Trying to explore Kebnekajse, part two:
From the last years of the sixties and into the seventies Kenny Håkansson, guitarist in Mecki Mark Men and Kebnekajse, was one of the most hired session musicians. (Strangely enough, because he was not with his very personal way of playing and his very personal tone in his guitar, typical for a session musician.) Kenny appears on recordings with Bo Hansson, Björn J:son Lindh, Johns Holm, Pugh Rogefeldt, Bernt Staf and Turid. Most important – for Kenny and for the future developement of Kebnekajse – is his appearance on an album with Bellman (national poet) songs ”Run to Ulla – Run!” with Cornelis Vreeswijk in 1971.
The same year Kenny went on tour with Cornelis. Some members of the touring group were two of the best fiddlers in Sweden, Björn Ståbi and Pers Hans Olsson, who both accompanied Cornelis in the Bellman songs as well as they played some traditional Swedish folk tunes on their fiddles. Among other songs ”Barkbrödslåten”, to which Cornelis had made up his own lyrics, and ”Skänklåt från Rättvik”, both melodies later to be found on Kebnekajse’s second album.
Kenny was listening and was impressed, not least when he heard the two fiddlers warming up behind the stage. Earlier when Kenny sometimes had heard folk music played on accordion or fiddle he had considered it as ”creaking”. Now he discovered that the Swedish folk music was ” a huge musical treasure” and he wanted to start playing folkmusic himself – or to be accurate – Swedish folk melodies (the difference will be explained later) on his electric guitar but also on fiddle. He borrowed a fiddle from Björn Ståbi that had belonged to Strong Arvid. Kenny learned to play ”fairly good” according to Mats Glenngård.
”It was something in the air”, said Kenny in the booklet to the first album ”Resa mot okänt mål” (Journey to destination unknown). He was then referring to the Swedish lyrics and the name of the group.
In the early seventies the Swedish folk music was also ”in the air”. For example had the young progressive Stockholm started to invade the fiddlers meeting in Delsbo. In 1970 the poster to the first Gärdetsfest (Sweden’s kind of Woodstock) was decorated with an old fiddler and in 1971 the album ”Hon kom över mon” with the pop group Contact and the fiddlers in ”Skäggmanslaget” was released. And when Kenny started to play some old folkmelodies for the rest of Kebnekajse most of them had already both heard and played folkmusic long before Kenny.
Fregatten was a club in the Stockholm harbour. It was run by guitarist Ingemar Böcker, who before that had had several clubs where he had mixed rock and jazz, art and poetry, with the help of Pelle Ekman, drummer in Kebnekajse. Both Kebnekajse and the group Homo Sapiens ( choir on ”Resa mot okänt mål”), used to play on Fregatten. When they shared an evening they usually ended up playing together, a double size rock band called Compañiddros. So, even if the line up was a bit strange – double basses and two drummers – it was rather natural for the two groups to get together under the name Kebnekajse.
Mats Glenngård came from Homo Sapiens and he had started to play the fiddle as 8-9 years old and even studied the violin for a teacher who was a ”real fiddler”. Pelle Lindström, also from Homo Sapiens, had moved to Stockholm from Dalarna (”home of the folk music”). His father, Rune Lindström, wrote several local folklore theatre pieces, such as ”Himlaspelet” and ”Skinnarspelet”.
Göran Lagerberg, who replaced Bella Linnarsson/Ferlin on bass between Kebnekajse’s first and second album, used to be a teenage idol in the pop band Tages. In 1969 Tages was transformed into Blond. Even if they still had English lyrics Blond was an attempt to create pop music with a Swedish tone. The title track for the album ”The Lilac Years” is the same folk melody as ” De sålde sina hemman” (They sold their farms) as the Swedish jazz pianist Jan Johansson interpreted so successfully. Together with the producer Anders Henriksson Lagerberg also went to visit the fiddlers Päkkos-Gustaf and Påhl-Olle.
Singer/poet Turid Lundquist, who knew and followed Homo Sapiens to Kebnekajse, sang Swedish folksongs way back in the sixties.
Both Mats Glenngård, f ex ”Polska from Härjedalen” (can be heard on the third album) and Pelle Lindström contributed with folk melodies to Kebnekajse’s repertoire of ”fiddlers rock” (as the music was named in a press release from Silence). But Kenny was the one who found most of the melodies.
