Tag Archives: fiddle

Artist Profiles: John Ole Morken

John Ole Morken

John Ole Morken, born in 1979, is a native of Holtålen County in the region of Røndelag, Norway. Holtålen, located south of Trondheim and bordering on Røros, has rich music and dance traditions whose history dates back more than 200 years.

In the 1990s, at a time when many feared for these traditions, an eager young fiddler named John Ole Morken turned up, with a burning interest in visiting old-timers to learn their tunes and tales.

John Ole showed unusual energy and spontaneity in his fiddling, and he comprehended the old playing style. Many welcomed his interest. He quickly became an active participant at local and regional fiddle gatherings, concerts and competitions.

Prizes and scholarships from national, regional and local cultural administration and organizations rewarded his talent and provided encouragement.

Since the late 1990’s, Morken has had the endorsement of Bjørn Aksdal of the Rff-Center (Center for the Norwegian Council for Folk Music and Folk Dance) in Trondheim. He has cooperated with Aksdal and the Center in a number of research projects and productions focused on traditional music and dance history in Norway, especially the Holtålen/Røros/Gauldalen region.

John Ole Morken

In his home community, Morken’s work has resulted in revival of old tunes and stories that had nearly been forgotten. His knowledge, enthusiasm and participation in various music and history clubs have stimulated interest in local, traditional culture among young and old.

Morken has also put in time as a student: He has earned a Bachelors degree in music from the University of Trondheim (NTNU) and has completed fiddle-studies at the Spelemannsskulen at Ole Bull Academy in Voss.

{{ :john_ole_morken_2-250.jpg|}}Excellent results at Norwegian folk music competitions – as solo fiddler, as member (and generator) of a multitude of groups and as leader for several fiddler clubs – attest to young Morkens’ quality and development as a fiddler and as a musician over
the years.

John Ole is often seen sharing the stage with Hardanger-fiddler Lajla Renate Buer Storli, with whom he lives in Lofthus, Hardanger.

John Ole Morken

On John Ole Morken’s debut, Slåtter fra Hessdalen, Haltdalen og Ålen, we meet an experienced, philosophical 28-year-old in late summer, 2007. He invited musician friends – Jørgen Nyrønning, Olav Mjelva, Tore Reppe, Ivar Schjølberg – and producer Bjørn Aksdal to participate in recording sessions at Bent Jacobsen’s log-cabin studio in Os, south of Røros.

John Ole has been a teacher in fiddle and guitar since 2000. He has also presented workshops in folk music and rock.

John Ole has several musical projects: the folk rock group Morka, a group called Rim, JoJo and Lajla-John Ole project.


* Slåtter fra Hessdalen, Haltdalen og Ålen – Traditional Norwegian Fiddle Tunes from Sor-Trondelag (2008)

===== Web site =====



O’Connor Band Wins Best Bluegrass Album Grammy Award

O’Connor Band With Mark O’Connor – Coming Home

The album Coming Home (Rounder Records) by O’Connor Band With Mark O’Connor is the winner of Best Bluegrass Album at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

The other finalists were:

Original Traditional – Blue Highway (Rounder Records)
Burden Bearer – Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (Mountain Home Music Company)
The Hazel And Alice Sessions – Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands (Spruce And Maple Music)
North By South – Claire Lynch (Compass Records)

Buy Coming Home in the Americas

Buy Coming Home in Europe


Artist Profiles: Ian Hardie

Ian Hardie

Born in Edinburgh (Scotland), Ian Hardie lived in Nairn (northeast of Inverness). Ian Hardie earned a great reputation not only as an exceptional fiddle player but also as a creative composer and bassist. He was a member of notable Scottish bands such as Jock Tamson’s Bairns and Highland Connection.

Ian was well-known as a composer with several albums and three tune books of own composition since 1986. Numerous other artists play and have recorded his tunes.

Ian Hardie was editor of The Nineties Collection, a signature volume of new traditional-style composition in Scotland in the 1990s, Ian Hardie was also integral to the two recordings featuring tunes from the Collection as well as touring the music with the five-piece version of The Ghillies.

Inspired by his exposure to Appalachian music and dance while performing at the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Ian Hardie traveled extensively to The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia in 2005 and 2006 to immerse himself in the music and culture of the old time community. The result is an album titled Westringing that features newly composed melodies as well as tunes from Shetland, the Highland bagpipe repertoire and his own fiddle pibroch.

Westringing was a significant, new direction for Ian Hardie after over 35 years of involvement in the Scottish Folk scene.

