Archive for the ‘Jämtland (County)’ Category

Took a few snapshots down by the water in Stugun (Jämtland County) – my new neighborhood – this morning. My place is located below the peak of that mountain ridge. The village has been going for some 800 years, so it has a rich history. Very quiet, everybody says “Hello” to each other, which is sort of nice.

Here you see the little bridge that takes you into the village. Both riverbanks by this bridge is dedicated to people that want to enjoy themselves down by the waterfront, which is good thinking. You can light a fire, flip some burgers and just enjoy the view. This morning it was chilly and the wind was a reminder that winter is coming.

Here is a shot from the riverbank on the other side of the bridge. Note the little islands. There are other spots in the area that are lovely too but that is for another day. Stugun is a place worthy to explore.

Still crazy busy with the move, but things are looking up.

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Rockers are, generally speaking, pretty decent people. You will not hear about problems at major rock festivals like you will about certain other events, that is just a fact. On top of this, many musicians are involved in charity and good causes and that has only increased over the years. Case in point, Ronnie James Dio was heavily involved in good work that he seldom got credit for or even talked much about. But he was right there when he saw that he could help. People in Los Angeles probably knew more about that side of him than his general fanbase around the globe, and I think this goes for many well known stars and celebrities in the rock field. Which leads me to Velvet Insane guitarist and band leader Jesper Lindgren, who comes out of my neck of the woods (Östersund, Jämtland County), a man that is definitely of this particular sort of ilk. So much so that he has his own annual event called Stjärnfall (translates roughly to Shooting Stars) for charities in Östersund, a choice that comes from him having a big heart as he sees injustice and causes that needs help when money is in short supply. This years event is coming up on November 17 and therefore I decided to shed some light on this young man and his incredible journey. I mean, this is a great guy and he deserves some attention.

So what happened here is that I basically asked him to put his thoughts into words and send it over to me so that I could get some background as I intended to write this piece. What I got was so good, so detailed and so honest that I could use chunks of it for the article without really adding much. So what you see here is the end result, and I did offer Jesper a chance to check it out before putting it up here on the blog. So all in all, this is as real as it gets and I am honored to be able to do it here. If you read this all the way through, you will see why.

Early days

– “In my case, my driving force comes from having grown up in a home in which creativity was important, more so than sports. We were three kids and we expressed ourselves through music, art, reading and creating. Always creating. If you wanted a record you had to save. From this I learned how to appreciate the value of money and that you should be nice to people”.

– “School was a lot tougher. I felt like an outsider and I was sort of pushed to the side. When the other kids dreamt of getting the latest phone or the latest gadget, I was dreaming of becoming a rock star, wearing clothes and makeup like Marc Bolan. There was a great longing as I listened to my parents records, Elvis, Slade, Dr Hook. This sense of being an outcast accelerated in 7th grade and I even stopped eating for a while. My secure place was my boyhood room, with the posters of Kiss, David Bowie and Def Leppard, and all this great music. I listened to glam rock and other forms of rock. I practised on my guitar for hours every single day, just practised, practised, practised. It was the same in school, I spent my time in this musical bubble. I was one with music, everything I did was geared towards that interest. I was the guy that practised all the cool poses in front of a mirror, just dreaming. When I was 14-15 I got my first band together and my status in school was elevated, I was suddenly ”the guy that played the guitar”, or ”the rock star””.

High School era breaks and setbacks

– “So we recorded our first EP and did concerts. I made sure that everybody got a copy of that record, I really went for it in a big way. In High School, I felt that I had lost my way, I did not enjoy life much and I probably had a lot of unresolved issues that I carried with me. There was this pain inside. At 16, I met my first manager, He was booking HEAT to Östersund and said that we could be the openers. The concert never happened but we decided to work together. At this point, I had tried to start a new band but failed, so the manager and myself went back to the old band to give it a shot. There was a lot of big talk, big visions, big promises, but nothing really happened. It bothered me that nothing seemed to work and it had a very negative impact on me. I took it very personally”.

