A five-star Oxford Scandi session

We’re delighted to say that the Scandinavian music session hosted by Ed Pritchard at the James Street Tavern in Oxford, England on the third Monday of every month from 8.30pm onwards is going from strength to strength. It’s the perfect environment in which to play new tunes to other musicians and punters whilst learning new tunes at the same time.

What we particularly like about the session is that whilst the mood is relaxed and convivial, people are respectful and genuinely pay attention when someone starts to lead a tune or try a new offering. In an appropriately Scandi fashion, it’s very civilised.

The standard of music is always very high, but we were blown away by what was an absolute belter of a session on the Monday just gone. I counted no fewer than twenty-four musicians, not to mention interested punters who sat down and bedded in for the evening, genuinely paying rapt attention.

We had harpists, guitarists, mandolinists, whistle players, Greek baglamas (turned Nordic for one night only like some mystical folk tale), all manner of box players, a small squadron of fiddle players and the mesmerising Galician piper Mano Panforreteiro, surely worth his place in any session at any level anywhere in the world, re-affirming the soaring, swirling Scandi sounds with some transcendent (if not regal) playing.

Every team needs a good captain and Ed, an Everton supporter, does a job we are sure Dave Watson and Kevin Ratcliffe would approve of whilst contributing some top-drawer fiddle, nyckelharpa and percussion playing in the process (at one point he and Mano did a percussive duet in the middle of a textbook belting rendition of one of the simplest bestest Danish tunes committed to music script, Totakt-pols nr. EJ-24. We love the way these numbers for Danish pols give the tunes a) a classical aura b) an edge of mystery).

In the course of the evening we also covered Norwegian waltzes, Finnish mazurkas, musical adaptations of Icelandic-Canadian poems (the same poem, but not the same tune, as featured here) and Swedish tunes of all timbres, tones and hues including an ecstatic rendition of Pennknivsmördaren – a sort of Here Comes The Scandi Music Gang special on these nights. We didn’t pay tribute to the Faroes or Greenland (if you wish to file the latter under Nordic music in some capacity – I suppose Greenlandic music of Danish origin sort of fits the bill) but it couldn’t have been a much more comprehensive session in terms of geographical and musical variety.

Stephan G Stephansson (1853-1927) - the Icelandic-Canadian poet to whom we paid musical homage

Stephan G Stephansson (1853-1927) – the Icelandic-Canadian poet to whom we paid musical homage

You can see below some photos of Monday’s session. The James Street Tavern is an excellent music venue (and in terms of real ales, a great beer one) and we believe Mano is still hosting a Galician music session there on the last Wednesday of every month. We certainly look forward to seeing you on a Scandi Monday. People who make the journey quickly get attuned to how diverse and elegant Scandi music is; it’s worth the pilgrimage for that reason alone.

scandi session 2 scandi session 3

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