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On Friday 29 February my band Dacianos supported American Music Club at the venue called John Dee (yeah it's really called that) in Oslo. Here is a treasure of memories of the event. "This amp sucks," American Music Club's bass player was saying when we arrived at John Dee with our equipment, "if we can get another one.." and he left the stage and disappeared. Mark Eitzel and I said hi to each other. He was staring into his laptop. "Your bass player wants to borrow a bass amp," I said. "I don't care if my bass player wants to borrow a bass amp," said the surly one. Ilmar and HÃ¥kon were hovering by the car outside. The drumkit hadn't been offloaded so I magically succeeded in finding AMC's bass player and asked him if we could use their drumkit in return for us lending them our bass amp. He...

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Here you can see Origami Arktika smashing up Sound of Mu. By;alarm is a an alternative to the corporate rock festivals and award ceremonies of Norway, namely By:Larm, Spellemann and Alarmprisen. It's based around artists that have often been "categorized as too weird" or "for a small market". By;alarm runs concurrently with By:Larm, and to add confusion both took place in Oslo this year. But By;alarm does not claim to be the anti-By:Larm. Rather it sees itself as a festival that is broader and more adventurous, booking artists for their quality rather than for their market potential. By;alarm 2008 took place 21-23 February, and the concert stages were Spasibar, Paragrafen, Mir, Sound of Mu, Verksted Mandelbrot, Taxi Takeaway and Amatøren. The festival was organized as a collaboration between the DIY music organizations Metronomicon Audio, Norway Rat, Handmade Records, Looop and Spoon Train Audio. Click the band names below to get...

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Another sneak peak into the gallery that is Sound of Mu. This week we have an artist exhibiting from Berlin. The photographs are by Tina Schimansky and appear on one wall of the bar in her hand-made frames. As the artist wrote, the exhibition "is a photo installation consisting of eight photographic pieces and a text-based work showing the reconstruction process of a journey back to my family's roots in Russia and in Ukraine as well as back to my artistic points of departure in documentary photography." You are looking at my snapshots of the exhibition. I won't pretend to be able to photograph photographs very well, but I can at least show you what the exhibition is like in the context of our public bar space.

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I've been neglecting the "Norwegian art" category of this blog. Plus, I don't think I have ever shown you any of the exhibitions at our gallery at Sound of Mu, and we've had about two a month for over two years. So, I promise from now on to give you a slice of contemporary Norwegian art. This is the current exhibition, by Hanna A. Høiness, casually photographed by me. Amateur photographs of professional art: it could be a new movement. PS Tonight someone left a programme for Oslo Fashion Week on the bar counter with a note written on it in biro: "I love killing birds. It is my hobby."

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"You're from Ireland? I've read that book Angela's Ashes." "Frank McCourt is an American. Judging from his description of Ireland, I doubt very much he's ever been there." "Ireland is a very conservative, religious country." "Not since the 90s. It's a post-christian, materialist country. People worship money." "What about the abortion question?" "It's a question because there is - and this might be a difficult concept for you to grasp - diversity of opinion." "What about Northern Ireland? Don't they fight over religion?" "The differences between the two communities are actually political. Religion is one of the ways they identify themselves. Anyway there's been peace since 1998." "Really?" "Yes. There are political institutions." "Oh, I like Irish people! Always making fun, including everyone in the music, all singing together!" "That's why I don't live in Ireland."

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Last weekend I visited the town of Skien (pop. 50,000), which is in Telemark. My friends and I were invited to organize some combined music and art events for the town's summer art festival. If all goes according to plan, we should be temporarily setting up a little bar with art on the walls and bands playing, just like our homestead in Oslo. We were shown around the town, and taken to disused factory buildings and other odd places where art will be revealed this summer. I suppose that I'll be describing all the action in future entries of this blog. Bjarne suggested I not bother writing about Skien at all, but to instead take pictures of my trip with Jomba to Oslo's city dump and write about that. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera, so you don't get to see us unload an old cooker at the recycling...

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I was sitting at the bar in my place drinking a beer, with a female friend. She sighed and ordered herself a shot of the herbal cordial St Hallvord Likør. An unusual choice of drink, it had to be said. She confided that was in honour of a friend of hers, whom she had just heard had died. "That was his drink. There's no-one who is going to come in here and drink it now," these facts coming mournfully. Then she had the idea that all must share in this drinking tribute! She declared that she would pay for the entire bottle, and friends of the deceased could come here and pay their respects by having shots in his memory. A noble plan. Then came the phone call. One of these mourning friends had walked into another bar to see only one other customer in the place. Did his eyes...

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In 2007 I managed 35 entries of North. Shame, I meant to write 52. Sorry! And I'm starting 2008 a bit late too. Ah well. I've been back in the country 1 week, during which time I returned to work (ordering stuff for Sound of Mu, fixing/replacing things, covering the bar shifts of sick staff, trying to organize flights for a guest musician - yes, a million annoying small things at once, it's that class of job); auditioned for a part in an advert (!); DJed at freaky nightspot Spasibar; travelled to suburbia to record a piano part for the Hanny album (although I've now left that band); spoke with 35 different people, sent 32 text messages, and finished reading three books. I would say that that's an average week, and some people might be kept amused with a life like that, but I need more 'blank' days if I...

<img src="http://www.blather.net/north/hafstein3.jpg" width="300" height="225" border="0" Here's a picture of a 12th century building for drying food. I showed it to you before, last year. Yes, I've returned to the farm in Telemark. Why? Well... My life is something like this. I live in an apartment block in Oslo. Six of the other people living in the building and I are involved in Sound of Mu, our own art gallery / bar / music venue that opens onto the street. It's my job to run the business. I have other work, freelance English language editing for organizations and individuals. I do this at home on my computer. A third 'job' is as a DJ, which I do once a month on the other side of the city, at a crazy freak place called Spasibar, connected to the art academy. Apart from that I have a band, Dacianos, and for that I...

"Not Quite the Best", reported Aftenposten in an online English-language article. It's all over for Norway and the annual human development index (pp229-232 of this long UNDP report). Iceland is now the best place in the world to be living in. Norway, which topped the index every year from 2001 to 2006, comes second. Then there's Australia 3rd, Canada 4th, my native Ireland 5th, and Sweden 6th. This human development thang is a strange concept to the Americans, who come 12th. You sad losers in the UK, while not writhing in your own shit (to my knowledge) , come in at a lowly 16th. Get out while you still can. But don't go to Sierra Leone: it's down the bottom of the list in 177th place. As for me, I am packing my bags to move to Iceland, but wait, what's this? Another article contains the boast that Norway "has...