Thursday, February 21, 2013

Micke Björklöf & BlueStrip

When did you last hear a vibraphone hobnob with a frantic slide guitar? Probably never, but now you can. After a five years wait, Micke Björklöf & Blue Strip finally delivers a new album "Whole´Nutha Thang", featuring eleven exquisitely completed new songs. The album was recorded in London, England with producer Neil Brockbank (Nick Lowe, Tanita Tikaram, Bryan Ferry) in fall 2006. In addition to the excellent band members there are guest appearances by horn players Matt Holland and Martin Winning (Van Morrison, Lisa Stansfield) and keyboard player Geraint Watkins, known for his work with Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman, Van Morrison and Mark Knopfler. The album title “Whole´Nutha Thang” refers to a new era for the band. The whole process of recording in London was a big thing on its own and it can also be regarded as a giant step for the band towards an international career as a roots & blues music artist. The song writing is stronger than ever and the band is really groovy. The album offers a mature and focused collection of all-original roots and blues songs with soul, rock and pop flourishes. The rockin´ songs like “Hard for a woman, hard for a man”, “Jungle cat”, “Grapesugar love” as well as beautifully built laid back tracks “I fell down from the tree (when I saw Robert Johnson pass me by)”, Extreme”, “Silver moon” and “Whatever your name” are a soul stirring listening experience. “We already had the new material ready and some preliminary plans made for the realizing of our fourth album when we met with Neil Brockbank. He worked with Geraint Watkins on a festival gig here in Finland”, Björklöf recalls. “We jammed with Geraint that night and after the show we had a few drinks with the guys, just to socialize a bit. Next morning I had a dicussion with Neil over breakfast and he impressed me with the way he talked about making music. He is really into this organic, live approach and letting things happen naturally. At that time no plans were yet made but I thought to myself “I want to make a record with this guy”, says Björklöf. After a couple of weeks he proposed the producing of the next BlueStrip album to Brockbank and six months later the band found themselves in the recording session in London. BlueStrip was founded by the bandleader and singer Micke Björklöf and the bass player/songwriter Seppo Nuolikoski in 1991. After a few changes at the very start the line up has been the same for almost ten years. They started as an acoustic pubrock cover band but before long the roots & blues music and producing original material took over. Today the band is one of the most popular live acts in the roots & blues scene in Finland. They have strirred up audiences with their energetic live shows wherever they play, from small club stages to big festival arenas. The exceptionally ingenious guitar player, songwriter and singer Lefty Leppänen is regarded as one of the top slide guitarists in Europe. His resourceful playing is one the BlueStrips trademarks, as well as the sound of vibraphone, played by the mallet virtuoso/arranger Timo Roiko-Jokela, who also builds striking percussion elements with the dynamic drummer Teemu Vuorela.  

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