“It’s about rock n roll, passion and the art of following one’s own river” The blues will always be one of the musical forms that enabled the development of popular music. Together with its cousin jazz, it laid the foundation for all the genres that came after. Some of the most influential in the blues played so-called “delta blues”, a name that really only derives from the practitioners’ place of residence. But apart from pioneers such as Son House, Memphis Minnie, Charlie Patton and others in the 1920s coming from the Mississippi Delta, the music was also a primitive form of storytelling with only acoustic guitar and harmonica. It was also where the Mississippi River splits that the most famous of them all, Robert Johnson, is said to have sold his soul to the devil and in exchange received his talent for the guitar. If you then follow the river up, you will come to Memphis, which will forever be the cradle of rock n roll. There in the legendary Sun Studio, rock’s pioneers created the music whose importance to future generations of popular music is and remains priceless.
A few decades later in the history of music, it is another watercourse that will have a decisive role. South of London, the River Thames splits and forms a delta of tributaries before reaching the sea. There in the height of the waves lies Canvey Island. A small sprawling community which in the post-war period became mostly known as a holiday destination for poor families from East London. But in the break between the 60s & 70s, Canvey Island suddenly became the scene of a music revolution which, in the shadow of the ongoing hippie era, attracted young people to re-embrace the rhythm & blues, country & rock n roll that had to stand back after the flower power wave . By mixing the old musical ingredients again and then seasoning with a heavy dose of attitude that sometimes bordered on aggressiveness, the genre pub rock was created. The bands were called Dr Feelgood, Ducks Deluxe, Kursaal Flyers, Brinsley Schwarz and others. Instead of performing with long hair and tie dye shirts, they cut their hair short and dressed in suits when they delivered the hard-boiled brew based on Chuck Berry, Buck Owens, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. That pub rock would then become the bridge to the coming glam and punk explosion was still written in the stars.
If it is possible to compare the Delta of the Thames or the dito of the Mississippi River with the Dalälven, I will leave unsaid, but like its considerably more circumscribed relatives, it also opens into a delta before it finally reaches the Baltic Sea. And there, just before the Dalälven divides itself, lies the working community of Skutskär, which has musically become Sweden’s answer to Canvey Island. The reason is of course called The Refreshments. But with one foot in the Mississippi clay and the pulsating rhythm of 50s Memphis while the other stomps the beat on the pavement outside Canvey Island’s legendary club “The Oyster Fleet”, they have found their own groove. By mixing equal parts of the American South’s rock n roll & country from the 50s with the 70s British version of these two components, they have created a sound all their own. The band that in the late 80s did like their predecessors twenty years earlier and went against the grain when they started playing classic rock n roll in a musical landscape where the electric guitar has long since been replaced by synths. But The Refreshments were convinced that their love for the 50’s scented rock that they discovered via Elvis, Chuck Berry, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, NRBQ etc. was the right path for them. And perhaps Refreshment’s feat is even more impressive than their English predecessors because it was the 80s and they were completely alone in their convictions. But the lazy always win, as their history underlines. Rarely has a band started their career in a more commercial headwind than The Refreshments. But despite that, they quickly became Sweden’s by far the hardest touring band that even had the calendar fully booked in January when the rest of the industry stood still.ltic Sea.
Soon, one of pub rock’s big names, Billy Bremner, who after his career with Rockpile lived in the USA and made a living as a studio musician, also joined. But when he heard Refreshments, he changed Nashville for Skutskär and became the band’s guitarist. After plowing a few years with covers and releasing a couple of records that passed the broad listenership that came after the breakthrough with the single “Miss you Miss Belinda” from the album “Are you ready”. Suddenly the band was heard on the radio and it wasn’t long before even the discerning music journalists were allowed to write about the pub rock phenomenon from Skutskär.
Since then it has rolled on in a double sense with 13 gold & 2 platinum records, tours, chart successes, Christmas tours and collaborations with many of his sources of inspiration such as Dave Edmunds, Geraint Watkins, Linda Gail Lewis and others. But unlike their musical role models, who in many cases are found on the periphery of today’s music world, The Refreshments are still a force to be reckoned with and unlike many other Swedish bands who have chosen to sing in English, their music can withstand comparison with both American and English editions. This in a genre that is so explored that it really shouldn’t work.
With more than thirty years on stages and roads around the country, they still stand firmly in the musical crowd where they have taken root since the beginning. It’s rock n roll in its most noble form. Tastefully garnished with country tones and little winks to the ever-present rockabilly. But above all, it’s the songs. Timeless harmonies on a bed of rolling piano, driving bass and swinging licks that steadily take us to the sing-along friendly choruses. The Refreshments are the band playing yesterday’s music for tomorrow’s people. An institution in Sweden whose relevance in 2023 may be more important than ever before.
Joakim Arnell– Lead singer, Bass
Johan Blohm – Lead singer, Piano
Jonas Göransson – Guitar, vocals
Mats Forsbergn – Drums
2023 – A Stiff One- Full length album
2020 – Christmas Cheer – Full length album
2019 – Real Rock’n’Roll– Full length album
2016 – Straight Up – Full length album
2014 – Live In Concert – Full length album
2014 – Wow Factor– Full length album
2013 – Let It Rock – Full length album
2012 – Highways & Byways– Full length album
2011 – Ride Along With The Refreshments – Full length album
2010 – Christmas Wishes – Full length album
2009 – A Band’s Gotta Do What a Band’s Gotta Dos – Full length album
2008 – Refreshing Classics – Full length album
2007 – Christmas Spirits – Full length album
2006 – 24/7 – Full length album
2006 – It’s Gotta Be Both Rock and Roll – Full length album
2004 – Easy To Pick Up, Hard To Put Down – Full length album
2003 – Rock’n’Roll X-Mas– Full length album
2003 – On The Rocks – Full length album
2001 – Real Songs On Real Instruments– Full length album
2000 – Musical Fun For Everyone – Full length album
1999 – Are You Ready? – Full length album
1998 – Trouble Boys – Full length album
1997 – Both Rock And Roll – Full length album
2014 – Blood Noses & Beers – 2 Track Single
2016 – Wine Stained Eyes – 2 Track Single