On the radio Cedar-Riverside station KFAI devoted its weekly Global Beat program to the Snoose Boulevard Project on 18 Sep.

A century ago

The American mid-West was a magnet for immigration from Scandinavia, and Minneapolis was where they came to buy snus (snuff) and Nordic newspapers, and be entertained in their own languages. Dania Hall in the Cedar-Riverside district offered music hall and variety in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.

The main street in a Scandinavian neighborhood was known in those days as “Snoose Boulevard”. In Chicago that was Chicago Avenue; in St Paul, Payne Avenue; and in Minneapolis, Cedar Avenue.

In the 1970s

Cedar Cultural Center
Cedar Cultural Center in the 1970s

The immigrants prospered and, as in so many immigrant neighborhoods, dispersed to wealthier suburbs. Rents in Cedar-Riverside remained low and the 1960s saw it colonised by students, artists, and hippies.

In the 1970s folklorist and musician Maury Bernstein organized in Cedar-Riverside the Snoose Boulevard Festival, a weekend-long revival and celebration of the songs popular along Cedar Avenue between the 1880s and early 1950s. There was dancing, and the street rang to the lively and melancholy songs of the Scandinavian pioneers.

The 1973 festival was carried on 102 National Public Radio stations throughout the U.S., and was broadcast on Swedish radio and television. Three LP collections were released:


Little remains of this today in Cedar-Riverside. The Cedar Cultural Center endures as a music venue but you are more likely to hear hip hop than “Hälsa Dem Därhemma”. The Acadia Café and other bars too remain live music venues. The current generation of immigrants is Somali. Snoose Boulevard is a fading memory, headed for university and folklore archives.

The Snoose Boulevard Project aims to celebrate that memory, and preserve the immigrants’ music for the enjoyment of future generations.


The project has the following aims:

  1. Preserve the digitized masters of the three festival albums in an institutional archive under a suitable license.
  2. Reissue the albums as CDs and LPs and make them available over a streaming music service such as iTunes or Spotify.
  3. Publish an illustrated history of the festival and the Scandinavian-American musicians and culture it celebrated, completing the work of the 1970s’ Olle i Skratthult Project.
  4. Launch the book and/or albums with performances in the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, and possibly venues in New York, London and Scandinavia.
  5. Connect the music of Snoose Boulevard to the present-day Somali immigrants, many of whom have reached Minneapolis through the generosity of Sweden as a refuge for those fleeing war and drought.


Anne-Charlotte Harvey and Maury Bernstein
Anne-Charlotte Harvey and Maury Bernstein

Anne-Charlotte Harvey has access to the master recordings for the festival albums.

The University of Augsburg published on YouTube extracts from the festival album Return to Snoose Boulevard.

The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis has eight boxes of material from Maury Bernstein’s estate:

  1. 18 audio tape reels of 1973, 1975, 1977 Snoose Boulevard Festival
  2. 35 audio tape reels of Olle I Skratthult productions
  3. Personal papers of Maury Bernstein: correspondence, financial, publicity photos, photographs
  4. Photographs of Anne-Charlotte Harvey, musicians, performers
  5. 10 cassette tapes and 1 reel-to-reel tape
  6. 14 audio reels of Memories of Snoose Boulevard, and Anne-Charlotte Harvey album cover
  7. 5 video cassetts of Snoose Boulevard, 37 audio tapes of interviews, Scandinavian humor, etc.
  8. 20 copies of Swedish Emigrant Ballads by Robert Wright, University of Nebraska, 1965; 12 stand-up publicity posters for the Snoose Boulevard Festival

Linda Gammell, a photographer, has color slides of the festival in her archive.

Olle i Skratthult

Accordion man
Olle i Skratthult in 1916 with accordionist Gustav Nyberg

Olle i Skratthult (roughly translated, “Olle from Laughtersville”), whose real name was Hjalmar Peterson, was America’s leading exponent of bondkomik, a uniquely Swedish variety of rustic comedy.

Born in Munkfors, Värmland, Feb. 7, 1886, he emigrated to America in 1906 and soon established himself as an entertainer. From about 1917 to 1933 Olle traveled the length and breadth of the U.S. with his Swedish-language “vaudeville” company of up to thirty singers, musicians, actors and dancers. Swedish-American vaudeville was not like its English-language counterpart. It was colorful, nostalgic and wholesome fun for all ages. It consisted of Swedish folk plays with olios, folk dancing, singing, recitations—and public old-time dancing at the end of the program.

Many of the most popular Scandinavian songs in America were introduced by the Olle i Skratthult Company: “Nikolina”, “Barndomshemmet”, and “Hälsa Dem Därhemma” are all on the first festival album.

Olle’s gentle comedy and captivating stage appearance were still fondly remembered by thousands of Scandinavian-Americans in the 1970s. He died in Minneapolis in 1960.



