Best of 2011

Here is my ‘Best of 2011’ list – based on the concerts I’ve attended and the CD’s I’ve got round to hearing this year.  In balance it’s been a worrying 12 months musically in Bonn.   Years-end sees Promoters looking for a replacement venue for Museumsplatz, an end to Rheinkultur;  December even saw the local Folk-Club looking for a new  ‘Zuhause’.  The Harmonie is still a jewel  offering great music, but generally popular music looks like a threatened species.  Bottom line: If you love live concerts – get out to them in 2012 and show your support!

Now, onto my ‘Best of 2011’…

Best CD:

Lots of great music out there.  Dana Fuchs though has an intensity that really shines through and these are the best songs she’s put out to date.  Hugh Laurie is so talented it’s maddening.  Old chestnuts like Emmylou, Tom Waits and Johnny Winter are still delivering- and Ana Popovic has gone back to her roots and made her best CD yet.

Dana Fuchs - Taking success lying down

1st Love to Beg – Dana Fuchs

2nd Let Them Talk – Hugh Laurie

3rd Hard Bargain – Emmylou Harris

4th Still Frame Replay – Henrik Freischlader

5th Roots – Johnny Winter

6th Bad as Me – Tom Waits

7th Unconditional – Ana Popovic

Ana Popovic - a winner on CD and onstage

Best DVD:

1st Live at Trasimeno Lake – Ana Popovic

Amongst the fireflies.  Lacks audience participation, but what a beautiful setting for the APB to do their stuff!

Best Live Gig attended:

Allmann, Trucks and Tedeschi were just stunning. So much great music in one evening.  Dana’s Church of Rock n Roll makes me a believer and Zaz – what can you say about someone so young with such a stunning show?

1st Gregg Allmann/Derek Trucks/Susan Tedeschi – Museumsplatz Bonn

2nd Dana Fuchs – Harmonie Bonn

3rd Zaz – Museumsplatz Bonn

Zaz - Great memories at the Museumsplatz

Most memorable musical piece heard live: 

Zaz just took my breath away with this acappella encore – my last great memory of a magic venue that is alas no more.  Nannini with a rocking ‘Volares’ and Ana’s Navajo Moon sounded even better on a big stage.

1st L’Enfant de la Miserie – Final Encore at Museumsplatz

2nd Volares – Gianna Nannini – Museumsplatz Bonn

3rd Navajo Moon – Ana Popovic Museumsplatz Bonn

Best New Artist:

I love Blues Harp – and so does Will Wilde.  Jimmy, Layla and Clare also seem to love what they do – and are all very, very good at doing it!

1st Will Wilde

2nd: Jimmy Bowskill

3rd Layla Zoe

4th Clare Free

Best Male vocalist:

Really haven’t heard too many male vocalists this year.  MacGowan looked bad onstage in Bonn but delivered when it mattered and when he was off stage the Pogues seemed to step down a league.   Waits – what can you say?  You love him or hate him but on this CD most will love him, and rightly so.

1st Sean MacGowan (Pogues)

2nd Tom Waits

Sean McGowan - Crazy, mixed up, but magical

Best Female Vocalist:

A tough call here.  So many to choose from.  NDidi O. just missed the list but Zaz is top of her game whilst Dana and Layla can make hairs stand on end with their voices.  Powerful weapons – powerful women!

1st Zaz

2nd Dana Fuchs

3rd Layla Zoe

Best Drummer:

Palatin just seems to get the groove whoever he’s playing behind on Blues Caravan.  Whatever you want – call Palatin.  Heijne is a powerhouse and the APB’s Stephane Avellenada is shaping up to challenge for top spot.

1st Denis Palatin (Blues Caravan)

2nd Rob Heijne (Julian Sas)

Best Bassist:

1st Ronald Jonker (Ana Popovic)

2nd Ruud Weber (Ruud Weber Band)

3rd Roger Innis (Blues Caravan)

It’s got to be Jonker after his solo spot at the Harmonie in December.  Weber is also a great frontman and vocalist whilst Innis is the perfect bass man for blending in but delivering high quality backing.

Ronald Jonker - Hollands Flying Bassman

Best Guitar:

A tough one.  Didn’t get to see Bonamassa this yearand his CD with Beth Hart is great but not guitarwise stunning.  Ana though has so much breadth to her playing – Blues, Jazz , Funk – it’s all there.  Julian plugs and plays like it’s all dead easy but really it isn’t.  Henrik’s tribute to Gary Moore at the Harmonie was a dramatic and memorable moment that I will never forget.

1st Ana Popovic

2nd Julian Sas

3rd Henrik Freischlader

German Music:

The Skies always put on a quality show and look like they enjoy it too.  Todorov deserves a bigger audience – he really is exceptional and should be better known in the UK and America, whilst Get the Cat came up with a new CD that promises a lot for the future.

1st Band: Sunny Skies

2nd Blues Company (Toscho Todorov)

3rd Get the Cat

Video:

Just love the colour changes on the video – and the songs pretty good too:

1st Gotye – Somebody that I used to know

Music related Book:

Oli Brown did his first touring with Carl Gustafson’s band and this book is great if you ever wondered what musicians might be thinking of you, the listener/fan.  I’ll certainly think again before I open my mouth in front of my heroes after this read:

1st ‘Ain’t just Blues it’s Showtime’ – Carl Gustafson

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