Sweden caters to rock and pop audiences, but there's not really a commercial market for folk music, says Scandinavian songstress Sofia Talvik, who hails from the country's capital.
Back home, "folk music" is used to describe music of the past, a tradition played on nyckelharpa (also key harps) and accordions, not a contemporary genre, she says.
So Talvik and her manager and husband, Jonas Westin, took their show to more receptive audiences in the United States.
Who: Sofia Talvik
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12
Where: The Playwright Public House, 258 A St., Ashland
"This is the longest tour I've ever done in the States or anywhere," Talvik says. "We've been on the road for 10 months."
The couple started in January in Florida and have traveled through 33 states in their RV, stopping at coffee shops along the way to manage bookings and promotion and playing gigs every other night. They plan to stay as long as their visas allow.
As her four-piece backing band, The Tallboys, stayed home in Sweden, Talvik tours as a solo act. However, her husband produces live harmonies and special effects on a mixing board to give her a "fuller sound."
Talvik will perform songs from her 2012 release, "The Owls Are Not What They Seem," at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at The Playwright Public House, 258 A St., Ashland.
The new album, released on Talvik's Makaki Music label, is her fifth since 2005 and is available for a donation on her website, www.sofiatalvik.com.
Talvik's fairytale-like soundscape features her sweet, airy vocals (think Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny), gentle finger-picking, intermediate chord changes and catchy pop melodies, all behind enchanting and romantic lyrics.
"We all know the Swedes can write a mean pop song — but what about folk songs?" reads one review on ourstage.com. "Well, one artist is nonchalantly transferring the charm and fun found in most pop songs into sweet, acoustic twang. Sofia Talvik brings bubbly blonde ambition to this raw and often quiet genre with a captivating breath of fresh air."
Growing up along the west coast of Sweden, Talvik played classical piano for 10 years. She received her first guitar for her 18th birthday, started writing her own music using basic chords and recorded a small demo.
One of the songs on the demo was picked up by a Swedish radio station, and Talvik started getting emails from people wanting more.
"I don't really believe in 'being discovered,' " she says. "I think everyone today has to work hard and build their own brand before they reach success."
Cover to Talvik's show at The Playwright is $5. Call 541-488-9128.