The EBC is much more than a lot of blues
March 1st, 2017:
- We’re looking forward to meeting all the others
The competition is important - but being together and the experience are more important, say many of the participants in European Blues Challenge
With just a month to go to the 7th European Blues Challenge, the last preparations are well underway. Now all 21 bands have started on the final crucial countdown before leaving for Horsens where the competition will be taking place on 7th and 8th April, with the opportunity for enjoying good blues music already from Opening Night on 6th April.
Of course, everyone hopes to win and become the unofficial “European Blues Champion”. But it’s the experience and being with all the other blues musicians that the participants are especially looking forward to - no matter where in Europe they come from.
- Of course we’d like to make it to the top in the competition and reach out to a new audience, but networking with musical colleagues, clubs and promoters is also very important. We’ve got a good hold on the Austrian scene and now we’d like to cross some boundaries with our music, so says Peter Peduzzi, guitarist in The Blues Infusion from Austria.
Esa Kuloniemi from Finnish Honey B. Family adds:
-More contacts and through them more jobs abroad are important. But at the same time it’s always good to meet colleagues from other countries who share the same musical tastes as us. So we’re looking forward to meeting all the others, he says.
Room to cultivate our roots
The Romanian participant Southernman Robbie - baptised Robert Zsugya - sees the European Blues Challenge as a fantastic opportunity to present his music to his peers.
-At the EBC I meet an audience that really understands the music I make. My “old time blues” is not the most common nowadays, but I like to show others that there are still people cultivating the roots out of which much of the modern music has grown, he says.
Everyone is working on their performance and playing lots of jobs at the moment - Southernman Robbie is also in the process of recording a new album - and with only 25 minutes to convince the jury, the show must function perfectly, says Kasper Bjerre from the Danish band, The Cornfeds:
-We’re working on finding a balance between the music and communicating with the audience, so we spent a lot of time finding the right combination of numbers, he explains.
With Horsens just under 100 km away, The Cornfeds is the band with the easiest journey to Horsens and Kasper Bjerre is also hoping to be able to draw both family and friends with him on a trip down south to the two days of the competition.
-But all things considered, we are looking forward to experiencing so many people gathered together around blues music. Everyone’s there, because they’re passionate about being there, and that can only make for an amazing atmosphere, says Kasper Bjerre.
Easy-going in Denmark
Dani Nello, who plays the saxophone for the Spanish band, Los Mambo Jambo, is looking forward to coming out and presenting his music to a new audience and the whole of the European blues scene.
-Just participating and being a part of it will be a rewarding experience in itself, although of course it would be fun to win. We’ll be bringing loads of energy and we’re also working hard on the set list so we can make the most of the short time on stage. But first and foremost, we are looking forward to just being there, says Dani Nello.
For many of the participants their visit to Horsens is their first trip to Denmark, although Esa Kuloniemi often used to tour the country with Honey B & the T-Bones back in the 90’ies.
-Among other places we played in Aarhus and Vejle, but never in Horsens. We’ve always felt welcome in Denmark and appreciate the "easy-going" way of the Danes and we’re looking forward to experiencing it again, he says.
PS - a quick quote:
-If you don’t know the blues, there’s no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll … or any other form of popular music.
February 13th, 2017:
The next generation is ready for the blues
Many young Danish people are finding their way back to the roots - and this is impacting on music venues, including Horsens.
Blues music in Denmark is thriving and is well on the way to the ears of younger listeners - even though the music doesn’t get much attention from radio stations and the major charts.
So the blues temperature in Denmark is stable and healthy prior to the European Blues Challenge (EBC) in Horsens from 6 to 8 April of this year. This is also the opinion of the strong Danish blues names, who are looking forward to playing at the Opening Night on the day before the actual competition.
- I feel there is a much greater response and interest for blues in Denmark today than when I first went on the road 25 years ago. The numbers are increasing, and not least more young people - when we held a release party recently for our new album "Change My Game", nearly 900 people came to Amager Bio in Copenhagen. It was something of a milestone for us, says Thorbjorn Risager, who together with the Black Tornado will be taking part in the kick-off for the blues festival at Horsens Ny Teater and Kulisselageret on 6 April.
He finds that young people in particular are listening even more attentively if you dribble a little around the traditional 12-beat blues and instead put the blues music into a "more contemporary framework”.
-Folk music in Denmark has already had a revival and blues is well on the way to doing the same. I believe and hope that many young people will go back to the roots as a reaction against all the electronic music. There is obviously a clear enthusiasm for experiencing real people playing real instruments. Hand played music is on its way up, says Thorbjorn Risager.
Room for the authentic
The same impression is shared by Martin Olsen who makes up a quarter of The Blues Overdrive - this band will also be on stage at the Opening Night on the day before the competition.
- The authentic and the organic, where the music is not rooted in a fixed schedule, but where there is room for the unexpected and live - and perhaps a mistake here and there - has a strong position in Denmark at the moment. Good musicians of all ages are finding out that they share the same roots and so they naturally look back to the beginnings to find and develop their own version of it, says Martin Olsen and continues:
- Many young people love to get out and dance to blues music and the like. For example, there are now a few cafés in central Copenhagen who only play jump blues and swinging blues from the 50’ies, and they are full up every weekend, says the guitar player who likes to quote the legend Willie Dixon:
-The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. Without the roots, you have no fruits.
A lift in Horsens
In Horsens, where EBC is taking place, blues music has also experienced a big lift during the past 10 years; not least because of the many blues concerts and jam-events arranged by the Blues Cartel. So says the general manager of Kulisselageret, Jeppe Vind.
