Umefolk´s Alive and Kickin´

UMEÅ. Come late February and and you will hear music from every direction hit Umeå. No difference in 2017 when Umefolk, an international folk music festival with artists from near and far, got together for some serious jamming. Scandinavia was of course well represented in this year´s line-up, as well as Finland, India, Syria and the United States. And do not forget all the local artistry that yet again rose to the occasion.

Umefolk in the Capital of county Västerbotten has got a proven reputation, as it´s  been nominated to the Organizer of the year at the Folk & World Music Award for the third time. ”We are very proud and happy about this”, the organizers in Umeå recently wrote on their website.

Kardemimmit. Photo by Jimmy Träskelin


The weekend festival is one of Sweden´s largest of its kind. It puts an emphasis on gender equality and gives a chance for young music school pupils to rub shoulders with experienced pro´s in a gigantic Allspel (”All Play”) that traditionally kicks off the event. The first edition of this music fest was arranged way back in 1986 – and here we are, past 30 and counting.

The 2017 event presented a wide range of folk and world music including klezmer, tango, Irish jigs, flamenco, American traditional, tunes from the Middle East and of course a lot of old and new Swedish and Nordic folk music.

Apart from the concerts, jam sessions and dancing, the organizers have worked their socks off to bring about, they´ve also set up a bundle of workshops and seminars on various themes. Norwegian tune play, Arab scales and rhythm, Bollywood dancing and Folk music against racism, to mention but a few.

Mullin Mallin performed rhythms from Balkan. Photo by Lasse Koski Anjou

Before the the official opening at the main venue Umeå Folkets Hus on Friday, proceedings started slowly at the Book Café Pilgatan with Rallarros (”Willowherb”), a three-piece folk band consisting of members from the counties Västerbotten and Norrbotten that performed some gentle tunes of their own.

– We met at Birka Folk Highschool and have been playing together for over two years, said violin player Oskar Teljebäck.

On Friday night the music was at full throttle on a handful stages at Folkets Hus where several outfits mustered poignant performances. The beautifully delivered love stories by Finnish song and kantele quartet Kardemimmit, the frantic Balkan rhythms of local band Mullin Mallin and the duo Lisas meditative tunes through violin and accordion were among those that stood out.

An even bigger abundance of concerts gained momentum on Saturday and continued well into the early hours of Sunday.


Cover: Lisas – Lisa Rydberg and Lisa Eriksson Långbacka. Photo: Erik Bergendal
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