Monday, November 11, 2013

Jayhawks founder Mark Olson coming to Chicago


The Jayhawks founder Mark Olson has a different musical partner these days - his wife, musician Ingunn Ringvold.

Olson and Ringvold will perform as a duo Nov. 14 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, Chicago. David Dondero also is on the bill.

The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $15, available at

Olson,, will perform material from a forthcoming album, as well as songs from his illustrious career. I had the chance to talk to him about the upcoming show.

Q - Great to talk to you. How has the tour been going? What do you like about performing in a duo as opposed to being in a full band? 

The duo is a type of invention that floats not on water but solid air! When you play in a musical duo, everything you do can be answered and supported by the other person.

Ingunn can really groove and float and our tempos and dynamics are perfect together. 

Q - I watched a video for the song "The blue always say," a duet between the two of you. Your voices blend well together.

We have been singing together for about seven years and we get better and better. It takes a lot of time to do seamless harmony and also just the basics of unison, tempo, call and response, holding patterns, twirls, upticks etc.. 

Harmony singing is a deal lots of people do and I enjoy singing with Ingunn. 

Q - You also produced your wife's second album. When did you discover you were good musical partners? 

When we met we seven years ago we did a gig together within the first month. It went really well and we had friends there and at first it was just guitar and djembe and sometimes a violin player but we have expanded our instruments, songs and sound and decided the duo is the best for creative work and tour expansion. 

Q - Ingunn plays a number of instruments, including the Qanun. Has she taught you how to play the instrument? How has she influenced your approach to making music? 

We were making demos in Los Angeles for the album "Many Colored Kite" and an Armenian public television channel came on the air. Here is the time we saw women playing the Qanun. 

We then had immigration/ visa problems in the U.S. that lasted 29 months. Therefore we had to be out of the U.S. and eventually Europe if we wanted to be together! It was not a pleasant experience!

And the reasons for this are still hidden behind the walls of the U.S. consulate in Norway that would not return her Norwegian passport willingly! My stepfather is a decorated U.S. war hero POW from WWII who wrote letters and got involved. 

He led the charge. After 29 months and a six-week study course in Armenia with the Paros Foundation, we returned to the U.S.

Ingunn can play the Qanon now. I can play the drum now. We write meaningful songs together. 

Q - How has being in such places as South Africa and Armenia inspired you in writing new songs? What should people expect from the new album?

I write songs about struggles, beauty, spiritual quests, hope, laughter and family. They are alive in the songs!

I hope you will find something meaningful in them. 

Q - On this tour, you will be drawing from your entire musical career, including The Jayhawks. Are there any favorite songs that you still love performing on stage? What makes a song special for you? 

The most wonderful new/old...happy/sad musical discovery is that the first Jayhawk album sounds incredible with just Djembes! We are performing "People in This Place" and "King of Kings" with just Djembes a la drum circle in the desert and people go insane!! It's the best! 

Q - The music world has changed a lot since you first started in the business. Do you think it is harder or easier to be a musician these days? What advice would you give to a new musician?

A good friend as your manager is a start. Also develop new outlooks on lyrics. 

This is the forgotten element but the most lasting.

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