Hans Theesink at The SA Folk Centre March24th 2006


You shouldabeen there! Travelling Dutch bluesman Hans Theessink came to Adelaide for the first time last Friday night, fresh from playing to a 10,000-strong crowd at a R'n'R revival concert in Vienna. He gave a consumate performance to a demure but appreciative audience of just on 80 at the Folk Centre.
Local support act Chris Finnen provided excellent acoustic guitar in soft-folk style, versus stand-up blues-rock forms I'd seen him play before in group situations. He added effective Scottish and Indian overlays to some items and on occasions, contrived some amazing hand movements to take guitar sounds to the widest of limits. Only at the end of his set, did he vocalise "Hymn 43" .. his signature blues composition "Weeping Spell".

Having now heard 14 of HT's excellent 1982-2004 LP's, all with backing bands, some with extra vocals, I was delighted by his solo live performance, utilising material from a wide range of those albums. Utilising just two guitars (HT is a master of dobro and mandolin too), occasional harp and constant foot-stomp, he performed an array of 19 excellent originals and wonderful interpretations of older blues compositions in two 1-hour sets His guitar-playing was precise, oftentimes adventurous, his warm voice and varied tones very enjoyable to listen to. Some compensation for his being without backing band was made up by audience sing-alongs. It was great to look around and see everyone's foot tapping in time.

" Happy" Hans' song intros and anecdotes were interesting and meaningful …playing Bill Boonzy's museum guitar, etc, (too many to mention … you shoulda been there!) His rendition of "Walking The Dog" with a long, variant instrumental mid-piece was worth the price of admission alone! Add other stand-outs such as "Brand New Dawn" (excellent lyrics), "St. James Infirmary" (into which he melded "Greensleeves") and " Sitting On Top Of The World" (due credit given to 1930 Mississippi Sheiks). His "conversion" of Chuck Berry's rocker "Maybelline" into a gutsy blues song was admirable and the sing-along "Midnight Special" a good note to finish on!

Blue Jay
We've already had an American in Paris, but a Dutchman in Vienna? And one who has dedicated himself, body and soul, to American blues and roots music? Okay, Hans Theessink (pronounced Tay-sink) did not pick the easiest way to do this, but he has done so with a certain degree of single-mindedness.
Like others of his generation, in the early 1960‘s a love of the Blues took hold of the man whom Bo Diddley described as "one helluva guitar player", and it has not let go since.
Above all, the country blues with its earthy and heartfelt sound impressed Hans Theessink and played a major role in his development as a musician. His roots are unmistakably in the blues, but has also been influenced by countless other aspects of roots music. This musical variety has become a trademark of Hans Theessink, who as a songwriter has succeeded in building bridges to the present in addressing issues which reflect the reality of the here and now.
Hans is probably Europe's No 1 Blues Export - one of the top blues and roots musicians worldwide who has entertained audiences around the globe during a musical career that spans over more than 35 years. The world's leading blues paper - US magazine Blues Revue wrote: "Hans Theessink is an international blues treasure. He is one of the world's pre-eminent country pickers and his warm baritone expresses blues".
Theessink's first recording was an EP in 1970. Since then Hans has released 20 albums, a songbook, a blues-guitar instruction video and a DVD. His CDs are guaranteed award winners. Banjoman, the tribute project to Derroll Adams, that Hans produced with Arlo Guthrie, was recently nominated for a Grammy.
In 2004 Hans got the Austrian Amadeus award for Songs From The Southland, a tribute to the music of the American South - a constant source of inspiration and companion on his musical journey. A Danish Music Award for best blues album followed in 2005.
His most recent CD Bridges - a recording with the new Hans Theessink Band is again nominated for the Amadeus in the category best Blues, Jazz, Roots, Folk album. Hans' latest work is a DVD Live In Concert - A Blues & Roots Revue - it shows the Hans Theessink Band in action + lots of other special features. Hans' productions are known for their excellent sound quality and are also in big demand in HiFi circles.
Through his unmistakable guitarwork, sonorous baritone voice and stage presence, Hans has attained a status which is unique for a European. He has performed at many of the most prominent North American music festivals such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Chicago Blues Festival, the Toronto Soul & Blues Festival, the Kansas City Blues & Jazz Festival, the Edmonton Folk Festival, and the Woody Guthrie Festival to name a few.
Hans Theessink has become one of the most sought-after artists of the international blues scene. He is more or less constantly "on tour" and plays an average of 200 concerts a year - a modern day troubadour and entertainer who keeps on spellbinding audiences all over the world with his rich and emotional sounds.
Don't miss this fabulous performer on his Australian Tour.
Fri 24th March SA Folk Center