Finland’s Wentus Blues Band released their self-titled debut album in 1989. The band leads the thriving blues scene in Scandinavia and has twelve previous albums. 2011’s “Woodstock”, on Ruf Records, was recorded at The Levon Helm Studios. Their last album was 2016’s “Lucky Strike Mama”. They play 150 gigs annually and have hosted and toured with many well known blues artists.
The current band lineup includes Julio Kinaret, vocals; Niko Riippa, guitar; Pekka Grohn, keyboards; Robban Hagnas, bass; and Daniel Hjerppe, drums. The album was recorded in Kokkola, Finland.
Although these are new recordings the band pays tribute to their influences; many of whom they have previously recorded with. In 2004 their “Family Album” featured Carey Bell on harmonica. Included are two songs from Bell; the opener “Wrapped Up in Love” and “Hard Working Woman” featuring a fabulous organ solo from Grohn.
The Wentus Blues Band recorded “Live in Helsinki – The Last of the Big Time Spenders” with guitarist Phil Guy, Buddy’s brother, in 2005. The band covers Guy’s “Fixin’ To Die”; and “I’m The Last of The Blues Singers”, “everybody else is gone”.
Zven Zetterberg was a renowned Swedish guitarist and harmonica player who toured with Luther Allison and Louisiana Red. Two of his songs are reprised “Let Me Get Over It” and “I Think You Need a Shrink”.
The 2007 film “Family Meeting” features The Wentus Blues Band in concert with Louisiana Red. Red’s “Thirty Dirty Women” and “Red’s Dream” are both covered here. Also in the movie is Eric Bibb, and his “Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down” is beautifully sung by Kinaret.
The Wentus Blues Band’s favorite American band was Canned Heat. Included is “Time Was” with some great guitar from Riippa and rock steady bass from Hagnas. Also from Canned Heat is “Future Blues” the title track off their 1970 album.
Two songs from Eddie Kirkland are also covered; and one each from harmonica aces David Clark York a.k.a. “Rock Bottom” and John Magnar Bernes better known as “Hungry John”.
These are great performances. In Scandinavia the Wentus Blues Band carries on our traditions. Kim Wilson states “these guys play the kind of blues that would make America proud”.
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