The 10th European Blues Challenge

We are proud to announce that the 10th European Blues Challenge will be held in The Netherlands, and more precisely in Zaandam next April. Organized by Blues in Zaanstad and Dutch Blues Foundation, the EBC 2020 will take place on 17th and 18th of April, at the Zaantheater.

Reserve your tickets here: https://ebc2020.entranz.nl/

So prepare to join the European Blues!

 

Nearest airport is Amsterdam. More information here: https://www.ebc2020.nl/

 

Italian Band for EBC 2020

During the Italian Blues Challenge, that was organized in Torrita di Siena by the Italian Blues Union and he Torrita Blues Festival, the four bands were playing for a great blues night. On the stage of Teatro degli Oscuri we had the pleasure to listen to Martin’s Gumbo Blues Band, Gospel Book Revisited, Betta Blues Society and Big Man James Trio.

After more than 2 hours of music, and a special solo by Max Lazzarin,  the hard work of the Jury decided the winner: The Betta Blues Society will be in Zaandam on April 2020 for Italy! With the charismatic Maulo at the helm, the band live and breathe the genre in a fresh and original way, without resorting to simple reproduction. Betta Blues keeps the spirit of the blues alive and kicking whilst making it accessible, widening its appeal beyond a niche of passionate followers. A key strength of the band is the blend created by musicians hailing from different musical backgrounds. They fearlessly intertwine blues, swing and rock, putting on an involving and exciting show with a modern twist. In January 2018 the band reached the final at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis (Tennessee, USA) organized by The Blues Foundation, for the first time for an Italian artist.

Harp Attack VI

Last weekend Bulgary had become European’s capital of harmonica hosting two triple-harmonica shows. The event was called Harp Attack, organized by Boris Totev, and put together 3 european harp players taking turns on stage, supported from a backing band. The band was composed by Miroslav Naydenov and Marcello “Billy” Tempesta on guitars, Youlian Traykov on bass and Pablo Leoni on drums. The first show took place in Delta Blues Bar, Sofia on October the 25th. The day after the show moved to Rock n’ Bar, located in Plovdiv. The harmonica players involved were Andrea Capurso (Italy), Andras Kőhalmi (Hungary), Franco Limido (Italy).

The shows has been opened by Andrea Capurso, a young italian harmonica player (24 years old) that proposed a classic Chicago blues set, playing classic songs by Sonny Boy Williamson II, Big Walter Horton, Little Walter and James Cotton. Andrea Capurso wanted to pay tribute to the Chicago harmonica masters, with this set that have seen him for the first time leading a band and singing, backed by Marcello “Billy” Tempesta on guitar, Youlian Traykov on bass and Pablo Leoni on drums. Andras Kőhalmi ran another classical set presenting traditional blues songs like “Caledonia” and “Talk To Your Daughter” but playing in a more modern and technical way, due to his impressive playing skills renewed those masterpieces.

Andras Kőhalmi is cooperating with Miroslav Naydenov from several years, they played with Youlian Traykov and Pablo Leoni. Last but not least Franco Limido presented a full range set that spaced from blues classics such as “Sloppy Drunk” to songs written by himself. The set covered all shades of blues, with funky, Rhythm & Blues and classic roots blues sections. Franco Limido has a great live experiences and toured Europe many times with different projects, among the others the band is running with his brother Marco Limido: Limido Brothers, a duo with Nathan James, Gene Taylor. Franco Limido played with Marcello “Billy” Tempesta, Youlian Traykov and Pablo Leoni. Miroslav Naydenov is an experienced guitar player and singer that played in many european venues and festival in the last years, crucial exponent of the Bulgarian blues scene. Marcello “Billy” Tempesta is a Sofia based young italian guitar player (25 years old) that in the last few years is getting more and more appreciations for his style of playing.

Youlian Traykov is a bass player that took part of the most important blues experiences in Bulgary, he is running different musical projects, among others one with Miroslav Naydenov and a power trio with Marcello “Billy” Tempesta on vocals and lead guitar. Pablo Leoni is one of the most important italian blues drummers, he played with many of the greatest european and world blues representatives such as Sugar Blue, Andy J Forest, Jerry Dugger, Fiona Boyes, Kayla Brox, Giles Robson. At the end of the shows a final jam session took place involving all the musicians that played together a couple of tunes.

