Smoking hot music

TEXT: LOUISE OLDER STEFFENSEN | PHOTOS © TOBAKKEN

Tobakken in Esbjerg is not just any old local music venue – in fact, it is one of Denmark’s largest indoor concert halls, with a capacity of 1,300. Since its establishment in 1993, Tobakken has featured a wide range of well-known Danish and international artists, including, D-A-D, Lucas Graham, Nephew, The Savage Rose, Jackson Browne, Deep Purple and Slash. They have developed a strong track record with folk music and Americana of both Danish and international origin, and this spring’s performances include Cordovas, Hayseed Dixie, Alan Doyle, Eric Lindell and Jacob Dinesen.

The old tobacco factory in Esbjerg has played an important role in the local community since 1896, first as one of the city’s largest employers and, since 1993, as a broad-ranging music venue and community centre known as Multihus Tobaksfabrikken, or ‘Tobakken’ for short. “We’re a regional community centre, so we have a lot of different activities going on,” says Tobakken’s event coordinator Erik Lodberg, who also happens to be a musician. “We have regular arts and crafts classes at the Student House Huset, talks by various experts, and a cinema as well as all our music events. Konfus, our centre for younger audiences, is also very active with its own list of speakers, bands and events.”

Every August, Tobakken hosts Made in Esbjerg, a week-long festival that showcases the best of local musicians. “One of our top duties is to nurture and support the next generation, be that our local youngsters or talented musicians who are just starting out,” Lodberg adds. “We’ve got to a point where we’re able to attract both big names and some of the most talented up-and-coming artists out there, and it makes Tobakken a very exciting and dynamic place to be. The people who work here and play here really care.”

Over the years, Tobakken has developed strong ties to Americana and folk music. “Roots, blues, jazz – we love that kind of thing, whether it be Danish, American or something else entirely. These kinds of events also attract some of our most diverse audiences; those types of concerts on this scale are pretty unusual in northern Europe.”

The Southern Jutland area is home to many of Denmark’s most popular natural and cultural sites, from the Wadden Sea to Legoland, and the German border is less than two hours away from Esbjerg, so folk fans visiting from Germany, the Netherlands and Copenhagen are far from an unusual sight at Tobakken. “Hayseed Dixie are returning this year, and Alan Doyle, Blackberry Smoke and Cordovas are swinging by as well,” Lodberg concludes. “We hope to see you there too!”

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