Maritime Jazz in Arendal, Norway


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The traditional maritime town Arendal, in the south of Norway, provides one of the most peculiar jazz and blues festivals in the world. Old wooden boats and light house islands, make the settings for the New Orleans-inspired Canal Street Jazz and Blues festival.
Even though the festival was started as late as 2001 by a handful local jazz and blues lovers, it has grown to be the largest jazz and blues festival in the south of Norway. In these four years, it has also become one of the trademarks of this little coastal town. The festival's kind of surrealistic scenery settings has a lot do to with it!
Arendal is an old intersection point for sailing vessels, and it's easy to see that the town, which is home for approximately 40,000 inhabitants, is hanging on to its roots.
Most of the concerts are held outside in the maritime environment, on creative concert scenes like the old historical sailing vessel Boy Leslie. It makes the perfect scene in the city harbor, Pollen, and with its huge masts, green color and white sails, it's impossible not to be captured by its exquisite charm. And when the happy jazz rhythms from New Orleans' Jazz Cabaret and Asker Jazz band found their way from the boat deck to the city streets this Friday, the usually stiff-legged Norwegians dropped their inhibitions and let the music capture their soul.

On shore next to Boy Leslie lie small cafès side-by-side, like the Strand cafè, well known to artists, bohemians, and originals—either traveling trough the town or settled here—and it makes for attractive concert seats if you want to chill out with a coffee or a beer while listening.

When you arrive the Little Torungen lighthouse island, which you can only attain by boat, you cant help to get stunned by the fantastic maritime view! On one side you have the Norwegian sea horizon that disappears into the blue sky, and on the other side remain the rocky reeves and the two islands, Hisøy and Tromøy, that surround the seaway to Arendal. Boats in all sizes and shapes carry eager audiences to the island concert, where the nature itself provides both the concert stage and seats.

The seabirds, glaring, disappear in the music's magic—so the birds only appear as another instrument in the painting-like landscape, next to the brick beacon house that towers on top of the island.

Luckily, also the sun has a tendency to be friendly during the festival, and it contributes to helping the thousands of people who come here every year surrender themselves to musical appreciation.

When you add a selection of some of the best jazz and blues presenters from Norway, such as the internationally acknowledged musicians Vidar Busk, Amund Maarud, Bjørn Berge, and Silje Neergard, the festival contributes with both a visual and acoustic tribute to the world of jazz and blues.

This music, melted together with Arendals roots, provides a five-day celebration, and in the end, the festival is best described by the famous words of John Coltrane—the main thing a musician likes to do is to give a picture to the listener, of the many wonderful things he knows of, and senses in the universe.

This festival takes it one step further.


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