FlaxAfter years in the basement, Flax and Junipher Greene were the first two groups I worked with that took me into the world of the recording studio and tour busses. FLAX was a symphonic hard-rock band that released a single in the end of 1978, and toured quite a lot. "Mr. Wild" from the north, Willy Bendiksen was the drummer whom I had been a huge fan of from years back. We had great fun (especially in our marathon solos). The Flax-album, "Monster Tapes" was released by EMI /Harvest in 1980, but the band sort of didn`t move anywhere. There was a long distance between talent and ambition, plus the fact that we lost too much money touring. I quit the band in 1981. Flax kept playing for a while and I joined them in a studio session that led to the release of "Flax Tracks" in 1986.

Junipher Greene

Junipher GreeneJunipher Greene was a big name on the progressive rock scene in Norway in the beginning of the seventies. I joined the band in their underground period (about the same time I joined Flax in 1978). The album "Rewind" (Hammer Records) was released in 1981, three songs with my bass playing on it. Immediately after "Rewind" we started working on another album that we recorded in our rehearsal room on an 8-track Teac tape-recorder. I wrote Norwegian lyrics to that album and did the lead vocal on 6 songs. It came out on our own label (Musikkselskapet 1982). The title was "Forbudte Formiddagstoner". On this album there are two songs where I play a slide-bass (for the first time in history ??? ... you tell me...).Slaraffenliv
Another song from that album called "Slaraffenliv" ("The Lazy Life") became an underground hit; a slow reggae-tune I wrote with quite funny lyrics. We had a humorous TV-appearance with it. I`ve played that song live a couple of times in the last few years and the funny thing is that people still remember it. Two of the guys from JUNIPHER GREENE developed their studio, and are now among the most outstanding film music composers in Norway (Bent Åserud & Geir Bøhren).


Raya was a Russian born Gypsy-singer who lived in Norway for quite some years. I played with her every now and then from 1981 to 1983. I found the musical contrast from "hardrocksymphofusion" to this very naked but temperamental expression with accordion, acoustic guitar, tambourine and bass along with an intense vocal and dancing very interesting. We played at a Gypsy-congress in Göttingen, Germany, joined a very serious Gypsy ceremony/festival in St.Marie de la Mer in the south of France (summer of ´81), and in 1982 we did a great tour in Sweden playing in old castle ruins and beautiful theaters.


BC`s Backstage / Jannicke
Willy Bendiksen, my groovemate behind the drums in FLAX had been doing some different things after splitting from the band. One of his "things" that I joined for a couple of gigs was the band of the old AUNT MARY-guitar "guru", Bjørn Christiansen; it didn`t last long.

A female rockish Norwegian Suzy Quatro called herself JANNICKE and had a big hit in the beginning of the eighties ("Svake Mennesker"). Willy was forming a band to back her up on a long, well payed tour in the fall of ´82, and he made me join. We had to play 3 sets of music besides playing a smoky, flashy show with the popstar. Road That was when (and why) the group ROAD started. After the tour we started working on original material; the guitar-player Eivind Aarset joined the band and I had suddenly become a hard rocker holding the bass like Phil Lynott. We had two guitar players that sounded a bit like "Thin Lizzy" and a drummer that had a very permanent idea of how it should sound and look . I wrote a couple of songs and was doin` the lead vocal thing (quite an interesting instrument actually..). We toured a lot in the north and south of Norway; carried an´ lifted loads of equipment and maybe we had a little money left in our pockets (if we didn`t spend too much on booze). The album "This Is Just Rock`n`Roll" was recorded in a garage (Roxy Studio, Fredrikstad) and was released aroundRoad 1983 (Desperado/Slagerfabrikken). One of the songs from that album ended up on a double-CD released by Polygram (1993) documenting the heavy-rock -scene in Norway. The compilation was called "Norske Riff og Tordenskrall ´65 - ´92" and the ROAD song was a fast riff-rocker called "Trapped in a Cage". Our album title "This Is Just Rock`n`Roll" (a line picked from some talking on the Little Feat live-album "Waiting For Colombus") was my idea for the band, a rock`n`roll band. Willy`s idea was a more heavy type of band. I felt I was heading down a very narrow path in music, I needed greater freedom and wider limits of expression. I had the choice to countinue acting the heavy-rocker or being a musician. I chose the last one and quit the band around the summer of 1984. ROAD continued without me for some time and made some records as well.

Jahn Teigen / Anita Skorgan

The first thing that happened after ROAD was a summer tour (1984) with the successful couple TEIGEN/SKORGAN that sold a great deal of records with the album "Cheek to Cheek". It was a great band with a regular line-up and a horn section (with Ole Edvard Antonsen), back-up singers, tour-manager, crowds of people, no lifting heavy speakers and equipment, food and drink, money in the pocket and everything a hungry musician could ask for and maybe deserved after years with the opposite.

