Tidende, Monday 26th juli,1999.
Hard, hard labor
Singer and guitarist Dan Klarskov plays the non-manipulative music called the blues. This is not interesting to the established part of the record business. But his self-produced and self-financed CD is doing quite well in the USA.
By Kjeld Frandsen
"When I have been touched so deeply by any kind of music, I feel obliged to work with that kind of music and try to touch others just as deeply."
So says thirty-year-old singer and guitarist Dan Klarskov whose CD has created a lot of positive attention worldwide.
Not least in the US, which is home to his music - the blues. But is a Dane really capable of performing this highly American - and to a great extent highly black - style?
"I work with the music I love. That is my justification. I have gone to the sources, to the classics, and first of all to T-Bone Walker. The music has entered my blood, and I have told the story with my own feelings and my own temper instead of imitating the imitators."
T-Bone Walker, who is mentioned above, was a leading singer and guitarist within American blues in the forties and fifties. He played a modern, electric blues and was particularly noted for his co-operation with jazz musicians. This is very similar to what Dan Klarskov did on his debut CD which was released last year.
In addition to his regular band, The Honeydrippers, which consists of organ player Peter Lapiki and drummer Thomas Christensen, the CD features solid jazz musicians like Hugo Rasmussen (bass), Ole "Fessor" Lindgreen (trombone), Hans Knudsen (piano) and Anders Gaardmand (saxophone).
"For the CD, I selected a number of compositions by T-Bone Walker among others. I rearranged them, and worked meticulously on the entire project so we were able to record all of it in only eight hours in the studio. Most tracks are first takes."
Dan Klarskov produced the CD himself and released it on his own label, Clearwood Records. Until now, he has invested close to 130,000 kroner (app. 18,500 USD) in the project. The CD was sent to 220 blues radios, 150 blues societies and other places. He has received plenty of compliments. Bruce Iglauer, president of the leading American blues label, Alligator Records, wrote a personal letter to Dan Klarskov telling him to be proud of his CD. In November 1998, the CD was the most frequently played CD at a blues radio station in Montana.
"Those of us who work with jazz and blues have special opportunities because we are international. And here in Denmark we have attained a high international standard. You will not be able to find such skillful musicians and such a high level of swing everywhere in the world. However, no musician can make a living by playing the blues in a small country like Denmark. This does not imply that something is the matter - not musically, at least. Within management we are far behind, though. The working conditions for jazz and blues musicians are different from those of rock and pop musicians. The established part of the record business has trouble realizing that jazz and blues musicians work within longer periods of time. These are the styles that I refer to as non-manipulative styles. We don't work with fast hits. Within jazz and blues, however, people will be remembered. Through many years of hard, hard labor, a musician like Pierre Dørge has demonstrated this. By working consistently with a certain goal in mind and never, ever, giving up."
Dan Klarskov, who started playing the guitar at the age of 11, had his first strong blues experience live when he heard Kenn Lending Blues Band in Fælledparken in the fall of 1985. Kenn Lending, Ole Frimer, Paul Banks, Troels Jensen and Børge Biceps have shared their musical knowledge and their friendship with Dan Klarskov and helped him on his way.
"From the age of 16, I have watched the blues venues in Copenhagen. In 1993, a weekly blues jam session was formed at Rådhuskroen, which later changed its name to Mojo. I joined in September and I played the guitar there each Thursday for the next 17 months. I also had a few jobs with Hans Knudsen who taught me a some chords and other things. Other than that I have studied and listened to the entire history of blues. I borrowed records that people recommended to me, and I listened to B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters in particular. I also listened to jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Hot Lips Page, Count Basie, Ben Webster and other saxophone players who have a blues quality to their music. Furthermore, I adore the Danish jazz guitarist Jacob Fischer. He has a certain temper and an expression to his playing which are very interesting to me. I have discovered that all the famous guitarists have an element of T-Bone Walker to their playing. At first I dismissed him because he was too jazzy. But now I have been studying him for the past ten years, listening to his rhythm, his tone and his chords. He works with wind player chords on his guitar. He is an excellent singer, and he cooperates with some very fine jazz musicians. I invited Hans Knudsen to record with me in order to reproduce the groovy shuffle-beat which is also employed by T-Bone Walker."
In his letter, Bruce Iglauer, President of Alligator Records, touches upon Dan Klarskov's abilities as a singer. He tends to hear a slight accent from time to time, but points out that Klarskov expresses himself very unaffectedly and warmly in his singing.
"I haven't really worked a lot with my singing until the last two or three years. Without a doubt the African-American are able to attend the best singing academy in the world - the Baptist gospel church tradition. We Danes have some catching up to do here. But we have been accepted by the very top of the blues society in the US" is Dan Klarskov's optimistic closing remark. He is ready for the hard, hard labor of the future as he continues on his career in blues music.
Klarskov & The Honeydrippers".