Three artists proving Chicago blues is alive and well beyond the City’s limits

Chicago blues, often termed the less localised “electric blues”, is one of the most widely disseminated and influential musical styles the world has ever known. Its origins lie in the folk and country blues of African-Americans who lived and worked throughout the American South before migrating further north in the post-war era, and it represents a music adapted to suit the means of a diverse, urban audience within the developing Cities of North America. Electric blues didn’t historically go over so well when first toured through Europe by the likes of Muddy Waters, but is ever-present in today’s blues landscape and the three electrifying blues artists that Solid Entertainments bring to Band on the Wall over the coming weeks: Germany’s Henrik Freischlader, Finland’s Erja Lyytinen and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado, are testament to the spread and lasting importance of the style throughout Europe. Here’s a quick introduction to the unique styles of each artist…

Thorbjorn Risager is the rootsiest of the artistic ternion, with a style incorporating both the R&B and folk elements of big city blues. He’s a man with a voice that, like C.W. Stoneking’s, shocks you as it emerges from him, being that it sounds as if it should be possessed by an altogether different being from a completely different walk of life. His big band, replete with horn section, give his music a depth and texture like that of Fenton Robinson or Otis Rush and lift subtle ballads like I Used To Love You to great heights, while giving counterpoint to stomping numbers like If You Wanna Leave.

Erja Lyytinen, though too possessing a great voice, is your archetypal blues guitar hero, with a bag of licks as deep as the likes of Johnny Winter and an unbelievable touch with slide in hand, as her rendition of Crossroads make that abundantly clear! She has the confidence and creative flare to make lead playing look like a breeze, as well as the backing band to take her over the line.

Henrik Freischlader, last but certainly not least in our estimations, is the trio leader and as such works digilantly to fill the sonic tapestry with the sound that two guitar players often provide. There’s a reason why Hendrix, Clapton and Stevie Ray are so revered; they too found the delicate balance between rhythm and lead – Hendrix riffing off his signature dominant seventh sharp ninth, Stevie Ray pushing forward with Lonnie Mack-influenced tremolo picking – and Freischlader has that same balance and touch in his playing. Check out his effortless transitions from rhythm to lead, chord to riff on Got it Made and you’ll see just what we’re talking about!

All three artists have been lavished with blues awards since establishing themselves on the international scene and each will hit you with some unique and awe-inspiring when they take to the stage at Band on the Wall this season. Henrik Freischlader is live on 19th September, Erja Lyytinen on 24th September and Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado on 1st October.