Four Roosters / The Heavy Gentlemen

Photo: B.MelbyeOne guy in Oslo, Norway , that we had heard of since the last part of the seventies playing the blues with a black magic touch was a fellow named Knut Reiersrud. I met this amazing guitar player for the first time while sitting in with his band, "The Four Roosters"; it must have been sometime in ´83. I thought the Blues was only three chords, but after getting a glance into that colourful valley of music, I realized that the Blues had a great amount of variation, and I suddenly felt total freedom in terms how to approach the function of the bass. Everything was allowed, if you`ll allow it of course. After "The Four Roosters" split, Knut formed a 9-piece band with the extraordinary Italian drummer Paolo Vinaccia. I was picked as the lucky bass player, the band was first called "The Rhythm`n`Blues All Star Band" which shortly after became "THE HEAVY GENTLEMEN". The horn section was Bendik Hofseth, Sigurd Køhn and Torbjørn Sunde, the keyboards and vocal were taken care of by the grand old man of soul Geir Wentzel. Carsten Loly was the main lead singer and there was also a second guitarplayer, Ivar Vereide. This band was touring in periods when the members didn`t have anything else going from ´84 and up to ´88. It was a really kick-ass live act. Nine wild guys that spit out energetic soul, swing, blues and rock`n`roll together as a unit, as well as featured strong ego-journeys from all the individual members. A presentation of the band could easily last for 45 minutes...

THE HEAVY GENTLEMEN were the best school I´d been to so far. Learning to listen to what was happening in the rest of the team, by searching for a certain coolness in order to deal with your own technique ... when you`re out there to blow the crowd`s mind, keeping up with the energy and tempo, developing a groove-conciousness playing with skilled musicians and keeping the music spontanious and alive by not knowing what`s gonna happen all the time.

Heavy Gentlemen"The Heavy Gentlemen" accidently performed with Joe Cocker in Oslo 1986, did several TV-appearances, and also worked in the studio trying to put our different heads together on a concept. It never ended up on record.

In January 1985, I joined Knut on a trip to the United States for about 7 weeks. In New York we met Jaco Pastorius. He played at the club "Birdland" the same night we arrived and that killed the jetlag completely. He was pretty "out there" in those times and hung around Washington Square Park and the Lone Star Cafe where I met him by the pissoir. Knut and I travelled to many cities in the States, went on tour with the Florida bluesman Rock Bottom to South Carolina and Georgia, jammed out with the real blues inventors in black clubs on the southside of Chicago, spent time in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Key West, San Francisco and Boston and had a great and inspirational time. Music is definetely an international communicative language.

Claudia, Big Hand & Casino

In a time when people`s opinion about Country Music in general was about to change, these three artists coming from different directions of Country Music, got together and presented country with a rougher edge than what people were used to hearing. After I got back from 2 months in the States with Knut, broke as a rat, I was asked to join C B C for the summer of ´85 with a lot of gigs and good money. Musically it was kind of new for me, it was a challenge to play simply and find variations inside narrow limits (and maybe widen them up a little...) . Besides their show, the backup-band also did a couple of sets where I was allowed to open my mouth and do some singing, even though nobody would listen.

For their next album "Oh Yeah" (1986), I wrote two songs together with Claudia Scott , "Thinking Back To My Younger Days" and "Lonely Days And Nights". Claudia and I also formed a band called Claudia Scott and the Scouts in ´86, but it didn`t last long.

Country Music was another valley of music to dive into, like the blues had been. I discovered so many directions, traditions and emotions, and became very fond of and inspired by the human elements of Country music.

Gone At Last

Gone at Last I ran into these guys while recording the "Oh Yeah"-album ´85. GONE AT LAST was an acoustic soup playing bluegrass, swing (and assorted madness) with banjo, mandolins, acoustic guitars and needed a bass player. I liked their style and joined. First we did gigs on oil platforms and military bases mostly in northern Norway. We brought along a "jug-band" which was a bag full of different flutes, a saw, a washboard and a tub-bass. People from the audience were invited up to the stage to play these things for a few numbers. That was the victory of the evening and turned most every gig into an event.

