The girl with the red accordion

NANAIMO: Norwegian artist plays concert at the Queen's.

Guro von Germeten bought her first accordion on a whim. It’s now her signature instrument and she performs at the Queen’s Sunday (Sept. 16).

Guro von Germeten bought her first accordion on a whim. It’s now her signature instrument and she performs at the Queen’s Sunday (Sept. 16).

Guro von Germeten’s music career took an abrupt turn five years ago when she spied a little red accordion in a used instrument shop in Oslo, Norway, one grey February day.

The singer/songwriter was studying to become an opera singer at the time, but she was struggling with the structure and rules of classical music, which she felt did not allow her the artistic freedom she desired.

The accordion was an impulse buy that day and von Germeten didn’t expect it to lead anywhere – she had played a bit of piano, electric bass and classical guitar in the past, but nothing but singing had stuck with her so far.

“I didn’t know how to play, but it felt very natural,” she said. “It has all this sorrow in it, these big emotions, these big chords. You can make things that are quite simple sound really big. It has so much personality in it.”

A few months after buying the accordion, von Germeten took a trip to Paris to play her instrument on the streets, vowing that if people were interested in hearing her play the accordion, she would keep with it.

The rest, as they say, is history.

A steady stream of concerts followed and von Germeten’s first album, Bad Dreams and Good Nightmares, was released in 2010.

“Once you start writing your own music, you can do whatever,” she said. “I can decide how it’s going to sound, how I can use my voice, what I want to sing about. It’s kind of free.”

Von Germeten describes her music as a mixture of vintage jazz and the French chanson tradition with elements of Balkan folk and Tom Waits.

The music is decadent, pompous and big, but also personal and intimate, she said.

She plays both solo and accompanied by other instruments.

Von Germeten is coming to Canada – her first tour overseas – to play at Vancouver’s Accordion Noir Festival today (Sept. 13), where she is looking forward to hanging out with other “accordion geeks.”

She heads to the Queen’s to play a solo concert on Sunday (Sept. 16) and while she writes mainly in English, von Germeten hopes to treat the Nanaimo crowd to some songs written in Norwegian.

Von Germeten is also bringing her new album Come Stand Before Me. The new album’s official release date in Norway is not until January, but she received permission to bring a special edition to Canada.

Von Germeten’s concert with Jupiter Jill at the Queen’s starts at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $14 in advance from the Queen’s and $18 at the door.

Just Posted

The Nanaimo sign at Maffeo Sutton Park could be hazardous for children, says letter writer. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nanaimo sign will cause falls

Children can’t resist climbing on sign, says letter writer

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomy by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Nanaimo rapper Sirreal plays the Port Theatre on June 25. (Photo courtesy Alanna Morton)
Nanaimo rapper Sirreal and friends play the Port Theatre

Live-streamed concert the second in venue’s Discovery Series highlighting local artists

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above seasonal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above normal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Heat wave will see Nanaimo temperatures rise 5-10 degrees above normal

Sun with highs of 28 C forecast by Environment Canada for Harbour City on Sunday and Monday

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

Robin Dutton, left, and Peter Sinclair are taking their mountain bikes and travelling down trails in the Mount Benson area June 19 as part of a 24-hour fundraiser benefiting Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Full-day mountain bike fundraiser gives financial support for Nanaimo food bank

Event part of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Food 4 Summer campaign

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding partnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read