While the rain poured down steadily late Tuesday night, Binghamton community members took refuge in the Bundy Museum of History and Art as Swedish folk quintet Jaerv performed in the museum’s small, dimly lit annex.
Jaerv performed folk and traditional music from various regions of Sweden with their own twists and renditions, as well as Scottish and Irish folk music. The entire performance was recorded to be broadcasted on the museum’s radio station.
The concert room’s wooden interior, red curtains, carpeting and dim lighting created a warm, cozy and intimate environment that allowed the audience to experience the band and its music up close. Audience members mingled as the band tuned its instruments. The concert started off upbeat and lively with a Swedish folk dance song and a song about a family enjoying each other’s company on a cold winter night. Right from the beginning, the audience swayed along to the music and clapped the band on. The band introduced each song with some basic historic background and the song’s meaning.
The music was lively and energetic and despite the language barriers, the group’s expressiveness and liveliness made it easy to get into and follow along, which made for an engaging and entertaining performance. The musicians tapped their feet and danced along while playing their music, enjoying themselves as they performed. Katherine McCarty, a Binghamton resident, said the band’s dynamic stood out to her during their performance.
“I really liked watching the band watch each other for cues because I’m trying to learn how to do that with my friends who I play music with,” she said. “Watching them very subtly nod to each other and witnessing the internal magic that’s happening up there was my favorite part.”
The members of Jaerv mentioned this was their seventh time in Binghamton. The last time they performed in the city was over the summer during the New York Faerie Festival. Many audience members, including Joan Hebb, a Binghamton resident, first heard Jaerv perform there. Hebb said she has been a fan of the band’s music ever since then.
“It’s fun music,” she said. “We had a blast at the [New York] Faerie Festival out in a big meadow so this is very different, hearing them here in this setting. It reminds me of a place I used to go when I lived in Copenhagen. It’s a very familiar feeling to me and I enjoy it a lot.”
The band played a unique array of instruments including a fiddle, guitar, flute, soprano saxophone, drums and a Nordic instrument called the key fiddle. All of the musicians frequently switched instruments between and even during songs.
“I really liked the variety of instruments,” Hebb said. “I don’t know how to describe the music. It’s not actually Celtic, but it’s a rock and folk kind of thing.”
The songs the band played were lively and upbeat and often inspired by Nordic folk stories, including a story about a farmer bargaining with a fox, a 600-year-old ballad about a pregnant girl being cursed by her evil mother-in-law, a farmer’s 50th birthday party and even a 1700s party song.
Every one of Jaerv’s songs was met with enthusiastic audience applause at the end. They received a standing ovation at the end and were asked to do an encore. CDs were on sale after the performance.
Andru Bemis, one of the organizers of the concert, said events like these can bring joy and a unique experience to community members.
“It makes people smile,” he said. “It makes people laugh. It makes people happy. It introduces us to other people who we wouldn’t meet otherwise. I can’t imagine living without music, honestly.”