Tag Archives: Sweden

Kristina At Carnegie Hall Hits Stores Finally

Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA first let audiences in on their masterpiece, “Kristina Från Duvemåla,” in Malmö, Sweden on October 7, 1995, then record buying audiences were able to obtain the 3-CD cast recording in September of 1996. Almost immediately there was talk about translating the work to English and bringing it to an American audience, particularly because the story of “Kristina Från Duvemåla” (translating to Kristina From Duvemåla) is just as much a story about Sweden as it is a story about America. However, it seems a lot of the work in bringing “Kristina” to America would have to wait due to the surprise success of a little show launched in London in 1999, called “Mamma Mia!” would demand a lot of time and attention for Björn and Benny.

The story for “Kristina” is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s “Emigrants” series of four novels, which follows the lives of a group of Swedish settlers which include Karl Oscar and his wife Kristina, as they make the tough decision to pack up and take their chances settling in the unknown wilds of America in the mid 1800’s. While the books follow the group, the show has singled out Karl Oscar and Kristina to be the central focus of the show. The novels are considered to be some of the finest works in Swedish literature, which is what attracted Björn and Benny to wanting to tell the tale of Kristina. Their earlier musical effort, a collaboration with Tim Rice on an original idea by Tim Rice resulted in the musical “Chess.” As much as “Chess” is praised for it’s incredible songs, it’s also panned for its relatively weak plot, which left Björn and Benny looking for a well crafted story to transform into a musical. Björn and Benny felt for their second musical, they didn’t want plot to be one of the problems to plague the show.

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Arrival Rocks Palm Springs With ABBA Music

When it comes to ABBA Tribute Bands, Arrival from Sweden is the world’s best. It is the most authentic recreation of an ABBA concert you’ll ever see, and Vicky Norbäck-Zetterberg, founding member of Arrival, has gone to great lengths to ensure the most authentic show possible, including enlisting the help of ABBA’s costume designer, Owe Sandström, to recreate some of ABBA’s signature costumes and choreography that’s be researched to match how ABBA originally performed the songs live. All the music is created live, unlike some ABBA tribute bands that actually bring recordings to sing to their shows. And who can resist authentic Swedish accents as they are real Swedes who are able to accurately sing the songs the way ABBA did.

Arrival’s performance in Palm Springs was part of the 2010 Evening Under The Stars charity event benefiting Palm Springs AIDS Assistance Program. The event was held on the grounds of the O’Donnell Golf Club, just a short walk away from Downtown Palm Springs. As the event was $395 a plate for the charity dinner, I was attending as a guest of the band. I had the opportunity to hang out with the band before and after the performance along with a couple of other guests the band invited.

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My First Trip Ever To Palm Springs

Would you believe, I’ve lived in San Diego since 1986, and not once have I ever gone to Palm Springs? My only excuse is that I never realized how close to San Diego, Palm Springs really is. It’s about 135 miles from San Diego, which according to Google Maps, is a little more than a two hour drive. I never really looked at the maps to see how close it was to San Diego and just always figured I’d end up seeing it sometime, well that sometime has finally come. My reason for going was because my favorite ABBA tribute band, Arrival, from Sweden was going to be performing at the “Evening Under The Stars” charity event for the AIDS Assistance Program and this event is the closest they’ve come to San Diego since last year’s appearance at the San Diego County Fair. (Click here to read my blog entry for their appearance at the San Diego County Fair). I was invited to attend as a guest of the band.

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Only At Wal-Mart Mamma Mia! Packaged With Xanadu

Wal-Mart is home to some interesting deals, and it seems they have a deal designed just for me, only problem is I already have both items they’ve packaged together. What they’ve done is get with Universal Pictures and packaged some of their movies together in little Wal-Mart exclusive packages usually for a great price. In this case, what was packaged together was Mamma Mia! The Movie with Xanadu.

No doubt the decision was made because Mamma Mia appeals to a musical audience that appreciates ABBA as that is the basis for the music in the musical. Olivia Newton-John headlines Xanadu as a very late 1970’s early 1980’s attempt to build on her amazing success in Grease with a musical like picture. What Wal-Mart and Universal execs probably didn’t realize the packaging of ABBA and Olivia Newton-John together is something that’s been done before. When ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden, Olivia Newton-John was also competing in the contest for England. And when ABBA were making a concerted effort to try and build their success in the United States, they appeared on one of Olivia Newton-John’s television specials along with Andy Gibb. So it’s not the first time ABBA and ONJ have crossed paths.

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Alcazar’s Unecessary Remake Of Wham!’s “Last Christmas”

AlcazarAlcazar is one of Sweden’s pop bands that have carved an interesting niche for themselves. They are a European dance music act that over the years since their debut have an interesting career that’s been pretty hard to define. Some of what they’ve done is breathe new life into older songs such as their 1998 cover of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” In other cases they’ve borrowed old melodies and given them new lyrics such as “Crying At The Discotheque” uses the melody from “Spacer” from Sheila & B. Devotion, and have even taken the lyrics from one song and set them to the melody of another such as “This Is The World We Live In” which sets the lyrics from Genesis’ “Land Of Confusion” to the melody of Diana Ross’ “Upside Down.” And they’ve even had a few songs written especially for them to perform.

Every album released to date has seen a change in the lineup from the previous album, but one of the consistent features of the group has been the lead vocals being performed primarily by Andreas Lundstedt. I was very impressed by his amazing voice since the first time I heard their debut album. In fact, I truly hated the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” song because I thought the original had such horrible sounding vocals until Andreas’ much better vocals convinced me the song was a lot better than I gave it credit. Andreas’ voice has been wonderfully supported by Tess Merkel, Annikafiore Kjaergaard, and later joined by Magnus Carlson and then later by Lina Hedlund. And together they’ve produced some really fun pop dance music to keep the first decade of the 21st century interesting.

