The relationship between traditional bluegrass musicians and international string band music may not be obvious to some ears, but it's obvious to the musicians who revel in it.Many American bluegrass musicians have dabbled in realms outside Appalachian string music, and in the 1970's that could not have been more obvious if you were a fan of David Grisman.
His quintet moved from bluegrass to jazz and gypsy swing. Two original members of the quintet, fiddle player Darol Anger and guitar/mandolin player Mike Marshall, have careers that move into jazz, classical, gypsy, acoustic folk-bluegrass and beyond.
Their body of work - individually and collectively - is huge, including a collaboration with Scandinavian string band Vasen. Anger and Marshall will return at 7 p.m. Monday to the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, with the trio Vasen.
Vasen consists of Olov Johansson playing the nyckelharpa, Mikael Marin on viola and Roger Tallroth on guitar.
For Anger, the pairing of his duo with the trio is a natural fit.
"I have been interested in Scandinavian string band music for a long time. A lot of these guys are doing things similar to stuff Mike and I have been doing, making original music based on our own traditional music," said Anger while on tour in Kentucky. "They sounded completely new and totally familiar. I knew exactly what they were doing, but it was the most amazing new thing I had heard. These guys felt like kindred spirits."
When Vasen played in Northern California six years back, Anger was there.
"I'm Darol, here are a couple of our records that I made with Mike, you'll dig this and we dig you. A couple of days later they called and said we should try to do something together," said Anger, sounding more like an excited fan than a fellow musician.
That "something" came in the Lotus World Music Festival in Bloomington, Ind. Vasen was scheduled to play, while Anger and Marshall ended up making the festival as well. They played their individual sets, as well as some sets together. A record and tours together soon followed.
Their music defies true classification, like a classical string symphony at times, and at others an acoustic version of King Crimson.
Anger refers to the musical cross-breeding from different nations as good globalization.
"People talk about globalization, like brands and corporations running roughshod over people's culture," said Anger. "But there is globalization where people are honestly trying to understand each other and communicate emotions."
"Music is the basis for mutual respect. It's great to be able to reach through and find folks from the other side of the world who share this," he said.
Liggettb@fortlewis.eduBryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR program director.