Serious Folk in Bonn

Lothar Heinrich

So, the August Folk Club started with a bit of a fright.  Blagging a copy of John Harrison’s set list my eyes caught the opener – ‘If’.  Was John going to ‘out schmooze’ old Telly Savalas?

Thankfully, the ‘If’ in question belonged  to Rudyard Kipling and was instead a sobering missive on the way a man should live his life in the days of Empire (and also today!)

‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run…’

Certainly John had got us off to a good start on that score.  Having got our brain cells working we also had a chance to get our mouths working too, joining in as  either ‘cockles’ or ‘mussels’ alive alivo to ‘Molly Malone’.  It was then time  for  more serious themes.  First Janis Joplin’s famous ode to Capitalism – ‘Mercedes Benz’, followed by an ‘Anti-war’  song that recounted the troubles in Sarajevo.  For further measure of solemnity John added Kipling’s barrack-room ballad about the execution of a soldier in front of his comrades for murder ‘Danny Deever’ – As the Officer in the poem recounts after the hanging “They’ll want their beer today” – so did we in the club after all that misery!

Thank goodness Andreas Nick came along with something a little more uplifting – The Stones’s ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and Hendrix’ (via Dylan’s) ‘All Along the Watchtower’.  He also included a pleasant ballad of his own – that was, as far as I could tell, not about death, politics or execution.  Enjoyable songs were also the stock in trade of Daniel Mennicken and Andrea alias ZweiZeit who particularly caught the ear on their last number ‘Already Made’ when they harmonized beautifully.  There was mention that they could also be heard at ‘Mausefalle’ in Bonn sometime (Weberstrasse 41) – worth checking out until they (hopefully) return to Grauerrheindorf.

John wheeling his wheelbarrow for 'Molly Malone'

Düsseldorf’s own Thomas Steffens was up next, and, as ever, good for a surprise.  Was that really a Cilla Black song on the list he showed me?  Having already narrowly avoided Telly Savalas it looked like another ‘!!!?’ moment.  ‘Liverpool Lullaby’ it actually wassaid and it actually was.  Steffen did a grand job of being a poor Liverpudlian mother too – although Cilla in her 60’s mini-skirt looked more the part (see the video below).  Thomas made a brief return to John’s death and destruction theme with Bogle’s ‘Band played Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘Mona’ about a shipwreck in 1959 but saved us from tears with a good sing-along to finish – “Wherever you go around the world, you’ll find an Irish Pub” which appropriately reminded us that it was break time and there was a bar stocked with drinks waiting.

In playing ‘Mercedes Benz’ earlier John had made reference to the infamous ‘27 Club’ that started with the death of a 27 year old Robert Johnson.  In part two of the Club he remembered a close friend, Jonathan Ole Wales Rogers who’s life was also tragically  cut short at 27 in a road accident. Not before penning tue sweet ballad song ’Angel’.  If the wrinkles of concentration on John’s forehead were a little deeper on this than normal it was understandable.  A moving Tribute.

Given his last appearance with Brazilian songs of mass misery I wasn’t too optimistic for a light tone and a laugh when Steve Perry started his set for the evening.  In the event it was a comedy song – albeit, in Steve’s inimitable style, about ‘The Martin’s and the Coys’ who have a habit of massacring each others familes.  Alongside “Six feet under and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt” we were well in need of something uplifting.  The first song by Lothar Heinrich with Peter Phillips on guitar and harmonica was actually a Blues: “Bye Bye Baby” but the mood lightened with Kenny Roger’s ‘Lucille’ and especially a spirited rendition of ‘I’m Moving On’ that had everyone toe tapping until Lothar had to stop Peter and ask him to slow down the Blues Harp tempo.  They resumed.  Less frenzied, but nonetheless exhuberantly!  On the night the most populär song if feet and clapping hands were tue measure.

Steve Perry going 'flat out'

Headliners for the evening were Currach, fresh from their recent successful appearance at GoVinum (see separate review on this site).  Ralf Wackers and Ellen Jeikner certainly put heart and soul into their interpretations- of traditional Irish & Scottish Folk Music.  Their ’Farewell to Nova   Scotia’ had me Feeling homesick and I’ve never even been there.  A bewitching combination of mandolin, guitar and tin whistle that was salve to the ears.  Time to relax and enjoy the melodies beautifully sung by Ellen.

Talking of beautiful singing, the evening was rounded off as usual by ‘Jock Stuart’.  Or not quite as usual.  There was a confused melody to it that nobody seemed to have expected – least of all John Harrison himself.  Everyone went with it though in tue true Folk Club spirit of adventure.  It was almost a shame that They worked out how to finish – I still had half a pint of Kölsch and Cilla Black on my mind.  All Thomas Steffens fault!

Thomas Steffens did a fine version of ‘Liverpool Lullaby’ but who could match Cilla for cuteness?…

3 thoughts on “Serious Folk in Bonn

  1. Thanks for the kind words, John! In fact ZweiZeit ( will play at Mausefalle ( next saturday (August 13th) starting around 8pm. There are also few floor spots available for singer/songwriters who want to present their music. Just come along!

      • Thanks again, John 🙂
        And guess what: With cunning comes punishment. That is my singer just cancelled saturday night, so there will be no ZweiZeit gig, just me and my guitar singing sad songs plus Robert Limbert and Bigo Seinz, each of them playing some original material. Anyone who wants to join is still invited – it’s openmic-night (see above for dates and places – omg I did it again…)! 🙂

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