October 7, 2016
by Morten Alfred Høirup

The autumn gave it full speed while the folk music trio Gangspil embarked on a longer tour in the American Midwest during the days 24 September - 1 October.

It is the third time this year that Gangspil, which consists of Sonnich Lydom on accordion and harmonica, Kristian Bugge on violin, and Morten Alfred Høirup on guitar and vocals, is on tour in the USA.

From Aitkin in Minnesota, over Blair in Nebraska, and Spink in South Dakota, to Minot in North Dakota - eleven concerts in four states in nine days - something of a drive across the American prairie, but also an inspiring meeting with an audience and a population, which is in the middle of a politically charged autumn, and must decide who will rule the country for the next four years.

- It is clear that people are frustrated with the political situation, and several people we spoke to expressed dissatisfaction with the two presidential candidates: a Democrat who represents an established political system in which they do not have much confidence, and a loose missile of a Republican, which scares many and makes the rest of the world shake their heads at the USA, says the trio's guitarist, Morten Alfred Høirup. People are simply not satisfied with only really being able to choose between two candidates, and many are tired of the political system.

In 2016 alone, the CD-current trio toured the states of Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and even the Canadian province of British Columbia, with a repertoire consisting of traditional Danish dance music and songs, seasoned with the group's own compositions.

The autumn tour brought Gangspil to Minot, North Dakota. Here, the 39th edition of America's largest Scandinavian festival "Norsk Høstfest" was held in the city's huge local zoo halls.

Every year around 100,000 people, primarily aged 65+, meet here to celebrate and cultivate their Scandinavian roots and look at handicrafts, listen to music and eat traditional food from the Scandinavian countries, over four intense days.

And among the many Scandies, it seems that there are quite a few who support Donald Trump and his campaign. Violinist Kristian Bugge tells:

- I spoke to a woman who said that she is voting for Trump because she is afraid of Hillary Clinton. She is sure that if Clinton becomes president, the country will be flooded by hundreds of thousands of Muslims and she believed that it will threaten the American way of life. People seem incredibly divided, many are worried and say they are ashamed of the choice they are in the middle of. The subject is always just below the surface, and many people shake their heads in resignation when it is brought up.

Gangspil's autumn tour in the USA is over, and the members of the trio have gone their separate ways, but already at the end of November they meet again to go on their fourth tour in the USA and Canada this year.

In this connection, the trio will perform at venues and festivals in, among others, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, and by then the US presidential election will be well over.

Hopefully the American voters have then elected a president who can rally the American population and who will not find it even more difficult for a small Danish folk music trio to get a work permit and enter "God's own country" to play their music.