In the summer of ´86 we did a tour in the States around New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We played schools, cultural spots, opened up for Emmylou Harris at the Lone Star Cafe and played a few Bluegrass festivals. At the Waterloo Festival in New Jersey we met the father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe among many others. It seemed that we had a more "punky" attitude to the music compared to the more traditional performers, but they liked our style very much, at Photo: B.Melbyeleast they said so. The maestro of the dobro Cindy Cashdollar from Woodstock N.Y., joined us on this tour (she later became a member of Western Swing masters; "Asleep At The Wheel"). The rest of the pals were Terje Kinn on banjo/acoustic guitar, Jeff Wasserman on mandolin/acoustic guitar and Karl Aasland playing mandolin/acoustic guitar.

These three guys had a very strong 3 part harmony vocals working, which I every now and then did my best to lock into with a bass voice or some other harmony that would fit in. In ´87 we started working on a new album, GONE AT LAST`s second album. In the years to come our Photo: B.Melbyerecord company went bankrupt, some guy quit the band (and joined again later), Jeff spent a year in the States etc., so Gone At Last was very off and on in long periods, but we never broke up. We finished the album 8 years later and it came out in 1995 with the title "Still Out There". I did the lead vocals on two songs, one of them developed from my own song ("Voice A-Calling"), and the album got excellent reviews but sold sadly little. The album also contains a bluegrasshiphop-version of the classic Deep Purple-song "Smoke On The Water" which I recorded and mixed in my homestudio. ´We also did sporadic gigs opening up for "The Band" (Scandinavian Tour ´94), played assorted festivals and clubs and we´ll still meet to have some happy hours in the future I guess.

Oslo All Stars Band

This concept was a Monday night thing in the club "Sardine`s" in Oslo from 1986 to 1988. It had a continously changing lineup. Geir Holmsen or myself on bass, Knut Reiersrud and/or Eivind Aarset on guitars, Paolo Vinaccia or Bjørn Jenssen on drums, Øyvind Elgenes (Dance With A Stranger) and/or Gil Edwards on vocals, Ole H. Giørtz, piano, Atle Bakken, organ and a lot of guest vocalists and instrumentalists sitting in. The nights I remember best were playing with Johnny Thunders and one night with Mr. Mac Rebbenack from New Orleans, better known as Dr.John.

Three Blind Mice

This little combo was formed to tour the military bases in the north of Norway during Christmastime 1988. Jeff Wasserman was playing acoustic guitar and mandolin, Claudia Scott was playing guitar and I had just picked up my 6-string bass (The Fender IV) which was an instrument I`ve had for years. It had been staring at me from the corner of my room waiting patiently for the day I would pick it up and explore the unique secrets this instrument was carrying. It was very convenient in a small group like "The Mice" where the music had space and open spots availaible for "more" than a regular bassline. I was able to play chords and fills in the range of a tenor-guitar, and I became very fascinated by the unlimited possibilities that lay there in those 6 strings. THE THREE BLIND MICE had a varied repertoire of Bluegrass, Swing and Gospel as well as some of Claudia and Jeff`s original material. We worked out nice three-part-harmony vocals. We also brought along the "jug-band" that always was successful (as described under the "Gone At Last" column).

Tom and The Tomtoms

Tom and the TomtomsThese were some guys I caught up with in 1988 when "The Heavy Gentlemen" had broken up and "Gone at Last" didn`t do much... so I, felt like I didn`t have a band. These guys played blues, soul and rock`n`roll with a wild edge that appealed a lot to me. It was a 5 piece-band and the guitarplayer was Tor Inge Rishaug who I made my own band with a couple of years later. The Tomtoms (or 2 of them) invested in a 24-track studio in Larvik at a time when I was in London working with "a-ha". In that studio we recorded an album called "Runabout", released in 1993 by Tylden & Co. On the following tour we had a 4-piece horn-section and we cooked quite a bit. The band broke up after that, caused by different things; not happily treated by the record company, disagreements on the musical direction, and the individual member´s plans and our will to put effort into it etc.


In the middle of a sound-check with Tom & the Tomtoms at the club "Smuget" in Oslo (it must have been in December 1989), I got this weird phone-call from a guy calling himself Morten saying that we had played together just a little bit a couple of years before. He asked me if I had a lot to do these days and said something about him and some friends having a band-project going. I couldn`t really place the guy from my own memory, but there was something familiar with that voice...

Suddenly I noticed that I was talking to Norway`s biggest popstar, Morten Harket. I knew that "a-ha" had checked out a Norwegian drummer and bassplayer, and fortunately for me, Geir Holmsen (the bassplayer) turned down the offer to join "a-ha". I wouldn`t turn that thing down. This was going to be the new era in a-ha`s career to get back on their feet a-haagain after a break. Three albums had been made and now they wanted to establish themselves as a strong unit with a integrity and appeal to a wider range of people......

