Bluegrass Beyond Borders: New Sunny Side Ramblers share bluegrass in Scandinavia 

New Sunny Side Ramblers may be a band of Swedish origin, but their music sounds as if it originated in Appalachia. The band, which consists of Stefan Danielsson (lead vocals, harmonica), Mac Robertson (vocals and guitar),Tommy Sörensen (bass), Jörgen Carlsson (vocals and mandolin), and the group’s newest member Magnus Edring (banjo), can trace its origins back to just over a decade, to 2011 to be precise. At the time, the musicians brought varied influences spawned from their earlier experiences, but they were drawn together by a common desire to establish a musical bond centered around music of a vintage variety.

“Our sound is a blend of country, blues, bluegrass, old time tradition, gospel, Irish, and folk influences,” Robertson explains. “In that way, we differ a bit from other groups in that genre.”

That said, they draw on the usual influences. Robertson cites Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers, Union Station, Hot Rize, and Tony Rice as among the many artists that have helped them determine their direction. “We’ve managed to put together our own style,” Robertson maintains. “We try to distinguish ourselves from most others by having a bluesier sound and close four-part harmonies.”

Robertson says that during their tenure together, New Sunny Side Ramblers have put quite a bit of roadwork under their belts. “We have played in all parts of Sweden and in Denmark also,” he notes. “Plus, each summer, we do a couple of tours mostly in the southern part of the country where there are many festivals and events to be found. That includes six or seven major festivals, all of which have found the band making consistent appearances.”

Robertson added that while they’ve yet to perform with any major headliners, they would be eager to do so if the opportunity arises.

In the meantime, they’ve been finding favor with audiences at home. “It’s gone very well,” Robertson notes. “We have released two albums so far that have sold well, and we usually fill the gigs with cheering, happy crowds. The style is not as big here as in the USA, but it is growing.”

Their recorded output has certainly aided their efforts. New Sunny Side Ramblers’ most recent album, Eastbound, has been shared on Spotify, and the band recently shot a pair of promotional videos for two newer songs that are due to make their way onto YouTube in the very near future. The group has also engaged a temporary dobro player to join them for live performances.

Robertson also said that at the present time, their repertoire consists entirely of covers, all of which were chosen because they were good fits for the band’s style. He names True Grass by Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, Red Clay Halo by Gillian Welch, The Lakes Of Pontchartrain as recorded by Paul Brady, Jimmy Martin’s Tennessee, John Hartford’s Gentle On My Mind, the traditional tune, Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies, and East Bound and Down from Jerry Reed as among the nearly 60 songs that they regularly perform. 

Naturally then, Robertson tends to share his own perspective on why bluegrass maintains such a strong worldwide following. “The music is extremely danceable and happy, even if the lyrics often are sad,” he suggests. “Plus, it has international appeal in the truest sense because it can touch people, regardless of where they live and whatever language that they speak.”

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About the Author

Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman has been a writer and reviewer for the better part of the past 20 years. He writes for the following publications — No Depression, Goldmine, Country Standard TIme, Paste, Relix, Lincoln Center Spotlight, Fader, and Glide. A lifelong music obsessive and avid collector, he firmly believes that music provides the soundtrack for our lives and his reverence for the artists, performers and creative mind that go into creating their craft spurs his inspiration and motivation for every word hie writes.