BluesNews and The Norwegian Blues Union 15 Year

Rune Endal © Per Ole HagenThe Norwegian Blues Union and the magazine BluesNews celebrated their 15 year birthday yesterday. The party was held at Victoria Scene in Oslo with most of the best Norwegian blues artists during the last 40 years. (Picture: The editor of BluesNews, Rune Endal, and the leaders of the Norwegian Blues Union the last 15 years.)

Tiger City Jukes © Per Ole HagenKnut Eide and Harald Stokke from Tiger City Jukes

The concert was recorded by Norwegian radio, NRK P1, and one of the presenters of their weekly live music show, Radio Rock, Robert Satervik was the host for the party. The venue was packed with what is usually called the Norwegian blues family. They represented many of the 62 Norwegian blues clubs from all over the country which are members of the Norwegian Blues Union.

Vidar Busk © Per Ole HagenVidar Busk

First out was Vidar Busk, who made his debut at the Norwegian blues stage in 1997 with his album Stompin’ Our Feet With Joy and a great concert at the Notodden Blues Festival where he performed with a big band.

Trond Ytterbo and Morten Omlid © Per Ole HagenTrond Ytterbo and Morten Omlid

1997 was the year when some enthusiasts in the blues society decided to join their forces and started the Norwegian Blues union. At the same time, they decided to make the magazine for the Oslo Blues Club a magazine for Norwegian blues.

JT Lauritsen © Per Ole HagenJT Lauritsen

During the years after 1997, the Norwegian Blues Union has been central in placing Norwegian Blues on the international blues map. The latest endeavour has been that Notodden Blues Festival won the Keeping The Blues Alive award or best blues festival in 2011. Notodden has also been placed on the blues heritage list, as the only place outside of USA to be named part of The Mississippi Blues Trail.

Rita Engedalen © Per Ole HagenRita Engedalen with Morten Omlid and Stina Stenerud

Among the many great Norwegian blues artists, Rita Engedalen is the female artist to have won most awards. She has won the Norwegian Grammy, Spellemannprisen, and this year she won The European Blues Challenge.

Kurt Slevigen © Per Ole HagenKurt Slevigen

The magazine BluesNews has moved from a member fanzine to a high class magazine with great editorial content. And in February 2013 BluesNews will recieve the Keeping The Blues Alive Award in the Print Media class. For a magazine that was started by enthusiasts, they have come a long way towards the quality magazine it is today.

Heidi Solheim © Per Ole HagenHeidi Solheim

The Norwegian Blues Union is an organization for the Norwegian blues clubs and festivals. One of their activities, is the Blues Cup, where every year one band or artist is named the Union Blues Band. The finals are at the Notodden Blues Festival, and I have been the had of the jury for 11 years. The quality of the bands have been very good, and among the winners are artists like Hans Bolandsaas, Little Andrew and Pristine who won in 2010, with their singer Heidi Solheim.

Knut Reiersrud © Per Ole HagenKnut Reiersrud

Two of the Norwegian blues artists who have been active the longest, are Hungry John and Knut Reiersrud. Both of the started out in the 70’s and are still active as artists. Both of them performed at the birthday party yesterday.

Little Andrew © Per Ole HagenLittle Andrew

Among the other artists performing at the party were Jolly Jumper and Big Mo, The Douglas Group, Bjorn Berge, Jostein Forsberg and Morten Omlid, Kurt Slevigen, Arle Hjelmeland from  Good Time Charlie, Jan Tore Lauritsen, Knut Eide and Harald Stokke from Tiger City Jukes, Richard Gjems and Dr. Bekken, and last, but not least, Stina Stenerud.

Stina Steneru © Per Ole HagenStina Stenerud

Stina Stenerud is one of the newer artists, and has just released her second CD, Coming Home, to great reviews. She gave a good performance, showing what a great voice she has.

The Douglas Group © Per Ole HagenThe Douglas Group

I had to leave after the official concert, and before the jam. But the concert showed that the Norwegian blues scene is still vital, with a healthy mix of older artists and many young and upcoming artists who combine an understanding of the blues tradition with influences from different other styles.

Hungry John © Per Ole HagenHungry John

That is the way music develops, and it is safe to state that blues in Norway will keep on growing in the years to come. I am also sure that The Norwegian Blues Union and BluesNews will be part of this. I am already looking forward to their 25 year anniversary in 2022.

Arle Hjelmeland Good Time Charlie © Per Ole HagenArle Hjelmeland from Good Time Charlie

The concert will be broadcast on the show Radio Rock at NRK P1 sometime in the first part of 2013. They will put a  notice on their Facebook page when the show is scheduled for broadcast.

Dr. Bekken © Per Ole HagenDr. Bekken

All the pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.

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