Over the hills and far away
Trampled Under Foot Norway 2010
written by Nick Schnebelen
When was the last time you got to go on a two and a half week trip to see the underside of a country filled with history, beautiful scenery and blues lovers? We have been to Norway four times and never have got such an extensive view of Norway and Scandanavia. This 2010 Scandanavian tour was a wonderful trip for us and it has been a great success for all involved. We got to visit a lot of places; some familiar, some new. We got to see a lot of faces; some familiar, many new. Our tour took us from Oslo Intl. Airport to Skanevik, Hardanger, Bryne, Stavanger, Mandal, Amal (Sweden), Skedsmo, and Poland.
We’ve had a good relationship with Ole Christian Wold Haavik who was our driver/ guide for the Notodden Blues festival in Norway in 2008 and 2009. He had us to his family cottage in Hardanger where we hiked Samlen Mountain. Norway is so beautiful, but it is truly magnificent from the top!
The next morning we went from the cottage down to the town Hardanger and visited some ancient rock carvings that date back 1500 BC. The carvings were pictures of ships with lots of people on them and some sun/ star charts. Very old and interesting. That trip led us to Stavanger for the Ovenpaa Bluesklubb which was great! We arrived to a packed house. Some of the crowd had seen us at Notodden as well as Skanevik and travelled far to see us. The blues was happening that night! The crowd fell right in after the first number and stayed with us all the way to the end.
We then travelled and did a show in Bryne for the Thime Station and had a wonderful time jamming the night away. Thime Station is a local pub that has a unique cozy charm that made us feel like we were playing right down the street in our hometown Kansas City.
Ole Christian and his family then led us on a hike of Pulpit rock, in Lysefjoren, Norway. It was such a reward when reaching the top. 604 meters you could see everything. What a beautiful place. That evening, after all the hiking, we went to Orrestrand beach, right outside of Bryne. Felt the North sea water, which was very cold, on our feet but we had a great time watching the sun set and photographing the sea and surroundings.
Then on to Mandal, the southernmost city in all of Norway. When we arrived, we were greeted by the heads of the blues club and they gave us a walking tour of the city which used to be the fishing capital of all of Scandanavia. Afterwards, we had a dinner right on the North Sea watching the boats and ships go by. What a great show. The club was packed full and the air was hot. Blues Supply, a three piece band from Mandal, opened the show and really got the crowd ready fo us. We hit the stage and for 2-plus hours gave it all we had. By the end of the show, dripping with sweat from head to toe, we went out to the front to thank the crowd for coming and sign any CD’s or t-shirts. What an overwhelming response from the crowd! It was a special evening.
We woke up very early and headed for Amal, Sweden for Amal’s Bluesfest- Sweden’s largest blues festival. This was a great blues festival; one of the best blues festivals I have ever seen. There were TWO stages right next to each other. Both exactly the same. One had a show while the other was setting up. This kept the turnover time down to nothing! Band to band, the switches were seamless. The crew was experienced and welcoming. The accomodations were top knotch. They spared no expense to make sure the artists were happy. Best of all, the crowd was energetic and large!!! There was about 3000 people we saw that evening when we went on. The sound was great and the crowd really gave it to us. Once again, a gig to remember.
While we were in Hamar, Norway with a few days off, we visited Maihaugen, a Natural History museum in Lilyhammer, the host of the 1994 Olympics. It was neat to see the history of Norway and Scandanavia from 6000 BC up until now.
We then hitched a plane for the Poland Sualki Blues Festival. This one was great. To get to the gig we had to fly into Villinas, Lithuania and drive to Sualki, a small city in Poland. It was very cool to land in Lithuania and walk outside to the busy streets of a new foreign land. A bus shuttled us and a few other bands through the countryside of Lithuania. The landscape looked just like Missouri and made me a little homesick! We passed some amazing Bazilikas (cathedrals) along the way and passed through many small towns.
Once in Sualki, the festival was cool. A lot like the Notodden blues festval in Norway, the festival wasn’t confined to one area. The main drag had several blues clubs filled with blues lovers and tons of European talent. It was great to see how European artists choose American blues songs to play along with their own material. You would be suprised to see many of the bar bands have the same setlists over in America.In Norway, many people speak english so it is very easy to get around. Not so much in Poland, at least where we were. That really makes you feel far away from home. Asking for food and using hand gestures like a baby to get what you need. That was really funny!
Our set was on the mainstage opening for Canned Heat. We played an excellent set and what can I say, the crowd fell in love with us. The mayor was in the front of the crowd and really had a good time. They had us up for an encore and then brought us back out for a bow!!! We sold a lot of CDs and there was a very large crowd of fans there for autographs!!! Truly a great feeling. The fans were so kind to say things like ” it is such an honor for us to have such great musicians visit Poland”. The feeling of honor is mutual.
In retrospect, the tour was a complete success. There were many blues lovers that gave so much to us and what we can bring to you in Norway. This was just as enlightening musically as well as culturally. The sky is the limit from the top of Pulpit rock to the cheers of Skanevik, to the shore of he North Sea. We truly couldn’t fit everything we left Norway with in our suitcases.