It was April Fools Day and truly you would have been a Fool to miss out on the fun at Haus Müllestumpe last Friday. Put a list of people eager to play a song/set in a linen bag, tie it up tight, give it a good shake, undo the strung and see what falls out. Well, actually there’s more thought in it than that – but the beauty of Bonn Folk Club is that it seems as if things just fall into place. Friday was no exception.
John Harrison seemed to have the first half hour of the evening set aside describing the arrival of ‘Albert Mc Tavish’s Brand New Frigidaire’. That’s a lot of time setting the scene for what is actually an instrumental. Well actually, it was only maybe five minutes introduction and it was very funny too. It was a light-hearted way to introduce quite an intricate piece of guitar picking that showed our John is a nifty man on his Guild – familiarity breeds contempt as we say, it’s easy to forget what a gem of a musician our monthly Master of Ceremonies is. He certainly shines on the Richard Thompson classic ‘Beeswing’ and it’s a topical number for April too.
Just as well we had a humorous start because John also fitted some Dylan into his set this month – No not Bob but Thomas – and with him a sombre reminder ‘Do not go gently into that good night’, quickly followed by a merrily titled number made famous by Joan Baez ‘Isn’t Life Grand’ with it’s cheery message for us post-teenagers that “The longer you live, the sooner you’re going to die…'” Some food for thought then to kick things off with Paulo lending a helping musical hand too on harmonica especially appreciated on Omar Dykes ‘Black Bottom’.
Dieter Faring was on hand with the perfect set for April with his self-proclaimed ‘instrument of choice’ the German language’. He really does have a musical lilt to his voice though and a lively description of two cats entertaining themselves on an April night chasing mice. Followed up by a number for Steve regarding the treatment of mosquitoes and flies with rolled up newspapers. Rather following on from John’s intro set regarding life and death. Who said the Folk Club was a matter of shaking up applicant names in a bag? (yes, I was WRONG!)
Time for my own (sadly in terms of it’s recent necessity) almost regular appearance as the Club’s obituary column. Recent meetings have seen me remember BBKing and David Bowie, this time it was a tribute to Keith Emerson. I wisely left the singing and tune to John, the harmonica (replacing ELP’s Moog synthesizer!) to Paulo’s Harp skills, and strummed contentedly along in the background, joining in with the audience on the chorus.
I’m sorry to say there followed a bit of an ‘altercation’ in front of me during the evening that quickly got noticed by everyone as it occurred right next to the stage. Poor Bob Marabito had decided to do some chatting up between songs and was being loudly denounced by not one but THREE ladies. All of them shouting out very loudly and unmistakably that he should “Hit the road Jack” and never come back “no more, no more, no more, no more…” What a relief to find it was all a set piece – at least I think so…!
Mario, Paulo and John gave us a fine rendition of ‘Angel from Montgomery’ and then it was time for Jörg and Anke Bohnsack to take the stage for some Plattdeutsch songs. For newcomers to Germany, these are the songs that make you think all those German courses you took were money thrown away until you discover that this is almost a different language and one even the locals struggle with if they come from a town 10 kilometres away from the one in which the words originate. I did recognize the Beatles ‘You’ve got to hide your love away’ though which is a number that is not often heard thse days but a super one from the moptops (no I don’t mean that Jörg or Anka are moptops…!)
It being a singers night I foolishly left my wide angle zoom lens at home. It was a big mistake as One Night Stand took the stage, since this is a sizeable choir. There was much waving of a Welsh flag to ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ that had me thinking we were back in plattdeutsch for a moment but we were back to theme with ‘April is my mistress face’ and the donning of all weather coats and umbrellas for ‘April Showers’
Karin Schäfer and Gerald Löhrer brought the stage presence back to manageable proportions for a 50mm lens and some beautiful songs too including Cindy Lauper’s ‘Time after time’. As always too there is space for ‘walk-ins’ and this month saw two young ladies, Maria with guitar and Tania with cajon play a very enjoyable own composition ‘You’re like April’. So popular in fact that calls for an encore were made but sadly had to be refused due to the lack of further material. Come back with another song or two soon girls.
Finishing the evening in a bar-room style we were in the capable hands of Paulo’s harmonica and his friend Robert Hrubes on the piano. I loved ‘Bring it on home to me’ but my favourite number has to be ‘House of the Rising sun’ not least because it reminded me of Folk Club’s from my past in Portsmouth where the MC Roger Courtney often played this very number whilst tapping his foot forcefully to the floor like a human metronome. What goes around comes around as they say.
So, back in a circle to where we always finish up on Folk Club nights – A quick rendition of jock Stewart and an even quicker pint as the chairs are tidied away and guitars placed carefully back into cases – all to be done in reverse in a month’s time. See you there!