OK, so let's get it over with shall we... While we'd been communicating with other friends from USA about coming over, it had been muted we should all do a little session as a band at the event. Clearly a fun idea, and yet something completely impossible to plan properly beyond a few emails!
We very loosely ended up with a couple of numbers and a lot of "well we'll just see how it goes". No more excuses... here it is:
John Haskin on a Hagstrom Deluxe, Bill Marriott on SuperSwede,
Chris Cox Drums and HIIN, and some other guy...
OK so we got that out of the way, so let's move on with the rest of festival. I should also say straight away that we were not the exclusive or by any means the most impressive act that appeared that weekend. Far from it, as Mikael Eriksson's four year old son made an appearance on the drums too, on the Saturday afternoon. It was amazing how he managed to reach the bass pedal, but unless I missed some extension unit, he managed very well to bring a smile and applause from the audience!
Of course I can understand where his dad's smile comes from, and I hope the rhythm goes on for many years. I'm sure it will...
I don't know how may of the local people follow the history as much as we do here.
Not least because of their bewilderment in our interest in the first place, but of course because many of those who worked for the company are no longer around.
I wonder what they would have thought about the events that take place these days in their memory?
Whether or not it's the Hagström Accordions, Guitars and or other equipment, or just an acceptance of some fairly odd geeks that keep finding their way into town, it does at least give the opportunity for some fun and maybe a good gig to go to on Friday and Saturday night.
Like I said, the exhibition was half the space of the hockey arena, the other half was well serviced by Amtech's PA systems and crew.
Taking a look over the bar late on you could see it was worth it, whether you were there for the history or just for the gig! So hopefully the event was a good idea whatever your point of view, and let's hope it's not the only one of its kind held in Älvdalen. There is talk of a USA festival being organised in the future. I expect it would be an amazing event of course, and I'd hope to be able to be part of it if it happened, but I do enjoy Sweden itself - it's part of the appeal travelling around there.
Enough Dave, they'll have the 'sick-bags' out in a moment!
Clearly we were all having a great time, and time was passing all too quickly. Sunday was of course a similar format, yet for me still not enough to take in the detail of what was available to see. Apart from collections there were a few stands covering other products from the area (as detailed previously).
Also Anders Barke had set up a stand manned by his family, to sell the spares he also has available from time to time. There were a couple of new items too, such as new official Hagstrom Caps and T-Shirts.
My only problem was that the caps had sold out almost immediately, leaving me no alternative but to go and buy a Swedish World Cup cap (the only thing I could find in town). Clearly intended as an amusing protest, just in fun, but then I found out it also lit up and flashed the Swedish flag!
This was too much for Chris. Not the Swedish flag of course, but we're not exactly football enthusiasts, and the flashing element really went too far.
I made a few other purchases at Anders' stall, under the promise from Karl-Erik J:r that more caps were on order, and he'd send me one the following week. He's a really good guy like that from my previous experience.
We had a couple of other appointments on the Sunday too, first was my promise to have a game on the crazy golf course nearby, then later we took the opportunity to visit the house again to collect Chris's toy car. When we arrived at the house we were greeted by Maria with what was now a familiar warmth and enthusiasm. It was such a pleasure to chat, and it was all we could do to decline the offer of something to eat.
We settled for ice cream and a drink, and while we were chatting there was another knock on the door. In came five people from Norway, also in town for the weekend, after a drink and chat they moved on again, but not before Karl-Erik came home, walked in, smiled and said something like "no room for me here" and returned out of the door again with a wave!
Now I'm not saying it is completely open house all the time, but we were given the impression that it gets like it at times. So, we retrieved the car, and gave our thanks to this lovely lady, who we suggested took the opportunity of putting her feet up in front of the TV for while. She smiled and said "I think I'll pour myself a glass of wine, sit down and see what happens".
Going back to buying and selling, you may have noticed Bill's T-Shirt and wondered what it was saying.
Well the full story isn't rude at all, it's an advert for Hellstone one of his favourite shops in Stockholm. We visited there ourselves in July 05, and if you remember the view, you'll know why it is such a firm favourite with Hagström collectors.
So now we've established Bill's reputation is still in good order, what else did we see at the show...
I've mentioned that Manfred Graeder made the effort to bring ten basses from his amazing collection.
So that was another natural target for Chris who played at least three different cherished items with the generous encouragement of their owner.
I can only imagine the nervousness surrounding arranging a number of maybe irreplaceable items to be sent back and forth across the world.
