The new Year at Haus Mullestümpe kicked off in fine style with Bonn Folk Club number 54 which is a number far in excess of the numbers present at Bonn Folk Club number 1. I estimate that it will take another 6 years until the Club Meets will have caught up with the number of bottoms on seats at this latest offering though. An increase in younger attendees was proof trhat Cynthia Nickschas is making a name for herself locally – and the fact that Bonn Folk Club has similarly made a name locally would account for the fact that every wall and corner that would fit a chair had one shoe-horned into place.
Theme for the first Folk Club of 2015 was ‘Pathways’. This turned out to be rather ironic since it would have taken Crazy Horse to detect a way to get from one side of the hall to the other by the time we began. Kudos to the Restaurant staff who somehow managed to ‘get through’ and I’m not ashamed to say I regularly followed in their wake, trying to get a better photo position before the feet and chairs moved back like a tide returning to its harbour.
‘Up’ on the ‘stage’ (okay, no stage = no ‘up’!) Two Yorkshiremen were wandering about – seemingly looking for seating. One had a gnarled walking stick I noticed. On closer inspection it was John and Steve replete with cloth caps and it was all very clever – they were intro-ing Ewan MacColl’s classic ‘The Manchester Rambler’. One of my favourites, with it’s marvelous lyrics including:
“I may be a wage slave on Monday,
But I am a free man on Sunday”
I managed to get a brief ‘snap’ of the aforementioned cloth-caps and by the time I’d made it back to my seat the rest of John’s set was over. The notes say ‘Twelve gates to the City’ and ‘Machine Gun Kelly‘ got an airing and certainly the ‘paths’ theme was already well trodden – Kelly’s led him rather unfortunately eventually to Alcatraz.
I don’t know if Kelly found religion, or indeed went looking, but if he had it would have made a nice link to Martin Kuenen (with Jürgen on accordian) and his first number ‘Wo bitte geht’s zu Gott?’. With so many wanting to play these days the floor spots went fairly whizzing by. I remember Bernd R. Wallau sitting at the piano whilst Monika and Sabina sang Amy F. Bernon’s ‘Winterlight‘. Looking out the window – was it really snowing? No it wasn’t, but it should have been. A cooling song as the temperature inside the crowded room crept rapidly up. A single song spot is called at Folk Club an ‘Annette’ and the next song actually featured an Annette (Huismann) who, together with Meoneo kept things cool with Carole King’s ‘Where You Lead’ and as they sung “Where you lead, I will follow” I caught the apron strings of a waitress and let her lead me back through the masses to the bar and some fresh air.
You have to admire Lothar Pruete from Cologne. He admitted to first submitting his song list to thee Folk Club and then learning them. Fortunately though Lothar is obviously a quick learner and performed flawlessly, despite taking on material that was at the border of the average man’s vocal range. Full marks then especially for ‘Like the way I do’ which he sung pretty much like the way Melissa Etheridge do (I mean does…!). Actually a little too much like Melissa in that he kept the genders in the song identical to hers so it was still “Does she thrill you like I do” which coming from a man does lend the song some added complexity and depth! I do enjoy the style and song choice though (his ‘Whisky in the jar’ last month was also super) so please keep up the drives down the motorway Lothar.
I’m not sure now when the magic words from John “Let’s take a short break for some fresh air” were spoken but I am sure they were very welcome indeed. Oddly enough the rush outside didn’t happen – I suspect most people were wary of losing their seats or perhaps still waiting for the beers ordered earlier that possibly never found their way in the masses. Steve did suggest that people raise their hands when they saw the waiters with a plate or glass that might be theirs, but I suspect the beers anyway were claimed before the said waiters got past the third row of tightly packed seats.