In January 1990, I went to London with drummer Per Hillestad. There we rehearsed a bit, preparing songs for the next album and made a couple of demos in the guys´ own 16 track studio in Shepherds Bush. In the springtime of 1990 they rented an appartment for us in Kensington, London and we worked on the "East Of The Sun West Of The Moon" album in Abbey Road Studios, Metropolis Studio and Air Studios with a view over Oxford Circus. Some tracks were cut pretty live and some came together in bits and pieces. It was very inspiring to work with people that knew what they were after. Some of their ideas were easy to get into and others I had some inner disagreements about, but I did my best. It was a great experience to live in the pop-capital and be able to work with good producers. There were two of them on this album, we got along best with Chris Neal. The other guy was Ian Stanley locked up in his machines. There was a lot of sparetime during the 3 months we lived in London. I was fooling around a bit in a-ha`s studio every now and then and did some recordings and checked out different new bass guitars. In May we went home and didn`t hear much from the guys until the album was about to be released in november 1990, and different TV-appearances throughout Europe started happening.

From January up to July 1991 we toured a lot in England, France, Germany, Brasil, Chile and Argentina. The south American tour is documented on a live-video shot and directed by Paal`s wife Lauren Savoy. This was a time in a-ha`s career where they wanted to reach another kind of audience than the screaming teenagers. The music had a rougher edge, but the commercial result was not as satisfying as the hopes and visions. Anyway the "East Of The Sun..." album sold about 1,5-2 millon copies worldwide and I wouldn`t really call that a failure.


In 1992 we spent time in Prince`s studio "Paisley Park" in Minneapolis, USA , with producer David Z and recorded the album "Memorial Beach" that was released may 1993. The time in Paisley Park is documented in an article in the Norwegian music magazine "Musikk-Praksis", written by myself. After the release of "Memorial Beach"we did a few "low-key" tours; clubs in Germany, England, Spain, Denmark and concerts in Norway. We also did concerts in Beirut, Lebanon and the last a-ha concert was in St. Petersburg in Russia in the summer of 1994. (The White Nights Festival).

I guess a-ha had reached a stage where the members were into doing different things.

My time with them was very exciting, it was like being a part of a circus. I felt that musically it was like doing a job, I executed my function the best I could and the way I felt was right, but I missed the musical freedom to do things the way I wanted. I guess it wasn`t too late for that. I had gotten a lot of experience being a fly on the wall in different situations; studio work especially.

Lynni Treekrem

Lynni Treekrem Lynni is a Norwegian singer that had been doing a lot of different things throughout the years. She released her first album "Ut i Vind" in 1993 and I was asked to play with her on her promotional tours. This was a very fresh concept, Geir Sundstøl played several string instruments, Rune Arnesen played drums/percussion and I was able to explore further the different possibilities on my Fender 6 string bass, the Fender IV. This was a low-key project where the musical ingredients was not covered by tons of sound. The musical presentation was very naked and because of that there was a great challenge to each part. After some time we performed without the drums too, and it worked. Lynni and I even did a couple of appearances, just the two of us. In January 1995 we joined the Norwegian Government´s Foreign Minister and her Gallactic Trade Council to South Africa. We played at a couple of dinner gatherings in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. I admire Lynni´s very personal and extraordinary voice and happy I am that she let me hear her singing on the song "We Have Grown" from my first solo album.


Terje Kinn, my banjo-partner from Gone At Last was a musician that I got along very well with. When Morten Harket was opening up this restaurant "Figaro" in Oslo, he asked me if I could help out with some music. I formed the duo "Strength" with Terje and played there in that ringing hall not one, but several nights, and kept the duo alive even after Figaro died. We played in the club Rebekka West in Oslo among many other places not too far away. The combination of 6-string bass and banjo was very special sounding. Terje was also picking acoustic guitar and the music was a blend of whatever we wanted to play. We had no limits. We played straight bluegrass, hillbilly music, ballads, strange versions of old songs and even fooled around with Beethoven´s 5th. Sometimes we had dobro-player Knut Hem with us, sometimes we built a big band around our concept, but mostly it was a duo. "Strength" still plays together sometimes and we have in the back of our minds that it would be nice to make a record one day.