For many years, Ian Hardie combined music with full time (then part time) practice as a lawyer but in 2001 he became exclusively involved in music and enjoyment of the many benefits of life in the Scottish Highlands from his seaside home in Nairn.

During his last years, he was mostly involved in playing for dance with top Edinburgh ceilidh band The Occasionals and Highland reels and ceilidh trio The Ghillies – with Duncan MacGillivray and Andy Thorburn – plus some duo work with Duncan.

Ian Hardie passed away in October 2012 from a brain tumor.


* Sandy Bells Ceilidh, with Bell’s Big Ceilidh Band (1977)
* Jock Tamson’s Bairn, with Jock Tamson’s Bairn (1980)
* The Lasses Fashion, with Jock Tamson’s Bairn (1982)
* A Breath of Fresh Airs (Greentrax, 1986)
* A Breath of Fresher Airs (Greentrax, 1992)
* Gaining Ground, with Highland Connection (Greentrax, 1994)
* A’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns (Greentrax CDTRAX 112, 1996)
* Nineties Collection Vol. 2, with The Ghillies (1997)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000062AK?ieUTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCo=dexm2&camp1789&creativeASINB0000062AK | The Spider’s Web, with Andy Thorburn (1998)
* Live At the Music Hall, Aberdeen, with The Occasionals (1999)
* May you Never Lack a Scone, with Jock Tamson’s Bairns (2001)
* Reel of Four, with The Occasionals (2004)
* Rare, with Jock Tamson’s Bairns (2005)
* Down to the Hall, with The Occasionals (2006)
* Westringing (2007)
* Birling, with The Occasionals (2012)


* A Breath of Fresh Airs, 54 Original Tunes (1986)
* A Breath of Fresher Airs, 56 Original Tunes (1991)
* The Spider’s Web, 84 Original Tunes (1998)
* The Nineties Collection, as Editor (1995)


Artist Profiles: Hallvard T. Bjørgum

Hallvard T. Bjørgum

Hallvard T. Bjørgum (born 1956) from Setesdal is a folk musician in the third generation of a well-known “folk music family”. He plays fiddle tunes from the Setesdal and Telemark districts, as well as stev and psalm melodies.

In addition to being a powerful and expressive fiddler, he is also a master story-teller. He combines these talents in his concerts. He has taught at universities and community music schools, and has instructed musicians from both Norway and abroad. Bjørgum won the first prize at the National Contest for Traditional Music in 1982 and 1988. In 1988 he also won the King’s Trophy. He is regarded as one of Norway’s most gifted Hardanger fiddle players.

In 1990 he took over the Sylvartun Silversmith and Cultural Center, which he had operated together with his father. This center houses the largest existing collection of Hardanger fiddles, and includes many instruments that belonged to legendary Norwegian performers. That same year he was awarded a lifetime grant from the Norwegian Government.

He has collaborated with a great many artists, including Kirsten Braten Berg, Lena Willemark, Mats Edén, Bjørgulv Straume, Eilert Hægeland and Arild Andersen.

He is exploring the similarities between the oldest fiddle music in Setesdal, known as “gorrlause rammeslåttene”, and the folk music of the Caucasus region. He plays along with Elshan Mansurov, one of Azerbaijan’s leading kamancha players.


Slinkombas (Grappa Musikkforlag (MC) HK 7001, 1979)
Slinkombas og bas igjen (Grappa Musikkforlag (MC) HK 7015, 1982)
Klunkaren, with Torleiv H. Bjørgum (Sylvartun SYLVCD 1, 1985/1998)
Dolkaren, with Torleiv H. Bjørgum (Sylvartun SYLVCD 3, 19
Skjoldm?yslaget, with Torleiv H. Bj?rgum (Sylvartun SYLVCD 2, 1990)(Eng. version: Fire of the Amazons Sylvartun SYLVCD 4)
Juletid, with Kirsten Braten Berg and Eilert Haegeland (Norsk Plateproduksjon IDCD 19, 1991)
Setesdal forteljetradisjon, with Olav B? (Sylvartun SYLVCD 5, 1995)
Meisterspel, with various artists (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD, 1 7132, 1998)
Toneflaum, with Bjarne Herrefoss and Knut Hamre (Sylvartun SYLVCD 6, 1998)
Runarstreng, with Kirsten Braten Berg (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4157, 1999)
Bjørgumspel (2002)
Free Field (2003)
Peace Will Come (2009)
Sterke slag, with Gunnar Stubseid (2013)
Førnesbrunen Vol. 2, with Hauk Buen (2014),
Bjørgumspel Vol. II, with Daniel Sandén-Warg (2015),


Artist Profiles: Håkon Høgemo

Håkon Høgemo in 2010 – Photo by Angel Romero

Håkon Høgemo (born 1965), from Øvre Årdal in Sogn, has been described by fiddler Knut Buen as “the Crown Prince of the Hardanger fiddle”. His unique sound and technique have lifted the art of Hardanger fiddle playing to a higher level. In his collaboration with musicians from other genres, he has given fiddle tunes a new, modern mode of expression. Høgemo has won the first prize at the National Contest for Traditional Music twice, in 1989 and 1995.

