Written by Nick Schnebelen
October, 2010 and it’s time to get back to Norway for a blues club tour, as well as the Color line Blues Cruise in the Baltic Sea. We are very much excited to get back to familiar places as well as new ones. We were gone from October 14th through the 31st, Halloween. I did get back in time to take Madalyn Trick-or-Treating for an hour or so which was nice!
Due to Newark, NJ weather, we were pushed onto a fight that connected through Paris to get to Oslo. That flight delay resulted in Danielle, Nick and Kris playing the first show in their travel clothes. Full packed house and we had to play in sweatpants and t-shirts! I always like to be comfortable on stage, but that was silly to be so under dressed a nice blues club. We got our luggage the next morning and headed out to Buckley’s in Oslo the next day and an evening show at Skedsmo Bluesklubb outside Oslo.
This was also a wonderful morning because Trampled Under Foot would sign their first deal in Norway to release “Trampled Under Foot Live at Notodden” a live album from the largest blues festival in Scandinavia in 2009.
The first show at Buckley’s was great! It was a sold out afternoon show that really set the stage for the upcoming Color Line Blues Cruise. There were quite a few people who said they were going to be on the cruise! This had us looking forward to the cruise!
The second show was in Skedsmo at the Skedsmo Bluesklubb. This one is always a favorite! The Skedsmo Bluesklubb is one of the best bluesklubbs in Norway and we are always happy to see Huron and Bitten- dear friends! We always appreciate the hot meal!
Why is blues so popular in Norway? That was a popular question at many dinners and interviews on the trip. I feel it’s because blues music comes directly from the soul and Norwegians feel the value in that. I see it in people’s eyes when we meet fans and blues lovers in Norway. It’s really touching. Other friends believe it derives from the “spelman” or Nordic Folk musician, “fiddler” or “player”. It seems the “player of music” has always been seen valuable in Norwegian culture and held in high regard.
TUF’s Trip to Amsterdam
We left for Oslo airport at 4:15 am. We had just got done playing at Skedsmo Bluesklubb at 1:30 AM and after we packed up and said goodbye, it was 2:30. We were scheduled to fly out at 6:30 and needed to be on time!!! We made it to Amsterdam without a hitch. The first thing we did was get to the hotel. Katie and Jill were already checked in. It was nice to spend a few days with Katie and Jill. We had so much fun! Then we went sightseeing and looked at the canals, bridges and boats. The streets are very busy. There were cars, trucks, trains, bikes, mopeds, vespas, and other people coming at you from all directions! People ride bikes there for main transportation, as well as the public trains. The trains were very easy to use; even for tourists.
The first museum we went to was the Van Gogh museum. What an enlightening visit. We’ve always liked Van Gogh and have seen many of his exhibits in the United States so this was a great way to see the majority of his work.
Next after the Van Gogh museum we went to Amsterdam’s torture museum. Yes, a torture museum! We saw many different torture devices used over the last 600 years or so. Many medieval era items. For all you 80′s rockers, we saw a real Iron Maiden. The Iron Maiden was an iron cloak made to be worn for shame. At the end of the duration of punishment, the lethal face piece is, attached. At the end of the tour, there was a real guillotine!
After the torture museum, we went to the Rembrandt museum. I liked this a lot. It was actually his home that he worked out of for the better part of his career from 1639 to 1658. He had maid’s quarters on the first floor as well as the kitchen. On the second floor, there was a series of rooms that held art of his or work of his students Rembrandt would sell and deal. On the third floor was his studio. What a simple, beautiful workspace. Also on the third floor he has a printing press that he used to make prints of his work. This really stood out to me because this printing press had a lot to do with sharing his art with the rest of the world. I thought that to be a timeless effort. And on the fourth floor his students’ workspace.
I can see how art works now. There are artist influences, people who inspire, evoke emotions, of other artists which bring forth work to be done by the inspired artist. The work is done and then shared with others who your work sill influence and inspire. It is the artist’s duty to see this flow of inspiration through. It is our duty to examine and study our influences, put this to real work and then actively share that knowledge with students and peers. Our time is short on this planet, but our work lives forever. I have been affected by this trip and feel a “kick in the butt” as an artist. I feel a sense of urgency within to fully create art.
We travelled to Notodden where it all began in Norway for us in 2008. The club called “The Bellman”. We played two sets for people who got us started. Ed Murphy and Jostein Forsberg are two gentlemen that are primarily responsible for brining us to Norway. Danielle met Ed in 2008 at a dinner right after we won the IBC and Ed saw value in what we do and brought us to Notodden. Speaking of where it all began, Notodden, now the largest blues festival in Scandanavia, began at this club as well. It all began in 1988 at “The Bellman”a blues club in the town of Notodden, Norway. A regular Tuesday night jam and blues show spawned a following of blues lovers. Notodden had a dream and saw it through. The sets were great and we had a lot of fun. We saw many familiar faces as well as many new ones.
