As the year comes to a close we would like to thank all the wonderful people we have had the opportunity to work with in 2015. Whenever your see a performance or concert, it is likely the tip of the iceberg. So much work and so much help is needed before the moment of actually meeting the audience.
In March, we began recording our new CD The Mountain King at Wall of Sound Studio with the skillful wizard John Wall at the controls. We had such a great experience working with him on our 2014 album The Wandering Ballad and once again he helped us transform our ballads that we usually perform live into shimmering magic recordings. He patiently guided us through the hurdles in adapting our ideas into a recorded format.
This album is a collection of songs form our live performance The Mountain King. It is a story of romance, drama and mystery that has a parallel in the Greek Myth of Persephone. But unlike the Greek myth, in the Scandinavian legend the heroine is not a Goddess, but an ordinary girl. The ballads tell the story of a young girl who is lured out into the woods where she meets the Mountain King, part troll, part handsome man. She follows him into the mountain. Several years and children later she goes to visit her mother and inadvertently reveals too much about the other world where she has spent all this time. What has been years to her has been but months in time here.
Guests on our album are Chris Carlson and Larry Otis.
Larry Otis, is a longtime friend. He and Scott started playing together back in 2003 with their band OCD. Larry is an expert guitarist and bassist and can make any song soar to new heights with his bass lines and solos. Currently Larry is a guitarist at Gods House Baptist Church.
Chirs Carlson was also part of the OCD band. He is an amazing violinist that at the drop of a hat can create melody lines and harmonies you never thought possible. He is well known in town from his playing with Los Radiators.
Our friend Bambi Wolf offered to do the layout and transfer our graphics ideas for the cover of our new CD. We are immensely grateful for her help. Her technical knowledge and artistic feel is making beautiful cover art appear before our eyes. Bambi is herself an accomplished singer songwriter and well known to the Albuquerque audience where she performs with her band Bambi and The Wolfs.
In May we were invited to perform at Albuquerque Renaissance Faire. We had a wonderful time playing our first set. Unfortunately the Weather Gods decided half a day of revelry was enough and big winds sent tents, finery, knights, ladies, ribbons, turkey legs and speaker columns flying. We have been asked to do the 2016 Renaissance Faire as well and hope it will be blessed with softer winds.
At the end of May we gave a concert at the Outpost Performance Space through AMP Concerts here in Albuquerque. This is a venue that is famous for hosting great music. It is led by Tom Guralnik who over the years has brought an impressive range of music to delight us.
Another person without whom the musical offerings in this town would be so much poorer, is Neal Copperman of AMP Concerts. He has revolutionized the music life of Albuquerque, bringing in artists from all over the world, while at the same time giving tremendous support to local musicians. We are extremely grateful that Neal and AMP have sponsored our shows at Outpost Performance Space.
The radio station KUNM was a huge support leading up to the Outpost. Matthew Finch featured us on his show Ear to the Ground and Carol Boss had us live on her show Afternoon Freeform.
Liz Madden is someone we had long wished to work with, and this year our wish came true. She first invited us to join her in concert at Apple Mountain Music, and then she joined us for the Outpost show. Liz is a world touring and recording artist, originally from Ireland. We are honored that she would join us on several songs with her enchanted voice and creativity. She also taught us one of her Irish tunes to add to the evening. Liz runs a record company called Healing Sun Productions and we are very excited that she has accepted some of our songs that will appear in compilations released worldwide by this company.
Larry Otis was on guitar and bass.
Alicia Ultan, is another longtime friend that we have been waiting to get a chance to work with. She is well known to the Albuquerque audience as a singer-songwriter and viola player through her work with the bands Bebe Lala and Jaded Heart Band, as well as many others. She added great texture to our songs with her soulful viola.
Dr. Tej Bhavsar, is someone we have worked with several times. He is an exciting sitar player and we have had a wonderful time working out both traditional Indian songs as well as improvised fusion pieces.
