Maryland Traditions Folklife Area
Andrea Hoag & Chris Ousley
Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Program Team
photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs
The fiddle is the main instrument in Swedish folk music, a richly harmonic tradition that goes back four centuries, with yet older influences from medieval Europe. After a decline in the mid-20th century, Swedish fiddling now enjoys widespread popularity at home and abroad, both as an accompaniment to traditional dance and concert music in its own right.
Andrea Hoag’s mastery of Swedish fiddling spans more than 40 years. From an initial interest in the tradition she set out on a long journey involving the collection of tunes from Swedish masters, language lessons, and multiple trips to Sweden, which included her enrollment in a folk fiddling program in the city of Malung—a prestigious first, as the program had never before accepted a non-Swede. Today, Andrea is an internationally recognized performer of Swedish fiddling and a mainstay of Scandia D.C., a Maryland-based Swedish music and dance group.
Chris Ousley, Andrea’s apprentice, is an accomplished musician whom she describes as “what the Swedes would call an eldsjäl, a true enthusiast who lives and breathes music.” As bandleader of the eclectic roots group the Bumper Jacksons, Chris spends much of his time on the road; when at home, he is frequently next door, learning new tunes from Andrea, his neighbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland. “I’d like to one day have my fiddling sound like someone … bearing a tradition forward,” he explains.
Andrea and Chris’s National Folk Festival performance will feature dancers alongside their fiddling, illustrating how the two traditions often go hand in hand.