– There are no challenges in booking artists here. Nobody says no, because everybody wants to play here. Pål “Moddi” Knutsen says people want to experience light, space and audience.
The Crow Castle Festival has been taking place at the old fish farm at the far end of Senja since 2004. Reservation manager Moddi himself was one of the performers who said yes. He first played here in 2006, when he was 18 years old.
At the time, Modi only had two or three songs he could play. However, they invited him again year after year, eventually asking to join the event.
– The aim of this festival has always been to promote local artists from the beginning.
Almost no residents
The small place in Bouvier has fewer than ten permanent residents. Pål Moddi Knutsen is from the slightly larger village of Medby on Norway’s second largest island.
Now it is Moddi who is ensuring the supply of new talent at the unique festival at the far end of the North Sea. The two-year epidemiological delay has not caused the public to forget about Crow’s Castle, nor is this a place you easily forget.
There are familiar faces every year, people come again and again. But others are completely new. We had volunteers here from Turkey and Israel. I don’t quite get how they hear about us, but there are always some who show up and drive from far away, Moody says.
Like this year, when a couple came by car from Germany to listen to Ketil Bjørnstad. They arrived the day before, and ended up working as volunteers at the cafe.
The kitchen is the heart of the festival. This is where all the artists come in and sit around the same table. The first time I was an artist here, it was this mood that captured me, and I remember we sat around the table here and huddled and talked and philosophized until four in the morning.
The house has stairs, nooks, nooks and crannies to get lost in. There is sound everywhere, music, hum, talking and laughing. The general atmosphere of the house will be happy.
In theory, it should be impossible to organize concerts with artists like Ketil Bjørnstad, Frida Ånnevik and others of their caliber in such a small venue with so few spectators, says the reservation manager.
Artist writers we think have a message to share
Many festivals turn puppet, and it’s hard to make a living from the culture. But the Crow Castle Festival just kept boiling.
– The secret is that we all work hard. Even the festival director pays for his ticket. We have the support, like most other festivals, but the reason we’ve been so successful in having a festival here in the ocean gap is that we have an amazing number of volunteers, people who live and breathe to create this specific festival.
There are no coincidences in the reservation for the sights of the castle.
We want to reserve artists who have a message in their music. We book across genres, like this year with reggae, folk, show, wicket and classic in a beautiful union. We spend a lot of time listening to artists, and finding those who hope to play here.
– It also means that artists are just as important year after year. Artists who have a message and meaning to their music get better over the years.
But it is difficult to say whether it is the artists or the place that attracts the most. This may have been a factor explaining why they performed poorly.
We sell all tickets no matter what we do. People come back year after year. It’s a grateful job to be in charge of booking when you feel people trust that what we book is good, no matter if it’s young talent or old trots. The parties get a good visit, and the artists know it’s going to be one of a kind. It’s wonderful stuff.
The house consists of four stages during the festival. One of them takes only 20 spectators. The largest room can accommodate 100 people.
– Little Fredrikbois is probably my favorite part of the whole festival. The bands all have incredibly talented musicians who may not see all of them, but we pick them and let them play there, so you get a one-on-one experience on the small stage. This year, for example, Frida Ånnevik’s Halldor Røyne will be playing tunes after their grandfather there, and Steinar Ofsdal will be giving a solo concert on Saturday.
Anders Lilipo, who usually plays the accordion in “De Ubrukelige”, also plays a concert alone in the cabin.
– I think the intimacy you have as an artist or audience here – that’s the charm of this place. Carrie Bremenes described the play as “getting audiences in a vein”. I get to know myself in it, it’s almost like a conversation with the audience, because you’re so close, says Moddi.
The house in Bøvær requires a lot of maintenance, and it’s not a given that it will be here as a cultural spectacle for all times to come. Georg Blichfelt took over the management of the house after the founder, and says he may not have known exactly what he was up to at the time.
I call myself the “fighting director”. It’s a struggle to do this. Lots of joy, but also struggle.
He doesn’t really want to delve into the cost of maintaining life in a place like Kråkeslottet, but is happy to talk about the history of the house.
– You know the story in the walls here. It is he who gives the house life. The founder of Cultural Landscape had a vision to create a place that would create good experiences and collaborations, and you can see that he worked.
Blichfelt is actually from Trøndelag, but after reading Hamsun and Mykle find out that he must live in the north. He moved to Senja when he was 18 years old. Here he worked at the school, and one day a theater group appeared with young people from outside Senja. Through them he got to know Kråkeslottet and the man who ran the house and directed the theatre, Ulf Willgohs Knudsen.
– Ulf was looking for someone to somehow push this forward with his soul. This is what I like to do better. It is rich to allow it to facilitate creative activity. The festival is very small for me, and there is an association and many volunteer souls who do all this. But being a part of it is a gift.
Still fears for the future of the house.
– There are a lot of challenges. Ulf was looking to find a real idiot to load this up, so he found me, Bleichfelt says and laughs.
– You did find a new idiot?
– I am searching. If there are any really big goofs – sign up!
Cultural experiences that leave traces of life
Sverre Abel is one of those who have gone out to the island to experience the concerts at this festival. Then especially one of the artists. He first heard Ketil Bjørnstad here in 1980.
– It is a nice. The last time I saw him at a concert, we were young men.
The concert made a lasting impression and opened a whole new world of music to Abel.
– The concert was a revelation. I had nothing to do with classical music at the time. It opened my ears and my eyes to what this music was like. This led me to search for more versions.
Björnstad’s experience here is once again going strong.
– I tested it because the spirit of the person who started this place, Ulf, was in the room during the concert. He just stood there and tested it with me. The music explained what this kind of experience does to people in a nice way.
Read more about Kråkeslottet in Bøvær
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