Bitter Funeral Beer Band

Posted 2013-08-12

Upon my return from Ghana in 1977 I tried to apply some of what I learned in various musical groupings, among them Archimedes Badkar, but after some time a bigger group grew out of that to specifically create music around the drumming (mostly Ewe) and funeral music from the north of Ghana, Bitter Funeral Beer Band. Here are some  pics from our very first concert at Fasching in Stockholm in 1981.

Drummers Bosse Skoglund and Thomas Mera Gartz, Sigge Krantz on bass and guitar, Mattias Hellden on cello, Thord Bengtsson guitar and violin, Anita Livstrand vocal and ko-gyil, Kalle Eriksson and Tommy Adolfsson on trumpet plus Jörgen Adolfsson, Ulf Wallander, Christer Bothén and Kjell Westling on reeds joined me in that first edition of the band that recorded for ECM with Don Cherry as soloist. After the release in 82 we toured europe and played at the Jazz Yatra in Bombay and Dehli in 1984.


Our concert in Frankfurt in 1982 with Don Cherry and K. Sridhar taking part was recorded by Hessischer Rundfunk for radio and TV and we released it in the fall of 2007. The album was nominated for a Swedish Grammy. Most of the Frankfurt concert can be seen at YouTube. Here is a video from the start of the concert

and photos by Paul Deker:

June 25, 2018: The Italian label Black Sweat Records has released “Live in Frankfurt 82” on vinyl! 
This is how they present the album:
“First of all, Bengt Berger – a pioneer of the Swedish underground of the 70’s and historical member of bands such as the Archimedes Badkar and Arbete Och Fritid – is a versatile drummer-percussionist and well-educated ethno-musicologist with several research sojourns in India and Ghana. Deeply influenced by Hindustani, Carnatic and West Africa music, he founded in 1980 the Bitter Funeral Beer Band, an ensemble of 12 elements, basing his ideas on the traditional funeral music of the people of Lo-Birifor, in the northern region of Ghana.
The marriage between this afro polyrhythmic roots, with the spiritual jazz of the eternal Don Cherry and the indian sarod of K. Sridhar is in the direction to a pan-internationalism of profound spirituality, which blends different geographical traditions in a single contemplative gaze. It is the convergence towards a music without boundaries, where every instrumental voice shines and is well fermented and integrated. Music is unity.”
They have also put the album for you to listen on Bandcamp

From a televised concert at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm 1984:

One concert in Nürnberg in 1984 was also filmed and recorded. You find it as digital-only album cex09. There are videos from that concert on YouTube. Here is one:

Here are som photos from that concert:

Our first two albums were released on ECM and Dragon








Here is a beautiful podcast episode about the Bitter Funeral Beer album. Andy Moor tells us about the impact of the album on Echobox Radio in Amsterdam’s  Blueprints For A Blackout after more than 40 years!

all records with Bitter Funeral Beer Band