Pristine from Tromsø, Norway won 2nd price in the European Blues Challenge in Riga, Latvia April 11-12th. This was the fourth time for the band competition, which this year had participants from 18 different countries in Europe. The winner of the Challenge 2014 was the Spanish band A Contra Blues.
This year's Challenge was hosted by the Latvian Blues Association in cooperation with the European Blues Union at the venue Sapnu Fabrika in Riga. The contest lasted for two nights where nine bands were presented each night.
The Norwegian band Pristine did a great performance fronted by the charismatic singer Heidi Solheim. Not only the 60-70 visitors from Norway were impressed by the band. The audience in Riga really showed their appreaciation after their 20 minutes long show, and Pristine became favourites for many, both among the audience and the artists. Pristine performed three original songs in addition to their version of the Allman Brothers song Whipping Post, which has always been a highlight at the band’s concerts.
Pristine showed musical skills and a professional performance not many other bands in the competition could match. The band's regular guitarist was replaced by Kristian Olstad, who turned out to be a really classy blues guitar player. In the band for the Challenge was also Notodden musician Espen Fjelle on organ and piano, as well as the band's regular bassist and drummer, Asmund W. Eriksson and Kim Karlsen.
It was very nice to see that so many Norwegians had made the trip to Riga to participate at the European Blues weekend, and to support the Norwegian band.
The Spanish winner band, A Contra Blues (left), and the Norwegian band Pristine.
The weekend also contained a Blues Marked for the European blues business where 50-60 exhibitors presented themselves. You could find both artists, festivals, blues clubs, booking agencies, record companies and others. Among the Norwegian were the Norwegian Blues Union, Notodden Blues Festival, Blue News, Blues in Hell, Big H Records, Pristine and Bluestown Records.
The annual General Assembly for the European Blues Union was also held this weekend.
Text: Rune Endal - Photo: Roald Jungård