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.
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
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. 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 around 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
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
Four Roosters / The Heavy Gentlemen
One 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...
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.
"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
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
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
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
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 least 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
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 record
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
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
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...
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 again 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
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.
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.
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
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 CREW
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....