stage: The "Nefertiti" Jazz Club, Göteborg, Sweden, Saturday, September
This was my first
meeting with the J'Jivers:
The singer, Marino
Valle, dressed in black, dominating the stage physically. Wiping his
perspiring face with a towel. Always in vain. Throwing it away over his
shoulder across the amps. Grabbing the oldfashioned microphone, belting
out his soul blues with a strikingly unSwedish voice. Throwing himself
at the feet of a lady in the audience, kneeling, with a firm grip on the
microphone stand. A true romantic blues hero. Will Sweden finally come
up with a Bobby Blue Bland?
And - oh yes! - he
plays a blistering harp, too...
mister cool, calm & collected. Punctuating songs with thoughtful reverby
phrases on his main axe, a Gibson 330 thru a blackface Super Reverb. Strong
solos with a touch of B.B., a flash of Ronnie Earl. And then changing to
slide, effortlessly, on "I Can't Hold Out/Talk To Me Baby".
the man with the big box bass. Yes, he twirled it! Solid as a rock.
And speaking of solid:
Ippe Panttila, the man at the sticks. To me just as impressive as
Stoffe Sundlöf, big drummer of lamented Chicago Express.
Song list? A mixture
of originals and well chosen classics. "Pouring Water On A Drowning Man"
delivered with power and passion. Their version of old chestnut "It Hurts
Me Too" would have made many a U.S. band proud. And who else blasts through
an instrumental version of "Rockin' Robin"?
This was one terrific
gig (which also featured the incredible Vidar Busk from Norway: Imagine
that young Elvis Presley came back to earth and had spent all that time
practising to Stevie Ray Vaughan videos? But that's another story...).
So I asked myself,
who ARE these guys? I knew they had some connection with KnockOut Greg
& Blue Weather, another amazing band I had thoroughly enjoyed at
the Mönsterås Blues Festival last May. After their outdoor show
in the sunny main street of Mönsterås I had immediately bought
both their CD's from the gentlemen themselves. A sound investment!
All right: Time for some research!
couple of days later I found myself sitting with a pile of magazines, mainly
"Blåtryck" and "Jefferson". "Blåtryck" (from
now on called "B") was issued by Stockholm Blues Society and boasted as
editor Janne Rosenqvist, the sadly departed blues enthusiast. "Jefferson"
(from now on logically called "J"!) is of course the magazine issued by
Scandinavian Blues Association. Janne Rosenqvist was an immensely active
contributor to "Jefferson", too.
The translations into
English are my own...
So what did I find
upon a time in the town of Gnesta there was a blues band called Bluesväder
(born in 1987 under the name of "Smisk" (approx. Swedish for spanking...).
They hurriedly changed their name...
In Nov. 1991 at a gig
at the small restaurant "Krogen Tre Backar", Stockholm, the lineup of Bluesväder
I wouldn't doubt it!
Greger Andersson - harp,
Fredrik Gustafsson - piano,
Patrick Danielsson - guitar,
Mats Hammarlöf -
Marcus Andersson - drums
Playing "smoking slide
guitar, rolling piano and blues harp in the best Chicago manner. Suits
everybody with an ounce of rhythm in their blood" as a news leaflet ("The
Blues Guide") from Stockholm Blues Society's (S.B.S.) said.
year later, when performing at S.B.S.'s "X-Mas Blues" in Dec. 1992,
the line up of Bluesväder had changed. Thomas Hammarlund,
guitarist extraordinaire, had replaced Patrick Danielsson during
the summer of '92. Thomas had lots of experience and had lately played
with among others T.C. & the Defrosters (one of Tommy Cougar's many
guitar oriented outfits, often in an Albert Collins/Stevie Ray bag), 1989-1990
and 2 Tons of Heavy Joy, 1990-1992
When the editor of
"Blåtryck" (as was his custom) asked Thomas to name three favourite
record cuts, he listed:
Ronnie Earl: "Baby
Doll Blues", B.B. King: "Shake Yours" and Muddy Waters: "You Can't Lose
What You Ain't Never Had" (B 68/1993).
