11-15 September 2003

Bunnies Back in Hell again...
(Right: At Hell train station)
Usako & Kousa were in Hell for the second time - that's Hell, Norway (see our 2000 report from Hell) - this time to see the 12th Hell Blues Festival.
We stayed 4 nights at Ricca Hell Hotel (our room this time was 2 doors down from the last time ;-), one of the main venues of the Festival events. When we arrived on Thursday, it was still very quiet, with only small groups of Norwegian business people around; on Friday afternoon, there was suddenly a bustle of activities in and around the hotel: stages being set up, beer stands installed, sponsors' banners hung in the lobby, etc. etc; on Friday and Saturday nights the place was jam packed with people; on Sunday, as the festival guests departed, it was all quiet once more. What a transformation over such a short period of time! (Left: Usako & Kousa looking onto the hotel lobby from the bar upstairs.)
The opening concert on Thursday night featured the Hell Blues Choir, performing pieces from their "Tom Waits Songbook" CD - we didn't think Tom Waits was our cup of tea, so we were surprised to find ourselves enjoying their show.
Then followed the Ambassador of Hell award ceremony - each year given to a person who has strong ties to Hell and/or has contributed to promoting Hell. This year Jon Lord was named the Ambassador and was given this big cheque (for 10,000 Kroner = 1,400 US Dollar approx.), signed by the "Mayor of Hell" (who, in fact is the mayor of Stjørdal, a town which Hell is a part of.)
On Friday we went to Hell train station to take some photos, and on the way we found these mushrooms growing all over the roadside.

On Saturday a Jon Lord press conference at the same station. For the transcript & some photos on www.picturedwithin.com, click here. (Usako & Kousa are in one of photos on the page, though they are very hard to find.)
The last event of the festival was Jon Lord's special concert at the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, on Sunday evening. We went into town a bit earlier and walked around the little. This photo was taken near the fish market (closed, of course, on a Sunday evening.)
And we found this one nearby too - to know that even prawns drink beer in Norway was a very comforting and friendly thought!

After taking those shots we went for a sushi dinner, where managed to bump into our Purplehead friends! That was within an hour of arriving in town, so Trondheim is a lot smaller than we thought it was...

We've been to a music festival but haven't written enough about the music? OK, our friend Rasmus has written an extensive review of the cathedral concert on www.picturedwithin.com, where there are some photos from the Saturday night blues concert with Jon Lord, Norman Beaker Band, Miller Anderson and the wonderful Chris Farlowe (who still has an amazing voice and was very amusing with his improvised lyrics, inserting "Trondheim" to almost every song he sang and making us all laugh - especially the one that went "seagulls... seagulls are flying all over my head in Trondheim... seagulls... they're going to shit all over my head... I've got 20 Kroner in my pocket, and I don't want Jon Lord to mess with me...") On Friday night we went to see Bernie Marsden (who signed the CD we bought with the words: "to the bunnies - be soft"), and much later, enjoyed dancing to one Norwegian band in the hotel bar - we think they were called Hardy XO but we're not sure. Anyway, the next evening, one of the hotel bar staff told Usako & Kousa "now, you two, don't get too drunk tonight - I saw you dancing away last night!"

Many, many thanks to Knut Morten Johansen and other members of the festival staff, who made sure we were looked after throughout our stay. We loved the festival - full of positive vibes, everyone enjoying themselves and being friendly to each other, not to mention the great music on offer.

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