Note once again: the melodies. Kenny was, an still is, interested in Swedish folk music in an unusual and a little surprising way. He didn’t care much about folk music in the meaning of creating a mood between the fiddler and the listeners/dancers, the tradition that had been kept alive from fiddler to fiddler, different parts of the country and the fiddlers different dialects and ways of playing and so on. He cared about the melodies. Sooo beautiful, thought Kenny.
That is why he preferred to get the melodies on note sheets rather than listen to recordings with old fiddlers. ”The written notes are more neutral” Kenny thought. On the note sheet it was easier to understand which was a ”trill” that the fiddler had made and which was the original melody.
”It is the same with Swedish folk music as with the blues”, sais Kenny. ”Many folktunes are similar to each other. Just a few are outstanding.”. A few of the folk melodies that Kenny chosed because they had ” an outstanding profile” was ” Rättvikarnas gånglåt”, ”Horgalåten” and ”Skänklåt från Rättvik” (all three on this album).
Listen to Kenny’s guitar! How close to the melodies he is playing, how scantily he plays; just the tones of the melody and not much more. Straight and clean. It is almost as if Hank B Marvin (from The Shadows, the English instrumental band from 50-and 60 ties) or Bo Winberg (in the Swedish instrumental band The Spotnicks) should be playing Swedish folktunes. Kenny had listened to both of them, he tells, and he also appreciates them a lot.
”When Rolf (Scherrer) moved out into the woods” (quotation from the press release to this album) Ingemar Böcker mentioned above was joining Kebnekajse. It is interesting to listen to and compare Kenny’s and Ingemar’s way of playing the guitar. They really play in different ways. ”If you want to plant a birch tree you should not put a lot of pinecones there”, says Kenny. Sometimes he used to mutter that he thought Ingemar’s guitar was a ”little disturbing”. Ingemar Böcker had played with a lot of jazz groups and could play a little like ”be-bop” also in Kebnekajse – not straight melodies like Kenny, but rather around the melody.
It is told that once when Ingemar at a concert played a solo, according to Kenny – too much bebop and jazzy, Kenny started to imitate him and played just the same solo. Ingemar’s comment was: ”Library branch office”
I do not agree with Kenny. I think their different ways of playing are making the guitars discussing and complementing each other. Kenny and Ingemar are each others musical opposites – and therefore also necessary for each other. They inspire each other. It is fantastic to hear their different styles working together. Without Ingemar Kebnekajse would have been a completely different group.
Kebnekajse are also playing some of Ingemar´s compositions. They are also in contrast to – in the meaning complementing – the ”fiddlers rock”. Musically they are hard to name, since they are swinging in between rock-jazz-jazz-rock…Ingemar describes ”Comanche Spring” as a political instrumental song: it is his comment upon the native American Indians situation, the massacre at Wounded Knee and Red Power.
A concert is a concert and a record is a record is surely a suitable expression when you are talking of Kebnekajse. The records are quite different from the concerts.
Not least were the tunes a lot longer at concerts. ”Sometimes we could be playing a D-moll for ever and ever ” says Göran Lagerberg. It sometimes also happend that Kenny, Pelle Lindström and Mats played a tune on just fiddles. Such things are of course not on the records.
Turid Lundquist toured with Kebnekajse from 1971 until 1974. But she is only heard on one track on the records ”Rättvikarnas gånglåt”. On stage she used to sing wordless songs in the softer more folk alike tunes. There is no such example on record. When I begin to ask around I soon understand that I am getting into an intern dispute. ”Kebnekajse was my whole world for a while” says Turid. Some of the other members are wondering if she really was a part of Kebnekajse.
”I played with them, but they did not play with me” says Turid. At last she got her own part and became a ”pause bird with her acoustic guitar and her songs. Other members mean that they lifted her forward and placed her in the centre. I don’t want to interfear in all this. But I can just verify that when I hear Turid’s voice in ”Rättvikarnas gånglåt” I still want to hear more.
When Kebnekajse merged with Homo Sapiens the group got two drummers. Pelle Ekman and Gunnar Andersson. They are both sitting in the painted tree on the back of the cover. But in the pressrelease that Silence sent out with the record it sais that Pelle Ekman was ill at the recordings. ”Pelle L was in Leksand” so he should not had appeared either.
