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Whatever happened to Knut Riersrud?

posted May 11, 2013, 3:16 PM by Keith Johnson   [ updated May 30, 2013, 6:11 PM ]
Yes, whatever happened to Knut Riersrud . . . and why should you care? Well, for starters, Knut Riersrud is a Norwegian version of Ry Cooder. If you’re not familiar with Ry Cooder (who is somewhat obscure, and now getting older) this rambling discourse may not interest you in the least). I heard a song of his early one morning on the way into work. The song was "Fjording." I'd never heard the song or heard of the guy, but I made note of these details because the song was so incredible, almost religious (I don't dispense with superlatives often, so trust me on this one...). "Fjording" features a slide guitar and a church organ -- that’s it.  After months of searching for and finding the CD (titled "Footwork") I found that he'd recorded this song in one of Norway's oldest churches: the Rauland Church in Telemark, Norway.
The organist on the song is Iver Kleive. So to recap, a slide guitar song with church organ accompaniment by two musicians named Knut and Iver. If you can get beyond those descriptors and find the song and listen to it, well . . . you are indeed a friend of mine. Congratulations on your curiosity. I hope you'll find it as beautiful of a song as I truly think it is. Of course, the image conjured up in the song is obvious ("Fjording") so keeping in mind the majestic fjords of Norway, it's easy to connect what he's aspiring to.
Finally, the note on the song says: "This instrumental came to me after my cooperation with the Indian sarangi player Sultan Khan on a recording the in the summer of '92. This incredibly nuanced Indian string instrument is no joke as a model for slide guitar playing, but hey - you need something to reach for. The music eventually evolves into a kind of psalm, landing safely on Norwegian ground."
So, I guess I've analyzed the damn song to death. Just go find it an listen to it. It's one of those songs that's worth the price of the CD, with the added bonus that the other songs on the CD are also very good, although eclectic with world music influences throughout. In short, one of the more interesting CDs that I own, and I'm very glad to have had the song and the artist discover me. One last thing, Knut's visage. What does he look like? He doesn't look as cool as a Ry Cooder or a Stevie Ray Vaughan. He looks like a fresh-faced, chubby-cheeked cousin of mine from Benson, Minnesota. He doesn't look like coolest slide guitarist . . . but he sounds awfully close to it.