Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Swedish Country Music

I am a sucker for a sad country song. They get me every time. A little twang, some steel guitar, and a sad story and I’m sold (addendum: Word just told me that instead of “I’m” I should use “I are” to be grammatically correct. I appreciate Microsoft getting into the hillbilly spirit.). Sweden isn’t exactly a bastion of country music though. Despite this, I’ve managed to see Alan Jackson and Toby Keith in concert. But come on, they are Americans so it doesn’t really count. Last night counted though.

Last night I was at Debaser Slussen in Stockholm (which I always associate with more of a hipster music scene) to watch a country music act. From Sweden. Kiruna to be exact. Singing in English. The Willy Clay Band (I think most of the time there is no “The” but it just seems so awkward without it).

They were glorious. Had the requisite love songs. The sad songs. The stories in musical form. Hell, they even had a little hillbilly beat going. I promptly grabbed all of their songs on Spotify and have tormented my coworkers with Swedish country music all day. If you get the chance, check out [The] Willy Clay Band (YouTube clips here).

I was impressed by the turnout at the concert. A solid amount of people came out. Many actually wearing plaid and flannel. I did not wear flannel. Just so you know.

But the outpouring of plaid wasn’t what caught my eye. It was the line dancing. Let me set the stage (or the dance floor as it were) for you.

The crowd gave the stage a respectful ten feet of distance. With the opening act, my friend Terander asked if the distance was especially Swedish. I answered not yet because it was still the opening act. Obviously I was reserving judgment because I am an open minded and kind hearted person and never judge people on first impression. Or something like that.

As the night progressed, the ten feet of distance were preserved. [The] Willy Clay Band came on, the crowd went wild in a Swedish sense and the ten feet of distance were preserved. An hour went by, several beers were spilled by the drunken fan in front of us, and the ten feet of distance were preserved. At this point, I started to have my doubts. Maybe this really was Swedishness in concert form.

Suddenly, in the finest form of Swedish hickishness that I have ever seen, line dancing broke out. I contend that the Swedes were just so forward thinking that they left the area open in case of emergency. Or line dancing. I’m pretty sure they are the same thing.

Suddenly, a group of four, plus one slightly portly, obviously inebriated man, were line dancing. There was clapping, maybe a cat-call or two and the line dancing grew. By the end there were eight to ten country music fans in Stockholm, Sweden line dancing. Line dancing. In Sweden. I did not dance. Because despite what you might think, I was not the slightly portly, obviously inebriated man trying to keep up.

As a general rule, it takes enough alcohol to kill a small pony to get me to dance. And, despite my fear of horses, I quite like small ponies so try to avoid drinking that much. Especially on a Tuesday night. But I appreciate that Stockholm’s finest gave me a country music show for the ages.

Welcome to Sweden. And Swedish country music.

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  1. Swedes line plaid?? [*does not compute*] As long as they weren't doing the electric slide, it's acceptable. =P -S.

  2. I date a Swede and he, like myself, is into metal....I think someone(you :D) should check out the Swedish metal scene....Im sure you will not find youre 10 feet for dancing preserved there lol. Swedes have one of the best metal scenes in the world Im just hearing about their country and rap im glad you enjoyed yourself lol

  3. growing up in a town that pushed country music down our throats(ears really), I LOVE line dancing!
    I'm sure people would've loved seeing you, the giant, dance!

    Hairy, you're scared of hourses?!?!?! a 25 yr old man, scared of ponies

    well isn't that the cutest thing??
    like you've said before, I'm sure it's your boyish charm. :P

  4. Horrible, just plain horrible. All of it.

  5. Hysterical post! The Danes also tend to do the line dancing - they actually go so far as to have clubs for it. It's a bit frightening really.

  6. Are you sure it wasn't ironic line dancing? It is Stockholm after all.

  7. My in-laws in Sweden like country.

    I'm actually very tangentially related to a famous American country singer and my father-in-law's brother is SO EXCITED ABOUT THAT and always tells people she's a relative of his.

  8. It MUST be ironic line dancing if it was at Debaser ;)

    Have you listen to Isolation Years from Umea? I like.

  9. How'd you and all the plaid & flannel & line dancing Swedes find this band? Is there an underground hillbilly listserv?

    To me, the beauty of country music is that even if you don't listen to it regularly, a song comes on, and you still seem to know all the words. I imagine it translates even to Swedish country music.

  10. Hairy...did you see the review in SVD that called this very americophile part of the swedish country music scene 'a sort of live role-playing' ...kind of funny, and by the sound of your entry, quite accurate. /B

  11. Have been checking around here for a while and thought it was about time I let myself be known.
    Country for me is not a favorite, however there are exceptions. One woman and singer I love is Sophie Zelmani and an American friend of mine said she was country, I don’t know if I agree, but she is worth some listening.

    Great blog. Being Swedish I don’t always agree, but then again, I’m not really a typical Swede either.

  12. @Anna and @Linus - The crazy thing was that it actually WASN'T ironic line dancing! At Debaser. In Stockholm. Sweden. A-bloody-mazing.

  13. @anonymous – it was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

    @nila – I have heard quite a bit about the Swedish metal scene, although I have yet to check it out.

    @Mara – exactly.

    @Lost – me and horses don’t really get along since a run in when I was about 10 with a horse named Joker. Ponies are fine. It’s the big ones I don’t like.

    @Bazarov – wrong, just plain wrong.

    @PiNG – line dancing clubs in Denmark? That is absolutely incredible.

    @Linus – I don’t know that line dancing can ever be ironic.

    @Lost – It would just be too much work, they would have had to learn how to do it at some point and I just think if you put that much effort into it it stops being ironic and starts being enjoyable.

    @Eva – Country is going to take Sweden by storm.

    @Anna – I haven’t, Ill have to check them out.

    @Anne – I blame Terander, she managed to see a poster advertising the show. And now Im a fan of the Willy Clay Band on facebook. Obviously.

    @anonymous – I did not, I completely missed it, but it does sound pretty accurate.

    @apocalypse – that’s how it all starts, with an exception and suddenly youre a fan of country music. Just wait.

    @terander – exactly!