A celestial evening of Folk Music

FolkClubMarch2016-41With this month’s theme being ‘Celestial Bodies’ who could be better as special guest than an international Model for Bonn Folk Club number 67?  Lauren Napier, also known as #punkrockdoll was not the average musician at Haus Müllestumpe for sure.  As always on the first Friday of a month though the only thing to expect is the unexpected.

John Harrison singing a number by Robert Johnson or Big Bill Broonzy isn’t so unexpected of course, although John did rather cleverly use Broonzy’s ‘Night Watchman Blues’ to advertise his own activity at present as a Nightwatchman Guide around Bonn.  You won’t be surprised to hear that John is the first such Nightwatchman to play music on his ‘watch’.


What might have surprised you though and certainly did me was John slipping in some Shakespeare (Sonnet XIV to be exact) that fitted the celestial bodies theme:“Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck” as the Bard wisely said…
What definitely would have surprised you though was John delivering a song from this present century – Jamie Lawson’s 2011 hit ‘Wasn’t expecting that’ to be precise. No I certainly wasn’t expecting that John, nice one!  Nice work too by Folk Club Session Man extra-ordinaire Paulo on percussion and mouth harp.


I thought I’d seen John Hay tuning up, but none of his usual partners in musical crime were around.  Another surprise for the evening then to be listening to a new group singing Dylan’s ‘Baby stop crying’  and find John standing third from the left.  Well, truth be told I also recognized Christian Schuster and Paulo Pacifico on blues harp but it was a new group under the vocal direction of UNFCCC Communications Head Nick Nuttall.  Further proof that Bonn Folk Club truly does Unite Nations – if only climate change could be solved over a cold beer and a song at the pub.


The as yet nameless band certainly brought an eclectic mix of covers to Müllestumpe.  Another Dylan ‘Knocking on Heavens Door’, Donovan’s ‘Catch the Wind’ and Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘The circle is small’.  Any stickiness in the delivery caused by their short existence was more than made up for by the band’s infectious enthusiasm.  They had everyone singing along with Donovan and will hopefully be regular players at the Club.  Oh, and Nick, I’m not calling you the ‘Terribles’ as you suggested for a band name on Friday.  ‘The not bad now and will be even better next time Band’ is my suggestion.  (Hope you can fit all that on a drumkit).


Time now to find out if Lauren Napier sounds as good as she looks.  First a brief intro via Lauren’s website:

“I am an internationally published model, music journalist, short story author, cellist, and rock singer.  Being a young entertainment industry professional – my look is characterized by my lifestyle which is heavily saturated in the rock, punk, and alternative genres.”


‘Entertainment industry professional?’  Okay, you asked for it, here’s the full list:

“Over the last ten years, Lauren has been a writer for such outlets as Smash Magazine, Tinsel Tokyo, Berlin Beat, Sugarhooker, Tacoma Volcano, and many others. She has acted as a tour manager for both club and festival circuits, a booking agent for national tours, a programming director and station manager for Bowdoin College’s radio station, a publicist for large scale music industry campaigns, a print and runway model, and as an editor for various texts including screen plays, lyrics and news articles. Her current project is a collection of short stories”.





She is also a singer songwriter, which is the bio bit that counts this evening.  napier quietly takes a seat and gently embarks rather than kicks off with the wonderfully titled ‘Windowsill of romantic ponderings’ a little nervously and, as is often the Folk Club case, a little quietly.  It’s a shame because she is also quite poetic in her lyrics and truth be told this is really poetry set to music – Lauren keeps the rhythms suitably simple, brushing chords very lightly with the very tips of her fingertips.  Luckily no-one ordered a cappuccino from the machine because it’s all very intimately delivered but the extra listening effort is worthwhile.  She thumbs through a small lyric book between numbers that looks like, and quite possibly also acts as, a diary.  It suits the intimate nature of the music.


I’m taking fresh air outside when I hear the piano fired up by Barry Roshto.  Typically Barry has found the perfect ‘Celestial Body’ lyric this evening in “If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me”.   If this is played tongue in cheek it must be said that Barry’s pretty damn good when he gets serious too:  ‘Blue Moon’ has me suddenly thinking I should order a cocktail and chill by the bar.  Best of all though was his rendition of ‘Stars fell on Alabama’.  It’s been covered by everyone, from Sinatra, though Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz and even British icon Vera Lynn – and now the name Roshto can be added to that list.


I’m still not sure why Steve sang ‘All through the night’ in Welsh, but it was certainly interesting, boyo.


Time for some local heroes. Sebastian Landwehr was really the King of Melancholy with his starter ‘Sag mir alte Mann’.   ‘Muss jetzt gehen’ was a bit more sprightly, if still heavy lyric-wise, but with ‘Hey Freunde’ Landwehr has that coveted of songs for a gigging musician, a self-penned ‘hum along’ tune.  As a learning guitar player I also have to say that Sebastian Landwehr is technically excellent too, with a clear confident fingerpicking style that filled the hall.  Such things look easy when they’re done well but my own slow fingers are proof they are not.


England might have one red headed superstar Folk musician in the form of million-selling Ed Sheeran.  Bonn however has not one but TWO such gems – and both are named Ledermann.  You may have caught Dennis Ledermann at last months Club, or The Fiddlers recently perhaps.  He even has his name down for this year’s NRW music competition ‘Toys2 Masters’ (30 march Klangstation).  This was the first time I’ve seen him with brother Marvin though and it was a musical delight.  A self written song each in the set – Marvin’s ‘Nightwatch’ and Dennis’ ‘Circles’ with the Namika hit ‘Lieblingsmensch’.  fitting perfectly in with Marvin’s gentle rap-style.


John Harrison rightly pointed out afterwards that Dennis and Marvin Ledermann are exactly what one of his early dreams of Folk Club in Bonn were all about:  A place where young and talented musicians could come to learn their trade.  So get along to Klangstation on 30 March and root for Mr Ledermann.  The brothers even covered the aforementioned Mr Sheeran’s ‘I see fire’ as a deserved encore and were, if you pardon the pun, flaming good.


What can you follow that with?  Bob Marabito was the man having to take the stage afterwards.  If he was nervous, he quickly got some support via a kiss – from a girl named ‘Maria’.  It may have been acting of course, but I think he enjoyed this bit of theatre as an intro to the Westside Story’ classic.


When Lauren Napier sat down to unfold her music book/diary for the second time this evening she looked a lot more relaxed and the extra volume and intensity really were the key to a spell-binding set to finish the evening in fine style.  A picture on her website of Napier shows some ‘light reading’ by Kafka, and although she has a song titled ‘I don’t want to mirror Kafkas Loveletters’ it’s not played this evening but ‘Freudian Slip’ is and is probably equally heavily laden.  Lauren Napier keeps probably her most accessible song to last in ‘Suitor in a black cape’ with again poetic lyrics:

Because it’s your kiss that I feel

It’s your kiss that I taste

I want your teeth to gnaw at my soul

I want to be your thorn – Suitor in a black cape.


The lyricbook/diary is quietly closed and Lauren Napier is individually  handwrapping copies of her latest EP ‘Void of Course’ as ‘Jock Stuart’ makes his customary appearance to tell us Folk Club 67 is at an end.  Meeting number 67 indeed, and like every one of it’s predecessors, it’s been a little different from what went before.  Apologies for those not mentioned here.  As usual the Folk Club reviews get longer and longer.  I think I got everyone’s picture though, so please Click Here for more photos


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