LA HORA DEL BLUES
European Blues Union

 

2014 European Blues Challenge, General Assembly & Blues Market
Riga (Letonia), 10, 11 y 12 Abril
 

Parece que era ayer que estábamos en Toulouse celebrando el tercer EBC y justo acabamos de llegar de Riga en Letonia donde hemos vivido sensaciones y emociones indescriptibles. Un largo viaje que ha valido la pena, por muchos y diferentes momentos que vamos a intentar describir en esta breve crónica de tres intensos días.

Un largo viaje que nos ha permitido ver –que no conocer- una de las ciudades más singulares de las antiguas repúblicas soviéticas, afortunadamente hoy ya occidentalizadas, con gente muy amable que en todo momento han hecho nuestra estancia muy acogedora, especialmente nuestro anfitrión y organizador del evento Nordmunds Kalnins.

Después de visitar el bello barrio antiguo de la ciudad, pasear por sus avenidas y intentar captar toda la atmósfera de la ciudad, los actos propiamente dichos comienzan el jueves con una animada cena para todos los miembros de la EBU ya llegados a la ciudad en el club de blues por antonomasia, el Bites Blues Club, con cena y música en directo a cargo de diversas bandas de blues locales como la Latvian Blues Band entre otras. Un gran ambiente y animada charla aunque en ocasiones, la música no permitía gozar de una relajada charla o conversación.

Un excelente aperitivo, para entrar con buen en el 4º European Blues Challenge. El evento tuvo lugar en Sapnu Fabrika, un local que pese a su aspecto de nave industrial, tuvo una buena acústica. Mención destacada a los técnicos que consiguieron que los intervalos entre grupo y grupo duraran escasamente tres minutos y también a la iluminación y el panel trasero del escenario, muy bien logrado con efectos lumínicos muy interesantes, junto a una dinámica presentación a cargo de Lightnin’ Guy y un presentador local ataviado a lo Blues Brothers.

En mi opinión la edición de este año ha demostrado un alto nivel cualitativo superando ediciones anteriores. Los grupos habrán gustado más o menos, pero todos ellos han estado a la altura y mostrado sus enormes posibilidades para integrarse en un amplio circuito europeo.

Para abrir fuego, los croatas 44 Blues en un set difícil de llevar por ser los encargados de abrir la noche y no estar el público todavía demasiado centrado en el concurso. Buena combinación de rock y blues con algún tema cantado en croata.

Me sorprenden muy gratamente los representantes de Dinamarca y Suecia, para mi dos de los mejores grupos de la noche. Los daneses Big Creek & The Cockroaches nos brindan una actuación muy sobria pero llena de buen blues basado en el Chicago blues con algunos toques a lo Muddy Waters en los solos de guitarra junto a la excelente voz de su cantante Marc Rune. Por su parte The Hightones también nos ofrecen un set basado en el blues clásico, sonando muy conjuntados y demostrando que todos los músicos son buenos instrumentistas y que saben combinar el blues más tradicional con el rockin’ blues, siempre con profesionalidad y elegancia.

Los locales Latvix Band dejan claro que conocen en género en una actuación sobria no exenta de intensos momentos como en un impecable blues lento donde brilla la guitarra de su líder Vladimir Lavrinovics.

Esperaba expectante a Marco Pandolfi venido desde Italia. Intérprete muy peculiar dotado de una voz bonita y a la vez rota, que gradualmente va ganando en intensidad. Poco a poco me va enganchando pues sabe crear una atmosfera a la vez intimista y envolvente. Es un excelente guitarrista y un buen armonicista y me quedo con su impresionante versión de “Last Night” que me llega a emocionar.

La noche está llena de contrastes y Alemania con Mike Seeber Trio nos conducen hacia un blues más poderoso, en la línea de Hendrix o SRV. Mike conoce todos los resortes del power blues y su bajista Philip Rosche es un nervio en el escenario que consigue que no apartemos los ojos de él.

Rusia participaba por primera vez en el Challenge. Bomb Lane Band son un grupo curioso que me dejó algo desconcertada. Su actuación fue una mezcla de rock militar con toques a lo Mick Jagger. En mi opinión quizás se equivocaron al escoger el repertorio pues sonaron alejados de blues y no acabaron de conectar con la audiencia.

Un grupo que había levantado muchas expectativas, eran los finlandeses Ina Forsman & Helge Tallqvist Band. Helge es un gran armonicista sobradamente conocido en los ambientes blueseros y demostró un amplio conocimiento de los recursos del instrumento. La banda sonó muy conjuntada y al ser todos sus integrantes excelentes músicos. Por su parte Ina es una jovencísima belleza de 19 años. Ataviada con un sugerente vestido verde, impresionó vivamente al público masculino. En mi opinión se la notó un poco inexperta y me dio la sensación de no estar muy integrada con el resto de la banda. No parecía sentirse muy cómoda cantando blues y creo que se debe sentir más a gusto en otros estilos musicales. De todos modos es encomiable que gente joven como ella haya decidido cantar blues y estoy segura de que si sigue en el camino del blues, en poco tiempo se convertirá en una gran artista.

Cierran la noche los húngaros T-Rogers. Liderados por el incombustible Ferci Kovács a la guitarra y voz demuestran haber bebido de las fuentes más actuales del blues con ricas y variadas influencias como Keb Mo y otros artistas. Construyen una buena actuación basada en el blues más electrificado pero sin dejar de lado aspectos más intimistas.

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En la mañana del sábado se realiza la Asamblea General de la European Blues Union y el Blues Market

Para iniciar la asamblea se presenta el estado de cuentas del ejercicio anterior comentando los ingresos y los gastos, que son aprobados.
También se procede a la votación para la renovación de seis plazas en la Junta Directiva de la EBU que finalizaban su mandato. Además se necesita incorporar un nuevo miembro a la junta por dimisión de Carolin Wobber. Se presentan tres nuevas candidaturas: Mark Stenzler de la Blues & Community Radio (Suiza), Mark Sponza músico (Italia) y Nordmunds Kalnins de La Latvian Blues Society y organizador del evento de este año (Letonia). Una vez realizada la votación Mark Stenzler resulta escogido como nuevo miembro y los seis miembros anteriores de la junta son reelegidos, por lo que la nueva junta queda formada por Thomas Ruf (presidente), Jean Guillermo (vice-presidente), Jorden Wouters (secretario) Winne Penninckx (tesorero), Davide Grandi, Fred Delforge, Jostein Forsberg, Mark Stenzler, Montse Pratdesaba, Pertti Nurmi, Roser Infiesta Zúmel vocales.
Se incluye también a la presentación de Bruselas como la ciudad que acogerá el European Blues Challenge en 2015 y algunas nuevas candidaturas como las presentadas por Mr. Ed Mitchell: London – UK, Mr. Kjell Inge Brovoll: Hell – Norway, Mr. Davide Grandi: Milano – Italy, Mr. A.G. Weinberger: Boekarest – Romania and Mr. Sinisa Bizovic: Split or Rovinj – Croatia.
Una pequeña pausa en la que Honey B & T-Bones nos ofrecen un tema acústico seguido con atención por todos los asistentes a la asamblea.
Se informa sobre las becas europeas y se presentan nuevos proyectos como el impulso y desarrollo de la web o la creación del premio “Blues Behind The Scenes” que reconoce la labor en pro del blues de aquellos que están tras las bambalinas y realizan  un enorme trabajo a la sombra por el blues.
Finalmente en el turno de palabras se discuten temas como las reglas de participación en el EBC y otros detalles.

Tras un agradable lunch se inicia el Blues Market, donde los miembros activos de la EBU presentan sus actividades en el campo del blues e interactúan en el establecimiento de futuros contactos. El mercado esta también abierto a músicos, medios y asistentes al Challenge y durante dos horas se convierte en el centro neurálgico del blues europeo donde intercambiar contactos e información en un encuentro que cada año supera el número de visitantes.

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Después de un rato de merecido descanso y una relajada cena nos dirigimos a Sapnu Fabrika donde con gran puntualidad de inicia la segunda sesión del European Blues Challenge.

¿Qué puedo decir de los A Contra Blues que no sea ya conocido por los aficionados españoles? Simplemente estuvieron magníficos, salieron a por todas y dejaron al público con la boca abierta gracias al chorro de voz de Jonathan Herrero, que inició el set cantando a capella, junto a las bien ensambladas y variadas guitarras de Héctor Martin y Alberto Calvillo, no sin olvidar la sólida base rítmica de Joan Vigo y Nuria Perich. En definitiva, se metieron a la gente en el bolsillo que no esperaba ver una actuación tan tremenda y llena de fuerza y feeling como la que nos ofrecieron.

Si el pasado año los belgas Hideaway me sorprendieron muy gratamente, este año Fred & The Healers también han estado a la altura. Blues rock interpretado con muy buen gusto. Fred posee una bien timbrada voz y demuestra dominar todos los palos de blues rock desde los solos más agresivos hasta el más envolvente boogie blues, además de estar respaldado por un buen bajista y batería que en todo momento realzan la interpretación de Fred.