Knut Reiersrud

Knut Reiersrud This guy that I had worked with in earlier years had gotten himself a name not only as a guitar player but also started making records under his own name. I contributed to a couple of numbers on his second solo-album "Klapp", not as a bassplayer but playing the 6-string bass with a guitaristic attitude. There was already a bassplayer in the band, but I was asked to go on tour with Knut and his band as a second bassplayer or in fact as a guitarplayer cruising between his high strings and the bass department. The fact that I was having this special instrument and the fact that I was a descent guitar player opened up the possibilities to do more things in life than only taking care of the bottom of the soundpicture. It was an unusual function for me, especially being hired as a second guitarist beside this splendid guitar virtuoso. This was a very interesting situation. Through 1995 and 1996 we did several tours in Norway, Sweden and Germany and the music was a blend of American blues, African music and also elements from Norwegian folk music. In the band was the Gambian Cora-player Alagi M`Bye, the drummer Paolo Vinaccia and bassist Audun Erlien beside me and Knut. At our last appearance in the Falun Folkmusic Festival in Sweden, July 1996 we also had drummer/percussionist Terje Isungset with us playing his very special homemade drum-percussion package.


JB's Low-Key This band was formed because the club Rebekka West in Oslo asked if I could put together a band to play at the club for some nights. I gathered a three piece combo around my 6-string bass and voice, picked some familiar songs that I liked to perform and asked guitar player Tor Inge Rishaug and percussion driver Rune Arnesen along with me. We played every now and then in the cafe of the club and I enjoyed the unprestigious surroundings very much. We often played songs that we´d not rehearsed. Sometimes it came out as a fun failure, but there was always a new chance on the next tune. I liked that the music had a lot of spontanious elements. It was nice to have found a playground where I could explore my own musical ideas and be able to check out my voice a little bit further. The songs I chose were by people like Ry Cooder ("Hey Mama Don`t Treat Your Daughter Mean"/"Go Home Girl"/"That`s The Way Love Turned Out For Me"), Willie Nelson ("Mamas Don`t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys"/"River Boy"/"Shelter Of Your Arms"), Willy deVille ("Spanish Jack"/"Lilly`s Daddy`s Cadillac"), John Hiatt ("Memphis In The Meantime"/"Lipstick Sunset" ), and even a-ha`s "October" was out there wailin` and weavin`.

The first original song we checked out was "We Have Grown". We´ll dive into some more of the originals, I guess it wouldn´t hurt. It`s just a matter of getting the same "loose" attitude when performing original stuff, as when fooling around with old familiar songs that people have heard before. It would definitely sound different than on the record, but this I´m allowing myself to do. Anyway, it`s nice for once to have "my own band"; this is a playground with a wide range of unexplored opportunities, a small group of people with wide minds about music and a great will to get out in the woods, not always knowing the way back, but knowing that somewhere out there will it be something groovy happening... and everything will work out fine, ... see ya. (Written around 1996.)

My band JB`Low Key Crew have been through some continous alterations throughout the years. Drummers have changed, (I think we counted 15 drummers that have been in the band at some stage, who ? you mean I should mention all of them, I guess I should; Paolo Vinaccia was at the very first gig in Rebekka West (1993) with Tor Inge and me, the next day Paolo was occupied so he himself decided that Rune Arnesen should be the man for us, and Rune became the main man for many years. Other drummers in the years to come would be Egon Olsen, Inge Norum, Bjørn Jenssen, Anders Engen, Per Hillestad, Hamlet Pedersen, Truls Andersen, Terje Gade, Totto Hansen, Rune Pedersen, Eivind Kløverød, .......it`s hard to remember them all .... ... ). For the period of 98/99/2000 Tor Hauge from Sarpsborg was our main drummer, and we happened  to have a 11 days tour with 10 gigs in Northern Norway in 99, and we had a helluva rock`n`roll time with bloody Tor Inge Marys guitarnotes and a nice freaky beat . By the end of 2002 Trond Augland from Kristiansand have ruled the backbeat beside my bass and hopefully he forever will….. he is a cooking and melodic rhythminventor that`s so tasty that I end up with a blown mind everytime we play. Tor Inge has been my main guitarmate up until recently, but I`m afraid my ear has changed a bit, he took off to Spain for a while, I guess he had his reasons for doin`that , ....... …. The tasteful guitarplayer from Årdal, Nils Einar Vinjor is a beautiful fellow who contributes to my music in a way that I love to hear. I hope to stick with Nils & Trond and that they will stick with me for a long period of time even though other acts pay more money for their soulful notes & rhythms. They stood by me in 2006 when "Basstard" was released, and we`ll keep on playing together in the future I assume. But sometimes I go out giggin all by myself or with just Nils on guitar, and it`s nice to see that my songs can live happily under different circumstances.

Other guitar players that has been around the JB trio thing would be Svend Berg, Jørn Fodnestøl, Johny Aasgård, Stein Bull Hansen, Knut Hem .... and life continous ... it`a an endless dream ....

Notes from Songs From The Pocket cover: Watch out for JB`s Low Key appearing in your neighbourhood playing some swampy groovy and rockin` rhythm`n`western....



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