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

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

Little Steven Blues School 2018 for EBU Students

Eliza Sicińska sent us this report from the workshops in Little Steven’s Blues School, Notodden 2018
Pola Chobot, Adam Baran, Łukasz Pietrzak and I won the scholarship for young musicians, funded by European Blues Union, allowing us to go to Norway for one-week music workshops in the Little Steven’s Blues School, organized beside the Notodden Blues Festival. These workshops are intended for advanced musicians and they concern a work in the record studio as well as coopration in the band. We came to Notodden on 28th July. 29th was the first day of workshops. Classes started at 9:45 every day and took place in Bok & Blueshuset building. There is also the famous Juke Joint Studio with old, legendary studio equipment with the studio console, on which stars like Elvis Presley recorded in Memphis! Our teachers were Norwegian musicians, connected to the Notodden Blues Festival.
On the first day students were divided into groups to form the bands. Polish group stayed together and we also had Norvegian collegues in our band – Karl and Øyvind.
Every day we had one or two lectures on blues music, songwriting, working in the recording studio or masterclasses with amazing musicians who shared their experience with us. In the meantime, we spend a lot of time in rehearsal rooms with our bands. Our first task was to arrange one of the blues standards with our band. We chose Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile. We also were asked to write our own song altogether as a band and perform it the next day before teachers and the rest of the students. We had the greatest fun writing it and we think it was a big hit!
Our version of the Voodoo Chile was picked among others by Little Steven himself to produce it in the Juke Joint Studio! It was an honor and amazing experience to us.
We also got another appreciation from the teachers. They asked us if we want to open the Notodden Blues Festival with our song! It was a big distinction for us, but unfortunately Pola and Adam had to go back to Poland before the festival started. Well, maybe next time. 🙂
On the fourth evening of workshops in pub Teledølen we all performed what we practiced during our time in Notodden. It was a wonderful concert, every group played really good and every one was different. The original songs were very creative. And everybody cheered for their friends from other bands and were saying nice and warm words about their performances. The atmosphere was friendly and cordial the whole week! The last day of workshops was the first day of the festival at the same time. We had a free access to concerts and we’ve seen an incredible one of Ry Cooder. After midnight concerts had place on the stage in Teledølen and me and Łukasz played a song with local band. After that we went to the airport and came back home… Although we felt like we could stay there forever.
A great thank you to European Blues Union for the amazing opportunity we got from you! This would never be possible for us without the scholarship and I hope more and more young musicians will find out about it and profit from it to the fullest, like we did!