Otro de los buenos grupos y que pusieron el listón muy alto fueron los franceses Shake Your Hips. Son una banda que rezuma experiencia y buen hacer. Suenan muy conjuntados y se aprecia su profesionalidad y buena presencia escénica. Destaca el buen trabajo del cantante Freddy Miller, bien secundada por guitarra y armónica.

Los suizos Bacon Fat basaron todo su set en la técnica de su armonicista Jan Hartman quien evidenció estar a la altura de las circunstancias. Jan domina a la perfección la armónica cromática y se luce con ella aunque, en mi opinión, debiera haber dado más variedad a una actuación de tan solo 20 minutos. De todos modos, saben estar en escena y muestran buenas maneras.

Otra sorpresa de la noche son los británicos David Migden & The Twisted Roots. Realizan una música diferente a todo cuanto hemos escuchado anteriormente. Con bases muy sólidas, incluyendo diversas percusiones, trombón y teclados, que respaldan perfectamente la ronca y descarnada voz de su cantante David Migden. Banda de gran profesionalidad que saben conducirnos a su terreno en un repertorio de sonidos oscuros y profundos más cercanos al rock y la música americana que al blues propiamente dicho.

Rumania presenta la banda The Blues Nation. Poderoso rock blues en el que toda la banda se pone al servicio de su guitarrista, cantante y líder Stefan Tudose, quien conoce bien los secretos del power blues rock con electrizantes solos de slide y un elegante uso del wah-wah en algún tema, ofreciendo una actuación variada pero que para mí es un “dejà vu” que no me aporta nada nuevo.

Tenía ganas de ver a Pristine, ya que en el año 2012 (concretamente en septiembre) habíamos reseñado su disco “Detoxing” para La Hora del Blues (ver www.lahoradelblues.com/criticasantiguas.htm). Desde entonces su cantante Heidi Solheim ha ganado si cabe en fuerza y expresividad. Desde su primer tema, un lento cantado con enorme feeling y presencia escénica, nos transmite toda su energía en un repertorio que oscila entre el blues profundo y desgarrado al rock blues, con excelentes arreglos, respaldada en todo momento por una contundente y bien conjuntada banda que dan empaque a toda su actuación en la que Heidi se siente a gusto y establece una buena comunicación con el público.


 


Los austriacos Edi Fenzi Band son un trío de alto voltaje. La estrafalaria forma de vestir de Fenzi y el hecho de tocar la guitarra con un par de dedos vendados, llama poderosamente la atención y por unos momentos nos distrae de su música que está basada en contundentes solos de rock blues muy bien ejecutados con incendiarios solos y fraseos que ponen en evidencia su conocimiento y técnica a la guitarra aunque, personalmente, su actuación no consigue motivarme.

A Holanda le corresponde cerrar la noche y lo hace con The John F Klavert Band. Para mi es una grata sorpresa ya que, después de más de dos horas de música, me hace disfrutar con su forma tan elegante de tocar la guitarra. El sonido que extrae del instrumento es limpio y a la vez poderoso, interpretado con muy buen gusto. Además posee una bien timbrada voz y está acompañado por una buena banda en la que destaca el trabajo de la bajista Iris Sigtermans y Rob Mostert al órgano. Una muy buena actuación para cerrar el 4º European Blues Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Después de algunos minutos de intriga, Tom Ruf presidente de la European Blues Union y Nordmunds Kalnins, organizador de todo el evento anuncian a los ganadores…

2º Premio:
PRISTINE (Noruega)

1er. Premio y Ganadores del 4º European Blues Challenge:
A CONTRA BLUES (España)

Los ganadores participarán en algunos de los festivales de blues más importantes de Europa.

Mucha emoción, abrazos, risas y alguna lágrima que no he podido reprimir al conocer el resultado.

Ambos grupos son justos ganadores y por la parte que me toca, no puedo más que alegrarme y felicitar a nuestros representantes por este premio que realmente merecen por su trabajo constante, serio y sin divismos de ningún tipo. En conjunto el nivel y la calidad de los participantes ha sido muy alto, con varias formaciones que también podrían haberse llevado el galardón, pero el veredicto del jurado me parece justo y ponderado y ambos grupos se merecen el premio obtenido.

Una vez finalizado este evento que nos ha permitido contactar con aficionados venidos de toda Europa y disfrutar de un extraordinario elenco de bandas europeas, sólo nos queda felicitarnos por haber podido vivir estos intensos días en Riga, disfrutando de una buena organización y compartiendo blues y amistad. Y, por supuesto, ¡¡esperando ya el 5º EBC en Bruselas el 13 y 14 de marzo de 2015!!

Texto y Fotos: Roser Blues

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2014 EUROPEAN BLUES CHALLENGE, GENERAL ASSEMBLY & BLUES MARKET
Riga (Latvia) April, 10-12 2014

It seems it was only yesterday we were in Toulouse at the third European Blues Challenge and now we have just arrived from Riga in Latvia where we have lived unbelievable deep feelings. A long but worth journey for many different experiences we will try to describe in this brief chronicle about these three intense days.

A long journey that has allowed us to see -not to know - one of the most unique cities of the former Soviet Union, with very friendly people who have made us feel very comfortable especially thanks to our host and event organizer, Mr. Nordmunds Kalnins.

After visiting the beautiful old district, walking through Riga avenues and trying to capture the city atmosphere, the event acts started on Thursday with a lively dinner for EBU members who had already arrived to Riga, at the one and only blues club in town, The Bites Blues Club. First greetings, dinner and live music provided by various local blues bands like Latvian Blues Band among others. A great atmosphere and happy chat although, sometimes, music did not make us enjoy talking or seeing old friends.

I loved joining and greeting good friends at the hotel on Friday. In the evening we walked to Sapnu Fabrika where the Challenge took place. Despite its appearance of an industrial building, it had a quite good acoustic. Special mention to the technicians who got intervals between group and group last barely three minutes and I also loved the good lighting and rear stage panel which was very well achieved with very beautiful lighting, together with the dynamic presentation and show conduction by Lightnin' Guy together by a local host who looked like a Blues Brother.

This year edition raised a high qualitative level going over previous ones. You may like some bands more than others, but they have all shown their enormous possibilities to become an important part of the European blues and rock circuit.

To start with, Croatian band 44 Blues had the difficult role to open the first night where some of the audience was still not too much focused on the challenge. Good rock blues songs, some of them sung in Croatian.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the representatives of Denmark and Sweden, in my opinion two of the best groups of that first night. Dannish Big Creek & The Cockroaches did a very restrained performance full of good blues, deeply rooted on Chicago blues with some delicious touches of Muddy Waters’ guitar solos together with the excellent voice of their lead singer Marc Rune.
On the other hand The Hightones from Sweden also gave us a very good set based on classic blues with a good teamed sound. All looked very professional musicians who perfectly know how to combine the most traditional blues with actual rockin' sounds on an elegant and tasteful performing.

The local band Latvix show they know what they play in a restrained performance but with some very intense moments, like on a faultless slow blues with the outstanding guitar work of the band leader Vladimir Lavrinovics.

I was looking forward to Marco Pandolfi’s show. He comes from Italy and he is a very peculiar artist gifted with an original broken voice which gradually gained in intensity. Little by little he catches me, because he knows how to create an intimist wrapping atmosphere. It is an excellent guitarist and a good harmonica player and I really loved his impressive version of "Last Night”.

The night is full of contrasts. Germany presents Mike Seeber Trio, which drive us to a more powerful blues in the path of Hendrix or SRV. Mike feels easy playing the most electrifying power blues. Bass player Philip Rosche is pure nerve on stage so we can`t take our eyes off him.

It was the first time Russia participated in the Challenge. Bomb Lane Band is a curious group which left me quite puzzled. The performance was a mixture of military rock with some Mick Jagger’s music influences. Perhaps they did not choose the right repertoire to convince us, because it was far away from blues so they did not connect with the audience.

A group that had generated great expectations was Ina Forsman & Helge Tallqvist Band from Finland. Helge is a fine harmonica player well known in European blues circles and I already knew him as once I met him in Barcelona. He showed a broad knowledge of harmonica resources. The band sounded very well teamed as all musicians are excellent performers. Ina is a beautiful young artist only aged 19. Dressed with a suggestive green dress, she strongly impressed the male audience. I personally think she looked a little bit unexperienced and not very integrated with the rest of the band. She also did not seem to feel very comfortable singing blues, so my impression was she came from other musical styles she has grown with. Anyway it is gratifying young people like her have decided to sing blues and I am sure that if she follows on the blues way she will become a great artist on a very short time.

The Hungarians T-Rogers closed the night. Led by firecracker Ferci Kovacs on guitar and voice, made clear they have drunk into the more actual blues sources, with rich and varied influences like Keb Mo and other contemporary artists. They built up a good performance based on electrifying blues but also including some goos intimist details.

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Saturday morning started with the General Assembly of the European Union Blues to be followed by The Blues Market.

