Legends in the Cellar
Hudson/ Fjeld/ Andersen, Vestfossen, Norway, 05.10.2001
Review from the first gig of the May 2001 Norwegian Hudson/Fjeld/Andersen tour. Translated from an article in the Norwegian newspaper Laagendalsposten.
Danko, Fjeld, Andersen. Two albums and a (Norwegian) Grammy in the '90s. And now the collaboration is reborn in an old cellar at the Kolberg farm in Vestfossen.
It started by accident 11 years ago. Jonas Fjeld was entering a music store in Oslo. Eric Andersen was just leaving it. As they almost crashed in the door, Fjeld said: -Hey, should we play something together? Later, in the fall of 1990, D/F/A did an improvised gig in Woodstock, where they sang together for the first time. It clicked from the first moment on. All three could feel the magic in the air. The recording of an album and then a Grammy was a fact already the next year.
The setting tonight resembles for a moment an absurd film. Garth Hudson, one of The Band's most notable characters, Eric Andersen, the legendary New York guitarist, and Jonas Fjeld, whose songs all Norwegians know. They have played with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton, to name a few. Now they are walking around in the the front yard of a farm in... where is Vestfossen by the way? The atmosphere is a little nervous when the sound check is done and the sun is setting.
- Well, what songs should we do tonight?, Jonas Fjeld asks, and pulls out a crumpled piece of paper and a pen.
- I'd better make a note of something we can play.
It's the time of the year when the sounds of the tractors can be heard in the countryside day and night. The farmers are working overtime spreading the cows' smelly "spices" over the fields to secure the harvest. Knut Kolberg, a visionary man, has emptied his barn of the animals and their "products" (manure) once and for all. He has created a concert hall, gallery and restaurant in here. Only the name is the same as it used to be "Møkkakjellern" (the Muck Cellar). Here he manages to get world famous musicians to drop by for the start of their Norwegian tour, that marks the re-relase of the Danko/Fjeld/Andersen CD. The reissue is a 2CD set titled One More Shot. The 2nd CD is a live recording from the Molde Jazz Festival, with Knut Reiersrud on guitar.
Eric Andersen sits in the evening light under an old parasol, talking about the time with The Band.
- We were like a big family, played together, wrote songs together. Unfortunately Rick Danko died in December '99. I can't describe how much we miss him, says Eric.
- But we continue to work with his songs. His spirit is with us all the time.
Instead of Danko, another one of The Band's musicians has joined Fjeld/ Andersen. Garth Hudson contributes saxophone, accordion and keyboards. Andersen's daughter Sari is also present tonight. She's been familiar with Rick Danko all her life. Ever since she was a little girl, Rick would ask her to come up on the stage to sing his his songs together with him. If Sari didn't know the lyrics, Rick would whisper them in her ear, and she'd sing them.
- She's a true talent, Eric says quietly, with poorly hidden pride.
The Cellar is lit by old lamps. Nothing has been moved away since it's days as part of the farm. Tools, old bikes, machinery is lying around as part of the decoration.
- I hope you have plenty of time. 'cause we have nothing else to do tonight than stand here and play, Jonas Fjeld says, having the audience in the palm of his hand.
- We do this to honour our old friend Rick Danko, and to mark the release of the CD, he says.
Then we get the songs. Material from solo careers and years of collaboration with the glittering greats in music history. Roots music. Blues inspired. Ballads. Sore, tender moods and warm humour. It's got punch, laughter. Standing ovations. Silent afterthought. World famous stars that admiringly see how the Norwegians know all Jonas Fjeld's lyrics by heart. They know his talent and they understand that he is loved.
- Play "Angels in the Snow," someone cries out from the audience. They give us "Angels in the Snow". The crowd howls with delight.
It's night. Everybody walks into the dark. Thick cigar smoke and a smell of red wine is left in the concert hall.
- Whow, what a GIG, Garth Hudson growls.
- It's like playing in an old loft in New York. And, then, when you go
outside, you realise you're in the middle of nowhere, says Eric. Jonas
Fjeld doesn't say much. He's among friends. Friends that he's been generous
enough to share with us. His smile is shy. It all worked perfect tonight.
And he knows it.