Having missed a couple of ‘meets’ Friday seemed like an ideal time to pay Bonn Folk Club another visit. Two headline acts in one evening – is there a better way to catch up for lost time?
There’s videoing going on now at the Club since I last visited. It may not be ‘Rockpalast’ (MC John Harrison would never allow so much electricity to flow at a FolkClub meet!) but it is a sign of the increasing status that meek and mild mannered Haus Müllestumpe in sleepy Graunderheindorf is gaining as a live entertainment venue. VIP tables and ‘Autogrammstunden’ don’t exist yet – but there are still two more meets in 2013 and who knows what 2014 will bring?
Not one, but two special guests, leaving John Harrison looking very much Lord of the Manor with his tweed cap and jacket this evening as he kicks off with a Piedmont Blues theme, which Wikipedia describes thus:
“Piedmont blues (also known as East Coast blues) refers primarily to a guitar style, the Piedmont fingerstyle, which is characterized by a fingerpicking approach in which a regular, alternating thumb bass string rhythmic pattern supports a syncopated melody using the treble strings generally picked with the fore-finger, occasionally others. The result is comparable in sound to ragtime or stride piano styles.”
The already crowded room prevented my getting close enough to the stage to check if John was conforming totally to this. It sounded pretty good though. Was Reverend Gary Davis really singing about two different substances in ‘Candy Man’ and ‘Cocaine Blues’? In any event the two were sandwiched between Mississippi John Hurts ‘Creole Belle’ and made a very tasty start to the evenings musical offerings.
‘Jasmin’s Beach’ is a trio, not surprisingly, led by a lady named Jasmin. The music was certainly something you could sprawl out a beach towel to and gaze out to sea with a relaxed smile. Nothing strenuous, just Jasmine herself on piano, sister Jessica on guitar and a mysterious Frank on percussion which included a lightly tapped and shaken biscuit box – which actually reminded me more of late Christmas Day than a beach, the Sainsbury’s Assorted selection eaten down to a few bare crumbs rattling in the Father Xmas embossed tin. Sublime is how I would describe Jasmin’s Beach (and the almost empty biscuit tin too for that matter)
A welcome appearance next from local guitar matador Mario Dompke who always seems to find something unusual to spring on us musically speaking. On this occasion it was the first (and possibly only) Blues song I know dedicated to Peppermint. It certainly made a change from whiskey. Johns contribution on Blues harp made sure it had a stamp of sweaty blues credibility whilst Jutta’s violin smoothed out the edges to ensure it appealed to everyone. I have to admit though that as a die hard Harry Chapin fan I’m not convinced by Mario’s version of the great mans ‘Flowers are Red’. I was on the side of the boy who sees the world in vivid, if questionable, shades from the start, and there just seem too many verses. Okay Mario, it’s not your fault, I thought the same about the original.
The first of the evenings main guests is an Englishman from Berlin – Richard De Bastion. Now if you never heard of Richard you will certainly have heard of some of the people he has collaborated with over his long career: John Bonham, Jim Capaldi and Steve Broughton for example or those he’s written for: Sally Oldfield, Justin Hayward and Peter Maffay. He was a member of the famous Edgar Broughton Band in the 70’s and is currently involved in Hip-Hop with German Band Sido, which looks totally at odds to the mature and decidedly English gentleman sitting on a wooden stool before the packed audience with a demure style that could almost be saying ‘More tea vicar?’ His lyrics however, and the client list I gave earlier confirms this, can bite quite well. My favourites from his two sessions this evening were the jokey cowboy song ‘Woolly the Kid’, the clever alternation of the lyric on ‘What Iam, What I do’ and ‘UROK’ about a father’s unrelenting love for his child: no matter what – ‘Daddy loves you – and that is all you need to know’.
Taking a break from filming the proceedings, Janero Del Rosario joined his friend Franz Kalina who had already given us a good dose of pop rock with an enthusiastic version of The Stones’ ‘Dead Flowers’. Together they brought us Blurs ‘Tender’ and Oasis ‘Whatever’ which throws in smatterings of Mott’s ‘All the Young Dudes’ and The Beatles ‘Octopus’s Garden’ although oddly (Wikipedia again) it was actually Neil Innes who sued the Gallaghers for ‘nicking’ a song of his called ‘How Sweet to be an Idiot’.
No danger of Second Special Guests, Belgians Frank Engelen and Piet Vanhoutte being accused of plagiarism though. Theirs is a very refreshing two sets of largely self-penned songs from Frank. Despite the outward appearance of someone who would breeze into town on a Harley Davidson Franks style is actually wonderfully gentle. A vocal mix of Don Mclean and Jim Croce with just a sliver of Blues in the backbone. You will have guessed by that that they were my favourite act of the night. So much so that I even bought a CD which has already been played through three times and the show was only yesterday. The line-up of Frank and Piet is actually a very fresh one – if my memory of the half time chat we had serves me correctly, they met sky gliding last year (hopefully only metaphorically). There are political lessons as on ‘I’m Okay’ where the poor are starving, and the world is going under, but hey ‘I’m Okay’. Well sung and well presented, but the best moments came when Frank just hooked on his harmonica rack to play his own Blues with vocal backing from Piet or indeed just played guitar (he is an excellent classical guitarist).
The duo’s second set was a much more fiery affair, venturing into Hendrix territory with a stomping ‘Purple Haze’ and a second nod to the Stones (and Wille Dixon) with ‘Little Red Rooster’. There is hopefully a CD coming soon from these two gentlemen – and I hereby put in my order for a copy before the present one wears out.
So there you have it. So much good music that Jock Stuart had to go home thirsty – no room for even a single verse of the traditional closer could be found. A shame more people didn’t buy CD’s though. The Belgian duo and Richard de Bastion both had them – in the case of the former at 5 euros, which would have been extremely good value as an admission price for the evening. I’ve certainly paid for more and got less on many occasions. Bonn Folk Club is a rare evening out where you can still get far more than you pay for.
Finally, A bit of Blues from Frank & Piet…