Vidar Busk has played blues professionally for almost two thirds of his life since he was sixteen years old. It has been a roller coaster with ups and downs during these thirty years. Musically he has always been sharp, and he has moved in and out of styles, from rockabilly and jump blues through New Orleans style music to soul, but the blues has always been there. These days he is back with his old band, His True Believers, and yesterday night they played at Rockefeller in Oslo.
This year has been a good year so far for Vidar Busk. In Augst his biography, “Balladen om Vidar Busk” (The Ballad of Vidar Busk) was released at the Notodden Blues Festival. At the same time, a double best of CD, “Vidar Busk, Tung ørn flyr lavt” (Heavy Eagle fies Low) was released with 37 tracks from the his CD releases the last 18 years.
At Notiodden Vidar Busk held a concert with his band, and last night it was time for an Oslo concert at Rockefeller. Before the concert, his biographer, Erik Holien and Vidar Busk talked with Nazneen Kahn-Østrem about the book and about Vidar’s history. To those of you who haven’t read the book, or don’t read Norwegian, since the book isn’t translated to other languages, I can say that Vidar’s life has been full of valleys, successes, unsound life styles, but the guitar and the blues has been his lifeline the whole way.
The band, His true Believers, are Rune Endal on bass, who also played when he made his album debut in 1997, Dag Yri on keyboard, Eirik Bergene on harmonica and vocals and drummer Alexander Pettersen. Like at Notodden, they also had horns – trumpet, trombone and sax. A concert with Vidar Busk & His True Believers is a tour de forece with seamless transitions between the songs. Vidar’s guitar is always there, and he and the band go from instrumental via vocal songs and through dfferent styles during the concert.
Vidar Busk’s first three albums were in the style of jump blues, rockabilly (Stomping My feet With Joy and I Came Here To Rock), big band blues (Atomic Swing), but on his three next, he ventured over to his own flavor of soul noir, Louisianna style, exemplified by Goodbye Moon from the album Venus, Texas from 2001. Lately he has been back to blues, more or less, but mixing in elements from other styles into an interesting musical gumbo.
As a guitarist in his musical univers, Vidar Busk is one of the best I know of. He has complete control of the guitar. He also has the good taste to not play solo all the time, although we get the solos we want. He shares vocals with Eirik Bergene, who is an undicovered vocal star. His vocals on the song So Much In Love by Lee Oskar with lyrics by Bergene was one of the highlights for me. His harmonica playing is also exquisite, playing chromatic harmonica like the best.
The rest of the band is super tight. Rune Endal played with Vidar Busk in the 90’s and has been back in the band again the last years, while Alexander Pettersen is one of our absolute best newer blues drummers. His playing is tight, technical, and true to style. Dag Yri lays down the chords on organ and piano and fills in to the total sound.
I had to leave before the concert ended, but it was a true joy as long as it lasted, with a happy Vidar Busk on stage. He can seem shy and not the most social man outside of the stage, but when he gets his guitar plugged in, he is the king. I always enjoy seeing and hearing him live, and yesterday was definitely no exception.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.