Blue Eyed Soul Vol. 2
Jan Tore Lauritsen, better known as JT, hails from Lillestrom, Norway. He began playing piano at an early age but soon switched to the Hammond B-3. Lauritsen had his first paying gig at the age of fourteen. Because the B-3 was too big to haul around from place to place JT decided to learn the accordion. Since 1989 his main instruments have been the B-3, the accordion, and the harmonica. JT formed the Buckshot Hunters in 1991 and released their self-titled debut album in 1995. He describes his music as blues, soul and rock with a bit of country styled Tex-Mex. JT & The Buckshot Hunters have six previous albums the last being 2018’s “Blue Eyed Soul Volume 1”.
The Buckshot Hunters lineup has remained unchanged. JT plays The Hammond organ, accordion, harmonica, and sings the lead vocals; the guitarists are Arnfinn Torrisen, and Fredrick Johannessen who also provides the backing vocals; while the rhythm section is bassist Morten Nordskaug, and drummer/percussionist Jon Grimsby. The horn section includes Borge-Are Halvorsen, baritone and alto saxophones and arrangements; and Jens Petter Antonsen, trombone and trumpet. Special guests include Victor Wainwright, piano; Mike Zito, guitar; and vocalists William Roger Troiani (who also fronts the Billy T. Band with guitarist Johannessen), and Hans Cato Kristiansen. The album is co-produced by Nordskaug and Lauritsen; and recorded by Nordskaug at Mo’s Garage in Nesodden, and at HRC Records in Lillestrom. The liner notes were written by fellow “soul-star” Dave Keller.
The eleven tracks include nine originals, written or co-written by Lauritsen. He opens with “Blues Never Feel That Bad” and “Don’t Want To Lose You Now”, both composed with Torrisen; and “Hold You One More Time” written with Johannessen. As a vocalist Lauritsen sounds better than ever, and the tight Buckshot Hunters nothin’ short of sensational.
Lauritsen states “I’ve always loved old soul music, like Sam and Dave, Curtis Mayfield, and William Bell. They’ve inspired me for a long time”. The only classic included is “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry”, credited to Don Robey (owner of Back Beat Records); the song was popularized in 1965 by the memorable O.V. Wright, and the production delicious.
Throughout the recording the horns are outstanding, especially on “Going Back Home”, written by Lauritsen with guitarist Johannessen who takes a blistering solo. The Louisiana styled “Friday Night Ride” written by Lauritsen features Wainwright on piano. “You Better Come Home”, another tune written with Torrisen, features Lauritsen on harmonica. “Like You Do” co-written by guitarist Zito, vocalist Troiani, and Lauritsen, features Zito on guitar and harmony from Troiani.
Since 2003 Norway has hosted The Dark Season Festival which marks the beginning of the four months when daylight leaves; the right time for making love and soul music. Norwegian artists are featured alongside US blues artists as past festivals included The Mannish Boys, Billy Gibson and Dave Fields, Kirk Fletcher and Wainwright; just to name a few. The Buckshot Hunters appear often as does Norwegian singer Monika Nordli. Included is Nordli’s song “I’ll Carry The Key” re-arranged as a soul blues. Lauritsen closes with two more originals “Southbound” and “Woman In My Life”.
I have been impressed with Lauritsen since meeting him in Memphis in 2007; the same year he released the album “Squeezeboxing”. Half-way around the world Lauritsen has been doing his part to keep American blues and soul music alive. I do believe these are his best vocal performances, and the Buckshot Hunters better than ever.