In Norway we have a few of what can be called grand old men in popular music. Åge Aleksandersen is one, and Bjørn Eidsvåg is another. They have both produced albums for more than 40 years, and are still productive. Both write good, meaningful lyrics in Norwegian and catchy melodies, and they both tour around the country. Åge Aleksandersen comes from a rock tradition, while Bjørn Eidsvåg’s background is as a singer songwriter. Last night Bjørn Eidsvåg held a concert at Oslo Spektrum with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, KORK and several guests. (Picture above from the left: Kurt Nilsen, Elvira Nikolaisen, Lisa Nilsson, Gabrielle Leithaug and Bjørn Eidsvåg)
Hedvig Mollestad is one of the toughest ladies playing the guitar. She plays with her own trio, a very personal mix of intricate jazz and pure heavy gutar rock. The trio has been on a hiatus while Hedvig Mollestad has been home with here baby, but now they are back with a vengeance. Yesterday they played at John Dee for an enthusiastic audience.
Keep of Kalessin was formed twenty two years ago and is still playing together. They have had some personell changes, the most notable lately is that their singer, Thebon, left the band two years ago. The rest of the band has been the same for ten years, and you can clearly hear this when they are playing live. Thursday night they played at Rockefeller, celebrating the ten year anniversary of their label Indie Recordings.
I recently wrote about deLillos, one of the four great rock bands in Norway. Wednesday night twenty five different artists held a tribute concert to Raga Rockers, one of the other of the four greats. The occasion is that a CD box was released, Sannhet på boks (Truth In A Box), with twelve CDs with all of Raga Rockers’ songs, performed by these twenty five and almost one hundred more artists. (Picture above: former minister of culture Åse Kleveland, Atle Egil Glomstad and Chris Damien Doll)
From the late 80’s and the 90’s, we had the “Four Greats” in Norway, four rock bands that were hugely popular and where all the lyrics were in Norwegian. DeLillos, Dum Dum Boys, Raga Rockers and Jokke og Valentinerne had great sales and held sold out concerts around the country. Up until then there was little honor among rock bands and audiences in singing in Norwegian, that was reserved for the slightly inferior folks songs and dance hall music. This week and next deLillos celebrate 30 years since their debut by playing through all their albums, with one concert every day for 10 days.
The first time I saw Steve Earle, was in 1999 when he visited Rockefeller in Oslo with The Del McCoury band. The year after he was the keynote speaker at the SXSW, delivering a strong speech against capital punishment. Later I saw him at Rockefeller again in 2004, and at the Austin City Limits festival in 2005, and then at Bergen Fest in 2013. It is always difficult to point out which one was the best concert, but I might fall down on the Del McCoury concert plus the one last night at Rockefeller.
1349 is one of Norway’s leading black metal bands. They were formed in 1997, and they are named after the year the Black death came to Norway, killing more than half of the Norwegian population and somewhere between 50 and 80 million people in Europe. This year it is 666 years since the Black death, and last night 1349 presented their album Hellfire from 2005 at the Vulkan Arena in Oslo, celebrating, or maybe rather commemorating those 666 years.
Norway have quite a few world class jazz musicians, among them Terje Rypdal, Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen, Karin Krogh, Bugge Wesseltoft, Nils Petter Molvær and Eivind Aarseth. But there is liitle dispute that Jan Garbarek is in a special class, and has been since the mid 70s. He started playing in the 60’s, but his career got up to full speed with the collaboration with Keith Jarrett on the LP Belonging in 1974, and he has kept up since then. Last night and tonight he plays two sold out houses at Bærum Kulturhus, awith his band, nd I was there yesterday.
Sometimes I wonder why we know everything about American and English artist in Norway and almost nothing about artists from outside these countries. One thing is tradition, another is the language. I have also been ignorant to the great musical culture in many of these countries. But after having spent more time in Spain I have opened my ears to their music, and last night I saw one of the best representants of modern Spanish song tradition, Rosario Flores.