Ivares Edvin Johnsson was born 1905 in Rättvik, Sweden in the village of Röjeråsen. He was the son of Ivares Jon Jonsson and Nygards Maria Olsson.
Edvin would spend much of his childhood with his grandparents who also lived in Röjeråsen. His grandfather, Ivares Jon Jonsson “the first,” and grandmother. Hanses Karin Vilkensdotter.
It was Edvin's grandmother, Karin, that we must credit for this survival of precious tradition. On a midsummer's night in 1910, she fixed beds in the hay loft of their barn, for her and little Edvin to sleep. They would lay there waiting for the sound of fiddle music. Then, in the distance, Edvin heard the fiddles. Closer and closer, until the fiddlers walked right by, and just below where Edvin watched from an open window. The dance was held just across the road. He could lay there and listen to fiddle music all night and dream about some day becoming a fiddle player himself. Thank you great grandmother Karin.
Edvin and Hed Jon became good fiddlers and were soon getting paid gigs. The photo below was taken before leaving for one of those gigs.
Hed Jon Ivares Edvin
When Edvin was only seven years old, he made his first fiddle and started practicing. His best friend, Hed Jon, also started to play fiddle. Learning to play the violin was only the first step for the two boys. Next was learning the dance tunes. The fiddle players back then were extremely protective of their music, so it was rare to find it written down and there were no recordings. So, whenever a dance was held in their village, Edvin and Hed Jon would sit outside the dance hall with their fiddles learning the tunes played inside, hopping to remember each tune correctly. After a couple years of practicing outside, they were invited to come in and play with the fiddlers. This was a special honor, because one of the fiddlers that night was Erik Sten, a master fiddler from the village of Blecket.
Below is a clip of Daniel and Bruce playing a Polska from Erik Sten. This is played in the same style it would have been with Daniel playing melody and Bruce the chording second. As you listen to this incredible four-part fiddle tune, imagine trying to learn it as Edvin and Hed Jon did.
In 1924, Edvin's grandmother arranged for him to go to America and work for his uncle, Ivares Erik Johnsson, a plaster contractor in Minneapolis. He thought for sure that was the end of his fiddle playing, so just before leaving Edvin and Hed Jon went out into the forest, dug a hole and buried Edvin’s fiddle, case, and bow. The fiddle in the photo is that fiddle and is still buried out in the forest some where in Röjeråsen.
This is the MS Gripsholm; the steam ship that brought Edwin and so many others to America. It took two weeks on the ocean to reach New York, then 2 to 3 days to get to Minneapolis by train.
After being in America only a few months, Edwin was invited to a dance party. There in the middle of the dance floor, stood the master fiddler, Nall Jon Ericksson, who also emigrated from Rättvik just a few years before. Nall Jon asked Edwin, "Where is your fiddle?" "I buried it," Edvin replied. "Well, then you better find another one because your my new fiddle partner. Edwin did find another fiddle and he and Nall Jon became best friends and fiddle partners from that day on.
Nall Jon Ivares Edvin
Nall John was a fantatic fiddler from the village of Satra in Rättvik. He was uncle to the famous Rättvik fiddler, Sabb John.