I started playing guitar in the early 60’s. When the folkboom hit Europe the likes of Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary turned me on to american folkmusic. I however, soon found out that there was more to american folk traditions than the Kingston Trio version of Tom Dooley could offer. An interest in traditional american folkmusic and the blues soon took over, and I devoted a lot of time to learn how to play like the masters of old-time music and country blues. LP:s by Doc Watson and Merle Travis were early inspirational finds and as Stefan Grossman began touring Europe the knowledge of fingerstyle guitar spread.
There was quite an active american folkscene in Stockholm, Sweden during the 60’s and 70’s. Many young americans came over to live in this country and american artists also came to stay. Stefan Grossman, for instance, spent a lot of time here, as did Sam and Ann Charters who lived in Stockholm for years, producing records. Tom Paley of the New Lost City Ramblers lived here and Izzy Young the founder of New Yorks Folklore Center still has his Folklore Center in Stockholm. A swedish, american folk scene developed.
In the later part of the 60’s I was involved with a few groups in Sweden that played an assortment of american traditional musical styles. As a part of such a band I recorded my first arrangement of a ragtime piece – Maple Leaf Rag- in 1969. I think that it probably was my early interest in Jug Bands, and their unconventional approach to mixing all kinds of music, that formed the idea to arrange classical piano ragtime for the guitar. I actually thought that I was the first guitarist to arrange ragtime for the guitar. When I later heard the Dave Laibman, Eric Schoenberg record – New Ragtime Guitar – and of course rags played by Stefan Grossman I realized that I was not alone.
The idea of arranging rags as guitar duets originated when a friend of mine, Claes Palmkvist, and I were both students in the city of Gothenburg. He studied to become a journalist and I to become a music teacher. We played in and around Gothenburg. But the breakthrough was when we were offered to make an album with Ragtime Guitar Duets. This LP was released on a swedish record company, and since I had met Stefan Grossman a few years earlier I sent him a copy. He immediately wrote back explaining that he had a record company called Kicking Mule Records that specialized in guitar music. He wanted to release my album on his label and after some negotiating it was done.
During the 70’s Claes and I continued to record ragtime and early jazz music for Kicking Mule, both for duet and solo guitar. Most of these tunes were released as parts of anthologies, with other guitarists in the same style. The last record was not an anthology – King Porter Stomp – the Music of Jelly Roll Morton for Fingerstyle Guitar. It was recorded in London with Duck Baker and I as producers and Claes playing second guitar.
After that I let the guitar rest for more than ten years. During this time some of my arrangements began to appear in Stefan Grossman’s books on Mel Bay. A book with most of the tunes on the Jelly Roll album was issued and in the beginning of the 90’s some of my music from the early KM records was rereleased on CD by Shanachie.
After not having played much for a decade I was approached by the swedish Association of American Folkmusic and asked to give lessons in fingerstyle guitar which I agreed to, and I have been teaching ever since.
In the late 90’s I contacted Mel Bay offering the prospect of making books with my arrangements. The first result was Mel Bay’s Anthology of Fingerstyle Guitar vol.2 in which one arrangement – Temptation Rag – was included.
Early Jazz For Fingerstyle Guitar – with 17 of my arrangements of jazz from the 30 first years of the 20th century was released in 2003.
I am currently hosting a guitar seminar on location in my summer house in the hungarian countryside. Plenty of ragtime, early jazz and country-blues, but also a lot of opportunities to enjoy the wonderful landscape and cultural settings in Central Europe. Read about it...
In the fall of 2003 I started arranging concerts and workshops with international guitarists.
I was invited to teach at Acoustic Sessions in Amsterdam and in the following years – International Guitar Seminars in New York and Guitar Week at Augusta Heritage Center WV.
2005 I also signed with Solid Air Records and my new CD “Fingerstyle Guitar Classics” was released in 2006.
In 2008 Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop releases a DVD with seven arrangements from the Early Jazz For Fingerstyle Guitar book.