playful elegance. We dare you to stand still. The party has begun. Elephant Sessions are wild, uncompromising Highlanders, and they have a new album coming out in 2019. Their only Danish festival appearance in 2019. []


Artist Video Breabach @ FROG

Breabach (SCO)

Scottish traditional folk music is hurled into the future by Breabach’s new ideas and raw energy. The five musicians involved have all deep roots in the tradition, and their latest album Frenzy of the Meeting (2018) they continue to explore new routes for the music. The frantic dance tunes are played on fiddle, pipes and flutes, which then change character completely to accompany the exquisite songs. All in all, it’s intense and extremely varied music melding past and future. Breabach have achieved enviable status at home, winning Scot Trad Music Awards for best live band and best folk band, plus nominations for BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Breabach are: Megan Henderson (violin and song), James Lindsay (double bass and song), Calum MacCrimmon (bagpipes, flutes, bouzouki and song), James Duncan Mackenzie (bagpipes and flutes) and Ewan Robertson (guitar, song and cajon). Only Danish festival concert in 2019.

Skipinnish (SCO)

They played at Tønder Festival in 2018 and everyone knew they would be back. In 2019 Skipinnish will celebrate their 20th birthday and their popularity is bigger than ever before. Skipinnish encompasses the very best of contemporary Celtic music with a unique and sublime mix of chart-topping, self-penned songs and powerful bagpipe, fiddle and accordion-led tune sets. The band has built a loyal and strong fan base since its formation in 1999. It all began when accordionist Angus MacPhail met piper Andrew Stevenson, when they were studying at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. The last few years – with singer Norrie MacIver in front – Skipinnish have seen their support rocket to bring them to the top of the thriving Celtic Music scene in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK and Europe. The band have made seven albums, the latest being The Seventh Wave from 2017. Skipinnish won the title of Scots Trad Live Act of the Year 2017. Their appearance at Tønder will be their only Danish concert in the summer of 2019. []

Kate Rusby (UK)

Kate Rusby

Artist Video Kate Rusby @ FROG

One of England’s great voices in recent years’ folk music is coming back to Tønder Festival. Kate Rusby guested Tønder Festival in 2013, and Tønder Festival fans can anticipate this opportunity to enjoy this talented British singer and songwriter. Kate Rusby (born 1973) became well-known in the 90s as one of the leading lights in the new wave of British folk music and is today at the top of a distinguished solo career. It all began in the group Equation with singer Kathryn Roberts and the three Lakeman brothers, Seth, Sam and Sean. Rusby recorded an album with Kathryn Roberts in 1995, and in 1997 Kate Rusby’s debut solo album Hourglass came out, produced by John McCusker.

Solo album number two, Sleepless in 1999 saw Kate Rusby move up to the premier league: that was the year she was nominated for the respected Mercury Music Prize. She has subsequently won numerous awards, including several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Since 2008, Kate Rusby has also released a series of Christmas albums with her versons of traditional Christmas songs. These publications and the accompanying tours are popular in England. Her most recent Christmas release is Angels And Men from 2017. Her only Danish festival concert in 2019.

Startijenn (FR)

Music and dance fuse when Startijenn from Brittany are on stage. Startijenn, meaning ‘energy’ in Breton, gew out of the traditional music and dance events in Brittany, Fest-Noz. And energy is not lacking here. Since they formed in 1997, Startijenn have grown into a hugely popular live band who can ignite a party with their explosive rhythms, traditional Breton folk music and original new compositions. Startijenn’s music is recognisably Celtic, and the five musicians play primarily acoustic instruments: the Breton wind instruments bombarde and binioú, plus uilleann pipes and diatonic accordeon, coupled with guitar and bass. Startijenn have toured all over France and the rest of Europe as well as Asia. They have made six albums, among them the remarkable El-TaQa from 2012, where musical guests combine Arabic trance with Breton folk music. Their most recent release is a live album from 2016. Their only Danish festival concert in Denmark in 2019.

Plantec (FR)

There’s a wild party brewing when Plantec hit the stage. The band have roots in Brittany, and the music is a mix of traditional Breton folk music and electronica, beats and samples. Since their start in 2003, Plantec has released seven albums and toured throughout the world. The combination of hard-pumping beats and Celtic folk music played on acoustic instruments has made Plantec one of the most popular electro-folk bands in Europe. Plantec numbers brothers Yannick Plantec, guitars, and Odran Plantec, bombardes (Breton woodwind) with DJ Ibril (Gabriel N’Dombi D’Otala) on electronic instruments, keyboards and more. If Plantec has a secret, it must be their origins in the traditional Breton dances, Fest-Noz: a party of music and dance with between a couple of hundred and ten thousand revellers. Plantec’s only album is Live (CD/DVD) from 2018, recorded at the Festival Interceltique De Lorient, one of the world’s biggest Celtic music festivals. Their only Danish festival concert in 2019. Plantec will be bringing a dance caller, so you can learn the Breton dances. There will be workshops in the Jam Tent, so keep an eye on the programme updates on and The Tønder Festival app.

