The evening gave the select audience a beautiful and pure singer/ songwriter concert, put on as part of Buddy's "unplugged " concert series in Drammen. Some of the very best wines are some times unfamiliar even to the connoisseur, and I would suggest that in Norway, and particularly in the eastern parts of the country, Kjersti Misje and roots veteran Rune Hauge from Bergen, are indeed one of the very finest yet least familiar wines.
Rune Hauge may well be known to some as one of Norway's leading roots artists, guitarists and singer/ songwriters. When he first got together with Kjersti Misje at the beginning of the millennium they received considerable attention on the radio. But after an extremely successful album in 2001, things have been quiet.
They charmed their Buddy audience with simple, yet excellent and classy vocal interplay and harmonisations, and impressed with playful acoustic guitar acrobatics which you definitely shouldn't try at home unless you're prepared to put in thousands of hours of practice. It was as if Loudon Wainwright III and one of the McGarrigle sisters had met up at Buddy that night.
This was American singer/ songwriter and folk/roots tradition of a standard which is rarely produced by artists with a Norwegian passport. They played their only hit "Nation of two", Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the day", as well as a playful and different version of Rickie Lee Jones' "Chuck E's in love". Their vocal interplay and guitar playing was so effortless, classy and energetic that the posters' promise of "superb listening " was fulfilled many times over. However, the sparkle they brought to their jamming, and their ability to play off the cuff, bear witness of a standard which is far from ordinary fare in this country. So, it's about time the people of Drammen were properly introduced to this exquisite wine.
Gorgeous and tuneful at Dønhaug
Last Friday the crowd at Dønhaugkjedlaren was treated to a great night by Rune Hauge and Kjersti Misje from Bergen. Sadly, and for some inexplicable reason, there were only 35 in the audience.
But the people who were there, were treated to gorgeous, tuneful music by "Millpond Moon", a duo that keeps adding to their musical range. Their repertoire clearly demonstrates that they have gathered inspiration while on their latest tours in USA and England.
For many years, Rune Hauge has been one of Norway's most prominent folk and bluegrass artists, and he must surely be one of the country's very best guitarists. He certainly impressed in that respect at Dønhaugkjedlaren.
His partner has also developed into a decent guitarist with a warm, lovely voice. Both of them get a high score for their song writing, and a new record is just round the corner. Together they make up a duo the likes of which you rarely see, and the punters who failed to turn out at Dønhaug have no idea what they missed.
Bluegrass and ballads under a full moon
Already in the first set the players proved they knew their stuff. Rune Hauge is an excellent guitarist, whether finger-picking or striking. He embellishes his improvised tonal passages over Misje's accompaniment, and puts in a fine choice of chords over the simple harmonics that characterize this music, in addition to elegant arrangements in intros and codas. In combination with his technical brilliance, this makes for exciting music.
Lift-off came with the second set. There was this special compact atmosphere you sometimes get at good concerts. The audience started to engage with the performers and their music .
Kjersti Misje was a new acquaintance to this reviewer. She proved to be an excellent folk singer with a fine, even voice with lots of warmth, and her blues notes and thematic turns of the tune added colour to the vocals. Her interpretations of ballads such as "Only rivers never turn" and "I wish I was in New Orleans" were particularly good.
And as usual, there was a packed audience under the full moon .