Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra
Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra serves up thick vocal harmonies and catchy melodies in their driving, up-tempo tunes and lyrical ballads. With original songs steeped in the folk music traditions of the Appalachian Mountains, beams of Celtic and Norwegian fiddle tunes pierce through the sound of the eight-piece acoustic ensemble.
Representation and Touring Formats
Representation: Exclusive – North America
Touring Formats: 8-piece
Educational: Residencies, workshops & school events
Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra defy any notion that bluegrass needs to be confined to Appalachia or any other corner of the American heartland. With a critically acclaimed debut album, a wealth of praise from critics throughout the continent and an instrumental acumen that defines them as musicians with a determined drive and dynamic, the band — Rebekka Nilsson (vocals), Joakim Borgen (mandolin), Ole Enggrav (guitar), Moa Meinich (fiddle), Magnus Eriksrud (banjo), Emil Brattested (dobro), Sjur Marqvardsen (accordion), and David Buverud (upright bass) — have helped reinvent the idea of roots music in a new and imaginative way. In doing so, they stay true to their early inspirations — specifically, Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski sharing their sound in the Oscar- nominated Belgian film titled “Broken Circle Breakdown” — while coming up with a fresh and exhilarating approach that’s entirely their own.
These days, they take their cue from a number of eclectic influences — Tim O’Brien, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and the band now known as Watchouse — but they’ve never stopped progressing and creating a sound that aptly expresses their own overt enthusiasm.
It’s clearly paid off. They were nominated for Band of the Year honors during the 2022 IBMA Momentum Award honors, and then capped that accomplishment by winning the Vocalist of the Year award.
Certainly, those achievements aren’t lost on the band members themselves. “Being an eight-piece Bluegrass band isn’t very common,” Borgen reflects. “It’s even less common in Norway. We don’t make music that can pad our back accounts, but, at the same time we invest a lot of time, love and passion.”
Their upcoming live album proves the point. Due for release in March, 2023, it’s described by the band as a blend of Nashville bluegrass and New Orleans jazz in much the same manner as Bruce Springsteen recorded his “Seeger Sessions.” In addition, the band plans to release live concert videos on their Youtube Channel from Oslo Concert Hall.
In fact, Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra have always made it a point to tap tradition. One of the first songs they ever recorded was a take on the classic folk song “Wayfaring Stranger,” which, to their amazement, racked up hundreds of thousands of plays on YouTube, many of them from listeners in the U.S. It has surpassed twelve million plays so far, bringing their YouTube channel over 45,000 subscribers in the process.
That momentum carried over to the release of their debut album, Migrants, which they funded through a kickstarter campaign that exceeded its goal by over thirty percent. A collection of songs that consists of ten originals and a pair of covers, it debuted at number four on the official Billboard Bluegrass Album chart, a remarkable achievement for a brand new, all but unknown Norwegian band. It sold out on Amazon after three weeks, while also garnering an array of critical kudos.
Puls Music Magazine hailed it as “the impossible dream of what Norwegian musicians can achieve without the home-field advantage.”
Dust of Daylight called it “one of the best albums this year/” Meanwhile, Music News Norway proclaimed “Migrants is a good debut album that shows that Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra has originality. I compare them to Nickel Cree and the stars Alison Krauss + Union Station.”
So too, the review that appeared in The Daily Paper seems to sum up their strengths. “The album by Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra is so solid that it is almost unbelievable.”
That’s an apt description given the band’s eclectic — and yes, extraordinary — musical mix. Although their sound is seeped in bluegrass — what some like to term “grassicana” — it also includes a blend of folk rock, and pop, along with other influences that span Irish, Celtic, and Norwegian folk music as well. Still, Norwegian bluegrass might be the easiest way to describe the sound, given the beautiful harmonies, infectious melodies, and the well-maintained mix of driving, uptempo tunes and delicate yet demonstrative ballads.
“People often tell us that they love the musical combination of fun, fast, pulsating music with the feeling of tenderness and melancholia,” they reflect. “You can laugh, dance and cry at our concerts.”
Borgen and Nilsson met when they were both acting students, and so it came as little surprise that they subsequently left school together in order to move to Oslo and start making music as a means of making sense of their lives. Borgen had already proven himself as a skilled guitarist and piano player before adding mandolin to his list of instrumental additives. Nilsson quickly proved herself as a superb singer and then added autoharp to her skillset.
Nilsson in particular was naturally attracted to bluegrass by way of the traditional music that was indigenous to their native Norway. It’s a sound that the Norwegian publication Aftenposten referred to as “Solid Nordicana with [an] amazing voice in front.” In addition, Nilsson was drawn to the singer/songwriters borne from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Naturally then, Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra draws heavily on all those influences in their music, and, in turn, have found a local fan base at home and in those places they’ve had opportunity to tour, including Ireland and The Netherlands, all in addition to the dozens of dates they’ve played in their own country as well.
Nevertheless, Borgen manages to put it all in a proper perspective. “The word ‘amateur’ is often associated with incompetence, and someone not as good as a professional,” he suggests. “Its a French word that means ‘one who loves’ and in fact, something truly magic happens when you do what you love. You can give it your time, your passion and your love, and ultimately, it becomes just enough to just be an ideal amateur, and a successful one at that. All in all, it’s a really wonderful thing.”
Bluegrass Beyond Borders: Norway’s Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra
Better known as the land of the midnight sun than as a place where the grass grows blue, Norway has nevertheless managed to spawn a band that stays true to tradition despite the seeming disparity between Scandinavia and Appalachia. Based in Oslo, the Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra found initial inspiration from an Oscar-nominated Belgian film titled Broken Circle Breakdown, and quickly made preparation to put a band together that could emulate the music heard in the movie. They were so enthused about the concept that the band’s founders even managed to persuade one of their friends to actually acquire a double bass by promising a position in a bluegrass band that didn’t even exist… at least not at that point.
Once the group actually coalesced and found their footing, the musicians — Rebekka Nilsson (vocals), Joakim Borgen (mandolin), Ole Enggrav (guitar), Moa Meinich (fiddle), Magnus Eriksrud (banjo), Emil Brattested (dobro), Sjur Marqvardsen (accordion), and the aforementioned recruit Jonas Wøien Olsen (upright bass, later replaced by David Buverud) — made it their mission to first learn songs from the film. Yet they also draw from a number of disparate individual influences as well, among them, Watchhouse (formerly known as Mandolin Orange), Tim O’Brien, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, Gillian Welch, and Alison Krauss & Union Station.
Early on, one of the first songs they opted to record was the classic Wayfaring Stranger, and to their delight, it quickly racked up hundreds of thousands of plays on YouTube, and introduced the group to a substantial-size audience. To date, they’ve surpassed seven million plays online, with their channel attracting over 30,000 subscribers. Read more…
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