Eslovs Blues Festival 2004
Up in the cold north there is a country that is called Sweden, Sweden is not exactly famous for big blues stars and there are no bealstreet. Instead you have to come down to the southern parts of Sweden to a town called Eslöv there you find a man that has spent his hole life preaching and playing the blues with artist like Jukka Tolonen, Peps Persson and his own Big Bang Group. The list could be miles long. The man I'm referring to is named Ralph Svensson and he is the man behind Eslovs Blues festival .
I called up Ralph in his home a few miles from Eslov and I ask him how he got the idea to the festival? Well he had been to Germany to play a gig back in 1999 when the idea struck him that it would be great to have a blues festival back in Eslov. So in the autumn 1999 he and some friend (Peps, Caesar Andersson and Borge "Biceps" Jensen) made the first blues evening. In November the following year he had his first three-day long blues festival! The following years it grew and got bigger and better and it was with great excitement that I arrived to this years festival
The first band out was Nisse Thorbjørn band. This act was chosen by Eslovs blues society and you could instantly hear why. A charming blend of ol' country blues mixed with their own personal touch. Nisse Thorbjørn himself kept the beat steady with his guitar and Peter Skjerning played his white strat among with mandolin. Martin Seidelin had a very smooth playing style and backed up Thorbjørns guitar really well. Søren Bøjgård handled the bass with great joy and it was great to watch.
The next band on was Baba Blues. This duo played things on their acoustic guitars that most of us would associate with more electric players. All tough they kept the blues felling all the way throe it was very exiting to hear and see them use feedback and wha-wha on songs like "Crawfish blues". The peak came when they played Motorheads classic "Just because you got the power doesn't mean you got the right". It was uplifting to see their fearless blues.
When Little Arthur Duncan couldn't come, many of us went skeptic. But the band that was supposed to back him up went on stage instead. After the first two songs people had forgotten about Arthur Duncan and were rocking to the back up band instead. Dennis Westerberg sang his personal blues on Swedish while Pelle Lindberg howled his guitar. Sylvester "Sly" Pagmert kept the rhythm along with Jerker Allgulander and Caesar Andersson gave it the final touch.
The last act this evening was the Swedish Blues-rock legend Claes Yngstrom with his Sky High. Sky High is Mats Östensson on drums and Arne "Mr. Dynamite" Blomqvist on bass. It was these two men that gave Yngstrom his foundation to build upon. Yngstrom blasted his fueled blues all over town and I think everyone couldn't help thinking about Jimi Hendrix and the 70's masters.
Next morning started with a guitar clinic from Yngstrom were he demonstrated his technique and his pedalboard along with some talk a about the Stratocaster. In the restaurant Caesar Andersson was giving a brunch concert that included a little spontaneous jam with Dennis Westerberg and a great portion of humor.
The music class from Berga School was next on the program and played covers from Stevie Ray Vaughan among others. Troels Jensen and HP Lange that played some acoustic blues for us followed them up. After them it was Jalle Lorensson and Jan Sigurds turn to enter the stage, witch they did well with their piano/harmonica blues.
Next band up was the duo Fingerprint from New Zealand. The remarkable voice Juanita Otene gave us backed up by her man law Ashley Petersen on acoustic guitar made every eye wet. It was a fantastic blender of old blues classics and their own personal arsenal (and of course a great doze of humor in-between).
After those acts it was time for the band the elsovs audience is most familiar with. Ralph and the Big Bang Group. With his fellow musicians Jerker Allgulander on bass and the guitars Lasse Persson they played everything from funky city blues to more straight-ahead shuffles. Perssons playing style I find similar to a chef in the kitchen, when he spices every round with a new fresh sound on his guitar. Bu this wasn't enough, they had Invited Pelle Lindstrom to come and jam. Lindstrom played and sang some songs in his own very "muscular" way and gave it another dimension of power.
The artist up was he Swedish blues guitar legend Rolf "Roffe" Wikstrom and his Blue Hammer. With six men to back him he made a whole lot of sound. Especially on his more moody songs it worked. Wikstrom got a great deal of soul and vibrato in his hands but it would have been nice to hear a little bit more variation. But his Swedish lyrics and reconcilable guitar sound is and will probably always something you can't stand still to.