Czech Blues Challenge

Thanks to Lucie Kalabova, board member of EBU and president of the Czech Blues Association, Kjell Inge Fischer Brovoll and Fred Delforge were invited in Strážnice to attend the 1st Czech Blues Challenge.
Four bands were in competition, Tom Jegr & Gang, The Peanuts, Mo/Fo Cat Clarion and WBand and after jury deliberations, the winner was WBand, a 5 piece act from South Moravia, at the border between Czech Republic and Slovakia.
WBand will represent Czech Republic next april in Zaandam for the 10th European Blues Challenge. Congratulations to the participant bands and thanks to all volunteers of the Czech Blues Association for the organization of this first national challenge and for their warm welcome!

Participant countries at EBC 2020 in Zaandam (Netherlands)

 

 

Despite the holiday season, most countries have already confirmed their participation at the EBC 2020 in Zaandam, Netherlands, 17-18 April 2020. Few ones have already finished their challenges to select the act representing them at the EBC. We kindly remind that the deadline for notification of participation of a country is 10 September!

Here is the list of confirmed countries:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czeck Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxemburg
  • Netherland
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom

 

 

Little Steven Blues School – Experience from Poland

Thanks to the generous scholarship from European Blues Union and kindness of the festival’s management team we were able to stay for over a week in the Norwegian town called Notodden.  It is a really beautiful city placed in the valley and we stayed in the school just by the enormous lake, so we could feast our eyes on the stunning, picturesque view every time we wanted to. The Bok & Blueshuest building was next to the school. That’s were all the blues history lessons and practicing in student bands took place.
Every band had it’s own practicing room full of amps, drums, keyboards and other great gear. Our first task was to prepare 2 covers of the classic blues song. We chose I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man by Muddy Waters and Messin’ with the Kid by Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. It was hard in the beginning but after two days of practice, with the help from each other and from the teachers who were very supportive, we had the songs ready and they sounded really good.
The second task was to compose our very own song. This process was especially interesting, it was like building something from the Lego bricks but in a musical way of course 🙂 Like Charlotte mentioned before we decided to prepare a funky blues song, titled “Funky Vibe”, it came out really well and we can’t wait to share it with you. That’s the song we recorded in the Juke Joint Studio the next day, with the help of a world class musician Banana from the Youngbloods. We played those 3 songs on a few gigs around town, it was great fun.
Later on the Little Stevens Blues School ended and the Notodden Blues Festival began. We took part in the interviews with the stars like Billy Gibbons, Eric Gales, Joe Louis Walker on Friday and with Monster Mike Welch, Johnny Moeller, Troy Gonyea and Kim Wilson on Saturday. It was amazing that we had the opportunity to talk to them for a little while and take pictures of course. Przemyslaw adds: “Later in the evening I met Mike Welch on the street and he recognized me and asked me if I know the way to the building where he was giving the interview earlier during the day. I said that I do and I’ll be glad to walk him there (the school I stayed at was right next to it). And that way I got another opportunity to talk to Mike for a  while, a thing like that can happen only in Notodden!”
We spent the afternoons and evenings at the concerts, it was amazing to be able to see all these exceptional musicians play one after another… It was truly a magical time in a beautiful town and with the great company of very kind and interesting people. We are extremely glad that we could be there and we are already planning to visit Notodden again in the future!
Barbara, Charlotte, Jakub and Przemyslaw

Billy F. Gibbons becomes the first ambassador of Sierre Blues Festival

It is with great honour that Sierre Blues Festival welcomes Billy F. Gibbons as its first ambassador.

It is on the occasion of the Notodden Blues Festival (Norway) that the founder of ZZ TOP met Silvio Caldelari, President of the Sierre Blues Festival, and agreed to associate his name with this festival.

The famous Texan band, which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has sold over 70 million albums, honoured us by taking part in the 2017 edition of the Sierre Blues Festival. The following year, which marked the 10th edition, Billy F. Gibbons returned to the Valais with the Supersonic Blues Machine project.

“It’s an idea I thought up after his last visit to Sierre in 2018 because his passion for Blues and music in general is matched only by his desire to respect, share with and meet other people, values to which the festival adheres and to which I personally adhere. In addition to this, he obviously enjoys spending time in the Valais where he has several personal friends. From there onwards we exchanged several messages… He takes this role as ambassador very seriously and we had a long conversation before he proudly accepted it” explains Silvio Caldelari, still very moved.