This was a really cool trip. We left Notodden and a few hours in the van got us to Drobak. The club was really nice. They had a great dressing room on the third floor for us to hang out in. The crowd was packed and ready to go. It was cool!
We got to Drobak and had already heard that this was the location of a great battle during WW2. We got to stay at the actual fortress as well as get a tour from an officer that actually live and serves at the fortress. Oscarsborg Fortress (Norwegian: Oscarsborg festning) is a coastal fortress in the Oslofjord, close to the small town of Drøbak. The fortress is situated on two small islets, and on the mainland to the west and east, in the fjord and was military territory until 2003 when it was made a publicly available resort island. The fortress is best known for its sinking on 9 April 1940 of the German heavy cruiser Blücher.
The next morning we were off to Herr Neilsen in Downtown Oslo for a packed, amazing show totally full and really going on! We really want to thank Viggo from the Ostkanten Bluesklubb for giving us the show. We had a great time! Thank you!
We got our first snow of the season on the way to Molde. On the way to Molde we passed a cliff notorious for base-jumpers around the world- Trollveggen. Huge!
This was an excellent adventure. We played at Molde a great town The city is located on the northern shore of the Romsdalsfjord on the Romsdal Peninsula. It is home to the Molde Jazz Festival, One of the most famous Jazz Festivals in the world. Miles Davis said he really enjoyed playing here because of “the people, culture and the ease of being himself”.
Its also known as the city of roses. There are roses everywhere. We stayed and played at the and the rooms were near the stage and eating area which was very convenient. The Fan it Bluesklubb has been around for fifteen years now. A very special thank you to Lars of the Fan it Bluesklubb!
The first band was the Bmode Blues band and they opened up for us. Ole, Robert and Helge were great! They had lots of hits and were a great lively three-piece rocking blues band! We had a great crowd for our two sets. People were up to the front of the stage at the beginning. There was a great sound system and Bmode had great gear for us to play. We tore it up and eveyone was rockin’. It was a great time. The Fjiord on Molde which has 222 mountain peaks behind it is an emmence backdrop for a wonderful pier scattered shoreline.
We made it to Oslo and after an 8 hour car ride, a 1 1/2 hour train ride and a 40 minute walk to the hotel in Lillestrom we were tired. Slept in and went to the famous Goustav Vigeland sculpture park. We have been waiting for this one since the last time we were in Norway, we played in Mandal a sea town at the southern most point in Norway, and is also where Vigeland is from. We saw some of his work in Mandal, but saw many of his famous pieces in Oslo at his sculpture garden. This was an adventure because we took the train to a tram all on our own, toured the park and returned to the hotel all by our little grown up selves! What a day. It was a little cold, but we were too busy takin it in!
We met Rune from the Oslo Bluesklubb and went downtown to a photo shoot for the Blues News Magazine and then met with Nina from the Bluesnews- the blues magazine representing the Norwegian Blues Union. Really cool magazine. Check it out. www.Bluesnews.no. The photo shoot was fun and we were goofing around quite a bit so I’m curious to see the photo they pick! We had a great interview with Nina and had a great New Orleans dinner afterwards. Who’d think you’d get some pretty good New Orleans food in Norway? www.bluesnews.no.
Thursday’s Colorline Blues Cruise
The next day, we headed off for the Color line Blues Cruise. J.T. Lauristen puts on this fabulous Blues Cruise. It was the nicest boat I’ve ever seen! This was a great two day blues cruise that went from Oslo, Norway to Kiel, Germany and back. Reba Russell along with guest Victor Wainwright were one of the headliners. We had two great shows on the mainstage and Nick had a great time jamming both days with Frode Bredeli Aarsbog on guitar, J.T. Lauritsen on vocals, and Big Rooney on harp. Nick also got to jam with the Cadillac Kings from the U.K.. Mal on guitar was great along with Henry on the piano, and Roy on drums. I left a few out I’m sure. What a Cruise!.
The final show we played was near Bergen in the community of Hordaland. Our good friends who we met at the Skanevik Blues Festival in 2008 and 2009 made this show possible for us. They really put on this show! Not only did they fill the club up completely and partied it up, but they got us great equipment to play on, got us a great PA and lights, and even extended the stage, all the way across the side of the club! These folks set out to put on a great show and over delivered! We cannot thank them enough and this gig will always be remembered!
So this was a full trip. Certainly my longest blog to date, but I really did not want to miss sharing one part with everyone! The people of Norway will always be in our hearts just as the blues is in everyone’s soul! See you soon Norway!