News & Dates

 NEWS 

​OK, so where do we go from here?

 

The Covid times left me with plenty of time to think about what a sustainable, future live music scene could be like.

For my part, I don't want to 'go back to normal.' I want to go forward to new and better ways of doing things, that do not cost us the earth and wreck the planet in the process.

 

We cannot carry on jetting around the place in the 'old normal' way. Living here in Iceland, thousands of kilometers from anywhere, with a national population the size of a  small European city, that presents a special set of challenges, but we have to find creative ways to find solutions.

 

For me that could mean smaller intimate scale local events, both indoors (house concerts anybody?), feasts, good old fashioned folk club scale events, and out doors garden concerts, camp fires, tailor made performances in special locations in the countryside, and so on.

I have always really valued the sense of community and sharing that the best of the folk scene has offered. I firmly believe that our music works best at the scale and in the kinds of settings that it grew out of, so let's see what we can do.

A new Funi album

The album concept of a set of recorded performances, arranged in a particular running order, all presented in a beautifully designed package with notes about the songs, may turn out to have been just a blip in the history of recorded music.

 

Before the advent of 33rpm vinyl discs, albums were not technically possible. Now, the playlists of the streaming age and the technologies that deliver the music, have had a huge impact on the way that people listen to recorded music. Maybe the idea of an album, a sort of concert in disc form, is a thing of the past.

 

Nevertheless, Bára and I have started work on making a new album of Icelandic songs. We have been casting our net wide and collecting together songs and rímur extracts that are very little, if at all, known and Bára has also been writing new tunes for some of the texts. This process of discovering and then arranging hidden riches is one of the things that I love about working with traditional music, whether it's from England or Iceland.

 

We are adding a new dimension to this album project.  As well as our usual song arrangements, with langspil, Íslensk fiðla, kantele and harmony vocals, we are working with our friend Buzby Birchall of Hidden Sounds to make special recordings in the Icelandic landscape. We have made many hours of recordings in locations connected with the songs, so the sounds of the earth, water and air that the songs first sprung from will be embedded throughout the album, like veins of minerals through rock.

Solo art exhibition in Reykjavík

Sjónarmið / Perspectives was my second solo exhibition of paintings here in Iceland. It was shown in the Gallery of the Society of Icelandic visual artists at Hafnarstræti 16, 101 Reykjavík from the 4th to the 27th November 2021.

Here is a little video clip which gives an idea of how the exhibition looked.

 

Söngvaka

On the third Wednesday of each month (subject whatever Covid regulations are in place), Bára and I run an open singing session in downtown Reykjavík. The idea behind the session is to create a welcoming space and opportunity for people to come and sing and learn songs together. In particular, we have focused on the unique Icelandic, two voice harmony songs called tvísöngur.

 

The sessions are held in the former home of Benedikt Gröndal, a 19th century Icelandic, writer (including rímur), naturalist, artist and all round cultural activist.

Vaka Folk Festival

First in Akureyri and then in Reykjavík, Vaka Folk Festival was established with the aim of building a community and creating  opportunities to sing, play, dance and listen to Icelandic traditional music, along with folk music from further afield.

 

Covid prevented us from holding a festival in 2020 and 2021, but we will be back, just as soon as conditions allow.

​ 

Iceland does not have an established 'folk scene' or network of players, promoters and venues along the lines found in many other European countries. Building those networks takes a lot of time and energy from a lot of people, and over the past few years there have been exciting signs of 'green shoots' emerging and things starting to happen here. I am committed to playing what part I can in this exciting process.

audiotarky_logo_word.png

a new music streaming platform

and it treats artists fairly!

Whatever we musicians may think about streaming, it seems pretty obvious to me that it is going to be the technology that most people will be using to access recorded music for the foreseeable future. The actual process has plenty going for it. It removes a lot of plastic from the environment and cuts out a load of shipping and warehousing costs. Mind you, those servers are using a lot of megawatts and they come with their own significant environmental impacts.

A well known and much discussed big problem with streaming services, is that the income they generate is very unfairly distributed. For the artists that make the actual music that they stream, the income they generate is very small indeed. Another big problem is the way that their algorithms define people's listening choices.

My son Simon Metson in England is developing a new music streaming project. It is called Audiotarky and it aims to put fairness and privacy in front of algorithms, advertisers and shareholders, while keeping a close eye on its environmental impact.

With technical development now in place, Audiotarky is open for artists to sign up. This is not an exclusive deal, so you can have your music on as many other platforms as you like. If Spotify floats your boat, you are welcome to carry on collecting the crumbs they send your way, if the seagulls don't get them first.

Bára and I have put all of our music on Audiotarky on the basis that, besides making our streaming fortunes Ha Ha! we want to help Simon test his ideas. We have nothing to lose, so why not?

