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)
Every year when August is fading away, I have one more festival to look forward to, The Blues in Hell Festival. It is the perfect way to end the festival season, with great blues bands and artists and in the good company of a big part of the Norwegian blues family. Blues in Hell is a intimate festival with high quality artists playing in two tents, the Magic Mirror and an acoustic tent. The first night is over, and here are the artists I saw Friday night in Hell. (Picture above: The Etta James Experience)
Vidar Busk has played blues professionally for almost two thirds of his life since he was sixteen years old. It has been a roller coaster with ups and downs during these thirty years. Musically he has always been sharp, and he has moved in and out of styles, from rockabilly and jump blues through New Orleans style music to soul, but the blues has always been there. These days he is back with his old band, His True Believers, and yesterday night they played at Rockefeller in Oslo.
Hugh Laurie should be a well known name for many who watch TV, and who doesn’t? He is Dr. House, one of the best paid actors in the TV world. But many of us remember him from the Black Adder series, where he played the airhead who was manipulated by the evil Rowan Atkinson, aka The Black Adder. What many didn’t know, is that Hugh Laurie is an accomplished blues musician and singer, and on Friday he played at Brygga, the outdoor venue at the Notodden Blues Festival.
The first time I saw Ian Moore was in 2005, and then some years later at the Continental Club. I remember his playing and his extrovert show as something special. This year he played at the Continental Club again during SXSW, at 1 AM the last day of the festival. And it was the perfect artist to close SXSW for me.
Guy Forsyth is one of my all time favorite Austin musicians. I have written about him on this blog before, and Friday night I saw him at another pre SXSW late night show at the Saxon Pub. I can’t count all the different settings I have seen and heard him in, everything from solo, with a tuba, with the Asylum Street Spankers to a pop band setting some 10 years go. This time he was reunited with his old compadre George Rarey, and he played one of the best sets I have ever heard from him.
John Mayall is 80 years on November 29th. During 50 of these years he has been one of the driving forces in British Blues, and altogether he is one of the most important figures in modern blues. His main importance lies in the way he has found and developed new talents, mainly guitarists. (Picture above: John Mayall at Notodden in 2004).
In 1992 Delbert McClinton recorded Tell Me About It with Tanya Tucker and reached number 4 on the American country charts. That’s his highest chart position for a single, while he has had four number one albums on the blues charts. He was inducted into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. November 4th Delbert McClinton is 73 years old.
The twenty sixth Notodden festival is over, and it has been a great festival with lots of happy blues fans, great artists who truly enjoyed being at Notodden, and some remarkable and memorable concerts. The festival closed Sunday with a free concert at noon. Saturday was packed with music, from the morning until late night. Here is a report from the last two days. (Picture above: Dana Fuchs)
Friday’s biggest headliner at the Notodden Blues Festival was Van Morrison. He played the biggest outdoor venue at the festival, Brygga, with 8000 enthusiastic fans. Before Van Morrison, James Hunter played the same venue, and later at night Little Andrew, Beth Hart and the Royal Southern Brotherhood played the big tent. Summarized, a great day with one big positive surprise for me.