Watch CBS News

Metal guitarist turned crooner sings with big band at Sweetwater

SAN FRANCISCO -- A longtime figure on the Bay Area's rock and metal scene explores a different side of music when vocalist Sven Söderlund and his Masterful Orchestra perform at an early brunch show at the Sweetwater Sunday.

A well-regarded metal guitarist who came up during the rise of the thrash-metal scene in San Francisco during the early '80s, Soderlund was raised in a musical family (both his parents played jazz) and picked up the six-string at the age of nine. By 1984, he had been invited to join then fledgling thrash outfit Mordred before eventually striking out on to found Mercenary with Mordred guitarist Danny White.

Mercenary - Demo 1986 (Demo) [Thrash Metal] by Jay Smith on YouTube

While Mercenary would only play a couple of gigs and record a demo in 1986 during it's initial existence before imploding, the group achieved a sort of legendary status locally and in Europe as their demo was shared between metal fans. Söderlund would also work in the music industry as a roadie and guitar tech, touring extensively with Exodus and other acts.

As the '80s turned into the '90s, Söderlund played guitar in a number of projects (Exterminator, Morticious and Mercyful Fate tribute Hail Satan) as well as a stint in Laaz Rockit. Later, he would participate in an onstage reunion with Mercenary in the early 2000s and live performances with Mordred and Heathen. Though Mercenary would reform as an active group in 2007, more recently the musician decided to try his hand at the music he heard his parents playing during his youth.

Sven & The Masterful Majestic Orchestra At The Great American Music Hall SF 8/25/2018 by todd owens on YouTube

Convening a large ensemble featuring horns and strings in 2017, the group rehearsed a set of jazz and swing standards made famous by the likes of Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Last July, Söderlund and the band he christened the Masterful Orchestra made their debut at the Bottom of the Hill, cramming onto the stage for a full house of fans. They have since performed at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek and the Great American Music Hall.

Great set by Sven and his Masterful Orchestra this afternoon! Lots of classic tunes, a deep Sinatra cut I'm going to have to ask him about, a remarkable song written by his mom and this Thin Lizzy gem. Smashing!

Posted by Dave Pehling on Saturday, October 19, 2019

The singer and his group celebrated the release of their debut CD with an outdoor concert at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park two years ago, drawing a big crowd to enjoy an afternoon of classic standards, Sinatra deep cuts, a song written by his composer mother and even a nod to his hard-rock roots with a swinging take on the Thin Lizzy hit "Dancing in the Moonlight."

Sven & The Masterful Orchestra I’ve Got You Under My Skin Live @The Music Concourse GGP SF 11/20/21 by todd owens on YouTube

Last November, the band returned to the stage for it's first public performance in over a year, drawing a large crowd for a free Saturday afternoon concert at the Golden Gate Park bandshell. For this noon show at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, brunch will be available from the connected Rock & Rye restaurant.

Sven & the Masterful Orchestra
Sunday, Aug. 7, 12 p.m. $20
Sweetwater Music Hall

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.