Boda Spelmanslag,
50 Ar
(Giga Folkmusik, 2003)

The occasion for this CD is the 50th anniversary of a local folk music club from Boda in southwestern Sweden. It all started with the Swedish king's visit to Boda in 1953, when local folk group Rattviks Spelmanslag was unable to play. Some members of the Rattvik group who happened to be from Boda got together to honor the occasion. It went so well that they decided to form their own group, which is still going strong, united in a desire to keep Boda's traditional music alive. The caption for the photo of Boda Spelmanslag's 2003 incarnation lists 32 musicians. This is a big band!

Boda Spelmanslag is essentially a fiddle orchestra and fans of the Finnish fiddle orchestra JPP will recognize the sound. Although accordions weren't entirely welcome in the group's early days (as the liner notes mention), they are now as much a part of the group as the fiddles.

JPP fans will find Boda Spelmanslag's music more stately and deliberate than JPP's increasingly cosmopolitan sound. The program here is traditional Swedish dance music, heavy on the polskas and waltzes. Listeners who like something distinctly different on each track will find the tracks blending together; the most successful way to listen is to let oneself be drawn into the many layers of the rich sound that the group creates. The music hearkens back to the days before these dances were folk music and when they were the fashionable thing to do at court. It sounds like classical music at times and raises thoughts about how a type of music can be considered high culture and then work its way into the vernacular.

The liner notes, in both Swedish and English, give a history of Boda Spelmanslag and comments on all the tunes, including the musicians who originally played them. 50 Ar is a fine souvenir of Boda Spelmanslag's history and with any luck points to a bright future for this music.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 27 March 2004