To begin with, the treasurer presents previous year balance sheet which is approved.
Six Board members have just ended their mandate. Besides, there is a need to incorporate a new board member due to Carolin Wobber’s resignation. There are three new nominations: Mark Stenzler from Blues Community Radio (Switzerland), blues musician Mark Sponza (Italy) and Nordmunds Kalnins from Latvian Blues Society and Riga event organizer (Latvia). Once voted, Mark Stenzler becomes a new board member and the other six previous board members are re-elected, so the new board includes Thomas Ruf (president), Jean Guillermo (vice-president), Jorden Wouters (secretary), Winne Penninckx (treasurer), Davide Grandi, Fred Delforge, Jostein Forsberg, Mark Stenzler, Montse Pratdesaba, Pertti Nurmi and Roser Infiesta Zúmel.
There is also a small video presentation of Brussels as host city for 2015 European Blues Challenge and some new candidates present themselves to organize it in the next future, like the ones by Mr. Ed Mitchell: London – UK, Mr. Kjell Inge Brovoll: Hell – Norway, Mr. Davide Grandi: Milano – Italy, Mr. A.G. Weinberger: Boekarest – Romania or Mr. Sinisa Bizovic: Split or Rovinj – Croatia.
The assembly takes a small pause where Honey B & T-Bones give us an acoustic song attentively followed by all the Assembly attendants.
Information about European grants is given and new projects are presented to the Assembly, like web promotion and development, or the new "Blues Behind The Scenes" Awards that will recognizes the continuous good work of those who never are ‘on stage’ and do an amazing amount of work to promote the blues.
Finally in the open words turn, some interesting ideas come out, like EBC participation rules and other suggestions.

After lunch, Blues Market opens its doors. All EBU active members present their activities establishing contacts and setting up future relationships. The market is also open to musicians, media and general people attending the Challenge. For about two hours the Blues Market becomes the center of European blues, a place to exchange contacts, gather information or know the latest European blues news, on a meeting that every year exceeds the number of visitors.

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After some rest and a calm dinner we walk to Sapnu Fabrika to follow on the second day of European Blues Challenge.

What can I say about A Contra Blues, Spanish fans do not already know about them? They did an splendid show, they went all out and really impressed the audience with the amazing voice of Jonathan Herrero who started the set singing a capella, to follow on with the well assembled varied guitars of Héctor Martín and Alberto Calvillo, without forgetting the swingin’ rhythm section with Joan Vigo bass and Nuria Perich drums. They really connected with the audience that did not expect such a powerful set.

If last year Belgian band Hideaway was a delicious surprise to me, this year Fred & The Healers have also been really good. They gave us a tastefully performed blues rock. Fred has a good pitched voice and shows a deep knowledge of different blues rock fields, from the most flaming solos to the deep wrapping boogie blues, backed by a good bass player and drummer who enhanced Fred’s performing.

Another excellent band which set a high standard was Shake Your Hips (France). The band showed a wide experience and did a good performance. Perfectly teamed and with a good stage presence they caught the audience attention thanks to a very professional performing led by the amazing Freddy Miller’s voice and the good work of guitar and harmonica players.

Swiss band Bacon Fat based their whole set in the technique of his harmonica player Jan Hartman who shined at a very high level. Jan has a good technique of chromatic harmonica even though perhaps he should have given more variety to a short performance of about 20 minutes. Anyway they have a good stage attitude and musical technique.

Another surprise came from British band David Migden & The Twisted Roots. They gave us a very different music from all we had heard till now. Firm musical bases build up original songs that included various percussion instruments, trombone and keyboards, which fully surrounded the hoarse gritty voice of lead singer David Migden. Good musicians who know how to carry us to their own field with songs full of dark sounds closer to progressive rock and Americana music than to the blues.

Blues Nation come from Romania. Powerful rock blues with the whole band working to enhance guitar player and lead singer Stefan Tudose. Stefan knows well the secrets of power blues rock with electrifying slide guitar solos and an elegant use of wah-wah pedal in some cuts. A varied show but that looks like something "deja vu" which does not really give something new.

I was looking forward to Norwegian band, Pristine, because in September 2012 we had reviewed the cd “Detoxing” at La Hora del Blues (see www.lahoradelblues.com/criticasantiguas.htm). Since then on, singer Heidi Solheim has won in force and expressiveness. They opened with a slow cut Heidi sings with great feeling and delivery, putting all her energy along a repertoire that ranges from deep blues to blues rock, with excellent arrangements by a strong band which makes her feel good and get an immediate communication with the audience.


The Edi Fenzi Band is a high voltage Austrian band. Fenzi’s extravagant dressing together with the fact he plays guitar with two bandaged fingers, drives my attention away from the music. Basically his show consisted in strong rock blues with incendiary solos and phrasing that showed his technical guitar knowledge but, unfortunately, he does not captivate me.


John F Klavert Band from Holland is the last band playing. He is a pleasant surprise because, after more than two hours of music, he really catches me with his elegant guitar playing. He has a clean but at the same time powerful sound displayed with very good taste. He is also good on vocals. The band sounds powerful and teamed with an outstanding work of Iris Sigtermans on bass and Rob Mostert on organ. This was a very good performance to close the 4th European Blues Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 


After a few minutes of big suspense, European Union Blues President, Mr. Tom Ruf, and Riga organized, Mr. Nordmunds Kalnins, announce the winners…

2nd Place:
PRISTINE (Norway)
 

First Place and 4th European Blues Challenge Winners:
A CONTRA BLUES (Spain)
 

The winners will play in some of the most outstanding European blues festivals.

A deep emotion, laughs and some hidden tears come to me after knowing the final result.

Both groups are fair winners and, as a Spanish, I can only feel very happy and congratulate A Contra Blues. They have won and they really deserve it for their continuous and serious work, always with a humble attitude without arrogance or conceit. It must also be underlined the high quality level of most participants. There have been several bands with quality enough to be awarded, but the Jury decision seems fair and I think both groups deserved the award.

Once the event has finished, let me say it has been a great opportunity to contact with blues lovers coming from all over Europe and enjoy an unbelievable casting of European blues artists. I feel happy to have been there and lived these intense days in Riga, supported by a good organization and a warm reception that has allowed me to share blues and friendship. And, of course, I am already looking forward to the 5th. EBC, GA & Blues Market in Brussels on March 13 and 14, 2015!!

Text and Pictures: Roser Blues

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INTERVIEW WITH TOMAS RUF, EUROPEAN BLUES UNION PRESIDENT
BY KASPARS ZAVILEISKIS

Firstly, on 11 to 12 April, 2014, Riga will become a place for "European Blues Challenge” competition which is rather an important event on European scale. Secondly, on 31 July, the president of European Blues Union Thomas Ruf arrived to Riga for one day, he also organizes the competition. Ruf is also the manager of one of the biggest European blues music record labels "Ruf Records”. Clearly, our conversation went on about (and around) the good new-old blues!


Tom Ruf- Foto by Kaspar Garda

"European Blues Challenge” will be held in Riga, in 2014. How did you reached the idea of organizing the event in Latvia?

2014 is a great year for Riga, many cultural events will take place in there focused towards Europe. We have found good promotion partners in Riga, they will help "European Blues Challenge” to happen the best possible way.

You are the president of European Blues Union. What is your daily work routine?

I call myself the main European Blues Union mule who pulls all the weight himself. It's a voluntary work, bringing the good work to community.

So, you're the best candidate who could tell more about "European Blues Challenge”!

We started three years ago with the idea to support European blues artists and new talents. Currently, American artists dominate in this genre, so we try to promote Europeans. For instance, Latvian blues band might find it hard to organize a gig in France, Norway or France, but for Americans it's pretty easy. We try to take down the borders in people's minds in order to make the music market broader.

The strongest argument must be that the origin of blues is in America.


Tom Ruf- Foto by Kaspar Garda

It is the strongest argument - only American blues can be considered authentic. At the same time we want to tell people that European blues is a new form of blues, no less important. We don't have to hide as it was some second class.

How deep is the stereotype that black blues musicians are better than the white ones? We are not speaking about racism, but the attitude itself towards blues genre.

(Hiding under his shirt.) It had to end a long ago! In 1970ies, Muddy Waters turned his head when he was asked about the same issue. White musicians also played in his band. Muddy Waters supported "The Rolling Stones”. This stereotype should be striked out from people's minds.


Tom Ruf- Foto by Kaspar Garda

No doubt, it will happen some day. In the end, blues music is when a good man feels sadness.

Yes, that is blues. Everyone may experience hard times. It's emotions.

Let's continue about "European Blues Challenge”.

So, it will be the fourth event in Riga. First two were held in Berlin, Germany, the third one in France, now it's time for Latvia. We have 20 member countries, every member organizes the national competition, and the winner goes to "European Blues Challenge”. Those are great 20 bands from 20 countries.

The concept looks similar to „Eurovision” song contest. Maybe you should call it "Bluesovision”?

"Bluesovision”! What a name!!

Normunds Kalniņš, the chairman of the board of Latvian Blues Society Support (also a member of EBU) and organizer of Sigulda Blues Fest, joins the conversation. Besides, the affinity might be that "European Blues Challenge” will be webcasted online. And in this case, we are talking about show business, not only musical skills.

T.R. We have four criterions when judging the bands: vocal talent, instrumental talent, ability to represent themselves on a stage and originality. The latter mostly is related to musical material if the band performs only covers or has their own pieces. So, we decide if those songs are good, if every piece is composed by one pattern, if musicians are able to vary within their style.


