Next Thursday, August 1st the twenty sixth Notodden Blues Festival starts. A program topped with Van Morrison, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, Royal Southern Brotherhood and John Mayall is ready for blues fans from all over Norway. Notodden is the meeting place for the Norwegian blues family, and this year’s festival looks very good.
The main headliner at the festival is Van Morrison. I have seen him live three times, twice at the Norwegian Wood, and once, in 2008, at the SXSW in Austin. All concerts have ben good, but the one at Norwegian Wood in 2000 was a special one, where he also was in very good spirits. You can read the story here. A concert with Van Morrison isn’t about an interesting stage show, it is about his songs and his very personal way of interpreting them. Look forward to a great experience.
Susan Tedeschi has been a blues artist for many years, and Derek Trucks has been a member of the Allman Brothers Band since 1999. Tedeschi and Trucks are maried, and in 2010 the formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band with members from their two solo bands. I have seen both Tedeschi and Trucks with their seperate bands, but never together. But from what I have heard from each of them, it will certainly be a good show.
The third headliner is John Mayall, and he shouldn’t need any introductions. His title as the grandfather of British blues is well deserved, and he is responsible for giving the start to musicians like Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, John MicVie, Buddy Whittington and the nucleus of the British band Colosseum. Mayall visited Notodden in 2004, and he also got the NBF Blues Price in 2004. This fall John Mayall will be 80 years old, and there are no signs that he will stop playing yet.
Eric Burdon visited Notodden two years ago and did a great show there. He was 70 that year, but he still had his fantastic voice that many of us remember from the Animals period in the 60’s. He sung many of his newer songs, but also old favorites from the 60’s, and will probably do the same this year, too. I saw him live the first time in 2003, in Bergen, but the 2011 concert at Notodden was even better.
Charlie Musselwhite has visited Notodden several times, and he is always a an artist to watch. Having been active since the mid 60’s, Musselwhite has played with all the major blues artists, like B.B. King, Koko Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Jimmie Vaughan, and also artists like Tom Waits. Charlie Musselwhite is also a friendly artist who is aware of his fans and mingle easily with them.
Royal Southern Brotherhood is a new acquaintance to me, although I have seen many of their members before. Devon Allman is the son of Gregg, and he is a great blues singer himself. Cyril Nevill is part of the legendary Neville Brothers, and Mike Zito is a rocking blues guitarist based in Texas. I saw Devon Allman briefly at Notodden in 2006, and Cyril Neville at the Bay Fest in Mobile in 1996, and I really look forward to seeing them together with the rest of the band.
Beth Hart has visited Notodden and Norway several times the last 8 years, and she always gives a great show. Her show and her songs are personal, drawing on her troubled background. Her band is tight, and they back her up perfectly. Beth Hart’s latest endeavor is her cooperation with super guitarist Joe Bonamassa, whom she has recorded, and also toured with. Here are some more pictures of Beth Hart.
BigBang is a Norwegian rock trio who has been one of our best live bands the last 15 years. They have had several members, but singer, guitarist and songwriter Oystein Greni has been the focal points in all their constellations. The other members this time, are Olaf Olsen on drums and vocals and Nicolai Haengsle Eilertsen on bass and vocals. Look forward to a vital show, and maybe a stage dive with guitar from Mr. Greni.
Ida Jenshus is coming up as Norway’s leading country/Americana artist. She has developed her own personal style, and writes great songs. Her three CDs have all received a Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannprisen), and she has been touring extensively the last couple of years. Ida Jenshus is always a pleasure to see on stage, and she has an excellent band with her.
Knut Reiersrud has been around on the Norwegian blues scene since the 70’s, and he still manages to amaze me with his music. He is an extremely accomplished guitarist, a good singer, and he is not afraid of trying out different music styles. This has made Reiersrud one of our most interesting artists to follow, whatever style, and you never know what he will present next time. What you know, is that is will be something to remember.
Dana Fuchs has come up as a Janis Joplin interpreter, but has gradually developed her own distinct sound. She has been a popular guest at Notodden several times, together with at other festivals in Norway, and is one of the artists who most people wanted to see again. Look forward to an intense show with a hard working and very tight band.
James Hunter is a British rhythm and blues singer who has caught the attention of many people after he released the song People Gonna Talk. I saw him at the SXSW in Austin this year, and James Hunter does much more than People Gonna Talk. Together with some great playing and singing, he also does some heavy gymnastics on stage.
Of the artists I haven’t seen before, Mud Morganfield is the one I am most looking forward to. Mud is the son of Muddy Waters and has made a great career for himself.
Other artists playing at Notodden this year, are Kaare Virud, Norsk Utflukt, Valkyrien All Stars, Damer i Blues, Spoonful of Blues, JT Lauritsen, Monica Heldal, El Cuero and several others.
Notodden Blues Festival is the main blues festival in Norway, and they have also placed Norway on the international blues map with their work through the Blues Foundation. This year will be my 19th festival and I can truly say that I have enjoyed every year I have been there. NRK P1 will record many of the concerts an will also broadcast live from the festival in the program Radio Rock. I will report from the festival on this blog.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.