The success or otherwise of Audiotarky will obviously depend on building up a great catalogue of diverse music and, along with that, an ever growing subscriber base.

You can check out Audiotarky at:

BBC Folk Awards nomination 2018

The track 'The life of a man / Greensleeves' on my 2017album Hadelin, was nominated as Best Traditional Track in the 2018 BBC Folk Awards.

 

You can listen to it right here.

The life of a man / Greensleeves - Chris Foster
00:0000:00
FUNI PROMO SHOT portrait.jpg

PERFORMANCE DATES 2022

As our music life starts to regain some sense of normality, I will be joining in regular activities, such as the monthly Söngvaka sessions, Reykjavík Trad Sessions and meetings of Kvæðamannafélagið Iðunn, here in Reykjavík. Other stand out events over the summer and autumn are:

Sat. 14th May

Premiere of Kyndilberar (Torch bearers)

at Bíó Paradís, Reykjavík

This a series of seven videos featuring people performing traditional Icelandic folk songs. This project has been one way that my friend and musical co-conspiritor Linus Orri kept ourselves busy during the plague years.

Sun. 22nd May

Turning Silence Into Song

The music of Leon Rosselson

International online concert

celebrating Leon's remarkable collection of songwriting.

Organised by People's Music Network in the USA.

Here is the song that I contributed to the concert.

Tues. 12th - Weds 13th July

Kaustinen Folk Festival

Kaustinen, Finland

Funi gig with Bára Grímsdóttir

Thurs. - Sun. 28th - 31st July

Korrö Folk Festival

Linneryd, Sweden

Funi gig with Bára Grímsdóttir

Sat. 13th - Sun. 14th August

Bob Dylan Festival

Skagaströnd, Iceland

Thurs. 15th September

Dagur Rímnalagsins concert

Reykjavík, Iceland

Funi gig with Bára Grímsdóttir

Thurs. 20th - Sun. 23rd October

Nordic Harp Meeting

Turku, Finland

Funi gig with Bára Grímsdóttir

Booking now for 2022 and beyond

To enquire about booking Chris Foster either solo or in the duo

Funi with Bára Grímsdóttir

just send an email to:

chrisfoster.iceland(at)gmail.com

Nordic Harp Meeting

Bára and Chris  at

Nordic Harp Meeting 

Viljandi, Estonia 2017

The Nordic Harp Meeting is an extremely useful and inspiring annual meeting, known to its regular attendees as the Nerdic Harp Meeting. The meeting brings together skilled and expert performers, teachers and researchers, who are all involved in making music with a big variety of old stringed instruments, such as lyres, kantele, hummel, langspil, langeleik, jouhikko and of course more varieties of harp than you can shake a stick at.

Living in Iceland, we are very isolated from the range of skills and expertise that we are able to access at NHM. To be able to meet with all these people under one roof is a great privilege, and we try to go as often as possible. The meeting takes place in a different country each year.

In 2017 it gave us our first opportunity to visit Estonia. In 2018 we met in Lund, Sweden. Sadly, the 2019 meeting in Gjøvik, Norway, clashed with a booking at the Baring-Gould Folk Festival in England. We really enjoyed taking part in the 2020 meeting, which  was very successfully held on-line. We joined up with participants from Czech Republic in the south to the very north of Norway and from Estonia in the east to the USA in west.

We had a great time at the 14th Nordic Harp Meeting in Albertslund, Denmark in October 2021. Now we are looking forward to the 2022 meeting in Turku, Finland.

The Cruel Mother as ballad dance Connecting with our northern roots at Nordic Harp Meeting in Viljandi, Estonia.

October 21st 2017

video by Katja Nyuppieva

Going global,

flowing with the stream

My two vinyl albums for Topic Records (Layers -1977 and All Things in Common - 1979) have been on Spotify for some time, since Topic Records digitised their back catalogue.

I have now added all my CD albums to multiple streaming platforms as well, so Traces - 1999, Jewels - 2004, Outsiders - 2008 and Hadelin - 2017 are all available, not just on Spotify, but also on iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, Youtube Sound Recording and a bunch of others worldwide that I've never heard of such as Akazoo, Claro Música, Kanjian, Zvooq and Shazam to name but a few.

The two albums that I have made under the Funi duo name with Bára Grímsdóttir (Funi - 2004 and Flúr - 2013) are also out there.

I doubt that the combined income from all this will run to a Mars bar, but you never know, somebody in South America or Russia might discover the delights of hearing Lord Bateman, The Seeds of Love or some traditional Icelandic songs.

Lord Bateman
The Seeds Of Love

Funi standing by some lava on a cold April day.

You can see the snow storm coming behind us.