Julia and Michael

– “By 2012, in my third year in High School, we lost our friend Julia at school. She had fought cancer and I recall arriving at school one day and the flag was at half mast. Lots of candles and that smell. Our class assembled in this room, there was quiet music in the background and we talked about Julia. It was during this period that I decided that I had to do something. I wanted to pay tribute but I also wanted a way to open up myself, to be able to express in action what I could not with words. So on December 22 that year I set up Stjärnfall for the first time, to celebrate Julia and to give the proceeds to the proper charity. It was a wonderful night with good support from the local scene and although I felt very tired I also felt that I had finally done something that I could be proud of. My band had been part of it and we had filmed our show. Later, me and the singer sent copies just about everywhere, to magazines, musicians, managers, record companies. It payed off when Michael Sandén, whom worked with Mando Diao, Crashdiet, Backyard Babies and Hellacopters, got in touch. He wanted to sign the band and it was all this talk about the future again that I had heard before, but that could now surely become a reality. I put him on a pedestal, he was Jesus. The guy that would make it all happen. But later that summer he went to the UK for a tour and overdosed. My world chattered, I felt guilt, panic, angst and sorrow. The band folded, I stopped playing. I even stopped dreaming. I spent that period feeling sorry for myself and I was angry. But I eventually came to the conclusion that I wanted to celebrate Michael since he had had such a belief in us and so came the idea for another Stjärnfall, this time in his honor. I wanted to fight for what I believed in, so I set up this show and for that I needed a new band, which became Velvet Insane. I wanted it to be a bit androgynous, like my early heroes, and I wanted the music to be energetic, melodic and without fear. And this is what I have been doing ever since, and we have toured the world, seen chart success especially in the US (the band won an award in Los Angeles) and I really feel we are doing it on our terms”.

Inner demons and success

– “I spent 2014 and 2015 trying to get everything in place, and to allow myself to feel good about myself. Not to let small setbacks halt everything, but to allow it to grow without listening to the little demons that I had carried for so long on my shoulders. In 2016 I resurrected Stjärnfall again as a way to show a friend in a bad relationship that there were help available. The proceeds went to Kvinnojouren, an organisation that helps battered women that are in need of protection and help. I had seen this wonderful soul getting abused, raped and beaten. I could not reach her and this concert was my way of doing something. In 2017, Stjärnfall worked with FATTA, an organization that works against sexual violence. It was a natural continuation of the previous event. A friend of mine from the school days had been raped and I was so angry. I went for it bigtime and it was larger than on previous occations. It went down well, but I nearly kind of hit the wall. The day before Stjärnfall I had been involved in another event with Thomas DiLeva and Lisa Miskovsky and I had yet another job, a talent show for youth, coming up within days, among other things. It was just too much. I cried a lot, I was shaking and I could not eat. And to make it work I had to put up money myself which added to the stress. It was a learning experience”.

Love and happiness

– “Now I feel that I am back again, more prepared than ever to take on new challenges. I have found this calm inside. In a way, Stjärnfall is not only a way for me to help others, it has also been a way to help myself. To meet the inner demons face on. To live. It has been a vent for me. This year, Stjärnfall is about openness and love, it is a night for everybody. This year the proceeds will go to RFSL and Östersund Pride and the support is bigger than ever”.

– “Now that I sit here and write these words, it hits me that I would like to thank some really special people. My parents, for always supporting me, my thoughts and ideas, and especially my mother for her keen eye for good music and stage clothing. Jonas Eriksson for always being my right hand man, Anna Ulin, Håkan Borgsten, Sven Mörén, Louise Öhnstedt, Andreas Karlstrand and the rest of the ”Fager gang”, and to all the wonderful people that have been supportive and always been there. The future looks pretty darned good from where I am standing”.

Stjärnfall is likely to see a return next year for another cause, but coming up next is another exciting chapter for Velvet Insane, with a brand new album and a new burst of work around the globe to start before Christmas. But that is another story.