Phrank Bramlitt, was a new acquaintance. We saw him play with his duo The Khans and felt his skillful percussion would be a great addition to the show.
All these musicians spent a lot of time learning our pieces, coming to rehearsals and finally helping us create what we hope was a magical evening at the Outpost.
Another person that needs to be mentioned here is Chad Sheer. He is a sound technician at The Outpost, and we always try to get him at the controls as he has a fine tuned ear and excellent taste in balancing the sound. Chad is also a bass player and later in August we had the chance to include him in our ensemble for a concert.
In June we joined the Storytellers of New Mexico at their tent at the Albuquerque Folk Festival. It was as always a fun gig where we did our best to join the joyful cacophony of fiddles, banjos, and accordions.
We also performed some ballads and our story The Rosemary Plant at the Placitas Library for a group of attentive audience members of all ages. I always felt libraries are so much more than a place you go to check out books. They are true little cultural centers where people can go to listen and see and be introduced to all kinds of arts.
July saw us make a trip down South. We performed for the opening of the Carlsbad Museum Sculpture Park. The weather was incredibly hot, but the Carlsbadians had braved the sun in large numbers and came out to listen to our ballads. While in the area we took a day off to go and swim in Bottomless Lakes near Roswell. A real treat on a hot summer’s day. While in Roswell we realized we had arrived in the midst of the UFO Alien Convention. The hotel breakfast room was filled with interesting characters and we made sure to go and hear one of the lectures on alien abductions. It reminded us of the story of The Mountain King: Young person goes out into forest, meets otherworldly creature, is taken to an otherworldly secret place and then comes back to tell about it…
Since we moved here in 2001, we have had the tradition of performing at the Sunset Series at Elena Gallegos Open Space Amphitheater every August. This year we were joined by Liz Madden and Chad Sheer who we mentioned earlier. This venue is one of our favorites and we have the sunset as a backdrop and can admire the mighty Sandia Mountain while performing. An awe inspiring and inspirational setting. Half way through the show a light rain began to fall. Liz and Johanna looked at each other and Liz said, “Well, I don’t mind a little rain, I’m from Ireland” to which Johanna replied, “Well, I am from Finland where we rarely have sunshine, so I am also fine” and so we continued our show rain and all. Singing in the rain with Liz is a memory we will cherish the rest of our life.
The photos above are taken by Bill Pentler who has been kind enough to invite us to Elena Gallegos Open Space Concert Series for over ten years. Thanks Bill! Always a pleasure.
In August we were also invited to play at Oasis, an organization for retirees offering classes and performance programs. People often tell us our music is very soothing, and it happens that we lull some folks to sleep. This time two ladies on the front row slept through the show and looked happy and refreshed when they woke up at the end.
Apple Mountain Music is a folk music instrument store with a backroom where magic regularly happens. We have come back to this cozy venue run by Deborah and Larry time and time again, and in October it was time for an Apple Mountain backroom concert. This time we had decided to do an all acoustic concert. Amplification and technology is great, but sometimes it is nice to get back to the basics.
We were joined by Chris Carlson once more for this show. A great addition!
Another artist we have wished to work with for the longest time is Dain Forsythe and for the Apple Mountain show we once again had our wish come true. Dain is a fantastic player of bodhran and Irish woodwinds.
With the help of Chris and Dain it became a very memorable concert. We were very happy we chose to make this an acoustic evening!
A few days ago, we had an email from KUNM host Carol Boss inviting us once more to do live radio on her Afternoon Freeform Show on December 23. As we scramble to get ready, we are happy to be included in Carol’s wish for a Seasonal Program... With little time to prepare, anything could happen, even music featuring gnomes.
Looking toward 2016. It will be an exciting year. A new CD release. Lots of touring all around New Mexico through The New Mexico Humanities Council.
Corona, Las Cruces, Silver City and Rio Rancho appearances will be listed on our new website hongelldarsee.com
We want to end by wishing you all, audience, collaborators and friends
Happy Holidays and a Great New Year