He was the first recipient of the Osa Prize in 1992, and received the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s award for young folk musicians in the same year. He is one of very few Hardanger fiddlers to work on a freelance basis.

Høgemo has played on many CDs, and has toured in Norway, the USA, the UK, Germany, Japan and Belgium. He is a member of several folk music groups, including Slåttetrioen, Sogn and Utla.


Å fela ho let (Spelarhaugen Folkemusikk SFKMC 107, 1988)
Mellom vener (Spelarhaugen Folkemusikk SFKMC 108, 1988)
Rit, with Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9410, 1994)
Juv, with Utla (NOR-CD 9309, 1993)
Norsk Folkemusikk 8 (Folkemusikk frå Sogn og Fjordane, Møre og Romsdal) (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4068, 1995)
Brodd, with Utla (NOR-CD 9514, 1995) Meisterspel, with various artists (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7132, 1997)
Dans, with Utla (NOR-CD 9935, 1999)
Høgdepunkt Førde Folk Festival, with various artists (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7154, 1999)
Solo (NorCD, 2000)
Marylands (Heilo/Grappa, 2001)
Song, with Utla and Berit Opheim (NorCD, 2003)
Gamaltnymalt, with igrid Moldestad and Einar Mjølsnes (NorCD, 2005)


Artist Profiles: Gjermund Larsen

Gjermund Larsen – Photo by Geir Dokken

Gjermund Larsen is a gifted violinist and composer. He also plays the cello. His music displays an unusually broad emotional range, from virtuosic brilliance to gentle tenderness. Gjermund takes a masterlful approach to the older tonalities while at the same time he enjoys exploring new styles and presenting remarkable improvisations.

He was awarded first prize in the elite Category A in the National Contest for Traditional Music in Norway for fiddle twice, and also received the King’s Trophy.

His 2008 release Ankomst won the Spellemannprisen award, the most prestigious music award in Norway.

in 2013, Larsen partiicpated in the album Lars Petter Hagen, along with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Rolf Gupta.

Gjermund Larsen’s trio during 2009-2016 included Andreas Utnem (grand piano and harmonium) and Sondre Meisfjord (bass).


Søttenpassingen (ta-lik), with Einar Olav Larsen (2004)
Brytningstid (Grappa/Heilo, 2006)
Ankomst (Grappa, 2008)
Går I Fjøs (Øra Fonogram, 2009)
Aurum (Heilo, 2010)
Reise (Heilo, 2013)
Lars Petter Hagen (Aurora, 2013)
Trønderbarokk (Øra Fonogram, 2014)
Salmeklang (Heilo, 2016)

As a member of fiddle group Majorstuen

Majorstuen (2L. 2002)
Jorun Jogga (Majorstuen Fiddlers Company, 2004)
Juledrøm (Majorstuen Fiddlers Company, 2006)
Skir (Majorstuen Fiddlers Company, 2010)
White Night – Impressions of Norwegian Folk Music (Majorstuen Fiddlers Company, 2011)
Live In Concert (Majorstuen Fiddlers Company, 2012)

Web site: www.gjermundlarsen.com


Impeccable Contemporary Finnish Folk

Karuna – Tuulispää (Kuu Records, 2016)

Karuna features three talented contemporary folk music instrumentalists and composers from Finland. Tuulispää is Karuna’s second album and it brings together exquisite chamber music and lively and evocative Nordic folk music influences.

The music is inspired by events such as the drowning of the Syrian child Aylan in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as a beautiful sunrise and the observation of animals like deer and moths.

The lineup includes Teija Niku on accordion and melodeon; Juha Kujanpää (who also leads a progressive rock band) on piano and keyboards; and the multifaceted Esko Järvelä on nyckelharpa, violin, and guitar. Järvelä is involved in multiple folk, folk-rock and world music projects like Esko Järvelä Epic Male Band, Frigg, Baltic Crossing and Tsuumi Sound System.


Tuulispää’s musical pieces are beautifully crafted, delicate and rich in virtuosity. A delectable Finnish folk album.

