Cloquet High School graduate Ariane Norrgard and her friend, Gaelynn Lea, are about to premier the latest release by their electrified folk/alternative band, Snöbarn, in the Duluth area.
Both women have deep Scandinavian roots: the name Snöbarn means “snow children” in Swedish. Snöbarn has been playing shows around northern Minnesota for just over three years.
These two friends are deeply inspired by the Duluth music community. Norrgard grew
up listening to local music like Mary Bue, Low, and Charlie Parr.She took her influences seriously and started writing original music at the age of 15. Lea grew up in Duluth and started learning classical violin in fifth grade. She later picked up traditional Celtic and American fiddle tunes at the Sir Ben’s jams, developing an improvisational style all her own. She has performed with a number of local musicians including Dan Dresser, Charlie Parr, and Alan Sparhawk.
Together, Norrgard and Lea take music and activism very seriously, playing for nonprofits, festivals and benefit concerts at least as often as they play in bars. They advocate for the equality of women, disability rights, free expression, environmental awareness, and healthy living.
Their friendship has become somewhat of a phenomenon in itself. They live together, work together, and take on the world together. Their music is an honest attempt to inspire resilience in others through inclusivity and respect. They coined the phrase "Be the Weird" and act on it religiously.
Initially a duo, they have since added two percussionists and a bassist -- Snöbarn is now a full five-piece band. Norrgard sings and plays electric guitar and piano, Lea plays fiddle and sings the harmonies, Bryan “Lefty” Johnson and Chad Erlemeier keep the rhythm, and George Ellsworth completes the sound on bass and keys.
For special concerts the band is also joined by flautist Matthew Palmquist, harmonica player Tim White, and French horn player Brian Bluhm. Together Norrgard and Lea write original songs inspired by their intricate and meaningful friendship.
They aim to create music that is catchy but not campy, thought-provoking but not despairing: their sound is a product of their honest experiences in Northern Minnesota. Snöbarn’s music includes rich vocal harmonies, layered rhythms, and intricate instrumentation, and is not easily characterized as a particular genre.
The band recently created their debut album, “Hand by Hand.” They recorded it at Sacred Heart, a rare and beautiful church turned recording studio in Duluth. Snöbarn’s album release show is scheduled for Friday, June 14, at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth and is open to people ages 18 and over. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the evening begins with a pre-concert art show and sale featuring Shawn Stigsell, Gage Salyards, Melissa Weisser, Justin Edberg Photography, Purple Sun Studio, and SkatRadioh accompanied by the music of Mary Bue. There will also be a showing of Snöbarn’s first music video, which was a collaborative project between Lakefront Films and Dan Dresser. The concert starts at 8:30 p.m. with performances by Yester, Snöbarn, and Charlie Parr. This event is held in celebration of the Duluth art and music community, and is cosponsored by Clyde Iron Works, KUMD, ARAC, and Chaperone Records. Tickets are $10 and are available at Clyde Iron Works. They will also be available at the door the night of the show.