Saturday was my last day at Notodden this year. It was raining hard during the night, but it stopped in the morning. My only complaint was that the soundcheck for the Supersonic Bues Machine woke me up early. They and the Original Blues Brothers were the concerts that sold the most tickets this year, and I was looking forward to it. (Photo above: Billy Gibbons and Supesonic Blues Machine)
One of my favorite duties at Notodden, is heading the jury for the finales of the Union Blues Cup Saturday afternoon. The four best bands from the semifinales the day before compete to win the position as the Blues Union Band for the next year. This means a tour to the blues clubs in Norway, and a gig at the festival at Notodden plus a Swedish festival next year. The winners this year was Silo, and of four talented musicians between 16 and 18 years old with a very mature band feeling and some really good and creative songs.
After the blues cup Silya & The Sailors was my first regular concert. Silje Nymoen was the singer in the band Multicyde in the late 90’s, early 00’s, with some really good songs like Not For The Dough. She has had success as a solo artist and won the TV competition Stjernekamp in 2013. Silje Nymoen has a strong voice and she is an excellent performer. Her band is great and complements her perfectly.
The Original Blues Brothers Band is a favorite at Norwegian blues festivals. Their first gig at Notodden was in 1998 – the only festival between 1994 and now when I wasn’t there. I later years they played at the Blues in Hell in 2012 and Notodden in 2014. The two original members from the band in the movies, are Steve Cropper and Lou Marino. To me that is good enough, since there is nothing to complain about when it comes to the other musicians, and Cropper is a living legend with his background from the 60’s. The show was good, and the tent, with a capacity of 6500 was packed.
Supersonic Blues Machine
The biggest attraction at Notodden this year came after the Blues Brothers Band – Supersonic Blues Machine with guest guitarists Walter Trout, Robben Ford, Steve Lukather and Billy Gibbons. Shows like this always have the risk of being more of a showcase, but the concert was the best I saw at the festival this year.
The Supersonic Blues Machine itself is top notch, with a rock attitude, but playing hard, electric blues. And the guests got good space for themselves, but at the same time, they blended well with the band. It is hard to pin point which guitarist was “best”, but I was first of all looking forward to Steve Lukather and Robben Ford, and both of them delivered the goods, as did Trout and Gibbons.
The last band Saturday night was Big Bang. They played at Notodden last year, too. Big Bang is one of the ost popular live bands in Norway, and they have a surprisingly full sound, being a trio. They are on a hiatus now, but are doing some festival gigs this summer. It’s always good to hear them live, and Saturday night was no exception.
I had to leave before the closing concert Sunday at noon for personal reasons, but the Notodden Blues Festival 2016 was a good festival with maybe fewer big names than earlier festivals, but perfectly good enough musically. And next year is the 30th anniversary.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.