Saturday at Notodden was the day with the big headliners playing at Hovigs Hangar. But there were plenty of other highlights during the day and night, and also many good concerts I missed because they were playing parallel to the ones I saw. Here are the concerts I saw Saturday at the Notodden Blues Festival. (Photo above: Buddy Guy)
My “problem” at festivals like the Notodden Blues Festival is that there are so many concerts I want to see, but it is impossible to reach over all of them. Earlier years I have been the head of the jury for the Union Blues Cup, but this year I chose to see the daytime concerts at Hovigs Hangar instead.
The audience at the Blue Mood Label Mates
My concert Saturday started with The Blue Mood Label Mates, a 20 year anniversary for the label Blue Mood. I have made a separate blog post for this concert, which was a show of power from the artists at Norway’s leading record company for blues.
After the Blue Mood Label Mates, Joss Stone was on the stage at Hovigs Hangar. She is an English singer, who despite her young age of 30 has been on of the top white soul singers since her first album was released in 2003. She has sold millions of albums and won multiple awards. She has also performed in several movies, mostly as herself or in roles as singers. I truly liked the concert at Notodden. Joss Stone has a fantastic versatile voice, from smooth to hard and everything in between. Her band was also perfect.
Bob Margolin played guitar with Muddy Waters, and Charlie Musselwhite has played with John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and most of the other top blues artists in his time. Together the two artists represent more than 50 years of blues history. To see them together on stage was a great experience to me. They started out as a duo before the band joined them in some true Chicago style blues.
Before Buddy Guy, one of the headliners at the festival, we got his young protege Quinn Sullivan. He is 18 years old and the first time he played on stage with Buddy Guy was when he was 8. Since then he has made many appearances with Guy, and also performed by himself. His concert at Notodden was with Buddy Guy’s band, and he is an extremely talented guitarist and singer.
When Buddy Guy came on stage, the tent was filled to capacity with 7000 people eagerly awaiting one of the biggest stars in the blues world. This was the third time he visited Notodden, and I saw both of the preceding ones, with the concert in 2009 as my favorite. Buddy Guy is a fantastic artist, both singer and guitarist, but his concerts are often a little too much show and too kittle concerts to me. I have seen him at the Austin City Limits festival where he presented himself as we like him, and we got a good portion of “Buddy guy playing Buddy Guy” at Notodden on Saturday. At 81 it is remarkable that he can play as well as he does, and his voice is still fresh.
The last headliner at Notodden this year was Little Steven And The Disciples Of Soul. Besides playing with Bruce Springsteen, Steve van Zandt has had his band, he has his own radio show, he has acted in Sopranos and Lillyhammer, and the last two years he has been very active in promoting and teaching young blues musicians at Notodden – at Little Steven’s School of Blues. It is remarkable that a man of his standing devotes so much time and energy on young people.
On stage at Notodden Little Steven had 15 musicians and singers with him. And the concert was full speed from the first song. They played through the new album Soulfire, which is one of my favorite albums from this year, plus other songs from his career. The sound was good, the musicians and the singers were all working hard, and Little Steven lead the whole concert with authority. A great way to close a successful 30 year anniversary for the Notodden Blues Festival.
All photos are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.