Thursday, 9 September 2010

News from Norway

Dagfinn Pedersen, EBMA board member and coordinator of national representatives, reports on developments on the Norwegian scene:

Bluegrass in the mountains
If you like hiking in the mountains and bluegrass music as well, somewhere up in the mountains in the middle of Norway was the place to be a weekend in July this year. Our first truly high-altitude bluegrass festival took place the second weekend in July at Bjorhollia, a cabin or rather a resort for mountain hikers up in the Rondane mountains. Unlike Telluride, you would have to carry your own tent and sleeping gear the 2-3 hour trek by a mountain road to get there, but just being there would be well worth the trip even without the music. Our very first Norwegian bluegrass band, Christiania Fusel & Blaagress, founded in 1968, was the headliner, followed by Ila Auto and a couple of more bands that had taken the trip to be there. More than 500 people had found their way to the place and those that could not sleep inside were all camping around the resort. They plan to do it again in 2012, so if you like mountains and bluegrass, check it out then and make plans. Nice weather, nice nature, nice people and lots of good music, I wish I had been there. But the first instructors for the workshop at Risor Bluegrass Festival arrived that same weekend.

Risor Bluegrass Festival
The bluegrass week in Risor, with four days of workshop and three days with festival concerts, is the natural meeting place for most bluegrass bands and musicians in Norway. This year there were 31 bands and close to 50 concerts, including a children's concert and a church concert. And unlike the last couple of years the weather gods looked in favour upon us. Sunny Side (CZ) was back by popular demand and headed the list of foreign bands in the audience popularity votes (as in Risor last year and at EWOB this year) and Earlybird Stringband, #2 European Bluegrass Band this year, were slightly ahead of the other Norwegian bands in popularity according to the audience votes. Next year will be the festival's 10-year celebration and we plan to honour all the Norwegian bluegrass veterans as part of the celebration. We must see how many we can round up and find out if there are still some reunion concerts possible.

Bluegrass in Oslo
The regular bluegrass concerts at Herr Nilsen in Oslo started up this week with Tim O'Brien on the poster. He will also visit Bergen before he leaves Norway. Concerts on Herr Nilsen are scheduled every second Wednesday, with one or two bands each time. There is also another venue showing interest in having regular bluegrass concerts, plus jamming nights, in Oslo. It is a larger place and it sounds very interesting, we shall see what may come out of a meeting with them in the near future.