Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold – Wine Cellar September 16, 2017


Former Jayhawks front man Mark Olson and his wife and musical partner Ingunn Ringvold celebrated the release of their latest album, Spokeswoman Of The Bright Sun with an intimate show at Auckland’s Wine Cellar.

And when I say “intimate”, I mean it. The tiny venue only held a handful of fans on this Saturday night, but everyone who attended was clearly very happy with what they saw and heard.

And why not? After all, it’s not every day that you hear someone play an Armenian Harp, aka a Qanun. The 77-stringed exotic instrument looked like a handful to play, but in Ingunn’s hands it sounded like a dream.

Many folks know Mark Olson from his work with pioneers The Jayhawks. Olson was last in town for a gig at The Kings Arms with his Jayhawks partner Gary Louris back in 2009. Since then Olson has returned to the band he founded and then left again. Now he’s putting all of his musical focus on recording and touring with his Norwegian wife Ingunn.

The two live in the California desert, near Joshua Tree and that location, along with Ingunn’s Norwegian roots and the sound of that Armenian Harp combine to create a unique form of music…part folk, part psychedelic rock, part Eastern European, part Scandinavian.

The duo’s new album shows them sitting in a briefly-blooming desert outside their home and that’s also the root of their sound. Songs like Seminole Valley Tea Sipper Society and You Are All, with lyrics like “candy sandcastles made us cry in a lollipop sky” could only come from California.

The show got a shaky start, with Ingunn’s mic inaudible during opening number, Seminole Valley. Olson called a halt to the proceedings, “we can’t go on without her vocal”, he insisted. The mic got sorted quickly and they began from the beginning, still sounding a bit rusty.

By the second song, the two voice began to jell and the magic took hold.

Both Mark and Ingunn we were seated, Olson playing electric and acoustic guitar, dulcimer and the occasional drum, while Ingunn played drum and Qanun.

While the duo was there to play their new material, a few well-chosen Jayhawks chestnuts got an airing including Blue, Clouds and Over My Shoulder.

Both Mark and Ingunn spoke to the audience, giving insights into their songs and the lifestyle that spawned them.

Just over an hour after the started, it was over, with a rendition of Clifton Bridge, a song taken from Olson’s 2007 album, The Salvation Blues.

Special mention goes out to recent British immigrant Phil Lively-Masters, who records under the name Canyon Ryde, and who turned out a fine opening set. Phil is now living in Napier, so we should be hearing more from him.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski:

Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold Setlist:

  1. Seminole Valley Tea Sipper Society
  2. Blue
  3. Dear Elisabeth
  4. You Are All
  5. Spokeswoman Of The Bright Sun
  6. Your Eyes
  7. Clouds
  8. Over My Shoulder
  9. Running Circles
  10. Two Angels
  11. The Coastline
  12. Unknown
  13. Jesse In An Old World
  14. Clifton Bridge