The Sarahs

The Sarahs

BandFolkSpoken Word

Named after a butterfly, Sarah Longwing is a duo of versatile performers who artistically migrate between North America and Scandinavia. Through song, 8-string Hardanger fiddle, flute and story they integrate North American innovation with ancient Nordic traditions.

Biography

Named after a butterfly, Sarah Longwing brings the Scandinavian experience to life with an accessible perspective through traditional music and tales as well as contemporary lyrics and stories. Their unique style seamlessly fuses English, Norwegian, Swedish, and Sámi and the instrumental music is played on folk instruments such as the 8-string Hardanger fiddle and jaw harp. Through song, fiddle, flute and story they integrate North American innovation with ancient Nordic traditions.

The name, Sarah Longwing, was adopted after the duo visited the Reiman butterfly gardens, while in Iowa on a concert tour of the US Midwest. It was there that they came across a beautiful blue butterfly by the name of Heliconius sara, or Sara Longwing. Since both members are named Sarah, they decided that the symbol of the butterfly, morphing dramatically through different stages of its life and traveling great distances on delicate wings, was appropriate for their music. At that time, their name was Canwegian, for Canadian-Norwegian. Both Sarahs come from Canadian backgrounds and have lived, worked, and studied in rural Norway, picking up folk traditions there. However, when on tour in the Midwest in October/November of 2006, they realized that some of the Swedish-Americans were boycotting due to a perceived lack of Swedish content. They were, however, mistaken. Sarah Longwing does not simply perform Norwegian folk music, but a variety of music from Scandinavia and North America, as well as their own compositions and poetic recitations. On their most recent tour in April/May of 2007 the two Sarahs represented the Sons of Norway Foundation as young cultural ambassadors of Norwegian tradition, to perform in local schools, community centers, and folk clubs. This summer, they are looking forward to performing more of their Sámi repertoire for Fargo’s Hjemkomst festival, and are also scheduled for a tour of Canadian folk festivals including the Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music (Cambridge, Ontario).

A little more about each Sarah:

Sarah Granskou is an authentic modern scald (Nordic bard); her unique poetic narrative gives context for this exotic music. While Sarah draws on ancient art forms, her translations, lyrics and recitations are accessible today and relate often to her own experiences, such as living amongst the Inuit people, following the Sámi reindeer migration, working on Norwegian farms, playing for weddings in a Swedish ice church, and building 8-string fiddles. In 1998, 2000 and 2006, she presented a solo show throughout 11 states and provinces. Her thought-provoking and humorous performances have reached countless community and school audiences and she has performed at dozens of festivals such as the Yukon International Storytelling Festival, the Edmonton Heritage Festival, Hillside Festival, Nordic Festival, Høstfest, and the Trondheim Literature Festival. She was an opening act for
Oliver Schroer (Harbourfront) and for the Arrogant Worms (Vital Spark Folk Club), and was featured at the opening of the Museum of Civilization Viking exhibit and on the album, Midnight Sun, released by Toronto’s Ensemble Polaris. Sarah’s original English, Norwegian and multi-language lyrics have been aired repeatedly on the CBC, and in Norway she has been featured on national radio and television channels. Sarah has studied Norwegian, Sámi and Swedish folk music independently and with the support of the Canadian Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

Singing fiddler, Sarah Nagell, is an internationally touring folk musician specializing in traditional Norwegian singing and fiddling on both the Norwegian 8-stringed Hardanger fiddle and the vanleg fele, or violin. She currently runs her own music studio, Singing Fiddler Studios, offering musical recording as well as singing and fiddling lessons. Her formal education includes a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from St. Olaf College and a Master of Music degree in Contemporary Improvisation (voice and fiddle) from the New England Conservatory of Music. Nagell has also received vocal, fiddle and dance instruction at the Høgskolen i Telemark (Telemark University College) in Rauland, Norway. While there, she competed and played for dance in several folk music festivals including Rauland's Vinterkappleik, Kongsberg's Markenskappleik, and the national festival, Landskappleiken. In 2006 Nagell traveled to Japan with her 5-peice Norwegian group, Gjetord, to give concerts of Norwegian folk music in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of Edvard Grieg's life. In the summer of 2007, she will teach classes in singing and the playing of the Hardanger fiddle at the annual workshops of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America.
Check out her website: www.singingfiddler.com

“He tunes and plays, and soon his gaze went wild and caught and burned all the tunes he’d learned as a child. Embers remember the spark…even in the dark.”

(from “Playin

Lyrics

Shadow Horse

Written By: Sarah Granskou

Shadow Horse:
About a man I encountered with my twin nieces on the Alberta prairie. Sung and spoken on the shadow of a melody by Norwegian, Odd Nordstoga

He had a shadow for a horse.
It was his wild remorse he'd been riding since a child.
He fed and bred and he bridled and saddled and he took it by force,
His wild remorse...Hiding.
We meet him on the street and he's neatly dressed, and his plaid is pressed, he had a cowboy hat and he was proud of that. And he mumbled something coarse out loud, and he fumbles with his horse like a lost cloud, tossed in the wind.
And then the sun broke through and he grinned.
Not a tooth on the horizon – just a hazy trace of gin.
And then his face sunk in, swallowed like a hollow tree and he followed Grace and Natalie.
'Twin girls. Why two little tikes like Ruth and Bjorn, born when the corn and clover were sown, over in Nordegg where I come from.'
'Were they your own', I said, 'Did you have twins?’
‘No’, he says, ‘my wife did!'
She gave her life and he hid at the Legion. So easy for him to blow the lid, you know.
'My wife is Norwegian, so Ruth was fair as the sun, Bjørn as black as a stallion.
You see, I'm part Cree, part Italian. I guess you can see, I've got Indian in me.'
And then his face sunk in like a punkin' jack'o'lantern and he cantered off on his track.
Took his horse to a watering hole…His 'ole wild remorse.
[Repeat beginning theme]
He tried to tame her. She got no milder, just became lame. His wild remorse. Hiding…