In the spring 1993
Bluesväder issued "The Dangerous Blue Cassette: Look A Here":
Four songs recorded live in Södertälje and the rest in a studio
in Gnesta. A cassette to be sold at live gigs. On these recordings Patrick
Danielsson is still in the lineup on 2nd guitar.
Janne Rosenqvist reviewed
the cassette in Jefferson issue No. 99 (1/93) and called it "A rather strong
debut with blues in the black tradition. The vocals are occasionally a
bit theatrical...". He still considered it a good buy.
He preferred the studio
takes, particularly Jimmy Rogers' "Going Away Blues" and Johnny Guitar
Watson's "She Moves Me": his absolute favourite.
In July 1993 Bluesväder
was featured with many others on the CD "All That Blues From Sweden! Volume
One". (JEFFERSON/KOMMUNIKATION SBACD 12650). This CD was "Jefferson" magazine's
way of celebrating its 25th birthday
(the oldest in biz).
March 3 1994 Bluesväder made a great show with guest harpist
Rockin' Jake from USA at the bar "Skitiga Duken" (approx. "The Messy Tablecloth"
- great name for a blues joint!). They had also arranged an ambitious tour
of Sweden together with Jake. Hasse Karlsson reviewed the gig in "Jefferson"
(J 103/94), stating that Bluesväder "will be the next "big"
blues band in Sweden".
CD so far, but a cassette named "Mellow Yellow", BLUESVÄDER BV 03,
recorded in 1994. Custom built versions of songs by Little Walter, Lazy
Lester, Jackie Brenston, Sonny Boy Williamson etc. Reviewer Bosse Majling
liked it very much! (J 105/94).
band played at Notodden Blues Festival 1994.
another prestige gig: "Jazz & Blues All Star Festival", July 8 1994
at Skeppsholmen, Stockholm.
Rosenqvist particularly fell for the band's versions of Billy Boy Arnold's
"I Wish You Would" and Guitar Slim's "Certainly All" (the latter with Thomas
Hammarlund on vocals). Great vocals, guitar, piano...
then a new outfit rode into town:
September 1994 the Mavericks from Västerås played at
excellent guitar from Anders Lewén. Best song was a wonderfully
rough version of Jimmy Reed's "Shame Shame Shame". (B 70/1994).
Oct. 22 1994 they made their debut at "Tre Backar":
immensely competent band playing fine 50's blues and 60's soul" (B70/1994).
Valle also got his chance to name three favourite cuts in issue no.
70 of "Blåtryck":
Valle - vocals, harp
Lewén - guitar
Lindell - bass
Panttila - drums
Walter: "Off the Wall", B.B. King: "On My Word of Honour" and Wynonie Harris:
"Good Rockin' Tonight".
S.B.S.'s gig on Jan 5 1995 both bands were represented.
had now amended their name to Knock-out Greg & Bluesväder
had a residency at "Skitiga Duken" in Stockholm every Thursday,
presenting guest artists like Pelle Piano (of Rolf Wikström's band)
and Sven Zetterberg (of Chicago Express).
also performed at "Kaos", "Lilla Maria", "Snövit", playing their
of music rooted in Chicago, Texas, Louisiana...
February 1995 Thomas Hammarlund left Bluesväder and
formed Blue Hammer, a band influenced by B.B. King, Johnny "Guitar"
Watson, Roomful of Blues and T-bone Walker. They made their debut in February
at "Cityhallen" on Drottninggatan in Stockholm.
Blue Hammer also
obtained a residency: every Wednesday nite at "Restaurang Kaos". Plus gigs
at "Fasching", "Tre Backar", "Amphion", outdoors in Kungsträdgården...
They also issued a cassette of blues "from Bondegatan to Texas".
Thomas Hammarlund - guitar,
Anders "Niten" Karlsson
- guitar, vocals
Niklas Mattsson - saxophone
Hasse Eriksson - bass
Arnulf Ibsen - drums
Greg & Bluesväder finally (?) changed their name to Knock-out
Greg & Blue Weather and issued their first CD in December 1995:
"Blues Disease" on LAST BUZZ RECORDS. The CD received fine reviews in "Blåtryck"
Let's quote their
stylish home page:
Anders Lewén became the busy guitarist of both
Blue Weather and Mavericks.
