The stars shone at Notodden

There were many musical highlights during the 26th edition of The Notodden Blues Festival. Van Morrison with his band delivered an outstanding show at Brygga on Friday afternoon. The supergroup Tedeschi Trucks Band did not disappoint when playing the same state on Saturday. However, the band that everyone talked about after the festival was The Royal Southern Brotherhood. Mike Zito, Cyril Neville and the rest of the American super band gained a lot of new fans during their stay at Notodden.

The spirit was high from the moment that Bård Ose and Robert Sætervik started the opening show, which was also broadcasted live on the radio. Performances from Good Time Charlie, Dana Fuchs, Charlie Musselwhite and Norske Menn i Hus og Hytte made sure it was a happy crowd of 3000 present at the venue.
To the surprise of some people, the city hall of Notodden was this years recipient of the prestigious Blues Award. Perhaps a tactical strike from Jostein Forsberg and the Festival, in light of the 100th celebration of Notodden City this year.
A lot of excitement was in the air before Van Morrison's performance at Brygga on Friday. How was his mood? Would he talk to the audience? How was his voice? And which songs would find the way to the set list?
The King of Celtic soul satisfied everyone. As he delivered a smashing version of the hit «Gloria», he could be seen moving across the stage in a similar way as Stevie Wonder does at his best! After Van «the Man» had left the stage, his band jammed on in an insanely awesome groove. It was a perfect ending to a powerful and fab concert at Brygga on Friday.

Susan Tedeschi at Brygga Saturday. (Photo: Harald Olsen). 

On Saturday, time had come for the stars of Tedeschi Trucks Band to shine. Derek Trucks played some slide-solos that was out of this world and proved once and for all to be one of the finest guitar players in his class. Whereas Van Morrison was social and gave the audience a lot of himself the night before, Trucks spent most of the concert being introvert and not moving a lot. He could have taken some steps towards the front of the stage and given the audience a smile, but hey, as long as his wife, Susan Tedeschi, takes care of the communication with the crowd, the different parts of the job is divided between them.
Their show was extremely powerful, even though parts of the crowd 'fell off' during the middle parts where the band played some instrumentals that did not really fit in with the rest of the show.
Royal Southern Brotherhood
bangs on to the top after their debut album which was released about a year ago. They've been on tour almost continously since then, and the band is developing constantly. The songs evolve and reaches new heights when performed live.
Cyril Neville shows power just by being present. His voice comes even more to its right now that the band has more experience in playing live. He's letting himself enjoy the show much more now, than when BN experienced the band during the Color Cruise last autumn.
Devon Allman and Mike Zito spice the sound with some delicious and varied guitar playing. Last but not least, the rhythm section consisting of Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton ties it all together brilliantly. Actually there's still some bassguitar-lovers standing at the market square of Notodden talking about the solos that Wooton delivered both in Hovigs Hangar and at Tapperiet. Those going to John Dee in Oslo on November 7 are lucky. Then the band plays at Oslo BluesKlubb!


Devon Allman and Mike Zito, Royal Southern Brotherhood. (Photo: Harald Olsen).

Mud Morganfield did a great show at Hovigs Hangar Saturday night. (Photo: Roald Jungård).

Mud Morganfield
did obviously not convince the crowd at his concert at Tapperiet on Friday. We don't know what happened at that show, but in Hovigs Hangar on Saturday he delivered. With an excellent band by his side, including Danish Ronni Busack Boysen on guitar and Steve "West" Weston on harmonica, the son of Muddy Waters gave us a very nice concert. He performed a lot of his fathers songs with respect and humility. The tent was packed and large parts of the crowd joined in the song at times. This is not rare at Notodden, but it was quite out of the ordinary that it happened during a concert where raw and traditional Chicago-blues was on the menu. We can't tell if it was Mud Morganfield, John Mayall or Dana Fuchs that drew the crowd this Saturday, but the Mud Morganfield-show turned out to be a very positive surprise. Mud, the band and audience should be given credit for this.

The house was packed when the 80 year old hero, John Mayall played Hovigs Hangar Saturday. (Photo: Roald Jungård).

Notodden friend Charlie Musselwhite, who performed at the festival for the sixth time, was awarded his own star at the Festival's 'Walk of Fame' at the entrance to the market square.Also the late Kristin Berglund was honoured with her own star, in eternal good company with BB King and ZZ Top to mention a few.
You can also check out Per Ole Hagen's photo galleries from Notodden here

By Freddy Thoresen and Nina Hanssen.
Photos by Roald Jungård, Harald Olsen and Per Ole Hagen.