Thursday, August 16, 2007

Young Norwegian Guitarist Takes Hollywood!

Fredrik Strand Halland ….A Young Man With A Future

Heart of Gold Entertainment Presents
A Night Of Young, Gifted Musicians
The Knitting Factory, August 9th at 8PM

Hollywood is a tough nut to crack. People in Hollywood see everything which passes as entertainment and either love it or shrug it off. Mostly they shrug it off and forget about it the next day. The artists go on to the next city and venue.

This writer has seen the best of the best in Tinsel Town and Thursday evening was pleased to have been invited to see a collection of very young guitarists at a gathering at The Knitting Factory.

Throughout the evening, the level of playing increased as one after another, these young men took the stage and strapped on their instruments. This writer will admit he was amazed at the level of guitar playing he was witnessing.

Then….at 11:22 PM, the last young man stepped onto the stage. I thought to myself, “This is the kid I’ve heard so much about. Let’s see what he can do.”

Mr. Bill Boyrer (Heart Of Gold Entertainment) announces that this last act is a young man which has come all the way from Norway. His name….Fredrik Strand Halland.

He is dressed in shorts, sandals, a t-shirt and a pork pie hat. He is thirteen years old with longish blonde hair and blue eyes that twinkle with the faint hint of a smile as he gazes at the Hollywood audience and checks his gear, adjusting the pedals and switches which have become all too familiar appliances with today’s modern guitarists. There is a terrible hum and the young guitarist stops it instantly. He shows no fear and I am amazed at his absolute calmness in what must be to him….strange territory.

This writer is upstairs by the sound board in the center of the room as the set begins. The soundman adjusts the keyboard and finally brings it into the mix. Fredrik sings “The Telephone Song”, a cut from his forthcoming CD and an original piece of material. When the solo comes, I watch as this young man starts to play. No leaping or jumping around like so many other performers feel it necessary to do, just flat-out good playing.

Keeping the energy level high, Fredrik performs another original song, “It’s A Beautiful Day”. This song is a real stomper and the audience starts moving toward the stage sensing there is something happening they don’t want to miss.

As Fredrik continues his show with his pedals to the metal, the audience moves in closer and closer until the young player can almost reach out and touch them. Now they want a closer look at this handsome young player from abroad. The photographers are having a field day with Fredrik, who appears blind to everything except the music. He has the audience in the palm of his hand. Then he plays “Purple Haze” and it is amazing that Fredrik plays it almost exactly as Jimi played it and even plays Jimi’s solo from the record, note for note. Then to top what he has just done, this young player rips his own solo and has the audience screaming for more.

It’s obvious that Fredrik has studied Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and the other great players who preceded him. That’s natural. The amazing point is that he plays with such dexterity and clarity. His choice of notes is far beyond the norm and he exhibits pure soul. One can simply look at Fredrik and tell he “feels” what he plays. Amazing for one so young!

One song this writer thought was a terrific showcase for Fredrik’s playing ability was “Kentucky Derby”. Obviously the Norwegian sense of humor working as this song is so fast that one can not count the tempo accurately, yet the young man plays it with such stunning clarity and speed, it is simply amazing. The audience is stunned.

Fredrik’s aplomb and stage courtesy shines as he introduces his band. He introduces the keyboard player who has played exceedingly well all evening, Harold Dahlstroem. Then, with a big smile, Fredrik introduces “The Boss”, Frank Halland on bass. (Frank is also his father and one of his teachers.) Then, last but certainly not least, he introduces his powerful drummer, Zsolt Meszaros. This mighty rhythm section has done well by Fredrik all evening and he shows he is grateful.

Fredrik closes the show with “Texas Flood” and a song called “Look At Little Sister”, showing he can combine real Texas blues with good old rock and roll.

There is absolutely no doubt who owned the stage this evening. Though the other young musicians performed very well, Fredrik took control of the venue and showed the audience with his presence, attitude and talent, that you don’t have to be American to play the blues.

Fredrik Strand Halland is rapidly becoming a star in Norway. Hopefully his star will shine throughout the rest of the world.

Thank you Fredrik….your performance was worth the wait.

John Rhys/

Photo by: Hugh Holland

Click here to go directly to Fredrik's site!