Andreas Oberg bringing ‘guitar summit’ to JAS Cafe
A Swedish guitarist who grew up emulating George Benson and Django Reinhardt isn’t the musician you’d expect to see on the top of the charts in South Korea, but in recent years that’s where Andreas Oberg has been.
Oberg, 37, acclaimed for his genre-bending guitar work, hasn’t performed much in recent years as he’s become a go-to songwriter for pop stars in Japan, South Korea and elsewhere in Asia, writing and producing for overseas superstars like Girls’ Generation and Namie Amuro.
But this weekend, he is setting up shop at the JAS Café at The Little Nell for an intimate four-show “guitar summit” with Kruno Spisic and Tedd Gottsegen.
“I got tired of touring, so the last few years I’ve just been doing a few select shows,” he said. “I still do my guitar thing, but just when I feel like doing it. I pick a few gigs I like to do every year, and Aspen is a beautiful place.”
For the shows here, Oberg said, the trio plans to play in varying combinations — solo, in duet and as a trio, with an eye on jazz and swing with some gypsy folk and pop tunes mixed in.
“It’ll be a lot of styles and improvisation,” he said.
He got to know Spisic and Gottsegen about eight years ago on a tour of the West Coast. They kept in touch and, given the opportunity to come back to the JAS Café — where he performed last winter with a different group — he called in Spisic and Gottsegen for a reunion.
When he’s choosing collaborators for guitar shows, he looks for the best improvisers he can find. They start with a blueprint of songs in their set list, but it’s understood that they’re aiming for some unpredictable jazz riffs.
“It’s important to play with people you can improvise with, even though we decide what we play,” he said. “I need people with good ears. So if I do something unexpected they can follow, and if they do something unexpected, I do my best to follow. I love people who love to create stuff in the moment.”
There isn’t much common ground, he said, between playing gypsy jazz to an intimate club crowd and seeing artists perform his songs in stadiums around the world.
“It’s a totally different thing,” he said. “These Asian artists play in front of 50,000 people. … I find in my own experience, it’s nice to play in front of a small audience as well. You can create a vibe that you can’t get on a huge stage.”
Oberg recently completed a new solo album and is negotiating with record labels for a release. And though he’s made hits for others overseas, he’s still hoping for one of his own stateside.
“I want to try to get a big song in America,” he said. “Of course, that’s the goal for every songwriter.”
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