Blue is the colour, Copenhagen is the name
For all of us who’ve dealt with loss, job frustrations or relationships that went sideways, the blues have long been there to salve our wounds. Those soulful ballads of the American Deep South, first associated with the plight of slaves, have evolved over the years, and their influence can be seen in the most mainstream of musical genres.
Whether a blues aficionado or just a fan of music in general, the 13th anniversary of the Copenhagen Blues Festival has something for everybody over the course of five days from next Wednesday. Artists from all over the globe will descend on the city for a series of shows, and those iconic, moody chords will be heard at 20 venues, including Husets Café, Amager Bio and Mojo.
Sixty shows are on the programme, and all iterations of blues will be represented, ranging from contemporary forms like Louisiana blues to the mainstream, bass-heavy urban blues from Chicago or the guitar-centric Piedmont blues of America’s Mid-Atlantic region. For years the festival has sought to feature both traditional styles and new-school groups, and the spaced-out schedule makes it easy for fans to sample all the offerings.
The Mississippi-born, Memphis-raised Alexander hails from the home of blues. But his start came in the cultural hotbed of Chicago, where he honed his chops at nightclubs around the city. His performances are more of a conversation with a few guitar riffs mixed in, and his indefatigable playing style has helped win fans across the globe.
Husets Café, Rådhusstræde 13, Cph K; Fri 27 Sep, tickets 160kr; www.billetto.dk
Like Alexander, Burns was born in Mississippi and also honed his craft in the dives around Chicago. The 70-year-old first started out singing doo-wop, but his style eventually evolved into the Delta blues he’s known for. A late bloomer when it comes to worldwide tours, Burns and his band have won acclaim for energetic performances that have shaken blues halls until the wee hours.
Rødovre Centrum; Fri Sep 27, 16:30; free adm
Mojo, Løngangsstræde 21C, Cph K; Fri Sep 27, 19:00; tickets: 170kr, www.mojo.dk
Simon McBride + Aynsley Lister
Born in Belfast but based in Dubin, McBride draws his influences from a variety of sources. He began playing metal before making the sharp transition to soul and pop. But after touring with blues artists, his music evolved even further. McBride is known for his skillful guitar chops, and has drawn comparisons to Irish legends such as Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore. Teaming up in Copenhagen with McBride for a duo performance, the 36-year-old Lister is young compared to some of his contemporaries in the blues scene. But the Leicester native, who began playing the guitar when he was eight, has won international acclaim for his blues-rock style. He’s performed with some of the greats in a variety of genres such as the White Stripes and the Black Keys.
Amager Bio, Øresundsvej 6, Cph S; Thu (Sep 26) 20:00; tickets: 250kr, www.billetnet.dk
Tommy Castro + The Painkillers (USA)
Castro has a playing style that recalls some of the legends in blues music, and his sizzling guitar has made the Californian native an international favourite. In 2001 and 2002, he opened for one of the titans in blues – BB King – on his summer tours. Castro has won multiple awards for his music, which feature energetic sets and music that harkens back to the halcyon days of warm evenings in Delta roadhouses.
Rødovre Centrum; Sat Sep 28, 14:00; free adm
Husets Café, Rådhusstræde 13, Cph K; Sat Sep 28, 20:00; tickets: 160kr, www.billetto.dk
Mitch Kashmar Band
The blues harmonica is one of the iconic sounds of the genre, and few perform it better than Kashmar. A native of Santa Barbara, California, Kashmar’s harmonica skills have led him to tour with such blues heavyweights as John Lee Hooker and Big Joe Turner. Kashmar has played those bending, rangy harmonica chords around the world, and his performances have won the acclaim of both fans and his contemporaries.
Husets Café; Thu (Sep 26) 21:00; tickets: 150kr, www.billetto.dk
The duo from the Antipodes are no stranger to the Scandinavian blues scene, having toured extensively in the region since 2004. Juanita Otene and Ashley Petersen’s music is a diverse, eclectic ensemble of genres, where blues, soul, funk, country and gospel combine together on stage. Their influences include Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald.
Rødovre Centrum; Thu (Sep 26) 16:30; free adm
Nicknamed ‘Paris Slim’, the French-born Goldwasser moved to San Francisco at 21 and his playing style has been influenced by America’s West Coast ever since. He’s a fixture up and down the Californian coast, rocking clubs from Oakland to Los Angeles. While his tempo blues style is considered on the progressive end of the genre, Goldwasser is still rooted in the traditions of blues. He’s a frequent touring guest with the Mannish Boys.
Mojo; Sat Sep 28, 19:00; tickets:130kr,
Copenhagen Blues Festival
Various venues; starts Wed, ends Sep 29; www.copenhagenbluesfestival.dk