The story of one of Sweden’s foremost Rhythm & blues bands begins with the split up of the rhythm & blues band Saigon Blues in the late 1980s. Magnus Jonsson, Peter Hamberg and Patric Carlson were joined by Lasse Eriksson and Petter Persson, and a new band was born. It made perfect sense to room together in digs that dou-bled as a rehearsal studio. The party atmosphere created by these kindred spirits was a fertile breeding ground for the sound which is still characteristic of Bluebirds today. Then, as now, inspiration sprung from Texas-style blues.
Los Mojos – as the group initially called itself – decided to switch tothe name Bluebirds in late 1989 and made their official debut under that name in 1990. The band released its first album in 1994. Reinforced by a horn section, Bluehorns, they didn’t earn much, but the record nevertheless boasted five songs. Clas Yngström, the front man for Sky High, heard about the blues quintet from the wilds of Skövde. He felt that the time was ripe for Bluebirds to cut a “real” album, and introduced the guys to his Norwegian producer Frank Marstokk, who liked their sound and suggested that they record a demo.
Bluebirds wangled a few gigs, got some money together, and headed for Copenhagen and a recording session at Jesper Bo Nielsen’s Studio Mox. The original plan was to cut three to four tracks, but as soon as they heard the material, Frank and Jesper wondered if there was more where that came from. And so a complete album emerged. Their confidence at its peak, Bluebirds contacted the owner of the Last Buzz Record Co., Håkan Forshult, who flipped for their sound. Walkin’ On Thrills was released in 1997.
The phone started ringing off the hook. Clubs and venues were astounded, authentic American blues from Skövde - could this be for real? For better or worse, Bluebirds had been isolated in the small town of Skövde. They could hone their sound without distraction from other bands, since they were the only R&B band around!
Once the bookings piled up, the members of Bluebirds were hard- pressed to keep their nine-to-five jobs. Petter Persson, who had moved to Stockholm, had a tough time choosing between Bluebirds and a job as a camera-man. He decided to go with the latter. Hot on the heels of Walkin’ On Thrills, when Bluebirds toured and met audiences, they made an amazing discovery: Other people out there in their own age group shared their devotion to the blues! Friendships were forged with several Scandinavian bands.
Life became increasingly hectic for our blues contenders, and drummer Peter Hamberg could no longer juggle his day job and touring. This resulted in the group’s second drop out, leaving the remaining members pretty disheartened. Who could fill Peter’s shoes?
But then, during a gig in Gothenburg on a double bill with The Instigators, a possible replacement materialized. The other band’s drummer, Jim Ingvarsson, had heard about Bluebird’s unfortunate loss, and offered to pitch in for the scheduled gigs. The guys were overjoyed and relieved - Jim did more than fill the void after Peter, he’s an admirable drummer, one that the boys in the band had respected highly ever since they first saw him. Stefan Dafgård turned out to be more than just a great guy, he also became a close friend and a pillar of strength now that the band was one man short. Stefan, a talented harmonica player and singer, has contri-buted several fine songs to Bluebird’s repertoire.
In 1998, Jim Ingvarsson became a Bluebird, and that year the band played no less then 140 gigs throughout Scandinavia. The following year, they went on to release their second album: Oh baby! Lead singer and songwriter Patric Carlson whipped up the songs in just one month. The album was released by Blue Vibe Music, but was subsequently moved to the Last Buzz Record label. Oh Baby! was the beginning of a blues crusade, and in gig after gig Bluebirds conquered Europe. A well-known Swedish pop producer by the name of Bert Karlsson laid eyes and ears on the band, and his associate Calle Kindbom offered them a song – one previously recorded by rocker Eddie Meduza, a fact the band wasn’t aware of . The title of the song was “If You Wanna Know”.
The Bluebirds polished the song and Lasse Eriksson wrote new yrics. The result was Sweet Jamboree, which later became the title of the third album. When the president of the recording company, Bert Karlsson, asked the band what they called their music, he got the clever reply: Rock’n’roll. “Good,” Bert exclaimed, “because the blues stinks!” Bluebirds just smiled to themselves. Touring continued on a grand scale, and Bluebirds headed for Australia, where they were received with enthusiasm. Many new bonds were forged and fond memories were engraved on the hearts of band members and fans alike.
Back in Sweden, the Sweet Jamboree project continued, and 2002 saw the release of their next and eagerly awaited album. The blues crowd received it with mixed emotions, but the message of Bluebirds was simple: They wanted to reach a larger audience. Sweet Jamboree was a dynamite album, and even made it across the Atlantic. Bluebirds spread their wings and touched down in California. A dream was on the verge of coming true, but doubts gnawed at Patric Carlson – what would the “Yanks” think?The Bluebirds got a warm welcome, but the Americans were somewhat freaked out by a gang of Swedes swiping “their” music, and doing it justice too!
Lasse Eriksson left Bluebirds at the end of 2002 and put together his own band, the Kingbees, where he not only plays the piano, but sings too. In 2003, it was time to go into the recording studio again, and this time Jesper had to move the studio up to Skövde. Bluebirds rounded up a handful of musician buddies from Stockholm and Gothenburg, and during a couple of busy days they created High Performance, the band’s fourth full-length album. Håkan “Mr Last Buzz” Forshult joined forces with Bluebirds and started planning a compilation album.
A lot of unpublished material was unearthed, such as a live recording from the Åmål Blues Festival. Matti Olikainen, the keyboard player touring with Bluebirds in 2003, treats listeners to his Mox Boogie on the band’s compilation album. “Matti is a killer piano player, and he’s definitely added a new spark to the band, ”Patric Carlson explains. Patric himself didn’t have any new material on hand, so he contacted Anders Lewén, who apart from being one of Sweden’s best guitar players, is also a highly talented songwriter.
Commenting their new compilation album, Patric says: “We’re aware that many of our fans will miss certain songs from our previous albums, but we decided to go to Jesper at Mox and do some new cuts instead. And just you wait – our story ain’t over yet... You’ll be hearing from us.”