Buy Tuulispää in the Americas

Buy Tuulispää in Europe


Artist Profiles: Eliza Carthy

Eliza Carthy

Eliza Carthy is one of the leading artists in the UK’s folk music movement. She has absorbed a rich tapestry of traditional sounds and reinvented them in her own unique way – a melting pot of old and new, captivating lyrics, entrancing vocal melodies, sublime fiddle playing and heartfelt arrangements.

Born August 23 of 1975 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, Eliza has been widely acknowledged as one of the most creative, and original, young talents in English music today. She built on her vast reputation as a singing and fiddle sensation and emerged with Angels & Cigarettes – a modern sounding collection of personal, passionate and intensely affecting songs.

The Rat Catchers project unites her with two more of English music’s most celebrated young pioneers, John Spiers (melodeon) and Jon Boden (fiddle, double bass) of Bellowhead, with long-time partner Ben Ivitsky (viola, guitar) completing the line-up.

In 2016, Eliza Carthy put together a dream group of musicians called The Wayward Band with members of Bellowhead, Blowzabella, Mawkin, Emily Portman Trio, Tyde and other. They recorded an album titled Big Machine.



* Heat Light & Sound (Topic Records, 1996)
* Eliza Carthy & The Kings of Calicutt (Topic Records, 1997)
* Red Rice (originally sold as a 2 CD set. Now available as 2 separate CDs: Red and Rice, 1998)
* Angels & Cigarettes (Warner Bros UK, 2000)
* Anglicana (Topic Records, 2002)
* The Definitive Collection (compilation 2003)
* Rough Music (Topic Records, 2004)
* Dreams of Breathing Underwater (Topic Records, 2008)
* Big Machine (Topic, 2017)

with the Waterson family

* Waterson:Carthy: Waterson:Carthy (1994)
* Waterson:Carthy: Common Tongue (1996)
* Waterson:Carthy: Broken Ground (1999)
* Blue Murder: No One Stands Alone (2002)
* Various Artists: Shining Bright – The Songs of Lal & Mike Waterson (2002)
* Waterson:Carthy: A Dark Light (2002)
* The Watersons: The Definitive Collection (compilation 2003)
* The Watersons: Mighty River of Song (4 CD & 1 DVD compilation 2004)
* Waterson:Carthy: Fishes and Fine Yellow Sand (2004)
* Waterson: Carthy: The Definitive Collection (compilation 2005)
* Waterson:Carthy: Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man (2006)

with Norma Waterson

* Gift (Topic Records, 2010)

with Nancy Kerr

* Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr (1993)
* Shape of Scrape (1995)
* On Reflection (compilation Gadfly, 2002)


Artist Profiles: Natalie MacMaster

Natalie MacMaster

Composer, virtuoso fiddler and skilled step dancer Natalie Ann MacMaster was born on June 13, 1972 in Troy, Nova Scotia, Canada. She was raised in a musical family steeped in Scottish heritage.

Natalie began playing at age 9 after having been given a small fiddle by her great uncle. From the early days, she was encouraged by her father and musically influenced by her uncle, Buddy MacMaster, an undisputed master of the Cape Breton fiddle.

Natalie’s career flourished rapidly. From a small beginning playing at dances and concerts in and around Cape Breton to representing Nova Scotia on the world’s stages. Natalie has become a musical ambassador for a new musical generation of Cape Breton musicians. Whether performing with a small format or with her full band, Natalie’s concerts are a dazzling blend of musical virtuosity and lively step dancing.

Natalie’s first three recordings gained major nominations and awards from the East Coast Music Association. In 1992, she won the Roots/Traditional Artist Award. In 1994, her third album, Fit as a Fiddle, earned Natalie the Instrumental Artist of the Year Award. In 1995, she was nominated as Entertainer of the Year.

Natalie’s phenomenal stage presence has led to considerable media attention. She was profiled by various TV shows. In June of 1995, Natalie won over a crowd of 80,000 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as opening act for Carlos Santana. A broken fiddle string couldn’t keep her down as Natalie continued playing using only her bottom two strings.

Natalie has headlined in cities such as London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Brussels, and Tokyo. And for several years, she has acted as guest instructor and performer at the world renowned Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp in Nashville.

In March of 1996, Natalie received a phone call from Ireland’s The Chieftains requesting that she open for them on a four-week tour of the United States. The Chieftains obviously saw something in Natalie that their audiences would soon come to appreciate. MacMaster capably and expertly delivered the goods. The highlight of each performance had to be Natalie joining The Chieftains at show’s end to fiddle and dance.

Natalie’s first two independent recordings, Road to the Isle and Four on the Floor, have each sold in excess of 12,000 copies each … and that’s on cassette only. Her third Indie release, Fit as a Fiddle, racked up sales of more than 30,000 copies on CD and cassette.

