Buster Sledge

One of the hottest bands to come out of Norway for many years, Buster Sledge have been building a faithful following all over Scandinavia, after releasing three strong albums in the territory.

A modern-day acoustic chamber-quartet of four voices, fiddle, banjo, guitar and contrabass fronted by a Californian now living in Oslo, with three Norwegians of diverse musical backgrounds, they perform wide-scope music with universal appeal.

All four share a love for traditional American music. With a starting point in bluegrass, their own take on the genre brings the melodic focus of American old-time fiddle music and storytelling together with elements from jazz, indie and jambands, to create a bright, contemporary expression of age-old traditions. It is hugely infectious.

The lyrical style of songwriter, lead vocalist and fiddler Michael Donovan is influenced by his upbringing in a sprawling central-Californian commuter town, situated on a highway that intersected factories and farmland

That whole thing made a big impression on him, then he spent time in New York City before moving to Norway, where he studied classical composition before getting drawn into the bluegrass/folk scene, playing in a Grateful Dead covers stringband.

He expresses grateful thanks on a daily basis to have been introduced to his playing buddies.

All three share a love for traditional American music, having grown up outside of it, and found their way in by different paths. Mikael Jonassen, largely self-taught, fell in love with the banjo as a youth in Norway’s far north but didn’t start playing bluegrass-style until after he’d first cut his teeth playing fusion-jazz electric banjo; Jakob Folke Ossum was turned on to bluegrass but had first studied the art of jazz guitar in college. He bought an acoustic instrument and very soon became a highly proficient and stylish flat-picker.

Vidar Starheimsæter started out as a “prog-rock guy” and son of rural dairy farmers,  was drawn towards playing jazz on contrabass in college and later introduced to bluegrass music through friends.

They are joined at the hip.