"This session contains
13 tracks of which 6 are originals. 'Got my shades on' and 'My habits changed'
are specially written for this CD by legendary bluesman Sven Zetterberg
and the title-track 'Blues Disease' is an old obscure tune from the
fifties by Tiny Kennedy."
Greg himself listed his three favourite cuts in "Blåtryck":
good gigs of 1995: Mönsterås Bluesfestival and
Wolf: "Crying at Daybreak", Eddie Floyd: "On A Saturday Night"
Big Walter Horton: "Easy" (B 72/1995).
In the issue
No. 108/95 of "Jefferson" the Mavericks advertised that they now
officially had changed their name to The J'Jivers. Obviously the
American band called Mavericks had threatened to sue them...
played at "Dalhall" in Åmål on July 14 1995. Let's quote Janne
Rosenqvist again: "Marino Valle blows harp, sings and has charisma
and authority. He has a voice which is even good enough for demanding soul
"...a fine version
of Willie Cobb's "You Don't Love Me"...
loads of good guitar on "One Room Country Shack"...
"..I was impressed
and surprised by the interpretation of Clarence Carter's "Slip Away"...
and..."the soul ballad "These Arms
of Mine" finally floored me..."
Lewén also got the opportunity to name three favourite cuts
Rush: "My Love Will Never Die", Bill Jennings: "Big Boy" and Johnnie Taylor:
"That's Where It's At" were his choices. (B73/1996).
issued a cassette named "Dressed Up", JJMC95, reviewed in B 73/1996. Janne
party-R&B, rocking Louisiana sounds, soul and good blues, like "One
Room Country Shack" with fine guitar by Anders Lewén.
The cassette was also
reviewed by him in "Jefferson" 109/95 where he complimented their version
of Lazy Lester's "Same Thing Could Happen To You", recorded in the style
of Rockin' Sidney. He once again praised Anders Lewén's guitar
playing prowess, noting influences of black postwar Texas and West Coast
guitarists plus white musicians like Anson Funderburgh and Ronnie Earl.
Valle is a vocal find, even if I have heard him better on stage. Recommended
In the same "Jefferson"
issue (109/95) Knock-out Greg & Blue Weather's first CD
"Blues Disease" BUZZ-8004 was reviewed by Janne Rosenqvist.
A very favourable
review, noting original song by Greger and Anders: "A Losing
Game", Sven Zetterberg's "My Habits Changed", Jimmy Rogers' "You're the
More Festival gigs
for Knock-out Greg & Blue Weather:
Molde Blues Festival
113/97 featured the article "The tape's rollin' " courtesy Anders Lewén,
describing Blue Weather's recording adventures at Delmark Studios
in Chicago, December 1996. A new CD on the way!
the Knock-out Greg & Blue Weather CD: "Doin' Alright" BUZZ-8006
on the Last Buzz label finally arrived. Jefferson 114/97 featured a glowing
review by Olle Wallin.
I can only agree! In my opinion this CD beats so many
American bands hands down - in their own game. Sorry folks!
No: I do NOT describe
the two Last Buzz CD's in detail.
Not that they do not
But they deserve
to be bought by you, discerning reader!
So go visit the very
boutique around the corner and harrass the owner until they are fully stocked!
And then you can listen,
and listen, and listen...
Jefferson 114/97 reports
that Marino Valle has received the Janne Rosenqvist Memorial Grant,
established in memory of Janne Rosenqvist.
Janne Rosenqvist died
prematurely in 1996. A great loss for his many friends
- and a great loss
for the hard working local bands of Sweden. His interest in the Swedish
blues scene was without comparison. And he was a relentless salesman
now it's 1997. What's up, doc?
& Blue Weather have established their own niche. With an enthusiast
label like Last Buzz behind them the future's so bright they gotta wear
They have recruited
a new bassist: Hans Eriksson. To quote their home page once again:
"Hasse is the newest
capture! He's been playing around with
Thomas Hammarlund has joined J'Jivers. I certainly hope that
this does not mean the end of Blue Hammer? Never saw them, never
even heard their cassette. Considering the artists they name as inspirations,
I'm sure that I've missed something good!
bands from Stockholm
for many years. Replaces Mats and
is now workin his
ass off with the upright bass!"
