Mark Olson (featuring Ingunn Ringvold)
With Max Holmquist
The Waiting Room Lounge in Omaha, NE
December 3, 2017
Some of my recent reviews were of Gogol Bordello and the amazing Pixies. It was a special treat to have the volume turned down on me and be afforded an opportunity to cover former Jayhawks front-man and inventive songwriter Mark Olson.
The event opened with local musician Max Holmquist. Max is lead vocal of the band Oquoa. Don’t bother trying to look up the meaning as it’s a made up word. According to Max, the band simply got a bit frustrated when trying come up with a band name, so much so, they simply just made up a word. Max brought his acoustic guitar a stool and a microphone and showed us why he was worthy of opening this show. Max sings effortlessly. The music seems to just fall out of his mouth. His lyrics are honest and tell the listener stories. Matter of fact, it’s almost as if he is reading to us instead of singing to us. The audience may not have been large, but they were very appreciative of the performance Max gave, and I can’t imagine a better choice to open this show. Really well done.
Max Holmquist’s Set List:
Yellow Flag | Move Your Body | Kid | Loose Ends | Whiteclay | Dreamcatcher | Dirt Road
After a short break, Mark Olson and his musical and life partner, his wife, Ingunn Ringvold took the stage. As you probably know, Mark was a founding member of the alt country band the Jayhawks and now he and his wife are touring in support of their new album, “Spokeswoman Of The Bright Sun.” If I’m being honest, I’d have to say the size of the crowd was disappointing, but being the true professionals they are, Mark and Ingunn sang and performed as if it were a sold out show. The people that were there were treated to a superb show, full of great songs, great lyrics and great instruments. Everything from Mark’s trusty ole’ Electric Fender to what I learned was a Qanun. This curious and fascinating instrument resembles a zither, but has 77 strings. This thing was a beast, but Ingunn had obviously tamed it many years ago as, from it, she was able to produce improbable melodramatic sounds. The music was beautiful and full of Eastern and Asian influences. They sung gently and they spoke to the audience making sure they understood their background and why each song was written. We all could tell that what they were doing was sincere and that they have a fondness for what they do. Although I do enjoy bands like Flogging Molly and being tossed around a pit a bit, I must confess that It was nice, to sit at a table and really listen to some great lyrics and some really marvelous musicianship.
Mark Olson’s Set List:
Seminole Valley | Blue | Spokeswoman | Running Circles | Poison Oleander | Clouds | Dear Elizabeth | Go-Between Butterfly | Mary Francis | Two Angels | Pray For Me | You Are All | Black Eyed Susan | Clifton Bridge | Cherry Thieves | Will I Be Married | Over My Shoulder | Many Colored Kite
– Photos and review by Dean Birkheimer, Go Venue Magazine Photojournalist