Julie Fowlis (SCO)

Tønder Festival has always been the place to experience music with deep roots in local culture. Julie Fowlis is an excellent example in 2019. The Scots singer and multi-instrumentalist, who sang at Tønder Festival in 2014, is a celebrated interpreter of Scots Gaelic traditional music. She sings primarily in Gaelic, grew up on North Uist in the Hebrides with the songs, music and dance of the islands around her. Julie Fowlis (born in 1978) released her first album in 2005, and it created a stir.

Blair Dunlop

Artist Video Blair Dunlop @ FROG

Album number two, Cuilidh (Hideaway) from 2007, with fine musicians John Doyle and John McCusker contributing, gave her an international breakthrough. Julie Fowlis won a number of prizes that year, among them BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year Award. Julie Fowlis’ fifth and latest studio album is Alterum from 2017, with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Duncan Chisholm and Michael McGoldrick adding their talents. Julie Fowlis is not only a busy, many-facetted musician, she has also studied Scots Gaelic musical history and culture. Her only Danish festival concert in 2019. []

Blair Dunlop (UK)

Songwriter and guitarist Blair Dunlop (born in 1992) has released three albums and two EPs since 2011, and he is acclaimed as one of the most interesting young musicians on the British folk scene. He has won several prizes, among them the Horizon Award 2013 at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Musical talent is in Blair Dunlop’s genes. He is the son of Ashley Hutchings, founder member of Fairport Convention, Steeley Span and The Albion Band. Blair Dunlop has played with the latter for some years. Blair Dunlop’s latest album, Notes From An Island (2018), his most accomplished so far, according to one British critic, weaves such Brexit topics as borders and national isolation into the songs. Guitar Magazine has this to say about Blair Dunlop: “He could help bring the genre to the forefront of the British music scene.” His only Danish festival appearance in 2019.e med til at bringe genren frem i den forreste del af den britiske musikscene.” Eneste danske festivalkoncert i 2019.

Jenn Grant (CAN)

A shower of prizes, even more nominations and fine reviews have rained down over singer and songwriter Jenn Grant from Nova Scotia in Canada. Jenn Grant, born in 1980, inhabits a musical universe of folk, indie rock and alternative pop songs. “Jenn Grant’s dreamy harp and woodwind folk music is the work of a painter in paradise,” was how one critic put it. Jenn Grant made her first EP in 2005, and the next year she was suddenly Musician of the Year and Best Female Artist at the Nova Scotia Music Awards.

In 2007 her debut album Orchestra for the Moon appeared, with other albums and EPs following in subsequent years. In 2014 Jenn Grant made the album Compostela, supported by a series of musicians including Ron Sexsmith. The album was really well received, and led to tours that brought Jenn Grant round Canada and the world. Her latest effort is the album Paradise from 2017. Her only concert in Denmark in 2019. []

Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar

Artist Video Russell & Algar @ FROG

Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (UK)

Long well-established as one of the top duos on the British folk scene, Greg Russell, guitar and vocal, and Ciaran Algar, violin and vocal, are both from folk music backgrounds. They infuse traditional music with a hefty portion of innovation, energy and daring. They teamed up in 2011 and soon won a recording contract. Their debut album The Queen’s Lover came out in 2012, and since then they have bumped the total up to four albums and a live dvd. In 2013, the duo won a BBC Radio2 Young Folk Award. The following year, BBC Radio2 gave them another prize, the Horizon Award. Their latest release is the album Utopia and Wasteland from 2018. Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar can be proud of many fine reviews. In Denmark, the folk magazine Roots Zone was generous with praise for the duo’s latest album as well as their concerts. Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar have played at Tønder Festival before, so their local audience know there are treats in store!

