Steven Van Zandt, better known as Little Steven or Miami Steve, is a multi-talent: His has built a career for 40 years as a guitarist and songwriter for The E Street Band, but he is also a record producer, actor, and radio disc jockey ("Little Steven's Underground Garage")
Little Steven doesn't necessarily go for the big markets: Among many things he is an admirer of the culture scene in the rural part of Norway.
During the three seasons of the Netflix-series "Lilyhammer" (2011-2014) he played the New York-based gangster, Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano. One of the keys to the success was the many strange characters in a Norwegian small town of Lillehammer north of Oslo. Until five years ago, the town populated by 26.000 inhabitants, was mainly known for the Winter-Olympics in 1994. Now tourists want to find the locations where they filmed "Lilyhammer", the tv-series...
In addition to starring and co-writing the show, Little Steven worked on the music score. For free. He told Rolling Stone before releasing the second season:
"There was no music budget the first season. Now that we have one, I put it all into licensing great songs. I did the whole score myself for free. I did it from my own studio."
Last summer van Zandt posted on Twitter that the series had been cancelled, and Netflix confirmed that they were pulling out, after three seasons.
Van Zandt owns the record company Wicked Cool Records which have signed some Norwegian bands (among others The Beat Tornados and Cocktail Slippers). Now Little Steven is taking his involvement in the Norwegian music scene a step further:
The kick-off of Little Steven’s Blues School will be during the first week of August 2016, coinciding with the international blues festival at Notodden. Notodden has a population of just 12.000 residents.
The aim for the blues school is to bring together top-level national and international young musicians in the age span 19-26. There has been a school for talented young musicians at Notodden since 1989 (13-18 years old), but the van Zandt-initiative broadens the scope.
Little Steven is not going to perform at the blues festival, but will be among a handful of instructors bringing the students through a “miniature music career” that lasts for six days. A couple of days before he will have played electric guitar on "The River Tour" with Bruce Springsteen and the E street Band at the famous Vigeland Park in Oslo.
The music instructors at Notodden are utilizing different techniques: individual instruction, band instruction, emphasis of music techniques, preparation and staging of concerts, education regarding the music industry, and elements of the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation/teachrock.org teaching methods.
Little Steven founded the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation together with fellow founding board members Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Jackson Browne and Martin Scorsese in 2007 with the goal to motivate and encourage youth to learn about the heritage of music. They have started initiatives, like "Rock and Roll High School", a chronological anthology tracing the history of Rock and Roll from its roots to present day, in the States.
Now Little Steven is expanding his music mission to Europe and a small town in Norway.
Suggestion: If this story is interesting, I could get a press pass and set up an interview with mr. van Zandt and some of the students in the beginning of August. Although I'm far from a pro photographer, I could also bring a camera and get some pictures of the school action.