Knut Hem’s 2016 “Weissenborn” album was a release I had waited patiently for over 3 long years to see the light of day. I had been in the privileged position to have heard nearly all the demos previously as a personal friend of this genial and unassuming Norwegian musician. So when the album finally got a release date I was so excited to tell the world about this mans beautiful Weissenborn music. It was just after its release that myself and Knut arranged to meet in Greece at Kardamili’s annual jazz festival that he was playing at the following May to meet and talk everything Weissenborn for a feature interview for the website.
So who is Knut Hem? Knut Hem is first and foremost into todays scene a dobro player (but always a drummer first as Knut says) , one of great note who is always in high demand as a session/band player in his native Norway. Primarily known as a blue grass practitioner he has firmly established his credentials playing with Norway's best country and blue grass musicians and singers.
“Weissenborn” is Knut's third solo release. The first two albums "Once In A Very Blue Mood" 2000 "Almost On My Own" 2011 were more Dobro focused with a few stand out Weissenborn instrumentals scattered throughout, but this album “Weissenborn” is 100% hollowneck.
I can't express to you all how much this mans music has shaped my own style and approach to playing Weissenborn. Ever since I started playing Weissenborn I have always been inexplicably drawn to this mans music like a sirens call. I have put much thought into why and have come to the following conclusions. His music pivots on dynamics and melody. His playing ebbs and flows and relies on contrasts of touch to beautifully express emotions and moods. Being a professional dobro player and thus using finger picks his attack can be sharp and snappy with his fingers and soft and subtle with sweeping thumb pick arpeggios. This dark and light adds so much drama and depth to each composition. In conjunction with this divine dynamic technique he has a sublime sense of timing and melody. Having a solid drumming background too adds to the mix, knowing exactly when to resolve a phrase or to escalate the assent up the scale and move things upwards is a rare and beautiful skill. He is a self confessed romantic and this element is very prevalent in his bias towards ballad compositions while composing on the Weissenborn.
I had borrowed a cheap camcorder at the last minute primarily to use an audio back up so i could transcribe the interview at a later date. After viewing the footage upon my return home I was immediately struck by how natural the whole interview felt when watching it back. It was obvious to me that some of the interviews warmth would be lost in transcription so I decided to (with Knut's permission) publish the footage exclusively on the website so all TWiE followers could see what a fantastic humorous and sociable man Knut is. I broke the interview into 4 parts for easier navigation and digestion. The interview was shot at the Tikla Bar (in Karadmili, Greece) the day after Knut’s traditional festival opening breakfast concert and the footage is sometimes disjointedly edited due to Knut's amazing popularity with the locals saying hello and stopping to talk to him, as is custom in Kardamili in Festival week.
In this video Knut runs us through he latest live setup and his experimentation into Apple’s “Main Stage” software. The conversation then naturally turns to Knut’s effective and distinctive use of backing tracks for his Weissenborn compositions. Knut then reveals the motivation that sparked the decision to finally getting around to recording his first “all” Weissenborn album. It's not too long before we are talking gear and technique again and the story of how he ended up with his trusty Bear Creek Weissenborn is revealed. We finish off by analysing Knut’s song writing insights and his amazing use of dynamics in his playing.
Below you will find an exclusive (to TWiE only) link to a video made by myself of Knut playing his now infamous Dobro/Weissenborn breakfast concert at the Tikla Bar in Kardamili Greece as the opening act for the "Karadmili Jazz Festival 2017". Knut was kind enough to let me use the video exclusively on the website and it features never heard before compositions as well as a few firm older favourites, so sit back and relax as you watch a master of his trade entertain you.
Here we start off by pin pointing the exact moment Knut first heard the Weissenborn. He talks us through how after being a professional drummer for many years he took the bold decision to take a career change and self taught himself the Dobro, subsequently becoming one of Norway’s most in demand Dobro players around today.
In this last section Knut partakes some advice for beginners and runs us through his upcoming musical projects. The story of how an impromptu playing of “Here Comes The Sun” in his PJ’s that has now hit over 50,000 views on FB. We wrap up by talking about the current CD “Weissenborn” and his personal favourite track of the album and finally his all time favourite Weissenborn track.
In this segment Knut explains how his first encountered a Weissenborn in the flesh through a fellow band member. He then explains how he finally tracked one down to buy, a particularly hard thing to do in Norway at the time as it turns out. Then came the urge to compose on the Weissenborn and Knut talks us through the processes, preferences, gear and FX he uses today to great his magical instrumentals.
Exclusive Bonus Feature
If you would like to order a CD copy of "Weissenborn" please contact Knut Hem on his FaceBook page or email him @ firstname.lastname@example.org for purchase details
Copyright the weissenborn information exchange. All rights reserved.