James Keelaghan (CAN)

The music critic Dave Marsh called James Keelaghan Canada’s Finest Songwriter. The 58 year-old folk roots songwriter with a bent to social and historical topics has won recognition at home and abroad. Many of Tønder Festival’s audience know him, since he has played here many times, first in 1992. Through the years, James Keelaghan has worked with musicians such as Karine Polwart, David Francey and Dave Gunning. His noted work with the Chilean-Canadian guitarist Oscar Lopez saw the pair combining Celtic and Latin-American music. They made the albums Compadres (1997) and Buddy Where You Been? (2007), both of which were nominated for prizes at the Canadian Juno Awards.

Oscar Lopez was here when the James Keelaghan Trio performed at Tønder Festival 2009. James Keelaghan’s latest release is the album The First 25 Years from 2013, marking his 25 years as a songwriter and musician. Besides his busy touring schedule, James Keelaghan is artistic director of the Canadian Summerfolk Festival. His only Danish concert in 2019. []

Irish Mythen (IRL)

Irish Mythen

Artist Video Irish Mythen @ FROG

A return visit from Irish Mythen, who delighted audiences at Tønder Festival in 2018 with her strong singing, fine songs and indelible stage presence. Originally from Ireland, Irish Mythen has for many years operated from her base in Canada. The date of her arrival on Canadian soil is tattooed on her arm to show her love of her adopted homeland. Irish Mythen tours a lot in Canada, USA, Europe and Australia, where she has played many times. Irish Mythen’s voice runs from the silken to the raw, solidly backed by her rough and ready guitar rhythm. Several prizes have come her way, both for albums and stage performance. Her album Irish Mythen (2014) was awarded the title of Roots Album of the Year by the East Canadian Music Association (ECMA). A new album will come out in 2019. One reviewer wrote of Irish Mythen: “She is a force of nature and a gift from heaven.” Her only Danish festival appearance in the summer of 2019.

Old Man Luedecke (CAN)

A prize-winning banjo player, guitarist and songwriter, Old Man Luedecke from Nova Scotia in Canada is a modern poet and troubadour in the old-time folk tradition. Old Man Luedecke (Chris Luedecke) is a talented banjo player and story-teller who also writes well-turned songs. He has won two Canadian Juno Awards for his albums Proof Of Love (2008) and My Hands Are On Fire And Other Lovesongs (2010). His album Tender is the Night (2012) won Album of the Year at the Canadian East Coast Music Awards.

Old Man Luedecke has worked closely with that master of American old-time music, Tim O’Brien, a frequent guest at Tønder Festival. Tim O’Brien produced Old Man Luedecke’s two most recent albums and contributes on mandolin, violin, bouzouki and sings. Domestic Eccentric (2015) was recorded in Old Man Luedecke’s living room. His only concert in Denmark in 2019. []

Patty Griffin

Artist Video Patty Griffin @ FROG

Patty Griffin (USA)

She has been part of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, and The Sweet Harmony Travelling Revue, touring with Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Her songs have been recorded by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris, Jessica Simpson, Dixie Chicks and Kelly Clarkson among many more. Mid March 2019 sees the release of her tenth album, and the two singles Where I come from and River have been warmly received by, among others, Rolling Stone magazine. Patty Griffin was born in Old Town in the state of Maine, and in the early nineties she sang and played in small cafés in the Boston area. It was here that A&M Records spotted her, and put out her debut album Living with Ghosts. The album sold over 200,000 copies and was followed up by the rocking Flaming Red in 1998. Patty Griffin has had her share of nominations for Grammies and AMA Awards, and in both 2010 and 2011, she won the Best Gospel Album and Best Traditional Gospel Album categories. That’s how broadly Patty Griffin’s talent reaches across the genres. At Tønder Festival we will hear her band and songs from the new, eponymous album and from her impressive back catalogue. Her only Danish festival concert in 2019.

Caitlin Canty (USA)

Caitlin Canty played Tønder Festival in 2016, both solo and along with fellow songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. Now you will have a new opportunity to hear this rising americana star. This year with banjo player Noam Pikelny (Punch Brothers.) Rolling Stone Magazine has Caitlin Canty on their 2018 list of Ten New Country Artists You Need To Know. Caitlin Canty writes songs that rest on folk, blues and roots rock foundations. She has been active on the New York scene for some years and made a real impression with her 2015 album Reckless Skyline. The musicians on the recordings were largely from Ray LaMontagne’s band, and the album was produced by Jeffrey Foucault.