I do know that Bob Mirabito was going to Louisiana with a banjo on his knee because he sang those very words with the instrumental help of Steve and a bit of theatrical introduction which is becoming a feature of regular players here as not only the musical but the presentational bar gets higher with every Club meet it seems. Two more ‘Annettes’ followed: Gerd Schinkel took centre stage with a song that had so many verses that he had it written out in front of him on several sheets of A4. It was almost as long as it’s subject matter – the Jakobsweg’. 2Sunny had a song about the real ‘Weg der Liebe’ and everyone was singing along the chorus to Joe dassin’s “Oh, Champs Elysee, oh Champs Elysee…” and humming along to Ralf Haupt’s kazoo solos.
Petra Koitka started her short set with a thoughtful song ‘My Friend’ and wistful lyrics: “It’s hard to lose a friend like you, but you are always in my heart”. Zurückhaltend’ as they say in Germany. Her final number wasn’t so ‘Zurückhaltend’ though when she sang in tango tempo “I want you to know, how much I love you” and gave Steve a big hug to an even bigger cheer from the audience. I couldn’t see Steve’s red face from my seat but I could feel the heat of it.
We haven’t seen Lothar Heinrich at the Club in a while, possibly because he’s been busy making appearances around Bonn on his own (There’s another with Brat Jakob on Accordion on 30 Jan at Cafe Landlust in Meckenheim). I’m a sucker for the old standards and the best of these come from Cole Porter. Lothar makes an excellent Bing Crosby on ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ I should add. A highlight of the set was Gaby Tieboka’s gentle rendition of Paul Simons ’50 ways to leave your lover’ (which increased the amount of paths covered in this theme night in one stroke).
Featured act of the evening was a lady who needed no introduction to most of the audience and even brought along a large contingent of fans herself. I last caught Cynthia Nickschas at her CD release party SEE REVIEW HERE where we had a great evening of music and also of signature collecting for our petition against Bonn’s Street Musician laws. Cynthia is a strange hybrid of musician who can be seen playing The Harmonie one day and Poststrasse the next. Her CD is an excellent mix of politics and pop and her enthusiasm for playing is extremely infectious. I wish I had her energy now, heck I wish I had her energy when I was Cynthia’s age. She kicked off with a song perfectly titled for the evening ‘Dein Weg’. Especially written for this evening? Well, actually it’s on her CD, but it’s a great poppy number to get things underway aided by (if my ears heard correctly) Mario on Cajon and Chris on acoustic bass.
‘Warum’ was a few days too late as far as the opening line is concerned: “Schön wieder fast ein Jahr gezählt” The tempo started more than it’s predecessor but jumped suddenly to it’s marvelously, chaotically, speeded up chorus. You’ll need the lyrics to be able to keep up – so if you didn’t buy the CD when John came round then all fool you and I bet you regret it now! A quick and spontaneous rendition of the planets most sung song ‘Happy Birthday’ that turned out to cover at least two members of the audience and ‘Gold glanzt nicht’ with some wonderful lyrics about the small things meaning more than the obvious ones. Gold needs light to truly shine whilst good deeds and even a smile can shine without light. A beautiful song and also a highlight of Cynthia’s set tonight that got a lot of applause and not a few ‘”wow’s!” too.
“Tanzen’ was a percussive delight with excellent work on Cajon. ‘Positiv Denken’ was introduced with a quotation by Dieter Hildebrandt “I’m a pessimist and fight hard against all forms of optimism” Positive thinking is all about fighting the famous German ‘Schweinehund’ that lurks in us all as she asserts in the appropriately named ‘Positiv Denken’. Too much thinking though, positive or otherwise, leads to a though overload, or a ‘Gedanken Salat’ as Cynthia wonderfully describes it. ‘Es läuft immer wie du dich fühlst’ brought Cynthia’s wonderful set to an uptempo clap-along close – but not before John had professed a wish to sing ‘Mercedes Benz’ with the evenings star guest. Cynthia, bless her, quickly gave up the hope of finding the lyrics on her cell-phone and trusted to memory and following John’s lead. The result was a sing-along that inevitably led to that most famous of Folk Club sing alongs of all and finally we were all opening doors and windows to let the final ringing tones of Jock Stewart on their way home to bed where we joined them – rejoicing in the extraleg room but missing the wonderful music.