Tuesday, July 15, 2008


So today I'm checking out Prin's Blues Page in the search engines. You know just to see how she's doing. Imagine my surprise when I found she was mentioned by Jefferson Blues Magazine...a Swedish magazine! So you know this got my curiosity going and I just had to go check it out. Pretty cool! The links took me on a journey that may take weeks from which to return. The next adventure from the magazine took me to Swedish Blues, a listing of artists, gigs, clubs etc, etc. Lord Have Mercy! If all of them are anything like Shakedown I may never return because I'll be out on the street panhandling for money to move to Sweden :) Here is an excerpt taken from their page about how it all started:

"To trace the start of how Shakedown came about we have to travel back in time. All the way to the winter of 1991-92. Because that's when Lars Gillen and Haze Norman for the first time played in the same band. This happened when Haze was invited to fill the vacant lead guitar position in the psychedelic rock band The Jukon Speakers (TJS).

During the following years Lars and Haze developed the mutual interest in collecting and playing late 60's and early 70's English blues, rock and progressive music as a sideline at rehearsals with TJS. Although TJS always played original material Lars and Haze managed to incorporate a couple of songs from bands such as Groundhogs, The Who and Robin Trower in to TJS set list. This eventually led to the inevitable conclusion: To get serious and form a new band that would pick up on those vibes, a band that would reach out to a wider audience with songs inspired by the perhaps most important 10 year period in rock history (1964-1974). However, before they got around to start this new project Haze left The Jukon Speakers in 1997 to pursue his own career as a hard rock guitarist with his group Absent Friends. This, unfortunately, put the project on a indefinite hold.

Being the only original member (from the start in 1968) Lars continued drumming with The Jukon Speakers. The remaining members of TJS had, at this point, their minds set on the recording of their fourth full length CD. And the planning for the forthcoming 30th anniversary was already in motion. But as the gigs became increasingly fewer and the new songs proved to be even less accessible for all others than the most faithful followers, those big plans started to loose their momentum. This made the somewhat disillusioned Lars direct his energy towards his record company Garageland Records instead. Still, somewhere in the back of his mind he never let go of the idea of a successful heavy blues rock band.

In the summer of 1999 the members of Absent Friends made that classic break up routine: Disagreeing over which musical direction the band should take. And after a few months of trying to patch the group back together - partly with new members - Haze finally gave it up. This left him temporarily without a band, but at the same time free to return to the original idea. So when he eventually got in contact with Lars the response was immediate. Lars who'd been waiting for an opportunity like this jumped at the mere thought and was quick to suggest that they could use TJS now almost abandoned rehearsal room to audition potential band members. With practical details like that out of the way they could focus on the important parts; like finding a suitable bass player and a singer.

Good bass players don't grow on trees, as they say. Wanting to make this perfect from the start their first thought was to try and recruit the legendary bass player and blues man Staffan Westfal, whom they both had worked with during the early 90's. They weren't too sure if Staffan could find the time away from his already more-than-busy schedule as a journalist and also with another band to support. Nor whether he had any real interest in such a project at all. Well, as it turned out they wouldn't have to worry because Staffan loved the idea. In fact, Staffan had already had thoughts about starting a new band on his own, as his old band Max Blues Band had changed directions leaning towards more soul oriented big band R & B music.

Lars, Haze and Staffan agreed upon that the sound of the new band ought to be more gritty, heavy blues and rock than anything played on the local music scene for the last couple of decades. To fill a void - if not to say abyss - in a time when swinging early 20th century white collar blues and middle-of-the-road rock'n'roll was dominant. The idea was to get the music back to it's working class roots as well as draw interest from a new younger hard rock generation. To create music inspired by bands from such a wide range as Savoy Brown, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Mountain, John Mayall, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Steamhammer and many more. All they had to do now was to locate a singer that could match all this!!

