The Spellemann is Norway's equivalent to the Grammys. Prizes were handed out in 26 different categories this year. In the blues genre, the Spellemann was awarded to blues veteran Reidar Larsen, and to Norway's new "Queen of Soul", Noora Noor. Reidar Larsen won for "Best Blues Album", and Noora Noor for "Best Female Artist".
The Music Awards was held at the Oslo Spektrum on March 6, and was filled with both red carpet glamour and live performances from Norway's best artists. Handing out 26 prizes can take a while, and it was obviously too long for a commercial TV channel. The Blues Award, together with ten other prizes, were left out of the live TV show, but were seen on the repeat broadcast the following day.
There were three CDs nominated in the blues category; Larsen's CD "Kom inn te oss", Ronnie Jacobsen's "The San Jose Sessions", and The Crank Brother's "Black Midnights, Stars and Streetlights". This year there was no discussion as to whether or not the nominees actually "played blues". These three CDs represent a good year for Norwegian blues releases.
Reidar Larsen came to the show with his band, (Knut Hem, Arne Skage Jr. and Kyrre Sætran), and a very happy and proud blues man finally received his first Spellemann. Larsen released his first album in 1982, and the CD from 2009 was his first ever with Norwegian lyrics.
Knut Reiersrud was nominated in the "Open category" for his CD "Gitar", but the prize was given to Kristin Asbjørnsen for her beautiful release, "The Night Shines Like The Day".
Noora Noor has had a very busy year following the release of her CD "Soul Deep". She has performed at many festivals, and the album has gotten very good reviews and a lot of media attention. She was nominated in the category "Best Female Artist" together with Ane Brun, Hanne Hukkelberg and Julie Dahle Aagård. Thom Hell handed out the prize, and introduced a very happy Noora Noor as winner of the prestigous prize. She really earned this, considering all the difficulties she has been through to get to this point.
Noora and her band were also among the artists fortunate enough to play for the TV audience, and she proved herself again with a spectacular performance. Other artists performing live were the duo Polkabjørn and Kleine Heine, Sivert Høyem (Male Artist of the Year) and a rare gathering of fiddle players, among them Alexander Rybak, Tuva Syvertsen and Knut Buen – accompanied by a pyrotechnic show! Donkeyboy performed their song "Ambition" accompanied by the Oslo Soul Children choir.
Donkeyboy was this year's big winner with 3 awards. As well as the prize for Best Newcomer, they also recieved 200.000 kroner from Gramo. The Country Prize was awarded to a very surprised Tore Andersen for his fine solo CD "Right Around The Corner". Jahn Teigen received the Prize of Honour for his long time effort in the Norwegian music business.
Tore Andersen received the prize for "Best Country Album (left). Here together with the winner in the blues category, Reidar Larsen.
Some tabloids sent more fashion reporters than music journalists to cover the event, and we were reminded of this when Samsays appeared on the red carpet and was asked, "Can you tell us a little about your outfit?"
But BluesNews did not ask Reidar Larsen who designed his suit, or Knut Reiersrud where he bought his fancy hat, and we have not reviewed a single woman's dress. After all, it is the music that is supposed to be the focus.
After the TV show at Spektrum, artists and VIPs were invited to a nachspiel at the Grand Hotel.
Reidar Larsen brought his trophy to the Oslo Blues Club's Spelleman Jam at Buckleys and sat in with the house band, the Billy T Band. He announced from the stage that this prize should be shared with the whole Norwegian blues scene. A true "Spellemann", who appreciates his audience!
Text/photo: Nina Hanssen and Merete Eide