Kulisselageret is the town’s intimate club scene that lends its floor to everything from electronica via blues to heavy metal - and in Horsens blues has found big new audiences. At the same time many young people have been getting into blues music and delving into its history.
- Blues music contains an enormous gold reserve of inspiration and especially in live performance it can evoke a lot of emotion. The concerts, also with good international names, contribute to creating and feeding the interest, and at the regular jam sessions the musicians have found new playmates and a new community. This has led to several new bands, and blues music in Horsens has really been flourishing during the last decade, states Jeppe Vind.
Kulisselageret is one of the Blues Cartel’s cooperation partners in connection with the EBC 2017, and the music venue will also be participating, among other things on Opening Night and at the late night jam session on the Friday together with the guitar relay “100 Guitars”.
“Born” at Kulisselageret
One of the bands that were more or less “born” at Kulisselageret is Big O & the Blue Quarters who will also be playing at the Opening Night. A band, which has found its roots in the 50’ies jump blues and which has just released its first EP.
Four of the five members are in their twenties, but the guitar player Søren Schack admits that other young blues bands are few and far between in today’s Denmark.
- Yes, we are among the few, but for me age doesn’t really matter so much. It means something that blues is a cool musical playroom and that you are genuine and up-to-date when you write songs yourself. None of us has tried picking cotton, so we have to find the songs in other places and the great thing about blues music is that you can move in so many directions without losing the thread, says Søren Schack.
In his experience his contemporaries often find it a little strange that a bunch of young people are playing blues from when grandpa was young, but:
- It usually only lasts until they’ve heard us. Then they begin to understand what it’s about.
You can see the whole programme for European Blues Challenge in Horsens at ebchorsens2017.dk.
January 5th, 2017:
The Blues Cartel in Horsens is counting down to the largest blues event in Denmark ever
The Blues Cartel in Horsens will be holding the European Blues Challenge 2017 with participants from 21 countries
The largest single blues event in Denmark ever. This is how the president of the Blues Cartel in Horsens, Carsten Mellson, describes the upcoming European Blues Challenge (EBC) which takes place in Horsens from 6th to 8th April this year.
Blues bands from 21 countries will compete to become this year’s winner. Each band will be allotted about twenty minutes for a mini concert in which they have to convince the jury of their musical qualities - and the participants will be travelling to East Jutland from all corners of Europe. From Estonia to Portugal; from Norway to Romania (see list below)
- We have been in the process of preparation since we were allocated the hosting in November 2015. We have received great and invaluable support not least from Horsens Municipality, but also all the local operators that we have approached have contributed positively, says Carsten Mellson.
The competition itself will take place at the Forum Horsens Friday, 7th and Saturday, 8th April. The 21 concerts will be spread over two days before a winner is chosen late Saturday evening.
The rest of Horsens will also feel the effects of the EBC, says Carsten Mellson.
- Not only will the EBC attract approximately 1,200 overnight stays in Horsens. We shall also be filling KUBEN on Søndergade with blues music in the days leading up to the competition. We are planning to arrange jam sessions at KulisseLageret, and the day before the competition - in other words on Thursday 6th April - we will be warming up with three strong Danish blues names at Horsens New Theater, he says.
Opening night on the Thursday will be with the local band Big O & the Blue Quarters, the thoroughly experienced band The Blues Overdrive and - as the main attraction - Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado who at present probably are Danish blues' strongest export commodity with plenty of concerts and rave reviews from all over Europe in their baggage.
FÆNGSLET in Horsens (previously a state prison) will also be in use as part of the arrangements. This is where the European Blues Union EBU will hold its AGM on Saturday 8th April, and the joiners’ workshop at FÆNGSLET will form the venue of the Blues Market where bookers, bands and agents from all over Blues-Europe (and a little more) meet, create contacts and find artists for upcoming concerts.
- We are well on the way to finding many of the volunteers that will be needed and we have received a great deal of support from Jysk Blues Network - in particular Crossroads Vejle with President Peter Buhl at the head, says Carsten Mellson.
The ticket prices are purposely low so that even more people can have the opportunity to listen to riveting blues music in April. A partout ticket for all three days costs DKK 395, a two-day ticket costs 295 DKK and a day ticket for the concerts at Forum Horsens costs DKK 195.
If you only want a ticket for Thursday's concert at Horsens Ny Teater, it will only cost 160 DKK.
Tickets are already available now via billetten.dk or at ebc2017.dk under "Buy tickets".
The Blues Cartel’s cooperation partners in connection with the European Blues Challenge are:
- The Municipality of Horsens
- Forum Horsens
- Horsens Ny Teater
You can read more at europeanbluesunion.com and ebchorsens2017.dk. Both pages will be continuously updated with information on the European Blues Challenge.
The 21 participating bands (in random order):
- The Blues Infusion (Austria)
- The Blue Bones (Belgium)
- Rolin Humes Band (Croatia)
- The Cornfeds (Denmark)
- Rene Paul Blues Band (Estonia)
- Honey B. Family (Finland)
- Gaëlle Buswel (France)
- Chris Kramer & Beatbox 'n' Blues (Germany)
- Borsodi Blues Collective (Hungary)
- Bayou Moonshiners (Italy)
- Kid Colling (Luxembourg)
- Detonics (Netherlands)
- Daniel Eriksen (Norway)
- Hot Tamales Trio (Poland)
- Messias and the Hot Tones (Portugal)
- Southernman Robbie (Romania)
- Slovak Blues Project (Slovakia)
- Los Mambo Jambo (Spain)
- Headline Blues Band (Sweden)
- Pascal Geiser Band (Switzerland)
- Kaz Hawkins Band (England)