Sophia Talvik began to play the piano at the age of eight. Like a lot of youngsters she grew tired of playing scales and dropped the piano for other interests. It was a twist of fate when she picked up a guitar at the age of 18. “I learned to play by writing,” said Sophia. She will be showcasing her talents at Berkeley Bob’s Coffee House on March 8. It’s a return performance that she is looking forward to.
The Swedish guitarist/singer/songwriter fondly recalls Cullman and Berkeley Bobs from a previous gig. She never forgot the warm welcome she received from the audience and from owner Bob Keefe.
“Berkeley Bob’s is amazing,” said Sophia. “And Bob is so sweet. I follow him on Facebook now, and he does a lot to help promote traveling musicians as well as those who are local. People come to his coffee house to listen — it’s a real music venue. I felt as though people had a real appreciation for true musicians there. Many places like this are closing due to larger, corporate coffee shops. I hope Bob’s is around for a long time.”
Sophia’s first album was titled, “Blue Moon”, it received great response in Sweden. It also convinced both Sophia and her husband, Jonas Westin, that they were ready to form their own record label in 2006 — they called it Makaki Music.
Her sound can best be described as American folk music with an overlay of Nordic melancholy — the lyrics and melody always keeping the Nordic focus, with bits of American folklore breaking through from time to time.
Since Sophia is a solo act, she prefers smaller cities to the larger ones where people can sometimes get lost in the crowd. “I’ve had some great experiences in large U.S. cities, but I enjoy the more intimate contact with the audience that only happens in smaller towns,” she explained.
The couple is currently touring Germany. She will be coming to the United States in just a few days to do another tour here. “This time we will only tour in the South,” she said.
The couple previously did a tour of 37 states over the course of 18 months. They drove an old RV and played their way into the hearts of the crowds of people who came to hear the beautiful blonde Swede with the folksy voice of a current-day Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez, popular folk singers of the ’60s.
Everywhere they stopped to sing, people came up to greet them. “Everyone was so open and friendly,” said Sophia. “They would often invite us to park our RV in their driveway, then invite us in for dinner or breakfast. In Sweden people don’t socialize as much as they do in the States,” she explained. “That may be because we have so many boarders, so many different languages. Here everything is so open — I really like openness,” she laughed.
During their adventures while on the U.S. tour, the young couple gathered stories and took wonderful photographs. The trip even provided Sophia with enough material for a book, a cookbook and an upcoming, as yet untitled album. One of the songs on it refers to Alabama, and is titled, “Big Sky Country”. “The song is about space and the experience of being in the U.S. and in Alabama,” she said. “In the heart of Alabama, Walter kept his house exactly as it was when his momma was alive and thirty thousand miles and four hundred something days has left me with an everlasting love for this place.”
The book is called “Drivin’ & Dreaming”, after Sophia’s tour in the U.S. by the same name. The coffee table book of 300 pages, released in 2013, is filled the adventures and sights of the tour. The limited edition sold out immediately. “We will be bringing one display copy on the upcoming tour,” Jonas explained. “If people would like to order it, we will print a second edition.”
The cookbook, called ”Drivin’ & Dreaming, The Recipes” will also be on sale on the tour. The cookbook contains recipes of the dishes Sofia cooked in the RV. “The book includes good simple food that is easy to cook in a small space, as well as some Swedish recipes such as Swedish meatballs and Swedish pancakes,” said Sophia.
In 2013, they released Sophia’s sixth album, “Drivin’ & Dreamin’ LIVE”, a compilation of songs from 250 live shows on their U.S. road trip.
“Drivin’ & Dreaming” is available on her website http://music.sofiatalvik.com/merch - and at her gigs.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for Sophia Talvik’s March 8, performance at Berkeley Bob’s in Cullman.
Berkeley Bob’s Coffee House
Saturday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m.