Robert Andresen (1937–1995) was a leading force in documenting, performing, and promoting old-time music in the Upper Midwest. The Minnesota native was an avid collector of traditional recordings, a composer of traditional-sounding songs, a recorder of old-time musicians, a writer of many articles about traditional music, and a teacher of traditional music.
In the 1980s, he hosted “Northland Hoedown,” a radio show aired over KUMD-FM, Duluth. He was instrumental in many musical releases featuring some of the leading players in the Upper Midwest, including Norwegian fiddler Leonard Finseth, Finnish fiddler Sulo Hackman, and the Plehal Brothers, radio stars of the live music era. Andresen was born in Minneapolis and raised on a farm in Outing, Minnesota. After high school, he studied graphic design and worked for more than twenty years at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich graphic company.
Andresen was a skilled guitar player who drew upon his love of bluegrass and Scandinavian music to become an innovator, adopting Scandinavian accordion and fiddle tunes for the guitar. Throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s Andresen played in an old-time band called the Wildwoods, comprised of his first wife Joanne, and her relatives Dale and Dorie. He also sat in with several famed old-time musicians from throughout the Upper Midwest. With his second wife, Gale Perry Andresen, he helped found the Lake Superior Old-time Fiddle Contest. He died of cancer on March 10, 1995.
About the collection
The Andresen Collection consists of manuscript materials, photographs, postcards, commercial sound recordings, and original reel tapes of The Northland Hoedown radio show. Included are subject files, song folios, photos, and newspaper clippings on Andresen’s performance and preservation efforts.
Musicians Walter Eriksson, Leonard Finseth, Sulo Hackman, the Plehal Brothers, and Otto Rindlisbacher are featured prominently in his collection. Fiddle folios and fiddle contest information are also abundant. Materials about Andresen and the state of old-time music in the Duluth region are best revealed in the general papers, which include published accounts of Andresen’s activities, the original manuscript of his article “Traditional Music of Wisconsin,” Andresen’s writings, and a small body of correspondence.
More than 200 photos and postcards can be found in the collection. Most images document performances by Andresen and other old-time musicians and were removed from their original files for preservation. Evidence of Andresen’s career as a graphic artist is represented throughout the collection with information on typography and the School of the Associated Arts.