Lief Sorbye

"Lief's Birthday Bash"
Available in a Digipak.

 

Tempest's founder, Lief Sorbye, was born and raised in Oslo, Norway. He picked up the guitar at the age of seven after discarding the idea of entering the priesthood.

Lief faithfully studied Bob Dylan's songbook, page after page, until his fingers bled. By the time he was in his early teens he was fronting various 'garage bands', playing the Youth Club circuit, in and around Oslo. Songs like "All Right Now" by Free and The Guess Who's "American Woman" were the hits of the day, and he belted them out with his thick Norwegian accent.

One day, an older friend he much admired (who sported hair down to his waist and smoked those illegal jazz cigarettes) turned him on to an LP by Scotland's mystical folk group "The Incredible String Band." The record was called "Liquid Acrobats As Regards The Air," and Lief was never the same again. His ears had opened up to the sounds of the oud, the sitar, celtic fiddling, penny whistles and running waterfalls. He began to introduce mandolins, banjos, autoharps and other unusual instruments to his rock-and-roll band mates.

Around the same time he discovered the noble profession of 'busking', (performing on the street for tips.) Lief was quick to note that after playing, strangers would buy him drinks and throw money into his guitar case and the girls just wouldn't leave him alone! He decided then and there that he would never take a "straight" job, (and he didn't!).

After having been arrested for performing without a permit on the streets of Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London, Geneva, Venice and Corfu, he bought a one-way ticket to New York in 1978.

Lief then spent the year busking his way from coast to coast and writing traveling songs. When he returned to Europe at the end of a year, he settled in Galway in the west of Ireland. Obsessed with jigs and reels and pints of Guinness stout, he thought he had found his 'earthly paradise.' But the busking was slim, the weather was cold and wet and he soon decided to return to sunny California, this time for good.

One evening, during the Christmas season of '79, Lief wandered into San Francisco's "Plough and Stars": Paul Espinoza and Margie Butler were on stage performing Incredible String Band cover songs. Needless to say, they instantly hit it off and Lief soon joined Paul and Margie in forming the Celtic folk band 'Golden Bough.' Their professional relationship lasted for eight years, six albums and countless tours, both in Europe and America. To this day, Lief and Golden Bough remain close friends, and from time to time perform together in reunion concerts.

When Lief left Golden Bough to form Tempest in 1988, he had a dream; to combine the folk music experience with the passion of rock-and-roll: the rest is history. Today Lief lives in Oakland, California with his dear wife Patricia, daughter Sarah and their intelligent cat, Maddy. When he is not on the road with Tempest or playing duo shows with Caliban, he runs the Tempest management office. To Lief, Tempest means 10% traditional music, 10% rock-and-roll, and 80% phone calls!

 

 

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