Letter from young French bass player Charlotte Gutteridge after coming from Little Steven’s Blues School in Notodden

I didn’t think I would be accepted for this course, so when I found out that I was chosen, I thought it was too good to be true! I was so happy but very stressed at the same time because I had to organise the journey, make sure my bass guitar was well protected on the plane and learn 10 songs, all that in a very small amount of time.

Learning the songs wasn’t easy… Because at the Little Steven’s Blues School they use sheet music! They provided YouTube links instead and with the help of my father, I soon found the chords and I managed to learn the bases of all the songs on the bass guitar.

When I arrived in Oslo, I picked up my baggage and I met, at the airport, a student that I had previously contacted before my flight. And off we went! The country is really beautiful and very clean, but everything is very expensive in Norway.

Upon arriving at the school, everyone was very welcoming. We were quickly showed where we would be sleeping, I was lucky, I had a room to myself because I was the first and only girl at the start.

The second day, we were split into groups. I was placed with the three other students who had come thanks to the European Blues Union (three polish musicians: one harmonica player, one singer and a guitarist), and two Norwegians completed the group (another guitarist and a drummer).

At the start I felt like I didn’t belong amongst all this talent. But the other students in my group quickly reassured me and were very patient with me.

Each group had to choose two songs from the list we were given beforehand. We made our decision in a way that everyone in the group was comfortable with the songs chosen. Afterwards, we just had to play together! It was like we had been playing together for a long time and that we had known each other for years! Everything fit perfectly together.

After, we were asked to write our own song! Our two guitarists found a funky rhythm inspired by James Brown. The harmonica player found a melody, the drummer quickly followed and as soon as I found the right chords, I joined in too. We found the base of our song! The singer arrived a little later and she loved it! She then got inspired by our meeting and the funky rhythm to write the lyrics of the song and suggested we add some gospel at the end, and that’s what we did!

We were the first group to record in the Juke Joint studio with Banana (Lowell Levinger: musician in Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul). He gave us his opinions and tips for the song, we then added harmonies for the voice, the tambourine for the gospel part… And when we listened back to the track, it sounded very funky and professional.

We played twice on the Jailhouse stage (a little stage made for prisoners passionate about music and the blues). We played the day before the festival, but also for the first day of the festival because we replaced a group that couldn’t be there! Everyone loved what we did. I got many compliments, not only from the teachers, but from the people in the public too! Someone even pulled me in for a hug because he really liked what I do on the bass guitar. I was very touched to have such positive feedback. It helped me gain confidence and to realise that what I was doing was very good!

In conclusion, the course was an unforgettable experience. I loved learning new techniques and playing with new people. I learned a lot of things from the teachers and the other students. I met a lot of amazing people, I really appreciated passing time with the other students, teachers and guardians who I kept in contact with. I was very lucky to have the chance to record in the Juke Joint studio with Banana as our producer and to have met Stevie Van Zandt himself!

I am very satisfied with my experience during my course in Notodden, and I’d love to have the opportunity to go back next year (and I know the teachers would like to see me again because they told me!). I hope one day I will get the chance to show Notodden to my family!

I’d like to thank, one more time, France Blues and the European Blues Union for giving me this opportunity, this course and this journey I will never forget!

Charlotte Gutteridge

EBU at Santa Maria Blues Festival In Azores Islands

Board member Lucie Kalabova travelled to Santa Maria Island in Azores. She enjoyed an amazing festival as well as promoting the EBU there. Now she wants to share her impressions about her time there.

Each festival has a certain appeal, charm and quality, for both the artistic part, the energy, stories and memories it creates and for things it ignites and makes grow from there. Santa Maria Island is a very unique place in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and it’s Santa Maria Blues festival is a very unique event, for many reasons. Here’s to mention a few from this year’s, which was the 16th edition, held on a gorgeous site on the island’s shore on July 18, 19, 20.