I am listening but it is not so easy to hear if it is one or two drummers playing. Pelle and Gunnar did actually play very similar; like four arms on the same body, which was the point. It could have been that they played in turns, played alone but in different tunes.
”It might have been then I had a broken leg” sais Pelle Ekman. He does not remember. Pelle Lindström on the other hand claims that he was in the studio. Anders Lind claims that the notes in the press release are correctly. Even though Kebnekajse had two drummer there is only one appearing on each record – Gunnar Andersson on ”the blue” and Pelle Ekman on ”the brown” album.
But listen to the bonus-track on the blue album CD issue: a live recording of ”Horgalåten”. A simple, somewhat hissing recording made 1974 by a fan, Timo Toiviainen, who was in the audience at the concert in Mikkälä, Finland. In its simplicity this recording captures the feeling from Kebnekajse’s conserts. And here you can hear both the drummers. (The department for trivia can tell that Timi Toivianen used to be a member in the group ”Stenblomma” by which Slence released an album)
By the way, Kebnekajse also had a third drummer; percussionist Hassan Bah, who had come to Sweden from Guinea-Conacry. He lived in the apartment above Mats Glennmark and Thomas Netzler so they asked him to join Kebnekajse.
It must have been pretty hard for an African to play Swedish folk music? ”Not at all” says Hassan. ”African and Swedish music are similar. They have the same rhythm: three-beat.” And that is true, actually. Hassan’s congas are getting on top of the western drumbeats and make Kebnekajse’s fiddlers-rock dance, bounce and swing even more.
The text is based on my own eyes, ears and memories, conversations with the members of Kebnekajse and other hearsays. It will be continued in the booklet for the next album. ”the brown” one.
Members in and around Kebnkejse during ”the blue” period:
Kenny Håkansson, electric guitar, vocals. Earlier in T-Bones, Baby Grand Mothers and Mecki Mark Men. Session musician on recordings with Bo Hansson, Björn J:son Lindh, John Holm, Cornelis Vreesvijk, Hawkey Franzén, Mikael Ramel, Turid, Pugh Rogefeldt and Bernt Staf.
Pelle Ekman, drums, played with Kenny in T-Bones, Baby Grand Mothers and Mecki Mark Men.
Göran Lagerberg, bass, earlier a teenage idol in Tages, later Blond and Heta Linjen. Around 1970 he also recorded with Björn Skifs, Björn J:son Lindh, Thomas Ledin, Björn Neidemar, Jason’s Fleece, Claes af Geijerstam, Lalla Hansson, Bernt Staf, Hawkey Franzén, Pugh Rogefeldt, Rune Andersson and others.
Mats Glenngård, fiddle and electric guitar, started in the popband Funny Faces and later Homo Sapiens. Performing on records with ABBA, Turid, Joakim Skogsberg, Jan Hammarlund, Coste Apetréa and Mikael ramel. During his time with Kebnekajse he also released a solo album.
Thomas Netzler, bass, was also a member of Funny Faces and Homo Sapiens. Performs on Mats Glenngårds solo album and on records with Turid, Bo Hansson and Joakim Skogsberg.
Pelle Lindström, vocal, harmonica, guitar, fiddle, had been a member in Tumble Downs, Ad Lib (who won the national radio popband contest 1969) and Homo Sapiens. Also performs on Mats Glenngård’s solo album.
Gunnar Andersson, drums, had been in Ad Libs and Homo Sapiens.
Ingemar Böcker, electric guitar, played with the youthpaper Bildjournalen’s rock & roll orchestra 1955 in connection with the premiere of the film ”Don’t turn your back on them”. Has also played with groups like Rock- Boris, Telefon Paisa, Christer Boustedt and Bernt Rosengren.
Turid Lundqvist, singer/poet, has made several solo albums and also played with Jan Hammarlund, Lena Ekman, Thomas Wiehe and the jazz group Resa. Is today working in a post office and sings in public a couple of times every year.
Hassan Bah, percussions, used to play with Levande Livet (the follower to Telefon Paisa).
Translation from Swedish by Eva Wilke