Showcasing actual and re-imagined roots of Scandinavian music, the Nordic Roots Festival will ride off into the midnight sunset this year, morphing into a global roots fest in 2009. Even for a swan song, this year's three-day extravaganza will feature some great stuff, including the local debut of an international acoustic supergroup. That would be the prosaically dubbed Waltz With Me, featuring a quartet of phenomenal string zingers: Norwegian hardanger fiddle ace and visionary composer Annbjørg Lien; American fiddle, guitar, and banjo master Bruce Molsky; viola/fiddler Mats Edén of the innovative Swedish-Norwegian band Groupa; and Canadian-born, Scotland-based cellist Christine Hanson. Sometimes haunting, sometimes frenetic, always intriguing, WWM's music mixes new and old folk traditions with jazz and chamber music. WWM opens the festival Friday with Väsen, the veteran Swedish group that creates a restless, often elegiac, sometimes surreal blend of traditional and progressive elements with a swirling mix of nyckelharpa, viola, and guitar. The Swedish trio Triakel will reign Saturday afternoon with its striking interpretations—ranging from eerie to ethereal—of folk songs, swathed in Emma Härdelin's keening, angular vocals. Hedningarna, which helped kick off the new Nordic roots movement more than 20 years ago, plays an often moody version of trad stuff fused with rock trappings, insidious rhythms, and such stuff as sampling, Swedish bagpipes, and oud. Detektivbyrån, which means the Detective Agency, plays flowing instrumentals juggling dance rhythms with pristine passages of sparkling vibes and accordion. Sunday afternoon will be Finland's playful Frigg, whose new CD Economy Class (Northside) ranges from languid ballads to a frenetic waltz about Tutankhamen's revenge and a bizarre but infectious cross of Finnish and Cajun music. Closing things Sunday will be Hoven Droven, which matches driving rock rhythms, searing electric guitars, snaky saxophone, and fiddles on traditional Swedish tunes. Joining HD will be Hurdy Gurdy, in which drone-like, hypnotic sounds are conjured from the ancient, cranked instruments that have been called Medieval synthesizers.
Sat., Sept. 27, 7 p.m., 2008