Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado: Talent, dedication and perseverance As this band enters its fourteenth year, they really seem to be on the verge to a success that will open some new doors, in new territories. And with all the hard work they put into this project, they surely deserve it.
In 2003, singer and guitarist Thorbjørn Risager asked some of his favourite musicians to join him in a brand new band. The picked the band name ”Thorbjørn Risager Blue 7” and started playing round Denmark. A year later they recorded their first album, ”Live 2004”, and in 2005 they met their current agent who also started working with their CD promotion, in connection with the release of their second album, ”From The Heart”, which already got considerable media recognition. BluesWax, a well-respected US publication, used the headline ”Next big name in blues: Thorbjorn” and the epic quote ”Risager has songwriting skills that match his larger-than-life voice” is from that review. The same magazine wrote about the next album ”Here I Am”: Sometimes a singer’s voice just stands out and forces you to listen. Take one part Ray Charles, one part Bob Seger, and one part Joe Cocker and you may have the vocal instrument of Denmark’s Thorbjørn Risager.
By then they had been signed by the Danish label Cope Records, run by the band’s trumpet player. A few albums later, they made a deal with French blues/roots label Dixiefrog, and in 2014 they secured a record deal with Ruf Records, based in Germany but with a very strong position in the international blues world. The same year, before the release of the multi-award-winning album ”Too Many Roads”, they decided to add the band name ”The Black Tornado” – to signify that this is a REAL band and not some random musicians that back up a vocalist. They were also hoping that this new name would be a bit easier to google, for all the listeners that heard the band’s music being played on international radio stations.
Parallel to writing, recording and releasing new material with 12 – 18 months’ interval, they have kept touring all over Europe, plus a tour to Canada and a spot at Asia’s biggest blues festival Mahindra Blues in Mumbai, where they shared the stage with Buddy Guy. They play 100 gigs per year, and they have performed in 21 countries. Remarkably enough, only two musicians have quit the band since the start in 2003 and they have worked with the same agency, Westman Music, since 2005. This is a hard-working band, and they really stick together through thick and thin. They are united through their talent, their dedication and their perseverance!
Hardcore Blues anno 2012, a real electroshock for the collapsed twelve-bar-format. (Daniel Böhm, Rocktimes DE)
This guy is a singer’s singer, but maybe born too late, because if he had been doing this job in the ’50s and ’60s and lived in the USA, surely he would be a legend by now. (Simon Redley in the legendary British magazine Blues And Soul)
Thorbjørn Risager – vocals and guitar
Emil Balsgaard – piano and organ
Joachim Svensmark – guitar and back-up vocals
Kasper Wagner – tenor saxophone
Hans Nybo – saxophone and back-up vocals
Peter Kehl – trumpet and back-up vocals
Søren Bøjgaard – bass
Martin Seidelin – drums and back-up vocals
Live 2004 (Music Mecca/Cope 2005)
From the Heart (Cope Records 2006)
Here I Am (Cope Records 2007)
Live at Victoria (Cope Records 2009)
Track Record (Cope Records 2010)
Dust & Scratches (Cope Records 2012)
Between Rock and Some Hard Blues (Cope Records 2013)
Too Many Roads (Ruf Records 2014)
Songs From The Road (Ruf Records 2016)
Change My Game (Ruf Records 2017)
“This is the sort of band that gets booked by unwary festival promoters as an early evening support only to discover they’ve stolen the show by 8 pm. If you haven’t seen them yet, do. If you haven’t booked them yet, do…”
Down the Biography as pdf here!
In 2014, something unusual happened. On the strength of their breakthrough album Too Many Roads, Denmark’s Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado went global.
Now it’s one thing for an artist from Copenhagen to enjoy success at home and in a few adjacent countries. But the release of Too Many Roads saw the seven-piece combo fronted by singer and guitarist Risager gaining widespread notoriety in the U.S. and being invited to play in locales as far away as Mumbai, India. The album took home the Danish Music Award as the Top Blues Album of 2014 and also earned Germany’s illustrious “Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik,” but perhaps even more impressively, it was selected as one the year’s best by Britain’s influential The Blues magazine, right alongside international stars like Robert Cray, Walter Trout and Joe Bonamassa. Clearly, Risager and his mates had taken their exhilarating mix of blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll to the next level.
Early in 2015, Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado celebrated that triumph by returning to one of their favorite nightspots – the Harmonie in Bonn, Germany. They would treat local fans to a one-of-a-kind spectacle, hitting the stage as a ten-piece mini-orchestra. After Thomas Ruf of Ruf Records introduces this deluxe edition of the band – including a three-man horn section and backing vocalists Ida Bang und Lisa Lystam – the colossal sound of Risager’s semi-hollow body spearheads the all-out attack of opening number “If You Wanna Leave.” He and his Black Tornado are off to the races…
The succeeding 100-minute concert, captured on CD and DVD for the newest addition to Ruf’s Songs from the Roadseries, shows off every facet of this unique conglomeration of musicians. There’s the sinuous funk of “Paradise” and the furious boogie of “The Straight and Narrow Line” (featuring big-time playing by piano man Emil Balsgaard and saxophonist Hans Nybo). There’s the twin-guitar blues of “Too Many Roads” and the rough-and-tumble attitude of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Ride.” There’s the chilling “China Gate” and the dark drama of “Long Forgotten Track.” Finally, the band whips the crowd into frenzy with their ultra-groovy take on the classic “Baby Please Don’t Go” and the timeless party anthem “Let The Good Times Roll,” the latter track showcasing the talents of lead guitarist Peter Skjerning. The funk workout “Opener” and the charming “I Won’t Let You Down” (performed as a duet with Lisa Lystam) offer some welcome after play.
More than anything, Songs from the Road shows that the success of Too Many Roads was no fluke. Thorbjørn Risager and his highly skilled accomplices have perfected a spicy blend of musical ingredients. The hundreds of shows they’ve played during the past few years have them running like a well-oiled machine. More great things can be expected of them in the future – but until then, we have this brilliant document of a band that is quietly revolutionizing the way we look at the blues.
The Black Tornado band on the SFTR recording:
Thorbjørn Risager – leadvoc, gtr
Emil Balsgaard – keys
Peter Skjerning – gtr,voc
Kasper Wagner – alto-/barythonsax
Hans Nybo – tenorsax, voc
Peter Kehl – trumpet, perc, voc,
Søren Bøjgaard – bass
Martin Seidelin – drums, perc, voc,
The Tornadettes (guest appearance on “Songs from the road” and on special occasions!)
Ida Bang – voc
Lisa Lystam – voc
● Nominated for a British Blues Award 2014 & 2015● Winner of the Danish Music Award 2013 & 2014
● The band was founded in 2003 and 5 of the band members have been there
since the start.
● In 2005 their cooperation with Annika Westman started who has booked
more than 700 concerts for them in 21 countries.
● Songs From The Road is their 10th album in 10 years!