Santa Maria Blues was three nights of stellar skies and blues by some of the greatest artists of the day. The festival was kicked off on Thursday night by Delta Blues Riders, a Portugese band who also represented Portugal earlier this year at the European Blues Challenge, which was organized by the same SMB crew and held at Ponta Delgada, Açores. The second part of the night’s line-up belonged to Kyla Brox Quartet, this year’s winner of the European Blues Challenge and this lady with her band owned the stage and the crowd completely with their world class performance.

The second night started with an excellent set by a legendary, four times Blues Music Award winner, Joe Louis Walker. Looking back at his more than half a century long music career he says “I’d like to be known for my life long belief and faith in music and in blues. Sometimes I learned more from the failures than I did from success. That made me stronger and made me desire adventure. It helped me to find and develop my style.” Joe Louis Walker left the stage to a huge applause and was followed by non the less great set and big bang by Shaggy dogs, a band from France who brought and entertained the crowd with a very much fun mix of blues and rock’n’roll.

The final night of Santa Maria Blues opened with a set from Gwyn Ashton, a british musician, who’s played in 32 countries around the world and who also opened for Joe Louis Walker’s concert in Prague, Czech Republic, last year. It is Gwyn, who says in one of his strongest songs “the road is my religion” and his set was a great, intimate one man show and had the audience’s full attention rightfully. The following was a Houston Texas native, Annika Chambers with her great band, including her Canadian fiancée Paul DesLauriers on guitar. She was just beaming and the Texas thing she brought was amazing, high energy, upbeat and sassy sound that got everybody up and dancing, she had a strong connection with the crowd and brought us all together just the way great music can. The last but not least was no one less than the true legend, the “blues boss”, Mr.Kenny Wayne with his boogie-woogie piano and his excellent band. That was all about love and passion for music, much fun and great energy brough about by this piano master and such a brilliant way to close the festival.

Apart from all the great live music, each night was complemented by excellent dj sets, to keep the crowd together and on our feet till the sunrise. During the day there is much to see and explore around the site of the festival, to swim in the ocean at one of the island’s beautiful sand beaches or in the seaside pools, to enjoy some great views and just soak up all the timeless beauty, calm and peacefulness of the island.

Much appreciation and respect to the organizers, to the whole Santa Maria Blues crew, who do an outstanding job, taking care of all the logistics and people who come to the festival. This year’s total of visitors in the three days was 6.388, which basically doubles the population of the island. Most of the crowd comes from the biggest island of Açores, Sao Miguel and the rest of the islands, from the Portugese mainland as well as other European countries and from the United States as well. The festival visitors are offered some delicious local food, traditional Santa Maria soups, meat or vegetable stews, traditional Portugese sandwiches bifanas, salads, home made deserts offered by the residents or the famous Santa Maria melons. There are numerous bars and drink stalls on and around the site. The accomodation on the island is limited, so early booking is adviced, there are comfortable hotels available, private cottages for rent or a nice camping site near the festival grounds. All together this makes for a great and truly unique experience, those who have been, return, and for those who have not been yet, Santa Maria Blues is something not to be missed in the future. Obrigada, Santa Maria Blues. Long live the blues!

Young French bass player Charlotte Gutteridge at Little Steven’s Blues School

Young French bass player Charlotte Gutteridge flew to Oslo to reach Notodden to attend Little Steven’s Blues School, thanks to a partnership between France Blues, the European Blues Union and Notodden Blues Festival. She wanted to send us her first comments:


“I’m in a band with three Polish, a singer, a guitarist and a harmonica player, and two Norwegians, another guitarist and a drummer. Our group is called Barbara And The Strangers. Before the workshop, we were asked to work 10 tunes. Among these 10, we chose one to make a cover at our own sauce. It’s Hoochie Coochie Man by Muddy Waters!

We also wrote a tune in a funky James Brown’ style, we added a little gospel at the end. The title? “Funky Vibe”, and we are the first group to record in the Juke Joint Studio, guided by the wonderful Banana, Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul’s musician!

We have already learned many things, the importance of each instrument and the importance of singing, the different ways of playing the Blues, the evolution of Blues over the years … And we learned how to write a piece of Blues.

In the beginning, I did not feel up to it because the musicians present here have a lot of talent. But little by little, I show what I can do and the teachers gave me skills. I think they’re happy to see that I can play what they ask me on the first try.

I am really happy to be here and to participate in this extraordinary school!.

Charlotte