Category Archives: Norway

Heading to Northern Climes

There is a common misconception about people from the North of England, especially those from Yorkshire…

Glum, dour and particularly tight-fisted with a reluctance to part with their money. Granted, there is rarely a misplaced or dropped coin on a bar or the floor of a pub which doesn’t get lifted moments after it departs the owner’s pocket, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Yorkshire folk hate being ripped off and being conned. They especially don’t like the wool being pulled over their eyes. An Artisan filo pastry filled with cured Iberian chorizo and hand-grated Parmesan will set you back near a tenner in the Big Smoke, but a ham and cheese pasty would raise eyebrows if it was over the £3 mark outside the M25.

Notorious for being ludicrously expensive, Norway is one of my favourite places to perform and to visit without the instrument. There is little getting away from paying insane amounts of money in bars and for eating out. This country really tests these Yorkshire roots.

Trondheim

Trondheim city

I start this tour blog half way in Trondheim….

Having performed in Oslo, Klokkarstua, Elverum so far, we perform my favourite city in Norway. A real music city which is laced with moonshine, wide-eyed tourists on a budget and crazy alternative folk. The Svartlamon area is where we perform which is a squatted neighbourhood with an Anarchist bookshop, pub, a couple of shops and what was once Europe’s largest self-built wooden structure, now a living space. The city feels to me like a second home and its people are as welcoming as ever and the show in the bookshop was fun, intimate and rewarding. Later that evening we visit the UFFA, a squat venue which is a large building hosting a benefit show for the Karlsøyafestivalen, our final destination for this tour in Northern Norway. As ever, the UFFA is hosting a show with a number of noise/hardcore/metal bands which are punishingly loud in the small room. The noise was fantastic.

After a small break in Trondheim, we prize ourselves away on a late evening overnight train to Bodø, arriving in around the pleasant enough time of 9:15am. The journey was better than expected but still cramped and tedious but made slightly more comfortable with the offer of blanket, eye mask and self inflating pillow from NSB, the Norwegian rail company. This was only part of the journey to the next show on the remote Lofoten Islands, now within the Arctic Circle. Lofoten is a series of islands linked by roads which jut out into the North Sea 150 miles from the mainland. After a three hour boat journey we had to get two buses lasting around 4 hours in total from the Western part to the Central part of the islands. It took around 18 hours in total to get to this show.

lofoten

Lofoten Islands

The next day would beat that time-wise but it would be way more comfortable. After another couple of bus journeys we meet the Hurtigruten at Svolvær port. Hurtigruten is the boat that serves the jagged coast line of this country. I’m not a fan of long boat journeys, especially overnight ones but this has more of a pleasant and relaxed vibe than ferries with commercial purpose such as Hull-Zeebrugge which comprises of tired and pissed off lorry drivers and pissed up Brits on Lads weekends. This has the feel of a cruise boat for tourists wishing to see Norway with the safety of not getting too close to its changeable weather. As expected the scenery was phenomenal and the storm she navigated through made for good photos. This would be a 24 hour journey to Tromsø.

The festival itself has been promoted along the way with venues stocking posters and word of it has spread as we meet people along the way attending. Another boat awaits to the island which is hosting the festival. Since the late 60s the island has been a haven for a myriad of folk seeking an alternative life and the island seems to be pretty well-known across Norway. There is even a folk song about the island. After putting our tent up which seems to be missing pegs, we source some twigs to hold it down and hope for the best. An announcement was made by one of the people who have been involved with the island and the festival and now with the event in its 50th consecutive year, this is a tremendous achievement for any festival, let alone one so remote. We’re reminded this is an event that is anti-Capitalist, anti-corporate and continues to push for an alternative. One thing that shocked me with this politicised event is the amount of whale meat for sale. This is a culture clash for sure and I am reminding myself that this is a far cry away from Northern England. Also speaking to some of the locals there was more of an anti-EU sentiment than what would be from a young British left, which I gather is to do with fishing regulations and of course, whaling which is banned by the EU.

karlsoy 2

Leaving Karlsøyafestivalen at the ferry port

The festival seemed to run smoothly and as far as I could see, a real DIY ethic was present and everybody seemed to muck out one way or another (weather permitting) and the music was eclectic, exciting and unique. From Sámi pop music to noise bands. Sámi are the last indigenous’ peoples of Europe who span Northern Sweden, Norway and Finland who still have their own cultures and traditions, though now they live in houses and have ‘real’ jobs…definitely not a roaming tribe image that is portrayed by the tourist board. Even road signs in certain areas are in Sámi. Myself and Jørgen, my tour buddy, stood out as the solo performers and I was one of the few who sang in English…I think there was more Sámi than English sung there.

From 7am beach raves and catching the midnight sun on the island’s highest point, Karlsøyafestivalen is a unique festival. The location is enough of a draw regardless of its vibe and musical offerings. If you’re up for a festival that has a DIY ethic and you want something very unique, it’s pretty hard to beat. ’til next time, Norway.

