Bonn Folk Club – Perfect Chemistry

FCaprilIt’s April already and Spring is, well, springing up, Days are brighter and with an evening promising Astatine, Steve Crawford, and John performing Richard Thompson’s ‘Beeswing’ to look forward to, the Bonn Folk Club too was  looking even brighter than ever this month.

7pm and as has become customary in recent months, a place to sit is already in short supply. I find one with a view of a pillar, which is actually good since it means I can leave to take pictures safe in the knowledge that I can come back to rest my feet later since no-one will sit there more than ten seconds. I even order a bacon pancake (Speckpfannküchen in case you follow suit next month) which is excellent. The meal means though that I have my back to the stage – or more precisely to the pillar – when John starts proceedings with a hearty ‘Ladies & Gentlemen!’. It’s a punctual start by Folk Club standards too, presumably a result of the previous evening that even saw ‘Jock Stuart’ off to bed before it ended.

John Harrison gets things underway with a short poem about Magnolias if I’m not mistaken by my back to the action position. By the time he’s performing ‘Beeswing’ I’m peering round the pillar and it really is one of the best songs I’ve seen John perform. He’s a Richard Thompson fan I know, and if Richard ever hears him play this the fan feelings will be reciprocated I’m sure. I loved too his version of Peetie Wheetstraw’s ‘Bring me flowers when I’m Living’ with it’s black humour:


Don’t bring me flowers after I’m dead
A dead man sho’ can’t smell
Don’t bring me flowers after I’m dead
A dead man sho’ can’t smell
And if I don’t go to heaven
Hoo-well-well, I don’t sure need no flowers in hell.


Helmut Rennoch  - Pick & Play

Helmut Rennoch – Pick & Play

Did I mention that Paulo Pacifico joined John with zero rehearsal on Harmonica for his set? If I didn’t it’s because there is as always so much to get through in a Folk Club review. Mario Dompke was back again, this time with Franzi Seifert to sing beautifully if a little nervously at first with ‘You Got a Friend’. The nerves clearly disappeared after in typical Folk Club style most of the audience joined in with the chorus. Mario of course was typically un-nervous and delivered his own songs with characteristic wit and style. I have to move on because the Folk Club MUST finish by ten and there’s so much to get through…

Barry Roshtos opener for Part two, ‘The Cat Came Back’ has to be worthy of mention though – finishing as it did with the three cats playing (Barry, John and Paulo) heading in a musical line for the bar – from which they didn’t come back, the cold beer was too much of a temptation.

Helmut Rennoch and his group ‘Pick n Play’ brought their own song ‘I’ll be your Man’ to the party as well as a rather more well known one by Ralph McTell who’s name, if you know only one Ralph Mctell song (which very often is sadly the case) you will know.

Happy Birthday to Sascha, who spent an enjoyable few minutes of it performing on Friday.  A nice guitar duo with Janis, that might be the tip of a larger ocean of material?  Hopefully they will come back to play some more even sans Birthdays.


John & Steve made a great duo

Steve Crawford is someone I enjoyed when he played his bluesy spot last year with Salossi. This time around he was with Sabine Palm and they delivered an all too short set that included Phil Colclough’s beautiful ‘You Call and I will answer’. ColClough is  writer of the beautiful ‘Song for Ireland’ which I hope is tucked away in a future set by these two. Excellent fiddle playing by Sabine too.  Steve is currently putting together a CD with public funding so if you enjoy a good song well sung and played Click Here.

My review is in danger of following the evening itself and over-running it’s time schedule,  and I haven’t even mentioned the Star Guests yet – it’s Astatine time.

Ah, the young lady named after a radioactive chemical element. Well that’s what happens when you run a name through Google. Asatine herself is a lot more agreeable than her chemical namesake though – very agreeable in fact. Ana Maria Leistikow has loved singing since a child. If you look at the Band’s website bios the word ‘Jazz’ jumps out at you from every member, yet their sound is much more of a Jazz/Latin/Swing mix that’s perfect for intimate atmosphere’s of which the Haus Müllestumpe restaurant is one.

Maio Dompke & Franzi Seifert

Another great duo – Maio Dompke & Franzi Seifert

Ana Maria has a soft and sweet voice that nods gracefully towards early Katie Melua on numbers like ‘A Waste of Love’ and possesses all the necessary precocious charm to bring off Marilyn’s ‘My Heart Belongs To Daddy’.  The same charm oozes from ‘What Lola Wants, Lola gets’ and ‘Making Whoopee’.  It’s the tug of the heart material that she delivers the most effectively though – The smoking Cole Porter torchsong ‘Get Out Of Town’ and ‘The Man I Love’ are perfect examples.  To really feel drawn in to her charms though you do need to be close to the stage.  It’s intimate music and listening from a distance makes you feel like you’re overhearing someones secret confessions through a keyhole so to speak.  As Ana Maria has the most charming of smiles and a stylish outfit though getting closer to the music is an easy decision to make – if only there was still room to get close in the once again packed restaurant.


A little magic from Astatine

If Jock Stuart had been waiting at the bar to be sung he would once again have needed to be carried to the stage – it was a late finish once again.  How do you bring to an end, or even wish to bring to an end, something so magical as a hundred people enjoying live acoustic music and who stay almost to a man (and woman) to the final sing-along?  Mr Harrison thankfully hasn’t worked out an answer to that one and hopefully never will.  Moreover, he almost certainly doesn’t want to know the answer.






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