Thursday, 06 October 2022

Rocking and rolling with the Norwegians

Did anyone, besides me, notice the Norwegian Invasion?


Last winter in NYC the heavyweights of the Norwegian rock industry gathered to network with David Fricke from Rolling Stone, Seymour Stein, head of Sire Records, who signed the Ramones and The Talking Heads; and my old running mate from Madison, WI, Jim Bessman of Billboard.


Jim's the wayward son of a Wisconsin judge and I used to trade stories and reviews. I'd do maybe Wazmo Nariz, who always wore two ties, and Jim would do yet another duo piece on his two favorites the Statler Brothers and The Ramones.


Made for some interesting reading.


Jim also knew Johnny Cash and considered him the epitome of epitomes. He was right, as we are finding out since Johnny joined that Grand Ole Opry in the sky.


But this is about Norwegian rock and roll. There are pictures.


In the copy of "News Of Norway" I found recently all by itself on a table, three of the illuminati of Oslo – which by the way has the exact same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska and some other place I've forgotten were featured.


They are in no particular order: The boy band, Don Juan Dracula; Low Frequency In Stereo, with its "funky baseline and catchy vocals"; and synth-electro rockers, 120 Days.


I am reminded of the little noticed 80s trends except I did notice them of Duck Rock and Vegetarian Rock 'N' Roll.


Duck rockers included Neil Innes (Monty Python, Bonzo Dog Band) and his aptly named "Ducks" and Ducks Deluxe, an English pub rock band fronted by Sean Tyler, who Mike Wilhelm remembers from his Flamin' Groovies tours of English pubs and Manchester.


Oh and lest I forget there was "Quacky Duck and His Barnyard Friends," a San Francisco vegetarian rock band that included, not one, but two of Tony Bennet's sons. The Bennet boys went on to back Iggy Pop, then David Bowie.


The other Friends of Quacky were last seen waddling off. Maybe to the Nordic Music Seminar, held in Volvo Hall at the Scandinavian House in NYC. The Norwegian Consulate and Nordic Music Export, Norway as well as Nordic Music Export, Denmark, co-sponsored the event.


It seems the Swedes weren't invited. Hey, just like back in Wisconsin.


Both my sisters married Norwegians and I took Norwegian language lessons from a Norwegian Professor from Deaf Smith County, Texas. For protection. A svenska poika can't be too careful in "Little Norway" country, where they celebrate not one, but two, Sytende Mai (s). Look it up.


Death Smith, Texas is the site of the memorable monument to one Cleng Peerson, the Norwegian American Sheriff of Deaf Smith County, Texas.


I don't think Deaf Smith was there but it was, reportedly, a loud festival of over 1,000 bands from the lands of the midnight suns.


And the sons (and flickas) of the midnight lands vied with each other far into the New York night as Don Juan Dracula "dressed for success in their trademark white suits," and Low Frequency provided "long instrumental soundscapes," while 120 Days was "hailed by many including the New York Times," according to David Fricke's Norsk counterpart, one Thor Englund.


The fire chief of Mt. Horeb, WI, who used to, at least, play Edvard Greig in that town's annual production of "Song of Norway," would have been right at home had he been there.


However, if I had been there it would only be with a large supply of running water. Those crosses I flashed at the Vampire Rock Ballet Band who do "A Tribute To Ann Rice," or used to, in Sonoma, didn't work.


They had implanted fangs and the one who really made me nervous worked all night at a French bread bakery.


You know what that means. Bring lots of mirrors too, just in case the running water doesn't do it.


E-mail Gary Peterson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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