Tyttebaeret (The Lingonberry)

Written By: Original Norwegian song learned from Åse Haugen, Vinje. Liberal translation by Sarah Granskou in hon

Lingonberry on the mound, grows out of the mossy ground.
A crown of jade around the forest head, throws shade upon its rosy sons.

It was late in the autumn, a little child went to the wilds.
“I’m glistening red,” the berry said to him,
“Listen close you precious child.”

“Here on in must you take me. Restless is the wasted berry
Make haste to find and grind and taste me.
Be nourished on my very blood.

“Live and grow so you may flourish, and share this prayer that I’ve had.
Gladdest is the ripest man, who’s giving of his fruitful hand.

“I lift my bowed and shrouded head, a gift to stain your fingers red.
To bring to you the rain that stirs the dead, for I need you to spread my seed.”

The Coffee Song

Written By: Sarah Granskou

The Coffee Song: For the man who offered me coffee in seven languages, to the tune of two coffee drinking songs from southern Norway, one of my own devising, and spiced with Sámi joik. In 1995, I traveled to northern Norway with my skis and fiddle to accompany the Sámi reindeer migration. While waiting for the proper weather conditions, I passed the time in a local cafe learning Sámi and Norwegian from the lingering locals in their own mixed dialect. There, I met the town eccentric – a man who spoke in seven languages. He had learned from the tourists and spoke to himself consistently. I would speak to myself too if I knew seven languages! May he rest in peace. – SG

“Áigut go don kafe? Áigut go don kafe?” He sat in the café and laughed at his echo.
He’s waiting for something. He sings to his plate and it rings off the rim.
I hear him laughing at his echo, “Áigut go don kafe?” Ay lay lay loi lay lo…

“Áigut go don kafe? Vil du har kaffe?”, he mumbles humbly as he stumbles towards me.
He hands me a cup without looking up. He sings me a hymn and it rings off the rim.
I hear him fishing for English, “You wish for more coffee?” Ay lay lay loi lay lo…

I’m feeling alive on five cups of coffee. He offers in German, determined to woo me.
I return from the loo and he’s kept my bench warm…with a refill in French.
He’s an April Chinook with the look of a storm. Ay lay lay loi lay lo…

I was out busking in the glow of dusk, as women play bingo and men drink their beer,
I hear a jingle in my fiddle case and some foreign lingo and the sight of his face,
His coins from all nations were bright constellations. Ay lay lay loi lay lo…

Han var gammal. He was young. Ja men vel, he spoke in seven tongues.
He’d unravel the talk of travelers. Eg sko og gjera bråk, um eg kunne syv språk.
I’m back in the winter when the heavens hold embers in the splinters of cold.
“Remember the old man who knew seven tongues, both young and wise as December’s horizon, he grew right from sunrise to twilight? We’re told that he lingered in the fingers of cold and slipped into the grip of the night.”
I went up to his grave and I offered a song, and a cup of strong coffee and a coin that I’d saved – a loonie for the man who knew seven tongues. Forever young in his heaven, where his coins from all nations are bright constellations. –SG

Discography

"Flying on the Tradewinds", our first album, is available for listening and purchase from CD Baby.com. http://cdbaby.com/cd/sarahlongwing. It includes 17 tracks, 3 of which are original stories told in poetic narrative with music. The rest of the tracks are either traditional songs or tunes (arranged by the group), or our own compositions.

Sarah Granskou was featured on the album Midnight Sun by Ensemble Polaris (Dorion label) with both traditional and original works.
Her composition, "On the Farm" was aired repeatedly by Tom Allen on the CBC.

Sarah Nagell's solo album, "Farwell to Sollia" was recorded in her own "Singing Fiddler Studios". Selected tracks are available from http://www.singingfiddler.com/Music.html

Set List

A typical set list may include the following:

Lokking/kulning (Traditional long high a-cappella vocal calling from Norway/Sweden- a great attention getter)

Till, till tove (trad. Norwegian song)

Blue Goats (trad. Swedish song, trans. to English and French by Sarah Granskou)

Farvel til Sollia (Hardanger fiddle tune by Sarah Nagell)

Stemmetap, Lost and Found (original composition by Sarah Granskou- arr. Sarah Longwing)

Per Spellman (trad. Norwegain)

Tyttebaeret (trad. Norwegian. trans. to English by Sarah Granskou)

Fossegrimen (the folktale of the river sprite and the Hardanger fiddle tune that accompanies it- Sarah Nagell)

Hoaklump, the troll (trad. Swedish. trans. to English by Sarah Granskou)

Eg ska no sulla/The Walking song (a set of 2 Scandinavian songs with Hardanger fiddle accomp. learned in North America)

Embers Remember the Spark (Musical/Poetic narrative recitation composed by Sarah Granskou. Includes the performance of several traditional Norwe