Norwegian blues man Knut
Reiersrud discovered Miles Davis when he was 10 then at age 12 Knut and his brother bought guitars after seeing Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters on TV. By the ripe age of 18, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush heard Knut perform and invited him to Chicago. Since that time Knut has played over 5,000 concerts and recorded over 100 albums, but only released a handful under his own name. He has mastered 10
different string instruments and tours with 8 guitars with different tunings. And I bet few readers of this site, outside of Norway and the Chicago blues community have heard of this phenomenal musician.
Knut is also an imaginative musician and it’s easy to see his curiosity of diverse cultures in a childhood photograph that appears on the Sweet Showers of Rain CD. A much younger version of Knut is dressed in a Polynesian grass skirt and an adult size sombrero; and he’s holding Mexican maracas in his hands. Well, not much has changed since that photograph was taken since Knut’s music
carries a childlike inquisitive nature and he’s still exploring other cultures such as West Africa, American blues, Indian (India) and traditional Norwegian music.
The 1993 release, Tramp features cora, soaring West African vocals, African percussion, cora along with blues gospel singers, Five Blind Boys from Alabama who accompany Knut on two songs by Blind Willie Johnson, Everybody Oughto Treat a Stranger Right and Let Your Light Shine.
The title track, an instrumental, features organ and guitar bouncing along a jagged path. No Problem and Fareslatten are instrumental tracks featuring guitar and African musician Alagi M’Bye on Cora. Jarabe takes the treatment a bit further by adding soaring West African vocals, talking drum, jembe and organ among other instruments. And the cover of Big Joe William’s Baby Please Don’t Go
and the African Tobakobe blends Gambian vocals (Juldeh Camara) with the blues classic.
Fast forward to 2001 and the release of Sweet Showers of Rain an album that points to Jimi Hendrix guitar, 1970’s funk, roadhouse blues and recall such performers as T-Rex, Sly and the Family Stone and legendary blues musicians. The cora has been replaced by sitar and the acoustic guitar has gone electric, but you’ll also find organ, harmonium, drums, ambient treatment, loops and samples played on turntables. Blues Power (Part 3) recalls Jimi Hendrix and American funk along side samples of Otis Jones, Lightening Slim, Howling Wolf and the Parchman Farm Inmates. The titular track features wah wah guitar, funky bass and unusual vocal syncopation that recalls T-Rex. And A Lovely Disaster also recalls T-Rex, but a sitar and a rap vocalist are added giving the song exotic and a gritty appeal.
Roadhouse blues Giving Up (by Van McCoy), the funky Jumpin’ Judy, the ambient Down on Me and The Old Man Still Sings (sounds like the Beatle’s Abbey Road album) also are worth a mention. However, the traditional songs, Motherless Children and Reap What you Sow and the original Epitaph (about a falsely
convicted felon awaiting his untimely death) send chills up the spine. Knut might be of Scandinavian descent, but blues courses through his veins and he’s able to deliver the musical goods as well as, America’s infamous blues men.
Technically, these albums do not fall under Norwegian folk-roots, but they do fall into international traditional music and are far reaching. I encourage viewers of this site to check out these recordings. and you can find them at Kirkelig Kulturverksted.
Compliments of and happy holidays from
Cranky Crow World Music.