Friday at Notodden started with better weather than Thursday. The concert schedule at the festival started at 12 noon and ending at 2 AM. With so many parallel concert, you have to make choices, both on artists and venues. My schedule started 1.30 PM, and I chose to see all the concerts in the big tent, Hovigs Hangar, plus one other. (Photo above: Beth Hart)
My first artist on Friday was Lady J and her Bada Bing Band. Lady J is a local artist who plays music from and inspired by the 40s and 50s. She also dresses in retro style. The concert coincided with the release of her first album Flying High, and she played the songs from the concert. Her Bada Bing Band was reinforced with horns, and the whole show was professional, fresh and well worth seeing. A good way to start the day.
Next out on my list was Trampled Under Foot. They are a trio with two brothers, Nick and Kris, and sister Danielle Schnebelen who made waves on the blues scene about ten years ago, culminating with their album Badlands in 2013. The album reached #1 on the Billboard album charts, and they were awarded Contemporary Blues Album of the year and Danielle was Best Instrumentalist on bass. In 2014 Kris Schnebelen quit, and the band had some changes, but at Notodden the siblings were united again. The band is always fun watching, and they are extremely well tuned top each other. I do hope they continue to work together, because it was a joy to see them again.
Steinar Albrigtsen is a Norwegian blues and Americana artists, also known for his collaborations with Tom Pacheco. This year the festival had commissioned a concert from him, and the result, The Daily Blues, was just released as an album, plus he performed it at the concert. Steinar Albrigtsen is a very good guitarist, and in his songs he showed us the different fingerpicking styles of the early blues artists. He played a few songs alone, the rest with his brilliant band and this concert was one of the highlights on Friday at the festival.
I hadn’t heard Bonita & The Blues Shacks, before, but they are a musically successful collaboration between Bonita Niessen from South Africa and the German band The Blues Shacks. Bonita is a fireworks on stage, and her duet singing with Michael Arlt was electrifying. Bonita and the Blues Shacks is a gift package for all blues clubs and festivals.
The first artist at the night sessions in the big tent was Kenny Wayne Shepherd. This was the third time he visited Notodden, having played there in 2008 and 2012. Shepherd’s style of playing is hard, mixing blues and rock. The band is well tuned to his songs, and Noah Hunt has been his singer on all three occasions he has played Notodden. Personally I like music like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, specially when it is as perfectly performed as at the concert at Notodden
Beth Hart has been a recurring artist at Notodden since her first time there in 2005, the last time being in 2015. This year her style was a little bit more loose than two years ago, and I liked the concert a lot. Her songs are good, and she puts a lot of energy in her performance, both when she sits by the piano or stands by the microphone stand. Beth Hart has had well deserved success in later years, and as one of the headliners at the festival, the 7000 capacity tent was quite full during her concert.
For the last act I chose to leave the tent and check out one of the clubs, the outdoor venue Teledølen for the Clarksdale Mississippi Blues Caravan with James Super Chican Johnson, Heather Crosse, Lee Williams, Big A Sherrod and Lala plus Christine “Kingfish” Ingram. They are regulars at the clubs in Clarksdale, Notodden’s sister town, and a place many Norwegian artists and blues enthusiasts have visited. Real, authentic Mississippi blues with some good instrumental parts from all involved.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.