Lillebjørn’s Grit Laskin ´God Natt Oslo´guitar in Toronto

Lillebjørn picked big new Grit Laskin guitar

Lillebjørn Nilsen and Grit Laskin 1
Master luthier Grit William Laskin and Lillebjørn Nilsen. Photo: Inger MacKenzie

How a song brought a guitar

January 8 2015 was a great day for Lillebjørn. Two days before he had arrived in Canada. A long night flight from his home town Oslo, Norway. Second day he saw his Laskin guitar for the first time in luthier William Grit Laskin’s wood smelling workshop in Toronto, Canada. Third day Lillebjørn played the instrument at his gig in the fameous Toronto venue Hugh’s Room.

About the Lillebjørn GOD NATT OSLO guitar:

Not knowing anything about the LUTHIER Laskin, Lillebjørn was in a recording session singing a song from his good friend, Pete Seeger’s repertoire. The Photographers. A bowdy parody a cappela ‘folk’ song. Very close to British isles. Set in a traditional style. Lillebjørn couraguesly translated, putting it in his native tongue. This time in Nynorsk, the Norwegian language closest to our inherited old ballads. Strangely the song lost little in translation! The Photographers became Vidvinkel Stev. The record company had to ask for permission. And Lillebjørn found the guitar maker..

Lillebjørn contacted Laskin asking if he could make him a ukulele?
‘No way! To small a canvas.
‘A guitar?’

Master Laskin said: ‘OK. I like your music. Usually my waiting list is 6-8 years, but since I have put myself in the line, I’ll give you my number in the queue.’

Laskin asked Lillebjørn about doing his inlays. Lillebjørn: ‘Our Hardanger fiddles have mother-of-pearl and lots?’
Laskin: ‘Too boring.’
Lillebjørn: ‘Grit, free hands, you are the master!’

About William ‘Grit’ Laskingrit_small

WILLIAM “GRIT” LASKIN, a professional guitar maker since 1971, builds steel-string, classical, and flamenco guitars that are known and coveted around the world.

In 1997, he received Canada’s prestigious Saidye Bronfman Award For Excellence in the fine crafts and is the only instrument maker to be so honored.

He is also an elected fellow of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts and is included in the ”Who’s Who in Canada” as well as the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

In addition to building instruments, Grit is known internationally for his engraved inlay art. His most recent publication is A Guitarmaker’s Canvas: The Inlay Art of Grit Laskin.

To encourage the growth and public awareness of the luthier (makers and repairers of stringed instruments) craft, he co-founded the Association of Stringed Instruments Artisans. This is the international trade organization geared to professional builders and repairers of musical instruments. As president, in 1993 he authored the first code of ethics for luthiers.

Recently, for his groundbreaking work and for his contribution to the art, craft, and music communities in Canada, he was awarded in 2010 the Estelle Klein Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2012 he was presented with the Order Of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour, given to those whose efforts and innovations have enriched the national culture.

Grit Laskin – Guitar Maker


Hans Graasvold (1951-2012)

Hans Graasvold
It is often said that we folksingers – when the «How many does it take..» jokes are told – tend to talk about how great old folks were.

How many folk singers does it take to change a light bulb?
One. And all the other folkies sitting around talking about how good the old lightbulb used to be..

And it is true! We do. That is our nature, and maybe our purpose and why we are put on this planet; to say «Gather around me children, I will tell you a tale..»
Fortsett å lese «Hans Graasvold (1951-2012)»


Lillebjørns venn Andy Irvine synger om Oslo!
Ny CD Abocurragh

Andy Irvine Abocourragh CD cover

«Album of the century!»
Well…my first solo album since 1999. Recorded in Dublin, Norway, Australia,
Hungary and Brittany between February 2009 and April 2010.
Thanks to all my friends who helped me record it.
Especially Dónal Lunny who worked so hard in the production of it,
let alone playing on every track bar one.
I hope it won’t be my last album of the century!!


Otherwise the roll-call of musicians speaks for itself. Giants of traditional music, folk, rock and beyond, each one a key player in the Andy Irvine back-history: Liam O’Flynn, Máirtín O’Connor, Annbjørg Lien, Lillebjørn Nilsen, Nikola Parov, Jacky Molard, Bruce Molsky, Rens van der Zalm, Rick Epping, Graham Henderson, Paul Moore, Liam Bradley, Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton.

Fortsett å lese «Lillebjørns venn Andy Irvine synger om Oslo!
Ny CD Abocurragh»


… Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

Lillebjørn Nilsen Cité Paris FranceAll of a sudden I find myself in Paris. I live in a small apartment in busy Saint-Michel. The Latin Quarter. My narrow street is packed with people. Tourists from all over the world. Tiny restaurants on each side. The bouncers can shake hands across the cobblestones. But in our little backyard there is an unsuspected tranquility. Only to be broken when the lady living on the third floor hangs her head outside her window to communicate with her ground floor neighbour. I am the second floor tenant. Rue de Xavier Privas has its name from a poet and balladeer. Un chansonnier. Just like me. And just by accident.


Something about the ukulele

I have strummed the ukulele most of my adult life. I have cherished The Beatles repertoire and gone trough George Formby’s great songs. And the ukulele still tickles me. My vintage C.F. Martin tenor ukulele now is brought to new life with Italian Aquila strings! (And a great repair job by Strand Guitars, Norway)

But why is it? I know our great mate George Harrison, his God bless his name, felt the same. And even the late Cheltenham’s Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones loved the instrument. Maybe it is the close circuit to our brain? It’s simplicity? It’s lack of bass strings?

I love the ukulele!

Lillebjørns ukulele
Strand Guitars på Jørpeland fikser Lillebjørns ukulele – Foto: Tor Inge Jøssang