Norway have had an active Americana culture for years, with many excellent musicians and artists performing their own music in what loosely can be called Americana. In Oslo there are Americana sessions at the Buckley club, and this Saturday the Oslo Americana Festival was held at the Grefsenkollen restaurant for the first time. The venue has one of Oslo’s best views over the whole city of Oslo, which matches the festivals wide definition of the Americana style perfectly. (Photo above: Knut Reiersrud)
As Claudia Scott said at the start of her set: “Americana is music based on the original American styles”, meaning folk, blues, bluegrass, country. And all the artists performing at the festival base their music on one or more of these styles. This makes Americana as a style more interesting than many other styles, since there is variety and an openness for experimentation within these borders.
The festival started with Robert Moses at the bar stage. He delivered an intimate and very low key concert with support on guitar and vocals, setting the mood for the festival.
The first artist on the big stage was Claudia Scott with her band. She has a new CD out in October, Let The Ribbons Fly, and she played a few songs from it, among them the first single, Changes, showing us what an excellent songwriter she is. She also played songs from earlier albums, my favorite Claudia Scott song, The Price You Pay, from her latest album, Follow The Lines.
From Claudia Scott, I went down to see Mike Beck. He is a singer songwriter in the countryrock tradition of Stephen Stills, Byrds and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. His latest album, Alta California, is recorded in Norway, and he will performs with a band with songs from this album at Jessheim September29th and at Buckley’s in Oslo October 1st. His concert Saturday night was solo, and he showed that he is a professional artist with some good songs.
Lucky Lips started out as a bluegrass band, but has developed into a much more electric band, sounding more like modern bands as Dixie Chicks than old school bluegrass bands. I have seen the band a few times before, but not for a few years. They were good then, but have become significantly better – more secure on stage and with some really delicate three part harmonies. Their latest album, Coming Home has got great reviews, and we got a few of the songs from the album. during their concert
Jørgen & Jørgensen are Jørgen Kværndal Olsen and Espen Jørgensen. Jørgen is the young one, while Espen was the singer and songwriter behind The Green Cortinas – a Norwegian band that made on of my favorite 90’s songs, I Don’t Wanna Sleep Tonight. Jørgen & Jørgensen is a fun concept with two excellent acoustic guitarists playing and singing together through one microphone. Great musicianship and also great fun.
The last concert of the festival was with veteran blues man Knut Reiersrud. He has been around since the early 70’s, and is a world class guitarist and musician. His band, comprising of Daniel Wallumrød on keyboard and vocals, Bjørn Holm on bass and vocals and Andreas Bye on drums does an excellent job accompanying him. A Knut Reiersrud concert is usually one song seaguing into the next one with great playing from the whole band and with some dynamics you rarely hear these days. Listen to his collaboration with Mighty Sam McClain from 2011, One Drop is Plenty, or my favorite Reiersrud album, Woodoo Without Killing Chicken from 2008.
As a first time festival, the Oslo Americana Festival was a success, even if the crowd was too small. Hopefully the organizers will be able to arrange a new festival next year. Oslo needs a festival like this, and we have several more artists who can perform at upcoming festivals.
All photos are © Per Ole hagen and can not be used without written permission.