Early one morning just a few days after that initial meeting with Staffan, Lars phoned a still half a sleep Haze and told him about a band called Lobster that he'd seen the night before. They had a guitarist/backup singer that seemed to fit the plans like a glove. Although this guy weren't Lobsters lead singer he had made quite an impression when he'd got the chance to sing a song on his own. Adding to the fact that the man played one hell of a blues guitar Lars suggested that they should at least approach him with the idea.

The chance arose by coincidence when Lars ran in to him downtown one day. First staring in disbelief when he was told that he had been targeted for the role as a lead singer the guitarist/singer, Hans Jakobsson, still became quite intrigued. Ignoring his frowning Lars continued to present the project and Hans soon realised that this was undoubtedly a chance for him to play music much closer to his heart. And as he was a big fan of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers he was already into the right frame of mind. After Hans had given his somewhat hesitating "yes" to the project Lars immediately got on the phone to the others. And a few hours later a time was set for an audition. With all four guys eager to get things rolling this couldn't happen soon enough.

A dark and damp stonewall cellar storage room crowded with old cardboard boxes and all kinds of electrical equipment. Crammed between speakers and assorted percussion and standing on cables of all colours and sizes we find our four friends ready to rock and roll. Now, it may sound as if they actually knew where they were heading already at this point. Rest assured, they were not! And if you ask them; that first rehearsal came through just one click short of a perfect disaster.

Haze says: "I think we differed too much in what we believed Shakedown would become... Although you could say that blues rock is just one genre or one kind of music we definitely aimed towards, or rather derived from, different influences: Staffan wanted us to sound like the fifties or early sixties blues or R & B of America, Hans preferred the sounds of Bluesbreakers, Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac or early Rolling Stones and me... well, I wanted to toughen it up with a bit of juicy hard rock guitar and perhaps any odd 6/4 or 9/8 time signatures a la Jethro Tull or the more recent favourites of mine Gov't Mule."

In the end Lars came to the rescue by setting the standard somewhere between the parameters of English late sixties electric blues to early seventies progressive rock. All this dictated by his hard driving beat on the drums. And just a couple of rehearsals later those initial differences was overcome and they'd transformed into the tight hard blues rock band that was to be called Shakedown.

About the name: Yeah, well, as most of you already guessed it has its origin in Savoy Browns first album: The Savoy Brown Shakedown Blues Band, from 1967. The name was chosen by Lars and Staffan as a kind of a tribute to one of the worlds greatest blues rock bands: Under the secure guidance of Kim Simmonds and the late Lonesome Dave Peverett, Savoy Brown progressed from a basic but competent English electric blues band to become an exciting blues rock mix with influences from country, jazz, folk and even symphonic music. In many respects the same wide spectrum of influences that guides the members and music of Shakedown.

In the summer of 2002 Haze Norman decided to call it a day and seek his fame and fortune in other musical projects amongst others his progressive metal band Brickplayer.
The so oft heard expression of "musical differences" had struck again.
The split was quite amicable and Haze can often be seen digging the groove and nodding his head appreciatively at Shakedown gigs.

When the band realized that Haze was in fact, leaving for good, the arduous task of finding a suitable replacement was started.
Although receiving many audition tapes from the likes of Clapton and Richards they discovered that the perfect candidate was in fact on their very own doorstep.
Patrick "putte" Berglund of Nasty music fame and a bit of a local hero was approached and offered the position.
Legend has it that he accepted with enthusiastic willingness!
And birds did sing and there was great rejoicing among the villagers as the equilibrium was restored.
Hans Jakobsson heaved a huge sigh of relief as well when it dawned on him that his shoulders, albeit broad and masculine, would not be expected to solitarily bear the burden of both lead guitar and vocal duties.
Within just a few short months of rehearsals Shakedown were once again back out gigging and entertaining the masses.

And the tale continues………"

Couldn't find any youtube videos but the link will take you to a page where you can have a listen to some of their work

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