The cost is only one part of it, and despite the fact they are not being sold again, there are still customs, brokerage and other charges on top of the shipping, packing and whatever cost to ones nervous system!
Manfred enjoys these events as much as we do, maybe in a slightly more reserved way at times, but definitely a generous and helpful guy in the circle of friends, who also came up with a good suggestion for our own return journeys. He had a major two day drive ahead of him, and suggested we could share the drive down to Stockholm saving us the changes on the trains and buses getting back to the airport. It also relieved him of a few initial hours driving, giving us all a good opportunity to chat along the way. Now there's some good joined-up thinking...
Note for future visits... make sure you drive somewhere or go for a meal with everyone you'd like to talk to, its the only way to be sure of a conversation while on a natural high...
So all credit goes to those like Manfred and others who make such an effort in the cause of bringing fine examples to exhibitions. In this case of course it is particularly poignant, as they are being brought from USA right back to the town where they were first made. Wow!
But this is what the 'Hagström Mania' is all about, a mad mix of appreciation, a dedication to the story as much as the instruments, and as anyone who knows me, that fits 100% with my own take on the story.
So this is all good evidence in the cause of aiming to explain or understand why we do care about what went on all those years ago.
Nothing in life is perfect, and there are a few aspects of these original guitars that some people find less than perfect too. The early tremolo is not capable of as much as some would like, the pickups are a different sound, which is more a matter of taste, - and many prefer it.
The early Viking 12 string neck joints were not as strong as they needed to be, but all that aside, there was masses of passion, pioneering, and hard work involved in what was achieved out of this area for many years. They were not frightened to try, and in most cases it was more than worth it with so much in the way of new ideas and great inventions! Take that upgraded BT100 amp. Sure the standard version is fairly average, but what Peo did for Lennie's one should make you think... twenty-five years before "Line 6" ever appeared on the scene - and it still stands the test of time! The Patch 2000 too, an amazing idea, albeit a business nightmare due to changing technologies. Just the same problems that affect companies today when ideas get overtaken by new inventions.
Everybody does the Hagström thing their own way. Some are so staunch that anything new is not worth mentioning, but look at the new amps that might be coming out of a local initiative in Älvdalen. Look at the Amtech Echo Pro systems that still stand proud against similar competition in the market, add all that together and (sorry Bill) but maybe people can see why the reissues could have been a valid tribute to the old days just like Burns in the UK, and... well Fender and others who do it all the time, reissuing models from specific years!
On the subject of Fender reissues, I was talking to someone recently and discussing how people lose sight of the facts when they buy a reissue. The period when Fender put out models considered poorer quality, yet maybe more ornate (oh yes), is still considered less attractive as a reissue than to buy a reissue of an older plainer model at the same price. How crazy is that? They are, in these instances, reissues made in the same place at the same time! Yet people will buy a reissue with a single layer pickguard as the original it emulates was considered a better model... then go out and buy a brand new triple-ply replacement pickguard for it... Ha-Ha-Ha... (Sorry I just thought... maybe you... the reader, have possibly.... oh well too late...).
Anyway, back to these Hags... The new models were on show too, yet I sensed a bit of deja-vous with these particular examples which may have been the same as those in Östersund last year. It might be a good idea to show some of the latest production if so, as one looked like a prototype with a lacquer run on the base of the neck. Talk about asking for criticism, but then it's only business, nothing to do with 'Music form the Heart'
I'm definitely not a basher of the new models just for the sake of it, in fact I believe it could have helped to celebrate the old story, so all good luck to business people who see an opportunity and do it properly. The models try to use key features to Hagström's original design such as the Hagström expander stretcher idea, but everything is not as it seems, (hey nor are those new Burns and Fenders entirely, but at least they do look the same!). Remember emulation is the best form of flattery, (this site is just another, if personal, flattery of the Hagström story too), and in my mind it is worth that attention if done for the right reasons and at least tries to get it right!
Yes, the way it is done is important, so far the new models have been introduced to a discount market, with little respect for the heritage that gets a mention here and there - often inaccurately sadly. Maybe it is all about faceless people (the parties that make up Tricor) and a passion for little more than numbers. "Lets hope they don't waste the opportunity amongst the crowded market of cheap Chinese copies..." I think they already have with comments I get back from USA and Europe. The LP models are OK, the Chinese make pretty good semi acoustics too, but all too often they are poorly finished. It is difficult to make poor guitars these days, but I saw some examples in the UK early 2006 where the necks could not be set up correctly at all. Others where they had finish blemishes and a fairly bland sound. Time will tell if they decide to do the job properly, but right now - it is only about extracting peoples hard earned money... maybe buy a real Hagström after all, there are plenty around the world still - as Bill would say!
