Micke Bjorklof: Lead vocals, harmonica, guitar
Lefty Leppänen: Electric- and national steel guitar, vocals
Teemu Vuorela: Drums
Seppo Nuolikoski: Bass, vocals
Timo Roiko-Jokela: Percussion, MalletKAT
New double livealbum “Twentyfive Live At Blues Baltica”
“Twentyfive Live at Blues Baltica” is the new album release from Finnish Blues Award winning blues-rock group Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip. This is the follow up to the critically acclaimed 2015 “Ain´t Bad Yet” album, which was produced by Grammy Award winning John Porter. With this live album Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip celebrate their 25 years career as a touring blues band. This performance was a part of the “Ain´t Bad Yet – 25-Live” anniversary tour. It represents 25-years of hard work and chronicles the band’s most popular material from this period. Through the years, the band has been frequently asked: “When are you going to do a live album”. Now, after delivering six studio albums, they thought it was the right time.
“This vibrant concert in front of 1200 enthusiastic listeners demonstrates clearly this band’s special qualities: the finest songwriting, outstanding instrumentals and first class singing satisfy any desire. Unbelievable were the force and the intensity that went into every single song of this concert. On top of that, the guys showed an enthusiasm on stage that can even be heard on this album”, says Helge Nickel (Baltic Blues Society)
“When we planned to do a live album we did record several shows from our “Ain´t Bad Yet – 25 live”anniversary tour. The initial plan was to do compilation of songs recorded at different shows. When we were offered the possibility to record the show at Blues Baltica festival in Eutin we obviously took it. Also because we were curious to see how our music would come across as this was one of the first festival shows we ever did in Germany. Little did we know what a great night that would become”, says Micke Björklöf.
“That night the response of the enthusiastic audience somehow drove the band to a new energy level which I think you also can feel when you listen to this album. When we went through these recordings later, this show stood out for its good energy level throughout the show”, Björklöf continues. “We came to the conclusion that a live album recorded from one show might be the way to go and makes for a better showcase of what this band is about…which is: entertaining the crowds! So here we are and we are proud and excited to present the first ever concert album by Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip”.
No doubt, this great live experience will further fuel the international career that the band is now focusing on after it has already taken them all over the place from Tokyo to the world’s most Northern blues festival in Svalbard.
“Ain’t Bad Yet” produced by John Porter
Ain´t Bad Yet is the sixth album by the Finnish Blues Award-winning (for “Best Band”) blues-rock group Micke Bjorklof (pronounced Be-York-Loaf) & Blue Strip. The new album was produced by John Porter, legendary for his productions of Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’, Santana, and no less than 10 Grammy-winning albums. Last October the band traveled to Rockfield Studios in Wales, which has played host to many of the world’s biggest artists from Black Sabbath to Rush and Oasis, and which in 1975 was the primary studio Queen used for the recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “We’re really excited about the new material and about this collaboration with John Porter,” Micke Bjorklof says. “We’d been talking about doing a project together for a couple of years, and I´m glad we finally could make this happen.”
Micke is talking about the new album and his blues path in this interview by Bluesfeeling.com webzine from Germany Read more
Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip has a well-established name in Finland, their native home base in Northern Europe. 2013 After six years await the band is now back with a new album “After The Flood”, their first International release.
“After The Flood”, New Orleans sessions
“After The Flood”, New Orleans sessions
After several years of planning and talking about making an album in New Orleans, it finally came true. Already inspired and influenced by the sounds originating from New Orleans, Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip journeyed to the Crescent City to record their fifth, and most ambitious album yet: “After The Flood.” A milestone in the band’s career, “After The Flood” features 12 original songs is a contagious mix of groovy rockin’ guitar-oriented Blues with some “fonky” New Orleans rhythm and soul thrown in to add spice to the recipe. Recorded at the celebrated Piety Street Studio, by engineer Wesley Fontenot and produced by Mark Bingham, known for his work with Dr. John, John Mooney, various members of the illustrious Neville family, Tab Benoit, John Scofield, Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint etc.This new album is important landmark for this band having over 20 years touring and recording career in the business. After having a break from touring, the exciting process of writing songs and putting the material together for this album was really inspiring for the band. The goal has always been throughout their entire recording career to come out with something fresh and new, rather looking forward than back, this record is no exception. It was pretty clear from the start that compared to the earlier records, the direction would this time be towards more percussive/rhythmic and guitar orientated material, with more edgy and dark soundcolor.
