For the past year and a half, Premo & Gustavsson have been collaborating on an instrumental project that blends Swedish and American fiddle traditions, and features new compositions based on these rich roots. The duo consists of Laurel Premo (USA banjo, fiddle) and Anna Gustavsson (SWE nyckelharpa). With fiddle, claw hammer banjo, nyckelharpa, and occasional bi-lingual vocals, their sound is built off of the driving dance-based fiddle traditions from both countries, as well as the adventuresome musicality of 21st century female musicians.
Anna Gustavsson grew up in the countryside outside of Uppsala, and started playing nyckelharpa at the age of ten. After leaving school she studied at the Eric Sahlström Institute, Framnäs Folkhögskola, Ethnofonik (artistic leadership course in Paris) and is currently a student at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. She has been a nyckelharpa teacher at the study center ”Sensus” in Stockholm. Her repertoire is from all over Sweden, specializing in tunes from Uppland and Småland. She also writes her own music and enjoys experimenting with improvisation. Anna’s time traveling around the world with her nyckelharpa has given her an interest in folk music traditions from many other cultures and she loves exchanging tunes and knowledge about other traditions with the people she meets. Being a teacher and performer, as well as an active member of Folkmusiker mot rasism (folk musicians against racism) and on the board of Sweden’s institute for traditional music and dance, she has a good overview of what the Swedish folk scene looks like today.
Laurel Premo was raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and was immersed in folk music from a young age by learning from her family. Premo graduated with a BFA from the Performing Arts Technology Dept. of the University of Michigan School of Music, and spent time during her undergraduate attending the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki, Finland to study traditional Finnish music and dance. She’s a founding member of Square Dance Kalamazoo, and is passionate about the lifelong learning of old time music and dance. Laurel has woven together her various influences to create rhythmically rich and melodically haunting music on the banjo, fiddle, voice and guitar. Her current musical endeavor with the duo Red Tail Ring has brought her music all around America and across the Atlantic several times. Since 2009, this partnership with Michael Beauchamp has worked to blend traditional Appalachian songs with new compositions, and their music runs the gamut from boot-stomping to heart-rending.