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Skal Club

A Scandinavian massed fiddle orchestra, the Skål Club Spelmanslag includes some dozen fiddlers, as well as a double bass, a guitar and two accordions. They specialize in traditional Swedish and Norwegian dance tunes, some passed on in Minnesota Scandinavian traditions and others learned from recordings and musicians from the old countries.
       The group was formed some six years ago by Paul Wilson, a folksinger and fiddler based in the Brainerd area. "I was thinking, as the generations get farther removed from their immigrant past, it might be better if we try to band together all the people who are interested in our Scandinavian heritage," he says. "We call it Skål Club, because 'skål' is a Swedish word that means 'to your health,' -- you usually have a little drink after saying it, but it could just be coffee or whatever. Then, 'spelmanslag' is a Swedish and a Norwegian word that means 'player's group,' but it has come to mean 'fiddler's group.'
       The Skål Club is a nonprofessional social group that meets at members' houses to jam and enjoy each other's music, but over the years it has become popular enough that its concerts have raised funds to take the whole group to Scandinavia, where they have traded music with similar ensembles. Along with the waltzes, schottisches and spingans, the group also keeps alive the comic vaudeville "Scandihoovian" tradition of the Midwest, Wilson singing funny songs in exaggerated dialect that poke gentle fun at his ancestors' immigrant past, accompanied by accordion, guitar, and sometimes an eerie musical saw.

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