Less flattering again can be some of the photo's, and without wishing any offence at all, just take a closer look to the left. Maybe that stage performance had taken it's toll, I can't believe it was down to the local brew, but...
...I'm sure John Haskin has fallen asleep at the table! Mind you, you wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't mentioned it due to the accordion in view...
No-one is immune to the occasional unflattering pose. I have a habit of resting my glasses on my forehead. Chris is always telling me to wear them or take them off.
I'm not 'cool' enough to raise them over my head, and too lazy to take them off, so when I use the video they have to look after themselves perched on an eyebrow or two!
I'm sure there are worse shots around, but I'm the editor, so I can get away with it!
Yes, its the famous singer Lasse Lönndahl again, along with Stefan - more of Lasse and some other names you may know, at the end of this report.
By Sunday afternoon, things were starting to slow down at last. Some people had moved on, and those that remained were able to reflect, take in other people's thoughts, and share the odd jam session.
That's a very important aspect of these events. Getting the opportunity to have a go too. It was a pleasure to know you were not being frowned upon if you fancied a strum or a jam.
As long as you could take on the responsibility then it seems everything was fine. Believe me there were some very special reasons to do so, whether or not they had the direct Hagström association.
If you took the time to look in all the different places, you'd find some fairly impressive pieces. One has nothing to do with Hagström at all unless it was originally bought through a Hagström retail store. The item in question was a 1949 Gibson semi acoustic.
Rune Westlin, the owner seen in the picture left playing Ulf's Jimmy prototype, had bought the Gibson new in 1949, and used it all along the years.
He is well known to the people of Älvdalen and presumably a wider circle of people too as a player performer and teacher for many years. He could be seen at the centre of the Saturday opening ceremonies, and by Sunday afternoon he was enjoying an other impromptu session before the exhibition came to a close. We have put together a 15 minute video to enjoy this session. (See further down the page).
He recalled one occasion when he'd been out with his band at the time, and the guitar had fallen off the vehicle, landing in the road. It wasn't until they next stopped they found it had gone, so had to drive back along the route until they found it again!
In reality I have no idea what the market value of this example would be today, but it certainly would cause a stir on eBay... nah forget it all you who fancy it, its still in regular use and appreciated for what it is - a good and faithful old guitar.
We did take the opportunity for a strum of course, and yes definitely something for a quick pose too. "Hey son, you'll never appreciate what you have in your hands there"... mind you he's heard that a few times over the years.
Thankfully he still knows how to take it seriously when it matters. What is more thankfully, a few others now realise he can.
Well I'd better draw my first version of the report to a close too. I'm sure to update things over time, where people fill in some gaps, maybe send in some pics of their own, and when I can get round to going through some more stuff I have here. Oh yes, when things were being packed away, another box of those new Hagström caps were found. So I think we both left feeling quite complete with the weekend. We can't be alone.
I'm sure to have missed a lot out in my haste to get 'up to date'.
Potentially there are more videos, pictures, leaflets and stories to tell, so who knows, you'd better check back again sometime. if you'd like to add something, then please send a mail to the address at the bottom of any page.
Meantime, thanks again, it's been fun, and if you were there, I hope it captures a tiny part of what it was like, to have the Hagström festival come home to Älvdalen...
I'd just like to do a little 'recap', with a few more pics and not quite so much chat...
Hello David. My name is Rune Martinsson and I met you on the Hagströmfestival, we did shake hands and said hello, but I did not say so much more than I think you have a very interesting website, I am rather bad on talking English. It feels very good to have been a little cog in the machinery that produced the instruments witch seems to be more and more appreciated as time goes by. My employment on Hagströms started 27 January 1965 and ended last August 1982. You have a photo of me on one of the pages, where I am fretting a guitar neck. All necks was manually fretted, no fretting machines. I have been following your report from the Hagströmfestival with great interest. When I read that you wanted the singer’s name I decided to write a few words to you, Lasse Lönndahl is the name of the singer.
I am sending you an old photo, probably from the 60:s, with from the right Karl-Erik Hagström, Lasse Lönndahl, Charlie Norman, Hasse Burman, Bengt Eriksson (Amtech), Roffe Berg. Charlie, Hasse, Roffe were also very famous musicians. Kindest regards, Rune
Thank you most sincerely for taking the time to send these facts and the photo, much appreciated!
Until next time...
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