Johnny x

My tour buddy Jørgen Dretvik is well worth checking out. Here are his links:

Music page: www.facebook.com/jorgendretvikmusikk/

Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ypywt7liJI&t=9s

If you wish to support me, as an independent musician I don’t have financial backing from labels or otherwise, I survive through merch sales and performing. You an be involved by ordering merch or albums here: http://www.johnnycampbell.bandcamp.com

And you can also keep up to date with my tours and more here: http://www.facebook.com/johnnycampbellmusic

The Year’s Round-up: 93 Shows / 30,000 Miles / 1 Blog

Perhaps of my reserved English-ness, my artistic self-confidence or otherwise, I’ve found the process of blogging sometimes quite self-congratulatory, tedious and a bit pretentious…

I do my best not to talk about myself but instead about experiences, the culture of places, amusing accounts and so forth. Here is a round-up for 2016; UK, Ireland, United States, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Germany and Iceland condensed into this blog. Stories, the people encountered, tour buddies and more…

UK, Ireland Tour / Tim Holehouse:

I started off the year with a few UK shows before the tour with Tim, supporting performers like David Rovics, Attila the Stockbroker with a few sporadic local shows. Tim is one of the hardest working people I know on the scene knocking out near enough 300 shows a year across the world. We decided to hit a few UK shows in England and Northern Ireland plus three Irish shows. Landing in Dublin’s fair city and doing an impromptu show in a popular Dublin bar was great craic. What was prevalent was the fact it was 100 years to the month of Irish independence of 1916. I’ve always admired the Irish spirit, generosity and welcoming attitude these folks have and it was no different in Northern Ireland.

northern-ireland-sunset

Northern Irish sunset

There was a fair bit of ‘action’ going on in Belfast due to this anniversary and being driven round the Shankill estate and Falls Road was really some place. Murals adorn the sides of properties showing the tensions but also the creativity these people can express in hard times. I heartily recommend visiting Belfast and Northern Ireland for hospitality…and good banter.

Now entering the Republic passing through Derry, Donegal and through to Sligo on the west coast treated us to a picturesque bus ride with wild mountains, green fields and the ever dwindling reception on our mobiles. Ireland is still a wild place and to tour a place with so much of a musical history is a privelge. The UK / Ireland tour was only a week and a half but a great little experience to tour N.I. and the Republic.

 

United States Tour / James Bar Bowen:

A short gap of a week before hitting the United States. ‘Bar’ had already toured the country a couple of years previous, this would be my first time touring it with a guitar performing in NYC, Pittsburgh, Newark, Wilmington, New Brunswick with brief stopovers in Boston and Philadelphia. Kicking off in NYC we met a number of people who we would come across again on the tour, this was the perfect start to the tour, a Saturday Matinee show in downtown Brooklyn. For those who haven’t been to New York, not to play it down, it’s like a bigger London in my eyes…and the scale is immense. Every street is either a film set, a historical account of a music scene with so many familiar places you have seen on the telly box. The fast paced life of Manhattan was a bit much for me.

nyc

Madison Square Garden

All along this tour we came across great American hospitality in places like Boston with Jason Bennett and Wilmington DE. Jeremy and Gayle in Wilmington from Gable Music Ventures sorted us out a couple of shows, a committed music-loving group of people committing to putting on many events in Wilmington and beyond…this is what American hospitality was about, taking chances and putting your heart and soul into them which they did!

In Pittsburgh the hospitality was equally welcoming meeting up with Bryan McQuaid, country-punk musician and all-round dude showed us round the best eateries and dive-bars.

Overall, performing the USA is quite an experience and although only travelling along the East Coast, the scale of the whole country is equally as generous as the hospitality and dare I say it, the portions in some bars!

Finland, Sweden, Norway Tour / Efa Supertramp:

I left Manchester Airport to Helsinki 7 degrees Celsius arriving into Helsinki around 35 degrees. This continued heat wave for about a week or two was breaking Finnish records. On this tour I was touring with  Efa Supertramp and a number of others along the Finnish dates like Slack Bird, Lifelong Hangover and Ozzmond. Efa arrived a few days later than planned because of a throat infection but me and Ozzmond met her at the second Helsinki show. Finland is vast swathes of trees and water and in certain places the midges were as bad (if not worse) than the Scottish ones.

efa-sweden

Efa in Sweden

A loooong 12 hour boat trip from Turku to Stockholm for the next leg of the tour to do five Swedish shows was great to see across the farms, lakes and forests of this country. Sweden felt very futuristic with barely anybody using cash, only Swish, a mobile banking service where you exchange currency. This became a small hindrance selling merch.

Leaving the EU to Norway we were treated to Norwegian squat life in Oslo, under eviction, these squats seemed barricaded, on guard, but defiant. After the show in the bar linked to many of these squats, we head on an 8 hour journey through the mountains to Trondheim. A beautiful city on the coast with mountains beyond. The quaint brightly coloured wooden houses form part of the backdrop of this city. Two excellent shows in Trondheim with the midnight sun disorienting our heavy drinking.

 

UK, Netherlands, Germany / Fabian Maddison

A couple of shows in Bristol and Lewes and we head into continental Europe on a 12 hour journey to Hengelo. Massive shout-out to Fabian who put in a slog on this driving for this particular journey! The Dutch shows were a mix of new ones and ones I’d performed before and meeting up with Jan, Eva from the band ‘Shoe Eating Rabbits’ was a great pleasure in Groningen, as was meeting Shireen in Amsterdam.

amsterdam-at-night

Amsterdam at night

 

We had a collection of great shows in Germany and it was also my first time going to the eastern bit of the country like Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin. It did feel different but the hospitality was still of the high standard! Meeting up with an old friend Robin from UK (claiming asylum from Brexit Britain) it was great to see multicultural Berlin and what an inspiring city it is. Uboquitous art, music, activist projects spread across the city. It would be very hard to miss something creative in many streets.

The final show in Hamburg and Vita who plays Accordion joined us in Dresden for the remaining shows in Berlin and Hamburg. This was the end of a 7 week tour of UK, Netherlands and Germany for myself and I am now very much looking forward to bed. Not before our host Snel created his home-made Sauren (a strong but sweet alcoholic blue beverage) and sent me off into the morning light to catch a flight home.

FULL ICELANDIC TOUR BLOG: https://johnnycampbellmusic.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/icelandic-tour-why-iceland-is-much-more-than-volcanoes-and-bjork/

MASSIVE thank you to all the tour buddies, those who put us up, put up with us, fed, watered and even carried us to our shows. You know who you are.

Johnny x