Henningsvær in Lofoten is a unique place to arrange a festival and offers visitors spectacular experiences. The place is perhaps best known for its international climbing environment and for its stockfish, but Henningsvær can offer much more.
One can visit one of the many good, small restaurants with fantastic food based on the seafood’s ingredients. Otherwise, it is an experience in itself just to stroll around the small fishing village and accept the impressions. Here, enthusiasts have arranged the blues festival Codstock for 19 years.
The festival started on Friday 7 June in the afternoon with concerts at the ‘Damperiet’ and ‘Klatre’. At ‘Trevarefabrikken’, Sugaray Rayford went on stage at 10:30 pm after arriving at the hotel about an hour earlier after a troubled trip from the US with delayed flights and rebooking. After 34 hours of traveling he was finally in Henningsvær. The rest of the band appeared the day before and was more than ready to give the Codstock public a concert they should not forget. It didn’t seem like the long journey had put any energy on the energy, here was a full throttle from first to last tone. It seemed that the audience almost got shocked by the energy of Sugaray. People had expected a good concert, but not such a move, I heard many say afterwards. Several said it was the best concert at Codstock so far, but it was before a certain Danielle went on stage. One must be impressed with Sugaray anyway.
The other big artist Friday night was Sister Suzie from the UK. There are not many people who have been with Suzie yet. She has only had three concerts with bands in Norway, plus an appearance at Nyttårsbluesen in Stavanger. We who have experienced her end up with us. Suzie was also a big talkie on Codstock. With catchy rhythm and blues and rockabilly, she delivered an awesome concert with her great voice and good band. We will probably see more of Sister Suzie.
Great atmosphere on small scenes
The concerts on the small scenes under Codstock are notorious. Here are full houses, sweaty and cramped, but an atmosphere and atmosphere most artists dream of experiencing. The beer glasses are sent in chains out into the room, and hopefully money was returned in return to the bar.
At the ‘Dameriet’, Boogieman Fleines & Elstad played and on ‘Climb’ Doghouse Sam & his Magnatones played all three days. Saturday also played Hungry John & Freddy Johnsen on ‘Climb’. It had been a “magical” concert, we were told, something we who have been to acoustic concert with John can well understand.
Doghouse Sam made his mark during Codstock in 2015, and this year he returned to Henningsvær with his energetic performances. There were almost hallelujah conditions during the concert at Trevarefabrikken Saturday afternoon, where we got to experience his “old style” rhythm’n blues, raw blues and rockabilly. It is not often one sees so many happy and gentle faces at the concert.
Popular Danielle Nicole
At the evening concert at Trevarefabrikken on Saturday, it was clear to what so many had looked forward to and talked most about, Danielle Nicole Band. Danielle has been to Codstock before, but then with Trampled Under Foot, so the audience knew what they were expecting. And neither was anyone disappointed. Danielle is a wonderful artist and musician who gives everything by herself during the concerts. The music comes straight from the soul and the heart, and crawls under the dog at the audience. Together with the man Brenden she gave us a concert that was absolutely magical, from the sad melancholy to the more bubbly and energetic. After the concert almost everybody wanted to talk to her and buy a CD, and as the generous person Danielle is, they got to meet her, and many got hugs too. No matter who I asked, they agreed that this was a concert for the history books.
It was no easy task to finish the evening after Danielle, but JT Lauritsen & The Buckshot Hunters managed to call out the latest forces from the audience and got people out on the dance floor. JT has not played so much in the north, but got many new fans after this concert.
End of Sunday
On Sunday, Bluesnews’ was broadcast on a ribbed tour with Doghouse Sam in the archipelago outside Henningsvær. On the trip we were told a bit of history, it was feeding of sea eagles and we got to see many climbers up in the mountainsides. As previously mentioned, mountain climbing is something Henningsvær is well known for.
The last concert we got with us before departure was the Rich Harper Band (picture below) Sunday afternoon. A concert without the big show factor, but real and honest blues for all the money. It was a nice ending to a nice weekend before signing on the long drive south. The concerts with Jørn Hoel and Hungry John on Sunday night we did not get with us.
20th anniversary next year
The organizers say that they are well pleased with this year’s edition of Codstock. Ticket sales ended just like in previous years, but there was a greater demand for passports than before. The weather was also on the organizers’ side most of the weekend, with good temperature and light mixing with the sun and cloudy. Sunday night, on the other hand, was a little wet.
Next year is the 20th anniversary, and the plans have already come a long way, festival manager Trine Mentzen can tell. On the anniversary, the festival will honor Norwegian blues artists, and several major Norwegian names have already been booked. The focus will be on Norwegian and Nordic artists, but there will also be some foreign artist there, ”says Mentzen. There will probably be more scenes, and she suggests that there are plans for a very special and spectacular scene. Otherwise, the concept will be as before.
All the artists Bluesnews talked to could tell how overwhelmed they were over the festival, and also the follow-up and the activities outside the concerts. And not to forget the wonderful nature, the weather and the light, which Bluesnew’s emissaries can sign on.
The festival board consists of Stig Einarsen (festival photographer), Tommy Gimming (transport), festival manager Trine Mentzen, Svein-Håkon Fjordbakk (guard / tickets), Thea M. Edvardsen, (was not included when the picture was taken) and booking manager Freddy Iversen.