Nordic Fiddlers Bloc
3 Fiddlers. 3 Traditions. Each fiddler has traveled the old routes that tie their cultures together, the ancient pathways once trod by Vikings and Norsemen. Across the centuries, they’ve come together now to bring the historic ties that bind these traditions to light. Norway – Olav Luksengård Mjelva. Sweden – Anders Hall. Shetland – Kevin Henderson. With their new album, Deliverance, The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc unites three fiddlers to create a new sound, beholden to the past, but full of fire, passion, and a vision for how this music could sound today.
Norwegian fiddler Olav Luksengård Mjelva hails from Røros in the Sør-Trøndelag region of Norway. He learned the hardanger fiddle (a traditional Norwegian violin built to have four sympathetic strings running underneath the fingerboard) as a teenager. The hardanger fiddle is the perfect tool to play the drone-laden fiddle tunes of Norway, and Luksengård Mjelva is one of the most celebrated young players of the instrument. He won a Norwegian grammy for his debut solo album and was awarded Norway’s folk musician of the year in 2013. Together with Nordic Fiddlers Bloc bandmate, Anders Hall, Luksengård Mjelva also performs in the wildly cutting-edge trad ensemble SVER (their recent music video mashed up 1980s exercise videos with Olympic ski dancing footage). A prolific tune composer, Deliverance features a number of his new tunes.
Swedish fiddler Anders Hall was the perfect choice to help unite fiddle traditions, for though he was born in Sweden (Arbrå, Hälsingland), he also studied Norwegian hardanger fiddle in Norway. As such he’s fluent in both traditions and regularly performs with musicians from both countries, like Norwegian singer Sigrid Moldestad. As a member of SVER, he’s been a key part of their sound, and here with The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc he brings the eerie, troll-haunted fiddle tunes of his Swedish heritage, as well as the dense, interlocking triple fiddle harmonies that are the hallmark of Swedish fiddling.
Shetland fiddler Kevin Henderson is the final piece of the puzzle, the point where the deep ties between Scandinavian countries expand to something greater. The Shetland Islands have long been the meeting point between the music of the British Isles and the music of Scandinavia, a wonderfully rich breeding ground for instrumental music that brings together the rigid dance structure of Scottish music with the swirling, crooked rhythms of Norway and Sweden. A current member of the legendary Scottish band Boys of the Lough, and a former student of the great Shetland fiddler Willie Hunter, Henderson is one of the most exciting young Shetland fiddlers.
On Deliverance, The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc transcend the trio format to create an almost orchestral sound. Blending violin, viola, hardanger fiddle, and the rarer octave violin, they craft arrangements like interlocking, woven threads. As the fiddles weave together, it’s impossible to tell one from the other. Each builds to a larger whole, creating an uplifting, joyous sound of unity.