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On My Way To New York To See Björn & Benny’s Kristina

Kristina Carnegie Hall InfoLater today I will be boarding a couple of flights that will take me to New York City. My flights are “Red Eye” flights that will deliver me to New York first thing tomorrow morning. I’m excited to be seeing the new English translation of the epic musical, Kristina, written by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The show is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s epic novels in “The Emmigrants” series which chronicles the adventures of Swede Karl Oskar and his wife Kristina as they move their family from famine stricken Sweden to the wild’s of America in the late 1800’s.

Kristina is not being staged as a complete show, it is being staged in a concert style at the famed Carnegie Hall. The purpose of which is to record the show as well as gauge the reaction to it to see if there’d be interest in a fully staged version. The original Swedish epic was a definitely considered an epic masterpiece by those who saw it, but at a four hour running time, is going to have to undergo some trimming if its ever going to be staged fully here in the United States. The concerts will be a good indication of where some of the trimming has been done.

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Benny Andersson Band Played London On July 4th

Benny AnderssonBenny Andersson Orkester, also known as BAO for short, recently released an album aimed at the English speaking market under the name of Benny Andersson Band. To commemorate the Swedes taking over the presidency of the EU, the Benny Andersson Band headlined a Swedish festival in Hampstead Heath on July 4th in a free performance just slightly north of London.

It’s not the first time the Benny Andersson Band has performed for a mainly English speaking audience. The band has performed previously in Glasgow as well as in Minneapolis. Brining a touch of Swedish folk along with several other styles of music, an evening with the Benny Andersson Band is always an eclectic experience. One of the joys of seeing Benny Andersson perform is his true love for music. He is clearly in his element and it becomes a pure joy to see him perform the music he’s crafted in both the most traditional of Swedish styles as well as his own pop styles.

Those expecting to hear a slick ABBA style performance would be clearly disappointed by what Benny dubs “14 middle aged men” and two vocalists, the incredible Helen Sjöholm, and Tommy Körberg. The very traditional folk and vocal styles are often more reminiscent of a big band era performance than a modern pop band. The band plays a variety of styles of traditional dance music and often encourages dancing while they play instead of a more traditional concert performance. Because of this their performances often last far longer than traditional concerts. When I saw the band in Minnesota a few years ago, they played for four hours. The London performance lasted for two and half hours and according to the reports that have come in, the show was excellent.

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Arrival Brings A Touch Of Sweden To The San Diego County Fair

Arrival at the San Diego County FairI think in large part due to the phenomenal success of “Mamma Mia! The Movie” last summer which was released shortly after last year’s San Diego County Fair concluded, the organizers of the San Diego County Fair thought it fitting to bring in an ABBA tribute band as a headlining act for the 2009 San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Fortunately the organizers picked what I consider to be the world’s best ABBA tribute band out there. That tribute band is Arrival, who like ABBA, also originate from Sweden and the show Arrival is touring under is called “The Music Of ABBA”.

Headed by Vicky Zetterberg (who portrays Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad) and joined by Jenny Gustafsson (who portrays Agnetha Fältskog), Arrival brought a wonderful touch of Sweden to San Diego, not once, but twice with two shows on July 2, 2009. The afternoon show began at 2pm and while the program states the afternoon concerts are hour long shows, Arrival played for a full two hours bringing a complete ABBA show to those down at the fair early enough to catch the afternoon show. I was personally fighting with traffic and the whole mess with parking so I didn’t make it to the Heineken Grandstand Stage until 2:30pm but I did get there. Arrival were performing “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” as I arrived.

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Why The Music Industry Is Failing In Today’s World

Longing For Lullabies - Kleerup Featuring TityoI’ve long felt that the music industry has been out of touch with reality with the business model it has been using since the Internet became so popular. My opinion remains unchanged but I wanted to share a recent experience, that had the record industry been set up to capitalize on it, they would have not only gotten a sale from me, for which I was perfectly willing to spend money on, but because of sheer stupidity and region issues, I was forced into downloading for free, what I was perfectly willing to pay for.

I am a subscriber to Sirius Satellite Radio and one of the programs I like to record on my Sirius Radio is a weekly broadcast called “Nordic Rox” which is a three hour program specializing in music from Scandinavia. The witty tagline for the show is that it is home for “Good Looking Music.” The program is hosted by Sven Lindström and is sometimes joined by Per Gessle of my favorite group, Roxette. As I tend to like acts from Sweden, it’s a good opportunity each week to hear some classic and new material from Scandinavian artists. Well on one of the recent shows, I came across a song entitled “Longing For Lullabies” performed by the remix outfit called Kleerup featuring vocals by Titiyo. Titiyo is the younger sister of Neneh Cherry, and half-sister to Eagle-Eye Cherry.

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The Stockholm Syndrome: Is America Becoming Like Sweden?

Stockholm SyndromeWith the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States, and the election of the most liberal congress in many years, the concern is that socialistic government ideas are going to be making their way to America and turning America into another Sweden. Sweden is one of the most highly taxed nations in the world and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” a politically minded show with a strong emphasis on the comedy of it, takes a satirical look at what they dubbed, “The Stockholm Syndrome.”

To accomplish this task of seeing out the differences between America’s traditionally capitalistic society and it’s proposed future as a socialistic society, the Daily Show sent “reporter” Wyatt Cenac to Stockholm to explore socialism. In the process he meets up with Swedish people for interviews on the street, interviews of conditions in the factory of a Swedish truck manufacturer as well as government officials and Swedish pop stars Robyn and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA. The topics include health care and high taxation. There’s even an amusing surprise revelation at the end of this two part report.

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