Runes av Vaskeri are a modern day beat group somewhat focused on the sound of ‘60s Scandinavian pop groups. Though their name is Norwegian (being a fanciful play on the Kensington Runestone legend) they have covered songs by groups from all the Nordic nations, in addition to a longboat load of originals. Always striving for the wistful feel and strong dynamics typically found in this rather obscure sub-genre of Sixties rock, their own songs add a unique Midwestern stamp to the template.
The mod yet melancholy sounds that Runes av Vaskeri trade in were pioneered in mid-‘60s Scandinavia by groups such as The Pussycats, Thor’s Hammer, Shanes, Tages, Mascots, Ola & The Janglers, Hep Stars (featuring the pre-Abba Benny Andersson) and dozens more. While most betrayed a strong Anglophile streak, the often pensive lyrics and some traditional folk influences painted a uniquely Nordic picture. From ’64-’68 this “beat group” scene thrived while hundreds of records were released, many now commanding sky high prices in the collectors market.
The origin of the Runes name comes from a twisted tale of a long forgotten Norwegian beat group, supposedly visiting the American midwest in 1966 and vanishing soon after losing all of their stage clothes in a small town laundromat (“Vaskeri” in Norwegian). But not before leaving a message of distress carved in runic characters on the side of a broken down Norge washing machine. Most experts deride the story as a hoax closely mirroring the legend of Minnesota’s Kensington Runestone, supposedly carved by Vikings in the 1360s. The members of RAV however, continue to believe and formed their new band in 2014 to approximate the sound of the mythic, ill-fated heroes of this little known saga.
Runes av Vaskeri consists of four stalwart veterans of the Twin Cities music scene:
Guitarist Keith Patterson spent half of the ‘80s and 90’s as leader of The Funseekers and The Spectors. He is well known for his missionary zeal when it comes to obscure musical arcana, playing a large part in the rediscovery and resurrection of the legendary Monks (five American GIs who shook up Germany in the ‘60s).
Drummer Steve Kent has played in local bands since 1979 when his first group featured the pre-Replacements Paul Westerberg. He worked with Keith as a member of The Conquerors from ’96-’06 and more recently in the popular Kinks tribute act “Kinda Kinky!”, voted by the Minneapolis StarTribune as one of the top ten live bands in 2013.
Charlotte Crabtree has been the longstanding bassist for the popular local act The Legendary Jim Ruiz (latterly known as The Jim Ruiz Set). Their bossa nova inspired beat has been internationally lauded, twice taking them as far as Japan.
Sally Sweet played organ on the very first 45 by pioneering garage girls The Blue Up and went on to vocalize for The Cavegurls, who made another very collectible record.
All the members of Runes av Vaskeri have dozens of records released between them. Work is now being completed on a full length LP following their debut EP on Korda.