“Holy Yumpin Yiminy” (1918) was a product of New York’s Tin Pan Alley. It has fun with how Swedes often pronounced J in English words as they would in Swedish; that is, as a Y.

Holy Yumpin Yiminy

A simple Swedish girl was Hilda,
when she landed here,
but in one short year
she learned our ways and everything.
She got a beau named Yonnie Yonson
since she left the boat.
She sent his picture to the folks back home:
on the back of it she wrote:

Holy Yumpin’ Yiminy
how my Yonny can love!
When he kisses me, oh what yoy,
makes me feel so oh! by Yiminy!
He bane my sweet Papa,
I bane his Turtle dove.
He no bane much on reading books
and he bane worse when it comes to looks,
but holy Yumpin’ Yiminy,
how my Yonnie can love!

Now if you look at Yonnie’s picture
you might think he’s slow,
but he seems to know
’bout cows and dogs and everything.
And when you talk about my Yonnie
you speak of the best:
I found out lots of things about that boy,
he’s so different from the rest.

Holy Yumpin’ Yiminy
how my Yonny can love!
When he kisses me, oh what yoy,
makes me feel so oh! by Yiminy!
He bane my sweet Papa,
bane his Turtle dove.
He’s yust as clumsy as can be
but when he sits me on his knee,
Holy Yumpin’ Yiminy,
how my Yonnie can love!


The mockery cannot conceal its affection, and on the first festival album, Memories of Snoose Boulevard, Harvey’s interpretation is boisterous and irrepressible.


Anne-Charlotte Harvey and Maury Bernstein
Anne-Charlotte Harvey and Maury Bernstein

The Snoose Boulevard Project discussion group.

The following people want to see this project completed.

Stephen Benson
Stephen performed in variety at the festival and continues to teach comedy and bondhumor.
Mason Butler
Host, presenter and underwriting manager at KFAI radio in Cedar-Riverside. Butler interviewed Anne-Charlotte Harvey and Stephen Taylor on KFAI’s Global Beats program on 2019.09.18.
Emmy Carter
Booking director at the Cedar Cultural Center.
Marcus Cederstrom
Community Curator of Nordic-American Folklore, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, Madison, WI.
Stephen & Linda Gammell
Minneapolis residents of Norwegian descent. Stephen played guitar and piano at the festival and on the albums; Linda, a photographer, recorded it on color slides.
Parker Genné
Artist, storyteller, cabaret performer and co-founder of theater company Impossible Salt, Genné works with social-impact organisation Kairos Alive!
Paula Gudmundson
Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. Gudmundson has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio’s Regional Spotlight and in 2019, at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, performed a program of music by Scandinavian women.
Anne-Charlotte Harvey
Professor Emerita, School of Theatre, Television and Film, San Diego State University. Harvey was the headliner of the Snoose Boulevard Festival concerts and the singer on the festival albums.
Bruce Karstadt
Swedish consul, president and CEO of the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.
Peggy Korsmo-Kennon
Folklorist and Chief Operating Officer at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Korsmo-Kennon was a student of Maury Bernstein at the time of the festivals.
Åsa Larsson
Swedish folk musician, choirmaster of the Women’s Virtual Choir, and kulning practitioner.
Jim Leary
Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, Madison, WI
Aar Maanta
London-based Somali musician commissioned in 2017 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to produce a song to spread awareness about the dangers of crossing to war-stricken Yemen through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea from Africa. Artist-in-residence at the Cedar Cultural Center in 2018.
Seb Merrick
Artistic director of Kazum! and promoter of world music in London, England.
Drew Miller
Drew was part of the team that put on the Nordic Roots festival in 2008, and can advise on web design, licensing, handling digital recording and events promotion.
Anna Rue
Community Curator, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, Madison, WI
Ross Sutter
Minneapolis musician, entertainer and creator of the Swedish Song Games and Dances website.
Andrea Swensson
Andrea Swensson is a host and writer at Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current, where she helms The Local Show, a weekly show dedicated to exploring the Minnesota music scene, and the O.K. Show podcast, which investigates the intersection between music and wellness.
Stephen Taylor
Writer, librarian and community activist in London, England. Taylor is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Mariann Tiblin
Former curator of the Scandinavian collection at the Wilson Library, University of Minnesota
Douglas Yeager
Entertainment producer with fifty years of experience in film, theatre, records, concert promotion, special events and artist management. His concert promotions included Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Genesis, Allman Bros, Lionel Hampton, Yes, and Little Feat. Yeager’s recent film productions include Free To Rock; David Amram: The First 80 Years; and Odetta (in production). His management clients have included: Odetta, Josh White, Josh White, Jr., David Amram, Richie Havens, Randy Crawford and Tom Paxton.