For over 20 years now, the Notodden Blues Festival in Notodden, Norway has been one of the biggest blues music parties in Europe, and it remains the largest blues festival in Scandinavia. Featuring a mix of both Norwegian and International blues musicians, the annual event pulls in fans from around the world. This year's festival will be held from Thursday, July 30th through Sunday, August 2nd, 2009 and will feature, among its many headliners, Chicago blues great Buddy Guy.
Notodden Blues Festival 2009
The 2009 Notodden Blues Festival features such headline performers as Chicago blues great Buddy Guy, the five-time Grammy Award winning guitarist still riding high in the wake of his acclaimed 2008 album Skin Deep. Blues belter Shemekia Copeland will be appearing, touring in support of her excellent 2009 album Never Going Back.
Another bona-fide Chicago blues legend, Bobby Jones, will perform with the J.T. Lauritsen Band with guitarist Kid Ramos while the youngest blues band on the circuit, the Homemade Jamz Blues Band, will thrill the audience with a mature, houserockin' blues sound that sounds a lot older than the three band members' ages would have you believe.
The Northern Mississippi Hill Country will be well-represented in Notodden, with the dynamic duo of Lightnin' Malcolm and Cedric Burnside performing songs from their 2008 album, 2 Man Wrecking Crew. Other Hill Country bluesmen appearing this year include T-Model Ford, L.C. Ulmer, and Robert Belfour. There will also be a showing of the excellent documentary film on the bluesmen of the area, M For Mississippi.
Other artists performing at the 2009 Notodden Blues Festival include:
- Joanne Shaw Taylor
- Super Chikan
- Trudy Lynn
- Trampled Under Foot
- The Soul of John Black
- Rick Estrin & the Nightcats w/Kid Andersen
- Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra
The blues are an international language, and even such far-flung locales as Norway (i.e. miles away from the Mississippi Delta) feature a number of talented blues artists. The Notodden Blues Festival will feature a number of performances by homegrown bluesmen-and-women, beginning with guitarist Bjorn Berge, the best-selling blues artist in Norway. Popular R&B outfit Good Time Charlie will appear, as will the Kare Virud Band and Jan Erik Vold. A number of other Scandinavian blues artists will also perform.
The rock 'n' roll side of the blues-rock equation will also be represented at Notodden in the person of incendiary guitarist Joe Bonamassa. The young musician's latest album, The Ballad of John Henry, has been receiving widespread critical acclaim. Festival-goers will also get to witness a spirited performance when former Cream bassist Jack Bruce teams up with blues-rock guitarist Robin Trower and drummer Gary Husband to deliver what promises to be an explosive set. Fans wanting a taste of authentic New Orleans music will enjoy Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers.
Chicago blues great Buddy Guy really needs no introduction, but we'll give him one anyway. Over the course of a legendary career that has spanned six decades, Guy has won 23 W.C. Handy Awards, five Grammys, and been inducted into both the Blues and Rock & Roll Hall of Fames. A flamboyant showman, incendiary guitarist and powerful vocalist, Guy is the performer of choice for rockers like Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Guy's 2008 album, Skin Deep, was honored by The Blues Foundation with two Blues Music Awards, for "Album of the Year" and "Contemporary Blues Album of the Year."
Blues singer Shemekia Copeland is a favorite of both blues fans and music critics alike. The daughter of Texas blues guitar great Johnny Copeland, the 30-year-old singer has been knocking down audiences with her powerful, emotional voice since she was 16 years old and opening for her father. Copeland's latest album, Never Going Back, has received loads of critical acclaim, and has literally 'wowed' everybody that has heard it.
Blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa also started young, opening for blues legend B.B. King at the absurdly talented age of 12 years old. Bonamassa's recording career began during the early-1990s when, after meeting Berry Oakley, Jr. - the son of the late Allman Brothers bassist - the two formed the band Bloodline with Waylon Krieger (son of the Doors' keyboardist Robby) and Erin Davis (son of jazz great Mile Davis). The band released a single album in 1994, and after Bloodline's break-up, Bonamassa launched his solo career in earnest. The Ballad of John Henry, Bonamassa's latest, is his best effort yet.
The first Notodden Blues Festival was put together by thirteen blues fans in 1988, the group arranging for a line of credit from a local bank. The success of the first event made the bank's largesse unnecessary, with around 2,000 music lovers attending the festival. The event has since grown into one of the largest blues festivals in Europe, regularly attracting over 24,000 blues fans to Norway for the annual party. Check with the Notodden Blues Festival website for more information on this year's event.