The song Get Up from Reckless Skyline was nominated for the Song of The Year at The International Folk Music Awards. Caitlin Canty had previously released a live album Golden Hour, recorded in Maine in 2012. Her latest album is Motel Bouquet from 2018, produced by Noam Pikelny of Punch Brothers. Her only Danish concert in 2019. []

Mandolin Orange (USA)

Mandolin Orange

Artist Video Mandolin Orange @ FROG

Country, folk and bluegrass are ingredients in a tasty blend by the Mandolin Orange duo from North Carolina. Americana traditions respectfully lifted, the songs are original, and the mood is intimate, melancholy and untrammelled. The vocal harmonies are sweet and precise when Andrew Marlin (mandolin, guitar, vocal) and Emily Frantz (violin, guitar, vocal) get to work. Andrew Marlin writes the songs, and the duo’s latest album Tides of a Teardrop (2019) delivers lyrics of loss and sorrow in a well-turned, unembellished musical setting. Mandolin Orange have been playing since 2009 and have a solid following in USA these days. Internationally they are also making an impression, with a European tour in the spring of 2019. Their Danish debut will be at Tønder Festival. Music critics have heaped praise on Mandolin Orange’s recordings, and Washington Post wrote: “Now a decade into a career that has seen it help redefine American roots music for a younger generation, the duo Mandolin Orange has officially mastered blending engaging storytelling with acoustic elements of bluegrass, folk and country.” Their only Danish festival appearance in 2019.

Tyler Childers (USA)

He won over the Tønder Festival audience last year, and now he is back in 2019. Songwriter and guitarist Tyler Childers is well on his way to the top of the country scene in USA, and Europe is next. His concerts at Tønder Festival in 2018 gave positive criticism, with music magazine Gaffa writing, “Tyler Childers is another new country rock musician we should keep an eye on.” Tyler Childers was born in 1991 in Kentucky, USA, and has musical roots in bluegrass, Appalachian folk music and southern rock. He put out his first album Bottles and Bibles in 2011, but really took off in 2017 with his album Purgatory. Recorded in Nashville, produced by Sturgill Simpson and with Johnny Cash’ technician David Ferguson on the knobs, made quite a splash on the international scene. Rolling Stone magazine has compared Tyler Childers’ songwriting and ear for a good story to John Prine’s. His only Danish festival concert in 2019.

Birds of Chicago (USA/CAN)

Combining classic americana with elements of world music plus a good helping of roots rock, Birds of Chicago’s latest album Love in Wartime (2018) establishes that they really are worth listening to. Birds of Chicago comprise a couple, Allison Russell, vocal and guitar, and JT Nero, vocal and guitar. Allison Russell is Canadian, while JT Nero is from the US midwest. Both have experience in other bands before they joined up in 2011, releasing their first album, Birds of Chicago, in 2012. A showcase at Folk Alliance in Memphis in 2012 was an important fillip for the duo, followed by diligent touring and several recording releases. In 2017 they began studio work on Love in Wartime, songs of optimism, love and hope in these turbulent times. The producer is Luther Dickinson of the band North Mississippi Allstars. Their only Danish festival appearance in 2019.

Dreamers’ Circus (DK, S)

In 2018, television viewers in Denmark could accompany Dreamers’ Circus to the Faroe Islands with nature broadcaster Søren Ryge. The result was two prime time programmes wherein the trio gave their musical impressions of the Faroes’ breathtaking scenery. Dreamers’ Circus is accordionist and pianist Nikolaj Busk, cittern player and fiddler Ale Carr and violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen. The latter has been nominated for an American Grammy award with The Danish String Quartet. Dreamers’ Circus play music growing out of Nordic folk music. Adding influences from classical music, jazz and electronic ambient, Dreamers’ Circus build a delicate tonal universe of sweeping atmospheric passages punctuated by intense, powerful folk tunes, enough to get any audience on their feet. Most of the music is contemporary, but the trio’s respect for the tradition is revealed when dances from the western islands pop up. Dreamers’ Circus have played throughout the world, from Roskilde Festival to Utzon’s opera house in Sydney. []

Maija Kauhanen

Artist Video Maija Kauhanen @ FROG


Artist Video folkBALTICA @ FROG

Maija Kauhanen (FIN)

For some reason, you don’t hear a lot of Finnish folk music in Denmark. Maija Kauhanen is a distinguished member of the younger generation of Finnish musicians who play and develop the musical traditions of Finland and Karelia. She performs solo with a unique set-up of vocal, percussion and kantele, the traditional Finnish stringed instrument. Maija Kauhanen (born in 1986) has specialised in the saarijärvi kantele, using an ancient wooden plectrum technique. She masters the instrument, winning The International Solo Kantele Competition in 2011. Her compositions and musicianship in Finnish folk music have brought Maija Kauhanen a significant international breakthrough in recent years. She has toured in Scandinavia, Germany, Holland, China and Japan, and her debut album Raivopyörä / The Whirl of Rage, released in 2017, has been very favourably reviewed in European folk and roots music magazines. Her only Danish festival concert in 2019.