Normunds Kalnins & Tom Ruf- Foto by Kaspar Garda

What are the musical borders that are defined at the competition? Do musicians cover blues rock, blues folk, blues-something?

Blues rock, blues jazz, pretty much everything they like. But music has to be based on blues roots.

What about blues dubstep?

Blues dubstep! Everyone is invited to create something new, that would be original.

Actually, I have heard blues dubstep, it was classic piano blues with a rumbling, roaring electronica basics. Such kind of experiments are allowed at "European Blues Challenge”, or you prefer so called "live” bands?

We had one French band, they played together with DJ mixing hiphop and blues. The band is called "Scarecrow”. They performed with guitars, drums, vocals, vinyl player or turntable... Everything is possible.

It's a nice message to new talents, blues is not only for old people!

Yes, exactly. Blues is not only for old people or slow dance. It's a whole genre with lots of vitality, energy and experiments.
I think blues is very popular in various generations and social groups because emotions dominate. It's not about the fact that you play your guitar fast enough or can perform a complicated song. It's emotions on the stage that matters.

How did you came down to blues and decided to start "Ruf Records”?


I don't think I chose blues. It chose me. It happens that way. As a teenager, I worked some social work, we organized gigs with a youth club. One of the first musicians I met was a bluesman from Chicago, Luther Allison. I left my hometown and went on a tour with them. I learned a lot, and that's how I got into music business.

Can you consider blues record lable a real business? Can you make money from it?

We started in 1994 with the records of Luther Allison. I continued to work with American and British artists. We have only few European musicians. In that form it works out.

Still, you follow the same stereotypes you named before!

I don't deny it. The record label works around the world, so it's hard to offer European musicians in a world market. But I managed to do that. For instance, Ana Popovic, a girl from Serbia who broke out in USA. I also work with Finnish and Austrian girls, but it's realy hard from a business perspective.

As a record label, you release CDs/vinyl or prefer the digital way?

Both. We sign a contract with the artist, produce the music and then sell it any possible form.

Which records are sold the best?

The digital side continues to grow, but our main listeners are middle-aged people who prefer a physical record format. They are record collectors. Digital record sales are only 20 percent. 10 percent are record sales at the concert venues, but the rest is CDs and vinyl at the music retailers.

It has come in fashion to record in vinyls, but it's often just a form without a content. Digital records are released in vinyl, therefore the idea of vinyl saving better quality of some analogue record dissapears. What studios do you use for your artists?

I personally prefer vinyl, but sometimes we are not able to use analogue master copies. Still, analogue records are being made, and there are studios where you can do that.


Tom Ruf- Foto by Kaspar Garda

We have our local rockabilly king Pits Andersons, he just recorded his album in the analogue studio, in Berlin, and will release a vinyl single. It seems that analogue records suit rockabilly genre the most.

I definitely want to know which studio he used. Maybe I can take it for my artists. If it is good for rockabilly, maybe it would suit for blues!

We will find that out and send the name to you. Who is the blues king at your company?

It's hard to name one. Because someone might get offended. But there is a band who uses the king's crown in their image with reason. I am together with them on a tour and I only came to Riga for one day in order to see the places we could organize "European Blues Challenge”. The band is called "Royal Southern Brotherhood” where literally royal blues family members have united. One family is "The Allman Brothers” and the other is "The Neville Brothers” from Georgia and New Orleans, Louisiana respectively. Gregg Allman's son Devon Allman and the youngest Neville's brother Cyril Neville are in this band.

It's realy royal!

Yes, a real royal court of blues and rock'n'roll!

You work with such legendary musicians as "Canned Heat”.

Yes, I work with them for many years. Fito de la Parra is totally crazy and he still is an absolute boogie music spirit.
"Canned Heat” will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. Fito told: "I will not advertise! What is it? 50 years on a boogie stage? It makes me old!”
It's wonderful that younger folks still listen to those old men. It means that blues has a future.

N.K. We noticed many young listeners at Sigulda Blues Fest, as well. It made us think of new promoting options.

By the way, which is the most popular German blues band?


T.R. To be honest, I can't really talk about German blues bands, because I know more about Finnish or even Latvian artists. For instance, you have the great "Latvian Blues Band”. The most recognized German band might be "B.B. and the Blues Shacks”. They are on European tour right now and are doing very well. I can't tell who will represent Germany at "European Blues Challenge”, because our national contest will be held in October.

Does European Blues Union continues to grow, new members are joining?

Yes, it continues to grow, I am glad about that, no doubt. But it still has no Estonian or Lithuanian representatives!

N.K. We have started negotiations with Estonians, I think, they might join soon. In such small countries, blues is mainly concentrated in one or few people's hands. So it depends on them. If they wish to create their blues foundation in order to join EBU.

Thomas, can you name the leading blues country in Europe? Germany? Great Britain?

Great Britain is definitely one of the leaders if not the first one. They had the blues boom in the 1960ies. "American Folk Blues Festival” was quite popular in Germany during the 1960ies, it was American musicians' union who toured in Europe. Scandinavia also has a great blues history. Now it's time for Latvia!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

PRESENTACION GRUPOS PARTICIPANTES EN EL EUROPEAN BLUES CHALLENGE
(Riga. 11 y 12 Abril 2014)

Incluimos una breve presentación de los grupos participantes en el European Blues Challenge que se celebrará en la Sala
SAPŅU FABRIKA http://www.sapnufabrika.lv/?ln=en de Riga, el viernes 11 y el sábado 12 de Abril de 2014

Austria (AT):
“Edi Fenzl Band”
Founded in 1995, this Viennese hippie-western power blues-rock trio have gained a cult status. The exceptionally virtuoso guitarist Edi Fenzl, the groovy bass player Jan Fenzl and the explosive drummer David Fenzl form a perfect symbiosis and play the blues like it’s done in Texas. Their repertoire includes own compositions as well as classics of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top and many more. Their legendary “Fenzl Offroad Equipment” in Fenzl Flames & Chrome Look with Guitar-Longhorn, Suitcase-Drums and a flower on the hat is unique. Not only fans of dusty blues and rock will get their money’s worth.
www.fenz
lexperience.com 

Belgium (BE):
“Fred & The Healers”
Fred and the Healers are a blues-rock trio from Belgium. Fred Lani formed the band in 1994 at the age 17. In 2004, after four albums hitting the Belgian charts and hundreds of gigs in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Italy, Switzerland and Canada, the band took a nine year break. In 2013, they are back with a brand new line-up with a series of gigs in Belgium and France. Right on time to participate and win the Belgian Blues Challenge and get the ticket for the EBC 2014! A new album will be released in early march 2014, followed by a tour. Fred and the Healers play their own songs, a dangerous mix of refreshing blues and laid back rock. Think of Peter Green as front man in Black Sabbath, or Albert King jamming with The White Stripes…
Fred Lani, guitar
Cedric Cornez, bass
Nico Sand, drums
http://www.fred-and-the-healers.be/

Croatia (CR):
“44 Blues”
The band was founded in 2008 in Zagreb with the purpose to give classic blues a bit heavier and stronger sound. The characteristics of 44 Blues are the strong sound, inspiring solos and powerful, very specific male vocals. Critics say that 44 Blues mixes the sounds of the Stones and the Doors and deliver their style through the suburbs and society's loosers. They have made appearances at many blues festivals through Croatia, such as the 2nd Zagreb International Blues Festival, Blue Sax, the Croatian Blues Challenges. They represented Croatia and the Croatian Blues Forces at the 28th International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2012. They have created an album that is now in the process of publishing. The members of the band “Moonshine“ (guitar), “Luke“ (bass), “Mark“ (drums) and “Rafter“ (vocal & harp) have been in blues music for years and are totally devoted to this style of music.
Dalibor Skeledžija, vocal, harp, guitar
Damir Gossain, guitar
Boris Luković, bass
Goran Markić, drums
https://www.facebook.com/pages/44-blues-Zagreb/202399893126215

Denmark (DK):
“Big Creek Slim & The Cockroaches”
Big Creek Slim aka Marc Rune is a young, devoted bluesman. In his early teens he discovered the strength and beauty of the traditional bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, Lightning Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. In his early twenties he made a pilgrimage journey to the southern states, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee to experience the last remnants of a disappearing world. Since then, life has taken many turns and took him to Brazil, where the blues is little known in art, but very present in life. Now, at age 30 and back in Denmark, he has hooked up with his old gang. Big Creek Slim & his Cockroaches play them mean old, nasty juke joint blues, and they do it with respect to their forerunners.
Marc Rune, guitar, vocal
Morten Rune, guitar
Filip Dybjerg, bass
Kim Thomsen, drums

Finland (FI):
“Ina Forsman & Helge Tallqvist Band”
Groovy blues with a killer band and a young outstanding lady on the vocals. Ina's voice is amazingly strong possessing a lot of unprejudiced courage as her distinctive style brings freshness to the songs. The other band members are well-seasoned professionals in the blues genre, and the outcome is a smooth combination of strong experience and young open-mindedness.
Ina Forsman, vocals
Helge Tallqvist, harmonica
Jonne Kulluvaara, guitar
Iiro Kautto, bass
Harri Ala-Kojola, drums
www.helgetallqvist.com 

