Friday, October 31, 2014

Nordgrass: Frigg and "Grannen"

Grannen by Frigg on Grooveshark

Bluegrass is one of those genres of music that, like funk, I feel right down to my bones. I think I read somewhere that genetics can play a part in how you relate to places and what you like and don't like. Or maybe I didn't. But I think that now. My example...I grew up in Northern California on the coast. My family has property inland in the Mendocino Range, and I always loved going out there and being among the mountains and the valleys. There are few things more peaceful for me than sitting under a tree on the top of a ridge and hearing the wind move through the branches of the trees above me.

In my 20s, when I was doing volunteer work for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, I did some pre-scouting with the group for a community in Hazard, Kentucky in the center of the Appalachians. When I got there, I almost felt I was home. I thought it was because the Appalachians looked like the mountains in the Mendocino Range, but it was more than that. I almost felt like I identified with the people and the culture there also, including the music. I had a chance to do another year of volunteer service there, but decided against it because I had already done two years of volunteer service and felt like I needed to get on with my life. I now think that had I gone to live in Appalachia for a year, I might have stayed there.

Fast forward into my forties, when I discovered my birth family. I was adopted when I was two and I never had known who my birth family was. My biological mother's side of the family came from West Virginia in a region that is Appalachian. And then it hit me - that must have been the reason for why I felt such affinity for mountains and valleys, for bluegrass music, for folk music in general. Could it be that all of this is ingrained in my genetic makeup? I would ask some geneticist (if one ever reads this) to let me know if this is a valid theory or if any research has been done on genetics and place and genetics and culture. I know that genetic memory research has been done on genetics and language and genetics and trauma, but it seems that there is more to genetic memory than this.

Today's random tune is by a group that comes from a region that I have really no genetic affinity with but which I desperately want to see and whose folk music I like very much. Frigg is a Finnish-Norwegian folk band formed in 2002. Their members hail from the Kaustinen region of Finland and the Nord-Trøndelag region of Norway, and they play folk music from both of those regions as well as mixing in some Americana, particularly bluegrass (which is probably why I like them), and some Irish folk music as well. They are named after the Norse goddess of love and fertility, and have taken to calling their mix of Nordic folk music with other musical styles Nordgrass. Grannen is from their 2010 album of the same name.