FOLQUE IS BACK! – 2014

 

Lisa (Helljesen) Ormestad: Vocals
Lars Helljesen: Vocals/guitars
Morten Bing: Mandola/dulcimer/banjo/guitar
Øyvind Rauset: Violin
Trond Øverland: Bass
Alexander Lindbäck: Drums

 

 

Rehearsing for reunion concert at
John Dee Oct. 25th 2014

 

 

Folque :the history of a Norwegian folk rock group

 

 

Back in 1972 I was one of many young people playing strange songs on minor-tuned guitars at the Folk Clubs of Oslo. Usually with a friend called Eilif Amundsen. In the spring I was asked to participate on an anti-EEC-record. I got together with a bunch of pals, and played my own song "Si ja til selvstendighet" (Yes, to independence!). Afterwards I toured along the southern coast and became acquainted with another singer/guitarist, Jørn Jensen. After the tour I joined Eilif and his brother and went with them to London, where I met a couple of other Norwegians, Lars Helljesen and Espen Løvstad

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  That was the beginning of Folque. 

I the fall Jørn, Eilif and I started a group. We needed a singer and asked Lars' sister, Lisa. The result was the folk group "Brød og Vin" (Bread and Wine). We were a strange musical mixture: Eilif and I played American Old Time (in the New Lost City Ramblers tradition), Jørn played Jansch-style guitar, and Lisa was a committed fan of the American singer Melanie. But we rehearsed some songs and got our first gigs 

In the spring 1973 we had begun to develop our own style: Translated English folk songs, traditional Norwegian songs, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and dulcimer. We changed our name to FOLQUE and were joined by Espen (who later on was to become our road manager) on percussion, Trond Øverland on bass-guitar and Trond Villa on fiddle. Jørn bought a Telecaster, and suddenly we were no longer an acoustic folk group, but an electric folkrockband

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Early in 1974 we made our first TV-appearance in "Flimra". Later the same spring we recorded a demo in the basement-studio of Øystein Sunde, who brought the tape to the record-company Phonogram. A contract! The first album Folque was recorded and released the same fall. Øystein produced, and a drummer joined us in the studio. The album was well received, and we even had a radio-hit with a traditional dance tune, "Reinlender".

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But as soon as the record was finished, the band was beginning to fall to pieces. Personal and musical disagreements led to Jørn's departure, and Lars Helljesen joined us as new guitarist.

 

With Lars and his Stratocaster, a permanent drummer became necessary, and before we recorded the second album, Morten Jakobsen had joined us on drums. We now were a full-fledged folkrock band! In the summer 1975 we played the Forum Festival in Arendal and the Festigavla Festival in Ålesund.

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Kjempene Dovrefjell (The Giants in the Dovre Mountains) was recorded in the fall and was perhaps our best album ever. The same fall we appeared in

Soon after Trond Ø. left us, going to India, and Eilif changed from banjo to bass a special television-program, "Stev og synthesiser". 

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. The spring 1976 we toured in Trøndelag and in Western Norway, and in the summer we appeared at the Västervik Festival in Sweden. In the fall we recorded our third album, Vardøger, but soon after, Lisa and Trond V. also left the group. The remaining members wanted to continue the group, but this was not easy without our "stars", Lisa and Trond, but Lars was able to find replacements for both.

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First a new vocalist, Jenn Mortensen, and then a new fiddler, Øyvind Rauset, joined in the spring 1977. That summer we played at Kalvøya, the biggest festival in Norway at the time, and at the Horten Festival.

In 1978 we left Phonogram to join up with the left-wing record company Mai. They released Dans, dans, Olav Liljekrans (Dance, dance, Olav Liljekrans) the same year. The title track was maybe our most popular song, but the album was the worst we ever made. The critics blamed it on the new members of the band, but it was the producer who stunk.

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Eilif had left the band in the spring 1978 and new bassist was Per Vestaby. With this line-up we played the Television-show "Musikalsk gjestebud" in the fall, and the Troilltampen Festival next summer. We made a second album on Mai, Fredløs  (Outlaw), in 1980. On this album Jenn and Øyvind got a chance to show that they were excellent musicians. Arvid Esperø produced the album and was an inspiration to work with.

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1980 saw new changes in the band, a new drummer, Pål Søvik, and then a new bassist, Roald Thommesen. We left Mai and signed up with a new record company, Talent Records. On the next album, Landet ditt (Your Homeland), Øyvind's compositions and synthesisers held a central position.

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The last chapter in the history of Folque started when Øyvind left in 1981. Without a fiddler, Lars' guitar and my mandolin took the lead, and did quite well. Sort Messe (Witches' Mass) was recorded next year. This album was mostly Lars' and mine compositions and my lyrics, less traditional folk. Arvid was back as producer, and the result was in our opinion an excellent, but rock-oriented record. 
In the summer 1984 we were asked to play at a festival in Denmark. At that moment we had almost disbanded, but we said yes. Øyvind joined us, Trond Ø. was back on bass, and the concert on the Midt-Fyn Festival was one of our best ever. Luckily, it was recorded, and later on (in 1991) released as a live-album, Dans, dans  (Dance, dance  …).

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The appearance at the Midt-Fyn Festival was to be Folque's last, although Jenn, Lars and I continued to play together for some years as an acoustic trio, "Jomfru Mortensens trio".

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Folque was reunited for one gig in 1994, when we held a 20 years anniversary concert in Chateau Neuf in Oslo. In 1993 our first album Folque had been reissued on CD, Kjempene ... and Vardøger following in 1999.

In 1998 the CD Stormkast was released, containing the best tracks from Landet ditt and Sort Messe, together with live material from the Midt-Fyn Festival. I 2004 Folque was reunited again (but without a drummer) for two gigs, the last at Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo at Midsummer Eve.

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And that's all folks – so far! Folque didn't really ever do many gigs, although we did play from Kristiansand in the South to Tromsø in the North, and at all the important Festivals in Norway and a couple in Sweden and Denmark. We never did get much money, and hardly any fame, but we made eight albums over the ten years we played together, and hopefully a few people still remember our music. 

 

 

 

Mail questions or comments Morten Bing