And no CD from J'Jivers so
far. Remembering the quality of the gig I described in the beginning of
this article I can only say: "Long overdue!" Let's hope for 1998!!!
Christer Fridhammar (P.A.W.S. Pages)
Oct 6, 1997
...and the story goes on!
Stop: Oct. 14, 1997:
Marino Valle has today e-mailed us at P.A.W.S.
that J'Jivers' first album is planned for release March '98. Start
saving those pennies & dimes, folks! This should be a humdinger!
Stockholm Blues Society's newsletter
("The Blues Guide") advertises that Blue Hammer will appear at S.B.S.'s
"Trettondagsaftonsblues" at Fasching, Stockholm on January 5, 1998.
Blue Hammer now lists the
Still kicking! Great!
Thomas Hammarlund - guitar, vocals
Anders "Niten" Karlsson - guitar, vocals
Bengt Ahrenblad - Hammond organ
Tommy Cassemar - bass
Arnulf Ibsen - drums
Cold evening in Göteborg:
a couple of degrees below zero and the wind ain't much fun either. But
it's (almost) payday and the crowd at the cozy restaurant "Louice" is definitely
in a payday mood. And if you look at the sign in the window you can see
that red hot & blue music is gonna' defrost this town tonite! Marino
Valle and Thomas Hammarlund, 2/4 of The J'Jivers, are
at it again.
If you look closely
at the audience you can recognize an assortment of local blues aristocracy:
we've got Nightcats, Instigators, Dominators and a Blue Light!
With a few exceptions,
this sure ain't the usual "Creedence!!!" shouting crowd.
And it was a great
nite with two sets of soulful blues. And soul is Marino Valle's
middle name. That's what sets him so apart from some of the Chicago copy
Fortified by Maclay
Genuine Stout we let ourselves be overwhelmed by these two guys on vocals,
harp and trusty Gibson.
Standouts: A daringly
romantic "Sea Of Love" (and I couldn't help having flashbacks from that
torrid movie), solid versions of "I Can't Hold Out/Talk To Me Baby" and
"Rock Me Baby", a real smoochy ballad praising the singer's "Love Star",
a muscular "I Don't Believe". Official closer: the masterful soul of "Win
Your Love". And the (inevitable) encore: "Feeling Good"! - which gave Marino
an opportunity to display the huge power of his voice. Yes guys, we were
feeling all right!
Thomas on his
Gibson was solid, supportive and yet fluid - all at the same time. Backing
up a twelve bar blues on a lone electric guitar can result in monotonous
plodding, frustrating to anybody involved. Have no fear: this was true
music! And the guitar playing sounded so full and complete that you involuntarily
looked for his double...
once a Dominator and now a Blue Light, took over on vocals and harp for
a few numbers. Another very impressive gentleman, although not as powerful
as Marino. Still, who is?
A new Knock-out Greg
& Blue Weather album, this time on the Norwegian BLUE MOOD label:
"7-8-9-10 & Out" BMREC 005.
And they are still just as good!
More '98 news:
The J'Jivers change their name to The Soulmates! And launch their own web site! See link below! BLUE MOOD album forthcoming!
So this is it, it seems.
Since all three bands now have their own informative websites, telling their own stories and giving you the goods 'straight from the horse's mouth' I am sort of putting this story to rest - for now anyway.
This was a fun story to reconstruct - perhaps I will enlarge it one of these days.
Thanks for reading it! And do follow those guys - avidly!
Christer in 1999
credits - contact info - links:
Colour photograph of J'Jivers
kindly provided by the band.
Black and white photograph of J'Jivers
from the Dalhall gig in Åmål borrowed from Åmåls
Bluesfestival's web site as per their kind permission. Camera: Tony
out the following links:
KnockOut Greg & Blue Weather: our own picture'n'links page. Leads on
to the band's own home page and Anders' "Jefferson" article.
The Soulmates: the band's own home page.
Blue Hammer: our own info page leading to the band's own home page.
Links to "Jefferson", "Stockholm Blues Society", "Fasching"
and "Nefertiti" can all be found on our website page
"Further On Up The Road: Blues In Scandinavia".
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