Songs From The Road (CD + DVD)

Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado

Ruf Records 2015

Review by David Bowling


I am always amazed at how many European musicians play American blues and play it well. That brings us to Thorbjorn Risager and his merry band of bluesmen, more commonly known as The Black Tornado. He is the latest entry in Ruf Records Songs From The Road series.

Earlier this year Risager and his band pulled into the Harmonie in Bonn, Germany, for nearly a two hour concert. That performance has been released on both CD and DVD.

His sound is bigger than usual as his band is expanded to ten people including a three piece brass section and two female backing singers. This mini-orchestra enables Risager to expand his music and add new layers and textures. Through it all is gritty blues voice rises to the top.

Years on the road has created a tight basic band and sound, which enables them to ramp up the energy for a complete concert. The set opener, “If You Wanna Leave” is a straight forward blues rocker and sets the tone for what will follow. A cover of Big Joe Williams “Baby Please Don’t Go” is a brass and guitar feast. “Chine Gate” is a slow blues tune with slide guitar. “Long Forgotten Track” has a darker tone and veers toward a country approach. “Let The Good Times Roll” is an 11 minute romp of an old party favorite.

Thorbjorn Risager is not a household name in the United States but in Europe he is well-known and has won a number of blues awards. Songs From The Road finds him as a mature and energetic blues player who is able to communicate his passion and music.

Rating: ***1/2