Hordaland Fylke - Norway
About the Band
Magnus Berg was born in Norway in 1996. He received his first guitar (built by his grandfather) at the age of seven. Early on, Berg discovered classic rock and the first guitarist he tried to emulate was Angus Young (AC/DC). He took his admiration of Young and other classic rock guitarists even further, setting out to discover the roots of the music he was listening to. This is where he found the Blues and artists such as B.B King, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush and Jimmy Reed. These musicians have become the inspiration behind his melodic and gutsy guitar style.
Read the Cut Me Loose record release bio below
(download PDF here)
The blues literally reaches across all boundaries. Adding to its seemingly mystic power to entrance musicians is the ongoing phenomenon of amazingly young aspirants. Sensational 18-year old Norwegian guitarist Magnus Berg began playing at 7, performed onstage at 12 and played Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago at 17. During his family’s yearly sojourns to the warmth of Florida, and as touring US artists would pass through Norway, Berg began to catch the eye of many in the blues community at a very young age.
In late 2012, singer/songwriter Kirsten Thien was captivated by Berg’s guitar solo during his cameo appearance with Mike Zito in a Blues club in Florida. This chance meeting would be the start of a cross-Atlantic collaboration as Thien began co-writing with Berg and added his blazing lead guitar work to her live band. To date they have toured together in the USA, Norway, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. All the while, Berg also leads his own band doing shows in Norway while finishing high school. As the new record took shape, Producer Erik Boyd was recruited to produce and Thien eventually signed Berg to her label, Screen Door Records. They inked the deal on a rainy day in Brittany as their August European tour came to a close.
Singing, playing and writing, Magnus Berg leads a taut band of Bjørn Tore “Daffy” Larsen (harmonica), Håvard Sunde (drums) and Roy Oscar Pettersen (bass), on seven originals and three classic covers. The heavy, riff-rocking “Cut me Loose” has Berg growling “All cramped up in the back seat, my six-string is my only friend. Out here I need money again, won’t you cut me loose?” as Larsen wails in sympathy and Berg rages instrumentally. “One Way to Please You,” swings exuberantly as Berg bemoans, “If there was one way to please you, Lord knows I’d be your man. But you keep me guessing, God knows I don’t understand” while he and Larsen tag-team rollicking solos. A stomping boogie shuffle drives “Drifting” with Berg using his authentic blues vocals to lament “The way you treat me, just ain’t right. I can’t eat and I can’t sleep at night. I’m drifting, drifting away from your heart. In my life now, pretty baby, loving you seems to be the hardest part.”
The hypnotic slow blues “When You Leave Me” builds tremendous musical tension with a memorable riff while Berg confides “Just gonna sit here and look out my window, I’m gonna look at the view so fine. I’m gonna think about the days when you loved me, and the days when you were all mine,” his slithery slide guitar as mournful as his plaintive vocals. A cover of “Kansas City” features sprightly country blues guitar picking in a refreshing “olde tyme” version, while a steaming take on Freddie King’s classic instrumental “San-Ho-Zay” highlights Berg’s exceptional chops in a trio arrangement. “When It’s Gone” continues the dynamic selection of styles as Berg’s melancholy, country-slide guitar underscores Thien singing the hauntingly poetic “A wisdom came upon me in the nighttime. A flash of hope was gone before I woke. I can chase it all I want, but one thing life has taught me. When it’s gone it’s gone and that’s no lie.”
The Muddy Waters standard “Hoochie Coochie Man” is inventively re-imagined with saucy slide guitar in a raunchy arrangement. “St. Pete Boogie” lifts the spirits via a propulsive classic boogie riff in an inviting road song with Berg offering “I’m driving north. On the two seventy-five. I’m going to Saint Pete. I’m sitting in the back seat. Tryin’ to write a good song” and admirably achieving his goal. “One Too Many” closes the invigorating set with a finger-popping jump blues as Berg tries to excuse his bad behavior with “Last night my baby showed up, she wanted to know what was going down. She heard a thing or two ‘bout me and her friend sneaking around. I had one too many…but I won’t do it again,” his aggressive guitar licks underscoring romantic desperation.
Every new contemporary musician dedicated to the blues is cause for celebration. When one as talented and genuine as Magnus Berg explodes on the scene it is a remarkable event. His robust debut displays maturity and true blues expression well beyond his years in what promises to be an outstanding career.
Dave Rubin, KBA recipient in Journalism and Magnus’ team
Significant Past Dates
Alta Soul & Bluesfestival – Alta, Norway
Blues au Chateau – La Cheze, France
Blues Garage – Isernhagen, Germany
Buckleys – Oslo, Norway
Buddy Guy’s Legends – Chicago, IL
Kraftfestivalen – Askim, Norway
Montmartre – Brussels, Belgium
Osøren Blues and Jazzfestival – Osøren, Norway
The Cutting Room – New York, NY
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Cut Me Loose
Label: Screen Door
Songs on the Album