In the spring of 1996, Warner Music Canada negotiated a major label deal with Natalie for the album No Boundaries. Produced by Chad Irschick (The Rankin Family, Loreena McKennitt, Susan Aglukark), No Boundaries is exactly that. Natalie’s diversity extends to places her fans could have never imagined. From beautiful classic pieces through ragtime and country music, Natalie continues to step across musical lines. Special note should be made of guest appearances by Cookie Rankin on “Drunken Piper,” Bruce Guthro on “Fiddle &Bow,” and a host of Canada’s best musicians.

In 1997, Rounder Records made No Boundaries available in the United States and also re-released Fit As A Fiddle. The success of these releases led to the re-release of A Compilation in 1998.

Natalie MacMaster

A good example of MacMaster’s energy during her live performances was documented in a double album recorded live, released in 2002. The sessions were made at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga (Ontario) and at an old hall in the woods in rural Glencoe, Cape Breton Island.

Blueprint (2003) was Natalie MacMaster’s first studio recording since 1999’s In My Hands. On Blueprint, MacMaster mixes Celtic, Jazz, and Bluegrass. Special guests include Bela Fleck (banjo), Jerry Douglas (Dobro), Sam Bush (mandolin), and Edgar Meyer (bass).

Natalie MacMaster collaborated with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the Grammy-winning album “Songs of Joy & Peace” (2008) and artists as diverse as Alison Krauss, Jesse Cook, and Béla Fleck.

Fiddle album One, released in 2015, features Natalie MacMaster and her husband Donnell Leahy. In addition to the familiar Celtic sounds, the album features distorted electric guitars, two players on one piano, and a drum kit made of paint cans and a cardboard box.

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy

In 2016, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy released A Celtic Family Christmas accompanied by an outstanding group of musicians and their children. The album features classic Christmas songs seasoned with the duo’s style of Celtic tradition. “We have celebrated Christmas in a big way our entire lives and finally have recorded the music,” said Natalie MacMaster.

Natalie MacMaster is a recipient of the Order of Canada. She has won two JUNO and 11 East Coast Music Awards.


Four on the Floor (Astro Custom Records, 1989)

Road to the Isle (Astro Custom Records, 1991)

Fit as a Fiddle (1993)

A Compilation (Rounder Records, 1996)

No Boundaries (Rounder Records, 1997)

In My Hands (Rounder Records Select, 1999)

My Roots Are Showing (Rounder Records Select, 2000)

Live (Rounder Records Select, 2002)

Blueprint (Rounder Records, 2003)

Yours Truly (Rounder Records, 2006)

Cape Breton Girl (MacMaster Music, 2011)

One, with Donnell Leahy (MacMaster Music, 2015)

A Celtic Family Christmas, with Donnell Leahy (Linus Entertainment, 2016)

website: www.nataliemacmaster.com


Artist Profiles: Cedric Watson

Cedric Watson

Born in San Felipe, Texas in 1983, singer, fiddler, accordionist and songwriter Cedric Watson developed an early love for Cajun music and moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, where he studied not only pure Cajun music but the Creole fiddling styles of Canray Fontenot and Bebe Carriere and was quickly acclaimed for his mastery.

A founding member of the Pine Leaf Boys, Cedric Watson formed a new band, Bijou Creole. In Bijou Creole, Watson explores the roots of Louisiana’s Creole music. Playing a variety of old-school zydeco styles, original material, and Creole traditional songs, the polyrhythmic and syncopated sounds of Africa and the Caribbean are unmistakable in this ensemble of talented musicians.

Michael Doucet (BeauSoleil, Savoy-Doucet Band) says, “To propel our Louisiana Creole culture into the future seems to be quite a task, but if one lives for the music as Cedric does, the path seems effortless.”

Along with Watson, Bijou Creole is rubboard (washboard) player-percussionist Mike Chaisson, bassist Blake Miller, guitarist Chris Stafford, and drummer Jermaine Prejean.


Goin’ Down to Louisiana (Valcour Records, 2006)
Cedric Watson (Valcour Records, 2008)
L’Esprit Creole (Valcour Records, 2009)
Homage Au Passe, with Pine Leaf Boys Lionsgate Records, 2009)
Creole Moon: Live From Blue Moon Saloon (Valcour Records, 2010)
Le Soliel Est Leve, with Bijou Creole (Lache Pas Records, 2011)
Le Troubadour Creole, with Bijou Creole (Lache Pas Records, 2013)

Web site: www.cedricwatson.com