A guitar workshop? Sure!

Ragnar Zolberg & Ragnar Ólafsson – Musikgalerie, Gütersloh; January 18th 2017

After Árstíðir’s Christmas concert in December, Ragnar had told me he was going on tour with his friend Ragnar Zolberg from Pain of Salvation. What he didn’t tell me is that they were doing a series of guitar workshops at different music stores in several European cities. So most of will happen on weekdays in the late afternoon. Luckily on was in Gütersloh, which is easy to reach for me so I wrote to the music store, signed up for the workshop and counted down the days, because apart from talking about guitars and songwriting there would be music 😀

The day of the concert started shitty enough. I’d caught a cold, felt feverish and wanted to stay in bed, but alas, there was this workshop I did not want to miss, so I dragged my sorry ass to the office. It was a long day and the slight headache I had wasn’t helping. Made it through somehow and arrived in Gütersloh with time to spare. Bumped into A. at the music store, said hello to Ragnar and sent the time chatting with A., sitting in comfy chairs right in front of the stage.

A few more people arrived and it all started.First Thomas from the guitar company said a few words about the guitars and their making, then it was time for the two guys to sit down and play for us. They talked a little bit about each song before and after they played it and offered a wide selection of material – solo stuff as well as songs from the different bands they play in.

They started with a songs they had written together, called ‘Northern Lights’ – it was beautiful and I really liked Ragnar Z.’s voice. The second song, ‘Soulmates’ was one of Ragnar Z.’s solo songs that he had written shortly after his father had passed away and he mentioned sitting down at the piano playing and having a song before he really knew what he was doing. I enjoyed the song and afterwards Ragnar Ó. talked about how he plays the piano and writes on the guitar while it is the other way around for Ragnar.

They played ‘The Cannon’ next, complete with the whole “shooting a riffle in the desert and bleeding all over” story. Ragnar Ó. said that he was hit by the gun’s scope and then inspiration hit him so Ragnar Z. wanted to know if it happened right that moment. Turns out he slept on it first. 😉 I loved hearing the song in a different version – it had been a long while since I’d heard it at all. 🙂 ‘Urges’ was next, yet again a little different from the last time I heard it.

‘Falling Home’ brought stories about sometimes needing years to finish songs and the Pain of Salvation acoustic tour where for one concert Ragnar was replaces by Ragnar. I nodded when I asked if we knew and clarified that I was there. Good memories too! Someone asked why Ragnar Z. was not on that tour and he explained he was recording a Sign album. he was the one, however, who had suggested Árstíðir as a support act. It was good hearing ‘Falling Home’ again too and remember that amazing tour.

‘Here as I am calling’, another of Ragnar Z.’s solo songs was introduced as a love song and one that is nice. He talked about often singing depressing songs, but not being depressed, because he all gets it out in music. I liked this song too, but my favorite was the next one, ‘Sleep now’. I had been dreaming of hearing Ask the Slave live for a long time and this was as close as I might get fora while. Ragnar Ó. explained how as a band with balls and harder music they could not really get away with a ballad so they had to make it a murder ballad. He also mentioned having  Nick Cave’s “Where the wild roses grow” on his mind when he heard it and ‘Sleep now’ has always reminded me of that song. 🙂 I was a happy camper already, but as the last song we also got another of his solo songs ‘Bravery’. As he said, because Thomas had complained about all their songs being sad depressing. Well… I nodded at this one being a good choice, because I really like it and when Ragnar noted it I said “It’s a good song”. A. asked if I’d heard it already. Yep, live too. 🙂

They would not end it on that though and showed us some traditional Icelandic music too. It was a pretty cool piece. Someone asked what it was about – a raven. They bantered a bit more, about the tour so far and the late guy (Ragnar Z.) this morning being earlier than the other one. We also learned they had recorded a song in the morning and if they went on like that they might have an album by the end of the tour. I would not mind having one.

We talked a little bit, hugged, then were kicked out and they left towards the next place. A. offered to drive me home and we both decided it had been well worth the trip. Such a nice, intimate  concert with quite a few surprises. <3 Until next time!


Northern Lights (Ragnar & Ragnar)
Soulmates (Ragnar Zolberg)
The Cannon (Árstíðir)
Urges (Ragnar Ólafsson)
Falling Home (Pain of Salvation)
Here as I’m calling (Ragnar Zolberg)
Sleep now (Ask the Slave)
Bravery (Ragnar Ólafsson)
Traditional Icelandic piece

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