Hopsa is a high energy traditional Danish dance that probably isn’t familiar to most of us in the Fraser Valley.
However, Mission Folk Music Festival goers will get a crash course at its 25th annual presentation, July 20 to 22 at Fraser River Heritage Park, when the beloved Danish group Habadekuk makes it debut in Canada next week.
Fierce fiddle playing, powerful horns and contagious rhythms characterize Habadekuk – a young and lively nine-piece band from Denmark that mixes salsa, jazz and folk and catapults old Danish dance melodies into the 21st century.
The band’s fiddler and accordion player were inspired by Quebec’s La Bottine Souriante, a large ensemble that would blend lively Quebecois folk tunes with a horn section and modern musical influences. That group lifted audiences off the grass on the three occasions they played at the MFMF.
“They listened to La Bottine and thought that we had similar traditions in Danish music. It has the same optimism and happiness,” Habadekuk saxophone player Ramus Fribo said in a phone interview last week.
Called spillemaend, or dancing men, by the Danes, their exuberant tradition has lively Celtic influences, contrasting the more serious outlook of German and other Scandinavian traditions.
“It was the party music of the 18th century,” said Fribo.
Habadekuk is comprised of musicians from various genres: pop, classical, jazz. Band members learned their repertoire from elderly Danish folk musicians, dusty music books, and old field recordings. Most of their songs are between 150 and 200 years old, from days when the tunes were played at harvests, weddings and parties.
The style was almost forgotten, said Fribo, but when Habadekuk formed in 2006, they made it their mission to revive the old songs with a new generation.
“The young people are overwhelmed by the infectious nature of the music. It’s still in their blood; it awakens something,” he said.
In fact, folk music is enjoying a revival in Denmark.
In 2011, their debut album, Hopsadaddy, won Album of the Year at the Danish Music Awards, an honour equivalent to a Juno or Grammy, and they have amassed many other accolades.
“We collect material and use the most exciting stuff in our shows. Inspiration for our arrangements often comes from other types of music. We try to play with enough energy to reach out over the footlights and start a party,” said fiddler Kristian Bugge. “This music was composed for dancing and that’s the type of energy we work to transmit . . . we can’t wait to surprise Canadian audiences this summer.”
Along with the Scandinavian invasion, the MFMF will feature a list of who’s who in the festival music realm: Canada’s Buffy Sainte-Marie, Dave Francey, Marie Campbell of Scotland, Brazil’s Renato Borghetti and Artur Bonilla and many others.
Locals can get a taste of the festival when some performers take the community stage next Wednesday (July 18) at the Envision Twilight concert at Fraser River Heritage Park. This al fresco concert is on from 7 to 8 p.m. and is free to the public, although donations are welcome. There’s also Art in the Park, and visitors are encouraged to picnic before the show or eat at the Blackberry Kitchen on the park site.
Then on July 19 starting at 7:30 p.m., the MFMF presents a festival gala at the Clarke Foundation Theatre, at 33700 Prentis Avenue, with a large contingent of Scandinavian performers as well as others. It should whet appetites for a rollicking music weekend at the festival site, all in an intimate venue. Tickets are $25 at the festival website.
If you just want a sip of the festival, there are $20 “resident” tickets available for the opening Friday night main stage concert.
At the festival, the three small day stages scattered around the bucolic grounds of the park is where patrons can get close and personal to these wonderful musicians on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Festival goers can also enjoy the international market, food vendors, a licensed bistro and the CD shack.
There is lots of parking on site, as well as camping. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own water and cups, and reminded to bring clothes appropriate for the weather, sunscreen and insect repellent.
– To learn more about Habadekuk, see www.habadekuk.dk.
For tickets and to see more about the Mission folk festival, go to www.missionfolkmusicfestival.ca. Volunteers are still welcome to come on board as well.