France (FR):
“Shake Your Hips”
Shake Your Hips is a band that swings with a Chicago Blues sound. Based in the Paris area, the group started in 2005 and had the opportunity to play small venues as well as big international festivals all over France. Shake Your Hips have two albums under their belt: ”Caroline’s Smile”, a CD from 2006 and a double album, ”Blues Twins” (studio + live), from 2009. Shake Your Hips was declared “Best Electric Blues Band” at Blues sur Seine’s contest in 2007, where they also received the Cahors Blues Festival special award. After a Canadian summer tour in 2012 they went to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge in 2013. Live, the band delivers a fat blues sound, beautiful feelings with a big stage presence!
Jean-Marc Henaux, harmonica
Olivier Raymondn guitar, vocals
Freddy Miller, vocals
Olivier Ferrié, drums
Jerôme Ferrié, basse & acoustic bass
http://www.shakeyourhips.fr/
https://www.facebook.com/ShakeYourHips

Germany (DE):
“Mike Seeber Trio”
Mike Seeber has been playing guitar since he was a kid. As a youngster he was drawn to the music of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Johnny Winter. Mike followed closely the East German blues bands and looks upon them as his musical fathers. For years he toured as "Texas Mike" and gained a strong following. In 2012 he founded The Mike Seeber Trio with Philipp Roesch and Tobias Ridder. Press and fans call them “the thunder of the German blues scene”. The band is the winner of the German Blues Challenge 2013.
Mike Seeber, guitar, vocals
Philipp Rösche, bass
Tobias Riddler, drums
http://mikeseeber.de

Hungary (HU):
“T. Rogers”
T. Rogers is a six-piece “joy and blues” band based in Budapest. Their name is based on the Hungarian word "troger", meaning basically someone with a relaxed attitude towards life, one who likes to enjoy each and every day. The band was formed in 2004 and they play both electric and acoustic blues from a wide variety of different influences, reflecting the diverse different musical tastes of each band member. Their style is tight, engaging and exciting. This dynamic and talented group is renowned for their live performances with intense solos and infectious energy gaining them a growing reputation across Europe.
Béla Baráth, drums
Stewart Hay, harmonica
Ferci Kovács, guitar, vocal
Pál Sturmann, guitar
Zsolt Szatai, bass
Vince Széll, percussion, mandolin
http://trogers.hu/bio.html
www.facebook.com/T.RogersBluesBand

Italy (IT):
“Marco Pandolfi Trio”
Marco Pandolfi’s presence on the Italian Blues scene goes back twenty years. He has been playing at the most important events on the peninsula, winning the respect of the greatest blues musicians in Italy and abroad. He is the only Italian blues musician to have participated twice at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, in 2006 as Marco Pandolfi & the Jacknives and in 2011 in the solo/duo category. Pandolfi has performed with some of the most famous bluesmen worldwide, such as Richard Ray Farrell, Paul Oscher, Bob Margolin, Bob Corritore and Willie King among others. His latest CD is "Close The Bottle When You're Done" (2012). During his last tour of the States in May-June 2012 he played Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, Chicago Blues Festival and Bentonia Blues Festival.
Marco Pandolfi, vocals, harmonica, guitar
Federcio Patarnello, drums
Lucio Villani, double bass
www.marcopandolfi.com/marcopandolfi.com 
www.marcopandolfi.com

Latvia (LV):
“Lavrix Band”
Lavrix Band was founded in 2012 by the leader of the band Vladimirs Lavrinovičs who is best known as the guitarist of the legendary Latvian band Eolika. He also teaches guitar playing, and many people know him as a dedicated bluesman. He performed at Sigulda Blues Festival in 2011 with his previous ensemble 4 Men Band. The new Lavrix Band has released their debut record, an instrumental CD “My Time”. Vladimirs Lavrinovičs, guitars, vocal
Jānis Neimanis, bass
Rinalds Jukna, drums
Rudolfs Kreicbergs, organ
http://sandrislat.wix.com/lavrix-band 

Netherlands (NL):
“The John F. Klaver Band”
Matt Schofield has said: "John F. Klaver is one of the most interesting guitarists out of Holland". Klaver is a guitarist, singer, composer and music teacher. He began playing the guitar at the age of eleven, inspired by Gary Moore, Robben Ford and Jimi Hendrix. After graduating for his VWO-diploma he studied in America, attending Stagg Highschool as a “senior” and taking guitar lessons as well as music theory classes at the University of the Pacific. Back in the Netherlands, he was admitted to the conservatory of Amsterdam and received lessons from Jesse van Ruller, Martijn van Iterson and Eef Albers. In 2007 he started his own band, the John F. Klaver Trio, which would later become the John F. Klaver Band. They have played many big festivals such as Moulin Blues and Big Rivers, won numerous Dutch Blues Awards, and featured as support act for musicians like Dana Fuchs, Matt Schofield and Johnny Winter. They are releasing their 4th CD this year.
John F. Klaver, guitar, vocals
Iris Sigtermans, bass
Eric Dillisse, drums
Rob Mostert, Hammond B3, vocals
http://www.johnklaver.nl/ 

Norway (NO):
“Pristine”
Pristine is a psychedelic rock/blues-rock band that hails from the arctic city of Tromsø, which is located in northern Norway. With the charismatic redhead Heidi Solheim in front they forge their music with power, passion and intensity – blues with traces of southern rock, soul and funk. The band leader, singer and songwriter Solheim is responsible for both lyricism and music writing, with the entire band assisting with the arrangements. Pristine released their debut album in 2011 to national critical acclaim and some international notice. The album got airplay in Belgium, Croatia, USA, Australia and Canada. Pristine also made a big splash at the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Their sophomore album “No Regret” was released in May 2013, and as with “Detoxing” the album was embraced by both fans and critics. Radio legend Bård Ose claimed on live radio: “We were impressed by their debut album and their new album is very close to supreme”, and “…some of the best I’ve heard from Norwegian music this year”.
Heidi Solheim, vocals
Espen Elverum Jacobsen, guitar, vocals
Anders Oksal, keyborads
Asmund Wilter Eriksson, bass
Kim Karlsen, drums
www.pristine-music.com 

Romania (RO):
“The Blues Nation”
Founded in 2012 by Stefan Tudose, Blues Nation is very much a mix of blues and blues rock textures, shaped from the influences of its members. Lead guitar warrior Laci Farkas and young wolf bass player Horatio Silasi joined the project from the start, adding their personal flavour to the mix. Beginning of 2013 the rhythm section was distilled by adding drummer Gabriel Bot. Approaching blues classics in a personal manner, Blues Nation’s gigs radiate rough energy and vibe in the most electric way you can imagine blues being played. After a series of concerts in the club circuit, Blues Nation are planning to work on their first album release in the beginning of 2014.
Stefan Tudose, vocals, guitar
Laszlo (Laci) Farkas, lead guitar, harp, vocals
Horatiu Silasi, bass
Gabi Bot, drums
www.facebook.com/bluesnationofficial 

Russia (RUS):
“Bomb Lane Band”
Bomb Lane Band was founded in October 2009 by two friends and architects from Moscow. Boris Uborevich Borovsky and Dimitry Alexandrov united on the basis of their deep love for the blues and rock. Having started with covers, BLB recorded one year later their first studio album “Up and Down” including their own stuff. Bomb Lane Band has made numerous club gigs in Moscow and in central parts of Russia gathering a large circle of fans. Receiving the Hard Rock Rising Award in 2011 was an important milestone for the band. The follow-up album "Behind The Blues" was released in August 2012. New lead guitarist Denis Shlykov joined them the following year, and they are currently working on a new album project.
Dimitry Alexandrov, keyboards, guitar, vocals, songwriter
Hayk Asatryan, bass
Levon Ayrapetov, drums
Alexander Zagvazdin, vocals
Barannikova Antonina, vocal
Boris Uborevich Borovsky, guitar, vocals
Denis Shlykov, guitar, songwriter
Dimitry Alexeev, percussion
http://bomb.domarch.info/
https://www.facebook.com/.../Bomb-Lane-Band/158

Spain (ES):
“A Contra Blues”
A Contra Blues is a band formed in Barcelona. Since its foundation in 2005 the band has published four albums. Tradition and heterodoxy live side by side in their repertoire and come naturally alive in the band’s fresh and seasoned performances of classics as well as their own songs. The band performances boast both spontaneity and carefully elaborated arrangements. Their energetic shows, sometimes up to three hours long, are filled with strength, solidity and empathy. A Contra Blues live by and for the live scene. In their performances they accomplish strong climax moments and a natural rapport with the audience as much as in the high moments of dynamism like in the more intimate sounds. Their live shows let no one indifferent and have led the group to be rewarded several times.
Alberto Calvillo Mendiola, electric guitar
Héctor Martín Díaz, electric guitar
Joan Vigo Fajín, double and electric bass
Jonathan Herrero Herrería, vocals, acoustic guitar
Núria Perich Chastang, drums
www.acontrablues.com 

