Blues in Hell 2015 with John Mayall, Reidar Larsen, Noora Noor, Knockout Greg and others

Travellin Brothers © Per Ole HagenThe second night of Blues in Hell had John Mayall as the headliner. They also had a CD release concert by Reidar Larsen and a surprisingly good concert with Tor Einar Bekken, Richard Gjems and Noora Noor in the acoustic tent. Swedish Knockout Greg & The Injectors followed up with a stylish and powerful concert before, like on Friday night,  Davina & The Vagabonds closed the night in the acoustic tent, and The Travellin Brothers did the same on the main stage. (Picture above: Travellin Brothers)

Reidar Larsen © Per Ole HagenReidar Larsen

Reidar Larsen © Per Ole Hagen

Reidar Larsen © Per Ole HagenArne Skage, Reidar Larsen’s guitarist

My first concert Saturday night was Reidar Larsen. He is Norway’s leading piano blues man with a strong leaning towards New Orleans style blues. His first album, I’m a Bluesman was released in 182, and yesterday was the release of his 11th album, Blåtoner fra bakrommet (Blue Notes From The Back Room), his second album with Norwegian lyrics. A concert with Reidar Larsen and his band is one and a half hours of high quality playing and Reidar’s funny comments in between the songs.

John Mayall © Per Ole HagenJohn Mayall

John Mayall © Per Ole Hagen

When I started playing in a band in high school, Peter Greene, Mike Bloomfield and Steve Winwood were my heroes. Since Peter Greene played with John Mayall before starting Fleetwood Mac, I wa also a fan of John Mayall, and listened a lot to his first albums. My favorite after A Hard Road was Blues From Laurel Canyon. Last night John  Mayall played at Hell, and he played The Bear and Walking On Sunset as song number two and three.

John Mayall © Per Ole Hagen

John Mayall © Per Ole Hagen

The last time I saw John Mayall, at Notodden in 2013, I thought that he was a good bit over the top. But yesterday’s concert proved I was wrong. Mayall still has the spirit, and played a really good concert with his band, Rocky Athos on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass and  Jay Davenport on drums. John Mayall and the band are playing in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, England and many other countries on this tour, and I recommend you to go see them if you can. John Mayall will be 82 years old November 29th, but he has still a lot of mileage in his body.

Tor Einar Bekken © Per Ole HagenTor EInar Bekken

Noora Noor © Per Ole HagenNoora Noor

Tor Einar Bekken is a pianist who has specialiced in the jazz and blues pianists’ music from the 20’s and 30’s, like Jelly Roll Morton, and also writing his own songs in the same style. Richard Gjems plays harmonica, and he is Norway’s foremost expert on everytrhing harmonica. He has his own unique style, and does amazing things on his instruments. Noora Noor sings soul, and released a criticaly acclaimed album, Soul Deep, in 2009. Now these three artists have teamed up, and they held their first concert together at Hell.

Richard Gjems © Per Ole HagenRichard Gjems

Noora Noor © Per Ole Hagen

The concert started with Bekken and Gjems doing songs together. I really enjoyed them, since both are virtuosos, but thay also have the musical intelligence that makes them good partners. When Noora Noor entered the stage, everything fell together. I would think that vocals, piano and harmonca might be boring, but I was wrong, it worked like a charm. If we are lucky, their collaboration will result in an album soon.

Knockout Greg © Per Ole HagenKnockout Greg & The Injectors

Knockout Greg © Per Ole Hagen

Knockout Greg © Per Ole Hagen

Knockout Greg is a Swedish blues man ho plays both the harmonica and the guitar. He has solved the “problem” of the two instruments by forming two bands – Knockout Greg & The Jukes where he plays harmonica, and Knockout Greg & The Injectors, where he plays guitar. Last night ws with the Injectors, and we got some stylish blues the short time I had to see him. That is the problem at festivals like this, if you want to see all the bands, you can’t see the whole concerts.

Travellin Brothers © Per Ole HagenRavellin Brothers

Travellin Brothers © Per Ole Hagen

Travellin Brothers © Per Ole Hagen

My last concert at Blues in Hell this year was the last part of the Travellin Brothers from Spain. I saw the first part of their concert Friday night, and they are really good, both musically and also giving a potent show. I can understand why they won the European Blues Challenge this year, The band was a perfect way to end another successfull Blues in Hell.

Noora Noor © Per Ole Hagen

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

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