This year is the 30th Notodden Blues Festival, and it is good to be back. The festival has grown from a small and enthusiastic happening to become Norway’s largest blues festival, and also one of the best blues festivals in the world. This year is no exception, and here are photos of the artists from the first night. (Photo above: students from Little Steven’s Blues School)
I have been to all festivals at Notodden since 1994, except 1998, and the Notodden Blues Festival has been an event I am looking forward to every year. The whole Norwegian blues family gathers at Notodden for a four day event, and every year we are presented with big names like Buddy Guy and Little Steven who are playing this year, but also lesser known names who are equally good.
The CEO of the festival, Jostein Forsberg got an anniversary trophy from the mayor of Notodden
NRK P1 radio hosts Nils Åge Nonstad and Robert Sætervik interwieving Little Steven
The tradition at the opening night is an opening show at 6 PM with some of the artists who will play at the festival, plus opening speeches and the Blues Price Award. The whole show is presented by NRK P1’s hosts, who are also broadcasting live on NRK P1 and recording concerts from the festival. Through the last 24 years the Norwegian radio listeners have heard around 200 concerts from the festival.
Prime minister Erna Solberg
Hans Kristian Gabrielsen from LO, the Norwegian worker’s union – also a very good drummer!
Ronnie Le Tekrø
Danielle Schnebelen from Trampled Under Foot
Nick Schnebelen from Trampled Under Foot
The opening speech this year was held by Norway’s prime minister, Erna Solberg, and the Blues Price, presented by Little Steven, went to all the volunteers at the festival. One of the bands playing at the opening was students at Little Steven’s School of Blues, a talent seminar that is held in the week before the festival. Other acts at the opening was Ida Bang & The Blue Tears, Kåre Virud Band, Trampled Under Foot and an all star band with local musicians plus Ronnie Le Tekrø, and the president of the board of LO, the Norwegian worker’s union, on drums.
After the opening show, Kåre Virud Band was the first act in the big tent. Virud is from Notodden, and he started out in the 60’s, playing blues with Norwegian lyrics. He also released a record with Bob Dylan’s songs with Norwegian lyrics, translated by the Norwegian poet Jan Erik Vold. Kåre Virud is a great musicians, and for the occasion he had added a horn section to his band.
Jarle Bernhoft with his band, The Fashion Bruises was on after Kåre Virud. Bernhoft has also been around for some years, starting wth his rock band Span just after 2000. He has sung jazz, soul, rock, and in later years mostly funky soul. Jarle Bernhofts voice is one of the best I know of, international artists included, and I truly enjoyed the concert with his Fashion Bruises.
Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter was a new band for me. I have seen Mike Welch some years ago, but I have never seen Mike Ledbetter before. They were accompanied by bassist Heather Crosse, drummer Lee Williams and the Norwegian blues pianist Reidar Larsen. Hard, guitar based potent blues.
Hungry John. Kid Andersen, Reidar Larsen
The last band on the opening night was a band put together by Norwegian artists who have won the Notodden Blues Price – Kid Andersen, Reidar Larsen and Hungry John. The band played well, and each of the artists presented their own songs. A very good band to close the first night with.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.