Sweden (SE):
“The Hightones”
The Hightones is a Swedish blues and rock n' roll band, formed in 2012 in Karlstad.
The band originally started off as a trio with Pierre Sjöholm on vocals/guitar, Lucas Lindstedt on drums and Daniel Fredriksson on bass. Later that year they were joined by Fredrick Karlsson on piano who would soon become the fourth member of the band.
As for the bands repertoire most of the material are original songs written by Pierre Sjöholm, and in 2013 eleven of these songs were recorded on their first record Oh baby me too at Strawberry Music Studios.
Their record has received great reviews from Blues & Rhythm Magazine and Jefferson Blues Magazine where the latter defines the band's sound as: ”Traditional blues in various tempos, rockin' boogie and an honest, genuine sound”.
Pierre Sjöholm, vocals, guitar
Daniel Fredriksson, bass
Lucas Lindstedt, brums
Fredrick Karlsson, piano
https://sv-se.facebook.com/thehightones

Switzerland (CH):
“The Bacon Fats”
The Bacon Fats are an award winning rhythm & blues, Swing, Surf and Roots band. Their own blend of styles, what they themselves describe as "Hard Swing Blues" is unique. Rocky, surfy, bluesy, jazzy, rocksteadyish, swingy, it’s not easy to get a descriptive grip on, so have a listen yourself. It's certainly fresh and driving! The band includes Jan Hartmann, Sleepy Eddie James, Tobias Wirz and Lukas Meier. Founded in 2011, they've issued an EP that same year, played a couple of gigs through 2011-2012, went on to win the Swiss Blues Challenge in 2013. So far so good, but we'll see how they will do at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and at the European Blues Challenge in Riga. Stay tuned.
Jan Hartmann, vocals, harmonica
Edwart Sikora, vocals, guitar
Tobias Wirz, bass
Lukas Meier, drums
www.baconfats.com
http://oft.r.mailjet.com/redirect/wg8ohfmvytbozt9g7078wv/www.baconfats.com/

United Kingdom (UK):
“David Migden & The Twisted Roots”
David Migden & The Dirty Words are an exciting electric five piece, performing unique original material in a genre-busting crossover of rock, blues and twisted American roots. David Migden was raised in Little Rock Arkansas and moved to the UK as a teenager. After playing and touring around London and Europe, initially in the Lee Sankey Group with Matt Schofield and Ian Siegal. He then teamed up with “The Dirty Words” and released “Second Hand Tattoo” to a fantastic response from critics and fans alike. Gigs across London and the Southeast followed at venues such as The Jazz Cafe, Dean Street Pizza Express, Ronnie Scott’s, the Borderline, and the American Embassy. The band members have played with many other internationally renowned artists including Robert Plant, James Brown, Corinne Bailey Rae, Snowboy, Matt Berry, Hamish Stuart, Andy Newmark, and have gained a reputation for putting on fantastic shows that focus on David’s incredible songs.
David Migden, vocals, trumpet, piano
Phil Scragg, bass
James Sedge, drums, percussion
Joe Gibson, guitar, backing vocals
Graham Mann, keyboard, trombone, backing vocals, percussion
http://www.davidmigdenandthedirtywords.com/

El ganador recibirá cobertura en los medios europos especializados y tendrá la oportunidad de actuar en los festivales más importantes de blues europeos durante el año 2014.

¡Mucha suerte a todos y que gane el mejor!

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A CONTRA BLUES REPRESENTARAN A ESPAÑA EN EL EUROPEAN BLUES CHALLENGE
(Riga, Letonia, 11 Y 12 Abril 2014)

Los músicos españoles participantes en la cuarta edición del EBC y que han sido elegidos por votación de los miembros del Consejo de Asesores son A Contra Blues.

Mucha suerte para A Contr Blues que serán los reprsentantes españoles en la próxima edición del European Blues Challenge en Riga (Letonia) los días 11 y 12 de abril de 2014 en la sala SAPŅU FABRIKA
http://www.sapnufabrika.lv/?ln=en

A Contra Blues es una banda consolidada con más de un lustro de actividad y cuatro trabajos discográficos editados.
En su repertorio conviven tradición y heterodoxia, mezclándose de manera natural para tocar con madurez y frescura tanto clásicos de la música norteamericana como composiciones propias. Fruto de estas cualidades sus interpretaciones combinan indistintamente espontaneidad y arreglos elaborados. Sus enérgicos shows, algunos de hasta 180 minutos, son una experiencia llena de fuerza, solidez y empatía.

A Contra Blues vive por y para el directo consiguiendo alcanzar en sus actuaciones un feedback fluido con la audiencia y momentos de clímax tanto en las dinámicas más altas como en los pasajes más íntimos. Una propuesta que a nadie deja indiferente y que ha llevado al grupo a ser premiado por sus directos en varias ocasiones.

Alberto Calvillo Mendiola - Guitarra eléctrica
Héctor Martín Díaz - Guitarra eléctrica
Joan Vigo Fajín - Contrabajo y bajo eléctrico
Jonathan Herrero Herrería - Voz y guitarra acústica
Núria Perich Chastang - Batería
www.acontrablues.com 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

PRIMERA EUROPEAN BLUES EXPO
Biblioteca Tecla Sala (Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona)


Entre el 19 de septiembre y 31 de octubre 2013 tendrá lugar la primera European Blues Expo en la Biblioteca Tecla Sala de Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona). Tecla Sala, que es la sede oficial del fondo documental de la European Blues Union así como de la Sociedad de Blues de Barcelona, ofrecerá esta exposición para ilustrar las actividades organizadas por la European Blues Union. Los artistas que han cedido sus fotografías para tal fin son Pertti Nurmi (Finlandia), Alain Hiot (Francia), Sylvie Bosc (Francia), Fred Delforge (Francia), Roser I. Valls (España), SKAttomaTTO (Italia) y Charlie Hussey (Irlanda). Todo el material audiovisual que se expondrá está cedido por Bad Music Blues TV que han grabado las tres ediciones del European Blues Challenge y han realizado diversos programas especiales al respecto. La Biblioteca Tecla Sala cuenta con el apoyo logístico del Ayuntamiento de Hospitalet de Llobregat, y se espera la presencia de su alcaldesa, la Sra. Núria Marín, para asistir a los actos de inauguración de la European Blues Expo el 19 de septiembre a las 19.00 h, así como miembros de la European Blues Union. El acto estará amenizado con la actuación de Cotton Roots (Johnny Pérez, guitarra, voz y Little Jordi armónica).

BIBLIOTECA CENTRAL TECLA SALA
Fondo de Blues / Blues Documentos Unión Europea
Director: Sr. Pedro Bravo
Avda. Josep Tarradellas, 44. 08901 LHospitalet de Llobregat. Barcelona (España)
Tel.: 00.03.4932602484
bibteclasala@l-h.cat http://www.l-h.cat/biblioteques/teclasala.aspx 

Alain Hiot (França)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/yoyo95280/sets/
Sylvie Bosc (França)
http://sylbmonoeil.com/
Pertti Nurmi (Finlàndia)
http://nurmibluesphoto.com/
Roser I.Valls (Espanya)
http://www.lahoradelblues.com/
Charlie Hussey (Irlanda)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/41420984@N07/
Fred Delforge (França)
http://www.zicazic.com/
SKAttomaTTO (Itàlia)
http://www.skattomatto.net/
Bad Music Blues
http://badmusicblues.blogspot.com.es/

La EUROPEAN BLUES UNION (EBU) es una alianza de profesionales de Blues de toda Europa que han decidido unir sus esfuerzos en la promoción de esta música formando una red europea. Para ello, la EBU organiza el concurso europeo de Blues -el European Blues Challenge- y el Blues Market donde todos los miembros asociados pueden compartir contenidos y encontrar fórmulas de cooperación. En la actualidad hay 27 países que constituyen la EBU: Austria, Bélgica, Bulgaria, Croacia, República Checa, Dinamarca, Finlandia, Francia, Alemania, Grecia, Hungría, Irlanda, Italia, Letonia, Luxemburgo, Holanda, Noruega, Polonia, Portugal, Rumania, Rusia, Eslovaquia, Eslovenia, España, Suecia, Suiza y Reino Unido. Toda la información sobre la EBU en
www.europeanbluesunion.com
(Texto. Montserrat Pratdesaba)

FIRST EUROPEAN BLUES EXPO
Tecla Sala Public Library (Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona - Spain)

Between September 19 and October 31, 2013 will take place the first European Blues Expo at Tecla Sala Library in Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona). Tecla Sala Library is the official home of the European Blues Union Archives and has a Blues Documentary Fund, promoted by Barcelona Blues Society. The exhibition aim is to illustrate the activities organized by the European Blues Union such as the European Blues Challenge and the Blues Market. Artists who have given their photographs for this event are Pertti Nurmi (Finland), Alain Hiot (France), Sylvie Bosc (France), Fred Delforge (France), Roser I. Valls (Spain), SKAttomaTTO (Italia) and Charlie Hussey (Ireland)- All the audiovisual material that will be shown comes from Bad Music Blues TV who have recorded the three editions of the European Blues Challenge and have made special TV programs and radio shows about them. Tecla Sala Library has the logistical support of the Municipality of Hospitalet de Llobregat, and the Mayor, Ms. Núria Marín is expected to attend the opening event of the European Blues Expo in September 19 at 19.00. together with some members of the European Bues Union Board. Sme live blues music will be provided by Cotton Roots (Johnny Pérez, guitar, vocals and Little Jordi, harmonica).
Everybody is invited to come to the opening event and visit it!
(Text by Montserrat Pratdesaba)