By Mike Eriksson (Trinkelbonker)

 

Links: Velvet InsaneStjärnfall

I could not help but notice the other day that Velvet Insane guitarist Jesper Lindgren is a bit of a showman, so much so that I got several shots where you can not see his legs. Or even a hint of him walking around like the rest of us mere mortals. Now this camera (a Japanese Olympus SZ-15) has served me well for this blog, although it is certainly not made for concert photography. Still, you can get some shots that are a bit intriguing, or artsy, if you like. I thought this one was kind of cool in that it is a rather bad shot but it still has that elusive quality that stands out a bit (in this case, almost in a paranormal sort of way). But it also says something about this guy and the music. And trust me on this, the music has got legs.

I attended a nice concert event at Gamla Teatern (The Old Theater) here in Östersund (Jämtland County) a few hours ago, jam packed with wonderful (local) talent. For me there were three particular highlights: ex-220 Volt singer Christer “Frille” Åsell (backed by Velvet Insane), Tina Moe and Velvet Insane themselves. Frille and myself go back to the good old days of 220 Volt and it was nice to see him perform with the next big hope from these parts (Velvet Insane). Tina Moe is another dear friend that I used to hang with long ago and I had not seen her in person for some 30 years. Her performance was beautiful, she really is one of the most talented singers/songwriters that this country has produced. It was wonderful to catch up a bit, I kick myself now for not having seen her live again for so long. She has matured like a fine wine. The boys in Velvet Insane is the next generation of superb talent coming out of this town and they write good songs and they certainly know how to sell it. New album coming up, and I will be back with more on them later on this blog. Best rockers since 220 Volt from Jämtland County.

Listen to some fresh music here: Tina Moe and Velvet Insane.

Got the keys to my place in the countryside about 10 days ago and I have made several trips over there in good company (and on my own) since then. This is going to be one hell of a project but I really like the place and this is where I will live full time whenever that goal is reached. I have so much stuff (books, CDs, DVDs, you name it) that it has to be planned in a certain way. Some new furniture will arrive in early September and this gives me a window of opportunity to get some of the collections in place before that. I love the big living room upstairs (see part of this here), which is basically going to be a music room/library. At this point I am still figuring out the details, but it is a lot of fun. The table you see will end up in the kitchen, right now I need it to sort out the books etc. This particular room has some big windows so you get a spectacular view overlooking the area (water etc). I will take advantage of this and add a nice round dinner table up there. I have noticed that these windows make it very hot so I will have a room for viewing television further down (the house has four levels, the lower you get the cooler it is) rather than jamming everything into this space. I always wanted a music room and this is going to be just that.

I am lucky to have some really nice friends and they are all lining up which is fantastic. It is a tremendous help and things are moving along in a nice pace. I have time to take it a bit slow but it has been a crazy few days, I have to say that. Lovin´ every minute of it though and I have to make the best of the last few days of my vacation now. Order in chaos…

(Rant over!)

Rain

Posted: July 29, 2018 in General, Jämtland (County), Prepping

This has been the summer of unbearable heat in Sweden, and we have had record numbers of fires all over the country (we even had to be assisted by firefighters from Poland and other countries to keep up). In all honesty, it has been a bit of a nightmare. But tonight the rain came and I took this snapshot from my balcony a few minutes ago because I was so happy to see it. Apparently it will be raining quite a lot in the next few days. That is good news to the hundreds of firefighters and volunteers that are out there right now in this neck of the woods.

I will be honest here. This heat had me worrying about the safety of my new home in the countryside. There was a fire on a nearby mountain a few days ago so you start to think about these things. And when most lawns are more yellow than green, you have got a problem.

This has been a very strange summer.

Ended my day with a beer at Captain Cook in Östersund (Jämtland County) and watched Michael Mojo Nilsson crank up his guitar with his blues mates. We are going through a bit of a heat wave over here in the last few weeks and it was a hot night in more ways than the excellent musicianship on that stage. Mojo is one of the best blues artists in Europe, his 2013 album “The Abduction Of Big Papa Mojo” is certainly top notch. And I always wanted a live album from this guy.

Seen here is a few shots from the night and the cover I gave him for RETROFUTURE 7 (2014). You can read that interview on this blog.