Fränder joined forces with Francophone-Canadian family band Ariko. They didn't just give the audience a musical interlude. They took us all on a journey.
Ariko is fronted by the three Lefaive sisters on violin and vocals: Kelly (also on mandolin), Jill, and Nicole. Their father Louis Lefaive plays percussion and keyboards and their mother Laura Jones plays bass. This lineup was backed up by the family's friend Craig, who punctuated the roaring violins with marching and swinging drums. This coincided with flourishes of tap dancing in unison. Befitting their name, Ariko played at least one song about beans (“Haricot”), magic beans no less, presenting a chilling a capella number utilizing percussion and harmonizing voices alone. Songs brought listeners from parties in Louisiana up to northern Ontario. Akin to the intimacy and hospitality of Hugh's Room, both acts welcomed us with their stories and never once broke the feeling that we were truly witnessing their worlds.
When Fränder opened the concert, we were privileged to see into Medieval Sweden and Estonia. Tales of elves and their pernicious dealings with knights on white steeds. But as bouzouki player Gabbi Dluzewski told me after the show, these songs are newer and more diverse than one might think.
Certainly, their songs derive from traditional folk and are without some modern elements like drum machines, but the arrangements themselves tap into the contemporary. This is done while preserving authenticity. Flautist and singer Säde Tatar, from Estonia, confirmed that singing in Estonian feels more natural and true to herself. It also inspires the other members of the band. Maria Järventaus Johansson, standing in on vocals for Natasja Dluzewski, noted the especially poetic nature of Estonian language lyrics, like in their song “Vabadus.”
Fränder's music speaks to many people. They have played in Guatemala. They also recently played at the Estonian embassy in Tokyo. Reflecting on this, bassist Daniel Dluzewski said that really, the emotions and stories of cultures around the world are extraordinarily connected, with variations of course.
Music is a source of joy. It brings language to life. The fact that we can be rejuvenated by our Estonian culture and spread that positivity to others is a beautiful thing.
To enjoy the music of Fränder and to support what they do, visit: frander.bandcamp.com
Likewise, to listen to Ariko, visit: arikomusique.bandcamp.com
Vincent Teetsov, Toronto