BIBLIOTECA CENTRAL TECLA SALA
Fondo de Blues / Blues Documentos Unión Europea
AvDA. Josep Tarradellas, 44.
08901 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. Barcelona (Spain)
Tel.: 00.03.4932602484
http://www.l-h.cat/biblioteques/teclasala.aspx 

Alain Hiot (França) http://www.flickr.com/photos/yoyo95280/sets/
Sylvie Bosc (França)
http://sylbmonoeil.com/
Pertti Nurmi (Finlàndia)
http://nurmibluesphoto.com/
Roser I.Valls (Espanya)
http://www.lahoradelblues.com/
Charlie Hussey (Irlanda)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/41420984@N07/
Fred Delforge (França)
http://www.zicazic.com/
SKAttomaTTO (Itàlia)
http://www.skattomatto.net/
Bad Music Blues
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The European Blues Union is a non-profit organisation which gathers professional and blues lovers around Europe who have joined forces to promote blues creating an European blues net. Among other promotional actions. the EBU organizes the annual European Blues Challenge or Blues Market where all members can share experiences, contacts or stablish cooperation links. The EBU has now 27 associated countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland an United Kingdom. All related information at www.europeanbluesunion.com
(Texto. Montserrat Pratdesaba)

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2013 European Blues Challenge, General Assembly & Blues Market
Toulouse, 7 a 9 Marzo 2013
Por Roser Infiesta Valls Mrs. Zúmel, miembro de la Junta de la EBU

Durante unos pocos días Toulouse se ha convertido en la “capital europea del blues”, con la celebración de la tercera edición del European Blues Challenge de la European Blues Union, la Asamblea General de la European Blues Union y el Mercado del Blues, bajo el auspicio de la Sociedad de Blues de Toulouse y France Blues, que han realizado un magnifico trabajo, consiguiendo una perfecta organización que desde estas líneas deseo resaltar.
 

Músicos y aficionados de veinte países europeos se han dado cita en la bella ciudad de Toulouse para compartir tres días de camaradería y mucho blues.
 

Los actos comenzaron el jueves por la noche en dos de los mas renombrados clubs de la ciudad –Connexion y Le Dynamo- que abrieron sus puertas para presentar a algunas de las bandas más representativas junto a jóvenes promesas de la escena bluesera del sur de Francia y donde, entre cerveza y cerveza, pudimos disfrutar del buen hacer de grupos como Driftin’ Blues, Jumpin’ to the Westside, Daniel Blanc, Blues Power Band, Mannish Boys o Mountain Men.

 

Driftin' Blues & Jumpin' To The Westside


Blues Power Band
 

El buen tiempo y un clima que ya presagiaba la primavera nos han acompañado durante estos intensos días de blues y rencuentros con los buenos aficionados venidos de toda Europa.

 


Paseo en barca por el Canal de Midi
 

Por lo que se refiere al III European Blues Challenge propiamente dicho, debo destacar que se celebró en Le Bikini, una sala con buena capacidad y acústica aunque situada algo lejos de la zona céntrica de Toulouse. Ello no impidió que la sala estuviera prácticamente llena durante las dos noches del Challenge, creándose muy buen ambiente en todos los sentidos.
 

En un concurso en el que cada noche compiten un mínimo de 9 formaciones que sólo disponen de 20 minutos de actuación con un rapidísimo intervalo entre grupo y grupo (desde aquí felicitar a los técnicos de sonido por conseguir que las pausas no se alargaran mas de 5 minutos entre grupo y grupo), se hace difícil poder escribir una crónica mesurada y objetiva de cada uno de los participantes. Simplemente me quedaré con alguna pequeña pincelada que pueda ilustrar una parte de todo lo mucho y bueno que pudimos disfrutar cada una de las noches.
 

El entusiasmo y la buena disposición de Lightnin’ Guy –presentador y conductor del evento- consiguieron crear inmediatamente la complicidad necesaria entre músicos y audiencia.

Si ya es difícil iniciar una competición, mas lo es si se trata de un trío instrumental con piano, bajo y batería. Concretamente GZT representantes de Latvia, por lo que me quedo con su originalidad de piano blues y boogie, interpretado con gran corrección.

También me llama la atención la voz rota de los Heavypetrol & The Greyhounds (Luxemburgo), y la progresión en el escenario de The Bluesmopolitans (Austria).

 


Heavypatrol y Bluesmopolitans

 

Sorprenden por su juventud y su frescura el trío que representa a Rumanía, Soul Serenade, que presentan a una joven cantante de bonita voz que impacta en el público, respaldada por diversos instrumentos como mandolina, guitarra slide o armónica, aunque en su repertorio no faltan guiños a los orígenes, incluyendo un tema de Howlin’ Wolf.

Totalmente diferentes son los británicos BabaJack, que también incluyen a una cantante de voz rota que destaca por su aportación rítmica al cajón, en una mezcla de roots y blues contemporáneo interpretados con varios instrumentos de fabricación casera y una percutante slide en algunos momentos.

Me gustan los Sunnysiders de Croacia por su originalidad, presentándose los cuatro músicos sentados y creando con su interpretación un ambiente festivo, distendido y muy refrescante.

 

Le llega el turno a Chino & The Big Bet (Spain). A pesar de comenzar de forma muy intimista, rápidamente se crecen y realizan un show electrizante que sorprende a todo el público que se deja arrastrar por el swing y la arrolladora presencia escénica de Chino, muy bien acompañado por Rod Deville al contrabajo y Giggs Nother a la batería. Con solo 20 minutos para mostrar todo su saber, realizan temas muy variados como "Hush", o una tremenda y poderosa versión de "Dust My Broom" de Robert Johnson.

 


Chino & The Big Bet

 

Eslovaquia nos presenta a un solvente dúo acústico formado por Bonzo Radvanyi & Lubos Bena. Demuestran su profesionalidad en escena y su amplio conocimiento del blues mas rural y campestre.

La noche finaliza con los representantes belgas Hideaway, en mi opinión y junto a Chino & The Big Bet lo mejor del programa del viernes. Demuestran una gran experiencia y conocimiento del género, suenan empastados y producen un show altamente gratificante que levanta al público con su jump blues de alta calidad.

 

Hideaway

 

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En la mañana del sábado se realiza la Asamblea General de la European Blues Union y el Mercado del Blues.


La Asamblea presenta el estado de cuentas del ejercicio anterior comentando los ingresos y los gastos, que son aprobados.

También se procede a la votación para el nombramiento de tres plazas en la Junta Directiva de la EBU que habían quedado vacantes. Se presentan cuatro candidaturas: Antonio Boschi, de la Asociacion Roots & Blues (Italia), Carolin Wobber de Phamosa Music (Alemania), Montserrat Pratdesaba, cantante y artista (España) y Silvio Caldelari, director del Festival de Blues de Sierre (Suiza). Una vez realizada la votación los escogidos han sido Carolin Wobber, Montserrat Pratdesaba & Silvio Caldelari, por lo que la nueva junta queda formada por Thomas Ruf (presidente), Jean Guillermo (vice-presidente), Jorden Wouters (secretario), Winne Penninckx (tesorero), Carolin Wobber, Davide Grandi, Fred Delforge, Jostein Forsberg, Montse Pratdesaba, Pertti Nurmi, Roser Zúmel y Silvio Candelari, vocales.

Se incluye también a la presentación de Riga (Estonia) como la ciudad que acogerá el European Blues Challenge en 2014 y las candidaturas de Milán y Bruselas para 2015.

Finalmente en el turno de palabras se discuten temas como las categorías del próximo EBC o la presentación de la nueva web de la EBU.
 

Tras una pequeña pausa se inicia el Mercado del Blues, donde los miembros activos de la EBU presentan sus actividades en el campo del blues e interactúan en el establecimiento de futuros contactos. El mercado esta también abierto a músicos, medios, aficionados y publico en general y durante dos horas y media se convierte en el centro neurálgico del blues europeo.

 

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Si los artistas participantes en el EBC de la jornada del viernes fueron altamente gratificantes, los del sábado no se quedan atrás.


Abren el fuego los finlandeses Honey B & The T-Bones. Su carismática cantante se encarga de calentar al público en una actuación de va ganando enteros con una más que interesante y original mezcla de blues psicodélico y genuino Mississippi blues, acabando su set con un impresionante blues lento.

Deslumbran los Shaggy Dogs (Francia) por su energía sobre el escenario. Poderoso rock blues interpretado con electrizantes solos de guitarra y armónica aunque, en mi opinión, los temas suenan demasiado iguales.


Le llega el turno a Holanda, representada por Sugar Boy & The Sinners. A pesar de su juventud me convencen plenamente, suenan empastados y tienen “el sonido” de las bandas americanas. Conectan inmediatamente con el público gracias a su ritmo bailable y a la vez poderoso de la guitarra y armónica perfectamente respaldada por contrabajo y batería. Sin lugar a dudas se convierten en mis favoritos (después de Chino & The Big Bet, por supuesto).