Producer Mark Bingham
”Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip wanted to come to New Orleans and make a record and work with a local producer. Micke discovered that I had actually recorded some of the records he also was presenting to me as a reference for the sound he was looking for. I became a candidate to produce. Of course, before accepting a producer assignment, making sure the band can actually play is a must. I checked it out, listened to live shows, past cd’s and rehearsals. They could play!
In listening to MP3’s for months before the actual recording, I saw the band transform to deal with the new material. The relentless energy of the live shows was channeled into focus and dynamics. As I heard more, I was even more impressed with the band: they are great players whether in NYC or Memphis or New Orleans. Lefty Leppänen is a super guitarist right up there with many of the famous folks I have worked with (Ribot, Mooney, Scofield, Frisell, Mem Shannon, etc.), and an excellent songwriter as well. Teemu Vuorela is a super solid, rock steady drummer and has great push pull going with Seppo Nuolikoski. Timo Roiko-Jokela seems like he could play anything well, from all the keys, to percussion with that crazy MalletKAT. The whole band reminded me of Cubans in their musical precision.
The tricky part was taking the lyrics and altering the words here and there to meet the needs of the melody and the phrasing. The good news was that the lyrics were already good. American slang is a touchy animal, with possibilities to invent new lines, as well as avoid the cliché. In the end, we got that straight and Micke turned in his finest vocal performance on record so far”, recalls producer Mark Bingham.
Bandleader and singer Micke Bjorklof founded Blue Strip with bass player Seppo Nuolikoski in 1991. After a few changes at the very start the line up has been the same for over fifteen years. They started as an acoustic blues/rock cover band but before long the roots & blues music and producing original material took over. Today the band is one of the most popular live acts in the roots & blues scene in Finland. They have stirred up audiences around Scandinavia and Europe with their energetic live shows wherever they play, from small clubs to big festival arenas. Opening shows for names like B.B King, FabulousThunderbirds, Little Feat, Bill Wyman Rhythm Kings, Solomon Burke, Robert Plant etc.” In 2007 Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip finished up work on their latest release titled “Whole Nutha Thang”. The album was recorded in London, England with producer Neil Brockbank (Nick Lowe, Tanita Tikaram, Bryan Ferry). The album featured guest appearances by horn players Matt Holland and Martin Winning (Van Morrison, Lisa Stansfield) and magnificent keyboard player Geraint Watkins, known for his work with Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman, Van Morrison and Mark Knopfler.
Album “Three Times seven is…” was the best blues album of the year in Finland 2002. Bjorklof and guitarist Leppänen are also know from their acoustic duo/trio project Micke & Lefty feat.Chef.
Micke Bjorklof discography:
Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Twentyfive Live At Blues Baltica (Hokahey! Records) 2018
Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – Ain’t Bad Yet (Hokahey! Records) 2015
Micke Bjorklof & Blue Strip – After The Flood (Blues Boulevard) 2013
Micke & Lefty feat.Chef – Up The Wall (Hokahey! Records) 2010
Micke Björklöf & Blue Strip – Whole ´Nutha Thang (Bluelight Records) 2007
Micke & Lefty – Big Bag (Bluelight Records) 2004
Micke Björklöf & Blue Strip – Three Times Seven Is… (Bluelight Records) 2002
Micke Björklöf & Blue Strip – Swamp Baby (Bluelight Records) 1999
Micke Björklöf & Blue Strip – From Four Until Late (Stripped Music) 1997