Translated by Mark Sabbatini
All of the festival passes were quickly snagged up, hotels were booked by this summer and Scandinavian Airlines is providing extra flights.
More than 400 people are expected in connection with this year's Dark Season Blues festival.
«Everything is going very well,» said Espen Helgesen, the festival director's and chairman of the Longyearbyen Blues Club. We have a lot of people coming up this year and are seeing a clear increase from the previous year.»
Sixteen Norwegian and foreign blues bands, 19 events and 37 concerts are scheduled during the four-day blues festival as it celebrates a «lucky 13th» year.
«We expanded with one concert – at Svalbar on Friday – so we are now bigger than last year,» said a clearly delighted Helgsesen.
Dark Season Blues has grown steadily.
From being a small intimate festival with five bands in 2003, it is now an exotic and coveted event on the international music list.
But whether the growth will continues, flatten out or retreat is hard to say.
«It depends on what happens with Svalbard and the community in the future,» Helgesen said, noting he remains optimistic. «What about the flights next year? How is the economy? The festival is a sharing of costs. We are at the mercy of sponsors. We were worried when we lost the main sponsor, Store Norske, but it went well. If it continues like now, it is feasible.»
Most of the preparations were on track when Helgesen discussed the festival with Svalbardposten on Tuesday morning, although there is always a little chaos when a large network of more than 60 volunteers are being coordinated and set in motion.
«As usual there will be a lot of work during the days before, but everything seems to be on schedule. So far there have been no big surprises,» he said, adding there has been a cancellation.
«Erik Harstad cannot come because of a death in the family, but we will help out by setting up something else instead,» he said.
Ticket sales for individual concerts started earlier this week at the MIX kiosk. In addition, there will be opportunities to purchase tickets at the door if the show is not sold out.
«Check our website and do not listen to rumors,» is Helgesen's best advice for those wondering if any tickets are left.
«And sometimes we're going to lay out some extra tickets at the door or allow additional entry access throughout the evening,» he said.
While «everything is good,» Helgesen said there are a few concerts in particular he is looking forward to.
«The church concert is always a big highlight,» he said. «This year it's an american blues and soul concert. «I'm also looking forward to MK's Marvellous Medicine, a band that has received much praise.»