 


Shaggy Dogs y Sugar Boy & The Sinners

 

Suiza compite con Fabian Anderhub. Sorprende por sus calientes y poderosos solos de guitarra y una puesta en escena muy estudiada y cuidada que inmediatamente engancha con el público mas joven y rockero de la sala.


Completamente diferente a la anterior es la actuación de los italianos Veronica Sbergia & Red Wine Serenades. Veronica aparece como una cantante muy naif pero no exenta de una gran sensualidad. Veronica nos transporta a épocas lejanas de los años 20 y 30 del siglo pasado con su blues de vaudeville. Destaca también el contraste interpretativo de la bajista del grupo, mujer de voz rota y poderosa y el acompañamiento de variados instrumentos como la tabla de lavar a cargo de la propia Veronica, kazoo, ukelele, contrabajo y guitarra en una actuación totalmente original que sorprende a más de uno.

 


Veronica Sbergia & The Red Wine Serenades


Otra banda que sorprende por su puesta en escena son los noruegos Yhgve & His Boogie Legs. Estos jóvenes noruegos, con una presencia que recuerda a los adolescentes de los años 40, demuestran una gran soltura y fluidez con un repertorio que se mueve a medio camino entre el rock and roll y el swing. Suenan potentes y muy conjuntados y hacen las delicias del público, aunque particularmente me impactaron más en sus actuaciones de hace un par de meses en el International Blues Challenge de la Blues Foundation en Memphis.

Dinamarca presenta a Chris Grey & BlueSpand, trío que sorprende por su autenticidad y su fuerza en escena. Suenan poderosos y auténticos con guiños al power blues pero también al blues más auténtico y original.

Le llega el turno a Polonia con Harpcore que, como su nombre indica, van de armónicas. Cuatro armonicistas liderando la banda con un total de siete músicos en escena ya es garantía de espectacularidad y aunque empiezan un poco fríos, a medida que transcurre su actuación van ganando en seguridad y subiendo enteros, proponiendo una actuación no exenta de riesgos, pero que atrae por su singularidad.


Tommuy Schneller Band, de Alemania, son otros de los favoritos de la noche. Avalados por una dilatada carrera, incluyen una poderosa sección de vientos, lo que les da fuerza y empaque en el escenario. Se nota que están muy rodados y que tienen recursos suficientes como para atraer a cualquier audiencia. Una actuación muy completa y que se hace corta.


El concurso finaliza con el poderoso blues de los suecos Matti Norlin & Badge, un trío que practica un blues rock sin concesiones, electrizante y muy actual, con algunas incursiones a la slide. Nada mejor que la fuerza de estos músicos para finalizar una noche llena de buenos momentos.

 

Ihgve & His Boogie Legs

 

La calidad ha sido mucha, por lo que imagino que va a ser una dura labor para los jueces decidir sobre los ganadores. Después de algunos minutos de suspense y de la presentación de los jueces a cargo de Lightnin’ Guy, Thomas Ruf, presidente de la European Blues Union y Jean Guillermo, vicepresidente de la EBU, suben al escenario y anuncian…

 

2º Premio… ex aequo para SOUL SERENADE (Rumania) y

 

CHINO & THE BIG BET (España)

 

1er. Premio… VERONICA SBERGIA & RED WINE SERENADERS (Italia)

 

No puedo discrepar de la valoración de los jueces, ya que los tres grupos tienen calidad y originalidad suficientes como para haberse proclamado vencedores y como es lógico me siento orgullosa y satisfecha del premio conseguido por nuestros representantes Chino & The Big Bet. Personalmente, creo que también sobresalieron Hideaway de Bélgica, Tommy Scheller de Alemania y Sugar Boy & The Sinners de Holanda que bien podrían haberse llevado algún galardón.

 

Después de esta tercera edición, creo que el European Blues Challenge se está consolidando como un gran evento europeo que, poco a poco, va ganando en prestigio y solera. No sin pena, nos despedimos de Toulouse, agradeciendo el gran trabajo de France Blues y la Sociedad de Blues de Toulouse y nos emplazamos para la cuarta edición del EBC en Riga.

 

Texto y Fotos: Roser Blues.

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Estatutos de la European Blues Union
(Resumen realizado por Big Mama según información de Jorden Wouters)

Gracias a la iniciativa de una serie de personas implicadas en el blues en diferentes países de Europa, surgió la idea de la creación de la European Blues Union, una asociación sin ánimo de lucro cuya finalidad es la promoción del blues a nivel europeo. A continuación se incluye un resumen de los estatutos de la asociación. Mas información en la web de la EBU www.bluesyou.com

- Conveniencia de establecer un marco legal que dote de entidad y rigor a la EBU.

- Naturaleza de la EBU: ser una asociación sin ánimo de lucro que promueva el Blues europeo en todo el mundo, en particular en Europa, cooperando entre festivales, promotoras, entidades, discográficas, artistas, medios  especializados, expertos en la materia,  impulsando la difusión del Blues a todos los niveles, apoyando proyectos educativos para las escuelas, intercambiando ideas o experiencias, consiguiendo el soporte de las autoridades, creando premios o eventos relacionados con el blues, captando nuevos miembros en la EBU, etc

- Miembros. Pueden ser de tres tipos: Activos, Asociados y Honorarios.

MIEMBROS ACTIVOS: Tendrán derecho a voto en la Asamblea General y suscribirán los estatutos. Pagarán una cuota anual que se fijará en la Asamblea General y que no podrá superar los 500 euros, según fija la ley belga. Podrán acceder a ser miembro activo las asociaciones registradas, las empresas legalmente constituidas o los individuos que tengan algo que ver con el Blues & Roots. Si un miembro activo no paga la cuota en el término de un año dejará de serlo. Los votos serán de 1 miembro = 1 voto.

MIEMBROS ASOCIADOS: No tendrán derecho a voto en la Asamblea General pero podrán asistir como oyentes. Pagarán una cuota anual inferior a la de los miembros activos que se fijará en la Asamblea General. Al igual que los miembros activos, serán afiliados a la EBU y podrán acceder y beneficiarse de las actividades de la EBU así como tener un espacio propio en la web www.bluesuyou.com, con blog individual para difundir su obra y/o actividad profesional.

MIEMBROS HONORÍFICOS: Serán designados por la EBU y no pagarán ninguna cuota. No tendrán derecho a voto en la Asamblea General y podrán asistir como oyentes. Podrán beneficiarse de las ventajas de ser de la EBU cómo si estuvieran afiliados.

- Requisitos para ser MIEMBRO ACTIVO.

a) Ser músico de blues (Blues & Roots) en el propio país o en el extranjero.

b) Ser organizador de un festival, promotor de conciertos, representante artístico, realizar un programa de radio y/o de televisión, una web, revista en papel o en soporte digital cuya actividad se base en el blues (Blues & Roots)

c) Ser aficionado al blues (Blues & Roots) y estar bien informado del ambiente musical de esta música en su propio país, o disponer de materiales o información sobre músicos, compositores, locales, radios, festivales, etc., de blues (Blues & Roots) en el propio país.

- Obligaciones administrativas de la EBU.

a) Disponer de un número fiscal (V.A.T.) en Bélgica

b) Llevar una contabilidad.

c) Dar cuenta anual en la Asamblea General del "financial rapport", detallando los ingresos y los gastos.

d) Pagar los impuestos pertinentes en Bélgica.

- Organigrama.

a) La Asamblea General de la EBU se celebrará una vez al año, pero se podrá convocar a petición del 20% de los miembros activos.

b) Se elegirán: Presidente/a, Tesorero/a y Secretario/a General de la EBU mediante votación en la Asamblea General anual.

c) Los elegidos como Presidente/a, Tesorero/a y Secretario/a General de la EBU podrán delegar poderes ejecutivos a un "board" o equipo de miembros activos también consensuados en la Asamblea General.

- Los Estatutos de la EBU se aprobaron en la Asamblea General Constitutiva que se celebró en Berlín entre los días 18 y 19 de marzo de 2011.

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Pagina Principal/Home
El Programa de Radio/The Blues Radio Show - La Programación/Playlist - Novedades Cds/Cds Received - Criticas de Discos/Actual Cd Reviews - Criticas Discos Antiguas/Old Cds Reviews - Reconocimientos/Show Aknowledgements - Links de Interés/Logo Links - Posters Blueseros/Blues Posters

Quien es Zúmel/Who is Zumel - Las Fotos/Blues Gallery - La "Harmonica Zúmel Blues Band"/The late "Harmonica Zúmel Blues Band" - La Sociedad de Blues de Barcelona S.B.B/Barcelona Blues Society SBB


Los Conciertos de Blues/Blues Gigs Calendar - Las Noticias Nacionales/Spanish Blues News - Los Artículos/Articles -
Colaboraciones/Contributions - El Diccionario de Blues - Las Entrevistas/The Interviews

Las Noticias Internacionales/International Blues News - Articulos Internacionales/International Articles - Entrevistas desde USA/USA Interviews
E-mail/Feedback