Good Folk

From left, Elizabeth Gaver, Mattias Thedens and Hans-Hinrich Thedens string things up.

While the Appalachian Mountains and Norway are thousands of miles apart, they can be quite close musically, at least as far as their folk music is concerned.

That’s among the takeaways with a three-piece string group named Feleboga, which makes its fifth local appearance tonight (Aug. 11), and it is truly a family affair. Mom Elizabeth Gaver and her 17-year-old son Mattias Thedens both play fiddle and hardingfele (aka the hardanger fiddle, a specialized, ornately decorated violin with a lower group of four or five drone-like strings which vibrate sympathetically with whatever is played on the main strings). Dad Hans-Hinrich Thedens lays down the harmonic structure on guitar and banjo, in addition to serving as the director of the Norwegian Folk Music Collection at the National Library in Oslo.

The group’s name means “fiddle bows”; the band plays traditional Norwegian and American folk music. “Old-time American folk is the mountain music of Appalachia,” Gaver says. “It’s the earliest traditional music – those mountain ballads and fiddle tunes – like early square dance music that developed into bluegrass. Old-time is pre-bluegrass.”

While the specialized violin highlights a dynamic difference between Appalachian and Norwegian fiddle music, there also is symmetry.

“Some of the dance songs and forms that have ended up in the U.S. and also in Norway coincidentally have European roots,” Gaver says, “so we’re actually finding some similarities in the music itself.”

The band’s set list also includes several different genres of traditional Norwegian folk ranging from older pieces intended for listening to peasant dance tunes for solohardingfele and the newer dance form gammeldans, which includes waltzes and polkas.

FELEBOGA 7:30pm Thursday, Aug. 11. Carl Cherry Center, Fourth and Guadalupe, Carmel. $15 at 624-7491,

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(1) comment

Virginia Underwood

[smile] I enjoyed this piece! Having grown up in the Appalachian mountains in Virginia, it is exciting to learn about old time and folk musicians and the cultural connections made through this music. Thanks for this story.

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