Kristina Olsen: 'Quiet Blue'
It would be impossible for anyone with blood in their veins not to empathise with her… full-throated voice and crisp guitar. John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
Olsen rocked the audience with her traditional blues style laced with modern lyrics. “She’s original and she’s modern. She was the best performer here,” said one of the vendors who had been listening to the blues for two days. Kendra Milligan, Sun News, New Mexico USA
Olsen’s singing is as powerful as it is delicate, forceful as it is tender, and she asks a lot of herself, instrumentally, vocally, and emotionally. The audience loved it, demanding that Olsen return to the stage for three encores. Patrick Shepherd, The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand
For years Olsen’s fans have been requesting a recording of her original blues. Now their wishes have been answered. Thirteen tracks all with a firm grounding in blues, from raucous and bawdy slide to tender acoustic jazzy blues to boogie blues mandolin, fans of Olsen’s and blues in general will kick up their heels and do some serious smiling. Recorded live in studio in northern New South Wales, Australia with mandolinist Al Hughes and drummer Scott Hills the chemistry between the musicians is infectious. They especially chose to record all in the same room to preserve the live, you-are-there feeling.
“Scott used his hands on the drum set sometimes or played with sticks on his legs to keep the volume levels right. That’s something I miss in the world of studio recordings, with everyone isolated in separate booths. Recording this way you are reacting to each other,” says Olsen. She met Al Hughes at a jam night, and loved his playing so much she suggested getting together to jam whenever possible. When she started working on the cd, it was an obvious choice to include him. “Al is that rare player who plays many instruments and styles and is a beautiful harmony singer. It’s like I’ve found a counterpart to my own eclectic insatiable musical mind. And Scott Hills, I’ve seen him play with many different kinds of bands, from avant garde jazz bands, to rock to blues and every time I see him I notice that he does just the exact right drumming for the music.”
“The first music I really loved was blues,” Olsen reveals. “I heard Mance Lipscomb when I was 11 and it changed me forever. Growing up in Haight-Asbury in the ‘60s, there were plenty of blues musicians coming through and it laid down a foundations of counter-culture activism and expression. Getting to hear those blues greats live at the Golden Gate Park and at local protest marches was amazing!”
On Olsen’s 11th cd, she showcases her guitar artistry on slide and acoustic as well as her rough velvet voice and standout songwriting. Olsen is well known for her storyline plot songs, and manages to include that in the blues format, making a memorable crossover into this form.
Kristina Olsen Bio:
Kristina Olsen is one of the most entertaining and compelling performers on the international folk circuit. A superb multi-instrumentalist (acoustic guitar, steel-body slide guitar, saxophone, concertina and piano) as well as an award-winning songwriter with a big bluesy voice, Kristina has audiences around the world coming back for more. Her mix of powerful songs ranging from sassy bottleneck blues to lilting ballads to swing jazz to raunch and roll (as well as her hilarious storytelling) makes for a diverse and satisfying musical experience, on stage and on disc.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Haight-Asbury during the 1960's, Kristina's approach to music and life was formed by that environment of vital cultural expression, social activism and diverse musical influences. She now calls Venice Beach, Los Angeles home but rarely sees it from touring ten months a year.
Her 11th recording ‘Quiet Blue’ hit the blues world in 2008. It is her first cd of all original blues. In 2006 she released her first DVD of live performances and interviews, filmed by award wining documentary filmmaker Cathy Henkel of Australia. 2004 saw the release of Olsen's tenth recording, ‘In Your Darkened Room’ which received rave reviews in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald among others. 2002 saw the release of ‘All Over Down Under’, a live recording from the Australian trio tour with Peter Grayling and George Butrumlis. In 1999 ‘The Truth of a Woman’ was released and was one of the top CDs surveyed in folk airplay. In 1998 'Duet' was released in Australia, a CD of duets between Olsen and Australian cellist Peter Grayling. In the previous six years Olsen released four critically acclaimed CDs on the Philo/Rounder label.
Such respected artists as Eric Bibb, Fairport Convention, Maddy Prior, Mary Coughlan and Mollie O’Brien have covered and recorded songs by Olsen. Olsen has also worked as a session musician on numerous artist’s albums including playing the hammered dulcimer on Michelle Shocked’s album 'Short Sharp Shocked' on PolyGram and touring as Mary Coughlan’s guitarist in 2005. Olsen has performed as a multi-instrumentalist in plays for the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles’ Music Center. Olsen won the Kerrville Song writing award her song for battered women, 'I'm Keeping This Life of Mine'
In 2002 alone, Olsen toured in Australia, Scotland (for the Celtic Connections Festival), England, Bangladesh (for a benefit concert), New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Kristina has been part of a songwriters' group for over two decades and has taught songwriting, slide guitar and dance for musicians at adult music camps from Alaska to NYC to the UK to Australia for over a dozen years. Olsen is a frequent contributor to Acoustic Guitar magazine, writing articles on guitar and performance technique.