FolkBALTICA Ensemble (DK, D)

When they are together, they talk Danish, German and English, but their lingua franca is music. FolkBALTICA Ensemble is a gathering of around 50 young musicians from southern Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. The orchestra was founded at the annual folkBALTICA Festival, which takes place in mid-May. FolkBALTICA Ensemble is this festival’s youth orchestra, straddling both geografical and musical borders for traditional and contemporary folk music. The Danish violinist Harald Haugaard, artistic director at the folkBALTICA Festival, leads the ensemble, with the aim of developing young talent and preserving and innovating the folk music traditions in the borderlands. Tønder Festival offers active support to the new talents and the grass roots feeding the folk music scene, and part of that tradition is FolkBALTICA Ensemble’s performances at Tønder Festival, both their own concert and the massively popular concert for schoolchildren from both sides of the German-Danish border. Once again this year, Tønder Festival’s audiences can thrill to music from this exciting youth orchestra.

Folk Spot 2019

Folk Spot 2019: Fromseier Hockings (DK), Mads Hansens Kapel (DK), Odde og Nilssen (NO), Phønix og Embla (DK), Rannok (DK), Trio Svin (DK), Vesselil (DK), Víík (NO, SE, DK).

Folk Spot Denmark is an international showcase – key international actors on the professional music scene are invited. Since 2012, Folk Spot Danmark has been presenting Danish folk and roots bands with ambitions and the potential to reach a wider audience, both nationally and internationally. Tønder Festival co-ordinates the event, and this year again the eight Danish and Scandinavian folk roots bands have been designated by an international jury from the profession. The eight bands will each play showcase concerts at Tønder Festival on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th August as part of Folk Spot Denmark 2019.

Niels Hausgaard’s 75th Birthday Concert

A major celebration is lined up in true Tønder Festival style in this tribute to a man who deserves all the cheers and applause. Niels Hausgaard, songwriter, satirist and polemicist, turns 75 in August 2019, and the occasion will be marked at this year’s Tønder Festival with the finest birthday concert imaginable. A cavalcade of musical colleagues will line up to pay homage to Niels Hausgaard: Signe Svendsen, Allan Olsen, Steffen Brandt, Marie Key, Laura Mo, Christian Alvad, Finbar Furey, Ian McCalman and Kjartan Arngrim. And Niels Hausgaard will be present in person, too. Huxi Bach will see to the continuity in professional style. Among the top Danish musicians who have made their mark here, Niels Hausgaard has appeared at every Tønder Festival since the 70s. His humour, poetry and music have been a major contribution, and he has paved the way for many younger musicians by introducing them to his audience.

Of course he will be with us again at Tønder Festival this year. The Danish poet, satirist, songwriter, polemicist and entertainer has been making a major personal contribution to Tønder Festival since the 1970s. This year, Niels Hausgaard turns 75, and we will celebrate him with a special concert at the festival. Of course he will be giving his own concerts, taking his usual ample lee-room for improvisation. He is incomparable, reaching a uniquely wide audience on his annual winter and spring tours of the country – over 60 sold-out concerts – under the title Shake My Danish Hand – a reference to the current Danish government’s islamophobic and xenophobic policies. Niels Hausgaard is in his element in front of an audience, and anything can happen in the confrontation. As he writes on his home page, “The only thing that’s more tedious than learning by rote is hearing what others have learned by rote. Reciting hymns by heart has never been my thing.” []

Dreamers Circus
Mads Hansens Kapel
Fromseier Hockings
Niels Hausgaard

Photo Credits: (1) Julie Fowlis (by Walkin' Tom); (2) John Prine, (3) Finbar Furey, (4) Dervish, (5) The Unwanted, (6) Ìmar, (7) Les Poules à Colin, (8) Vishtèn, (9) Breabach, (10) Kate Rusby, (11) Startijenn, (12) Plantec, (13) Blair Dunlop, (14) Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, (15) Irish Mythen, (16) Patty Griffin, (17) Mandolin Orange, (18) Tyler Childers, (19) Allison Russell (Birds of Chicago), (20) Maija Kauhanen, (21) folkBALTICA Ensemble, (22) Rannok, (23) Dreamers Circus (24) Phønix, (25) Vesselil, (26) Mads Hansens Kapel, (27) Fromseier Hockings, (28) Niels Hausgaard (unknown/website).

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