116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DECORAH — Decorah-based Foot-Notes band, with support from Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, invite everyone to a YouTube watch party of the recorded concert “Foot-Notes & Friends Play the Music of Johan Arndt Mostad — Lost Tunes from a Norwegian Immigrant’s Notebooks.”
To tune in, visit Vesterheim's YouTube channel at youtube.com/VesterheimMuseum on Tuesday at noon. A watch party is a way for people to view a video at the same time and interact with one another. The video will remain available for public viewing after the watch party.
“As a dance band, Foot-Notes does not always have the opportunity to tell a story, so we are thrilled to share these unique tunes and the story of this Norwegian immigrant musician,” said Beth Hoven Rotto, Foot-Notes fiddler.
Johan Arndt Mostad (1833-1909) was a member of a well-known family of musicians from the Frosta area of Trøndelag, Norway. Johan immigrated to northeast Iowa as an adult in 1869 and was a popular performer for local dances and house parties. Along with the performance, the concert includes stories about Mostad’s life in Norway and Iowa and anecdotes from old-time dance parties and barn dances in rural Iowa.
Musicians playing in the concert are Beth Hoven Rotto, fiddle and piano; Jon Rotto, guitar; Ann Streufert, violin and viola; Amy Shaw, flute; and Rob Hervey, bass, mandolin and guitar. Guest musicians include Bill Deutsch, Janette Dragvold, Tyler Hendrickson, Kailin Jolstad, Lindsey Scott and Dianne Clark Prieditis, who is a great-granddaughter of Johan Arndt.
Hoven Rotto discovered Mostad's tune books during a research project on music traditions in 1998. Through connections and conversations, Hoven Rotto heard of “a wonderful fiddler who kept tune books in a beautiful hand.” The notebooks were found in the possession of one of Arndt’s relatives, but the flowery script was difficult to read.
Recently, all 787 tunes and tune fragments were transcribed to standard notation through an award from the American Scandinavian Foundation. This concert builds on that accomplishment by bringing this rare collection of music to life.
“The musicians are thankful for funding support from the American Scandinavian Foundation and filming expertise from Vesterheim staff member Isaiah Solheim,” Hoven Rotto said. The concert is dedicated to Decorah musician John Goodin.
Foot-Notes originates from Decorah, and has made a name for themselves as bearers of Norwegian-American dance music traditions in the Upper Midwest. Together they have performed at local events and dances, but have also appeared on regional, national and Norwegian radio, at the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife in Washington, D.C., the Festival of Iowa Folklife in Des Moines, Iowa, and performed as part of the “Masters of Tradition” series at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. They have produced several recordings, including “Decorah Waltz” and “My Father Was a Fiddler.”
Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in the conversation of the American immigrant journey through the lens of the Norwegian-American experience. Vesterheim offers innovative and interactive exhibits, classes, and programs, both at the dynamic campus and park in scenic Decorah, Iowa, and online at vesterheim.org and Vesterheim social media. For more information on exhibits, classes, programs, tours, membership opportunities, and ways to donate and volunteer, connect at vesterheim.org, (563) 382-9681, and Vesterheim, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.