I’m on the roof of the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn. It’s called the General Anzeiger Sommergarten and whilst the sky above it might be grey, the music on the stage this overcast Summer Sunday is very definitely Blue. Marco Marchi and the Mojo Workers are new to Bonn but not so new to the Blues scene. Although only formed in 2009 as a trio the quartet have played many of the major Festivals across Europe, you might have seen them for instance at the Piazza Blues in Bellinzona or at the Blues Summit in Geneva where they were the winners of the Swiss Blues Challenge and went on to be the Countries first representatives at the prestigious International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Right here and now though it’s 11.40 am and 58 year old Marco is peering out over the top of the small cover that will be the bands only protection if it rains. When it rains seems most likely though. The band’s music is a sunny combination of Blues meets Jazz as their hybrid repertoire reveals. It can veer from the bluesy ‘Key to the Highway’ to the Jazzy ‘All of Me’ in a heart beat, or should that be a harp beat? Certainly the star of the show for me is Marco Simoncelli and his harmonica playing. Somehow it seems able to keep the New Orleans Jazz sound in check and makes a perfect combination for lovers of both genres. As Fabio Bianchi tells me during a break the two styles really come out of the same melting pot originally – Fabio is the Tuba player of the band which was an essential part of the Blues in the past he points out before electric bass took to pinning down the pace. Bianchi’s arrival heralded the change from Blues trio to quartet and it really does give the band it’s own identity as well as provide a strident push to the music.
So, a Swiss Blues quartet with tuba. add the classical ingredient of a standard Blues/Jazz song and it’s an undeniably interesting recipe that keeps the toes tapping and the ears wide open. There’s even a venture into Rock with ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ “Because I know Keith won’t be here today to complain” as Bianchi smilingly puts it. Muddy Waters certainly can’t be here, but he would have loved the bands take on his ‘Mojo Working’.
Inevitably the ever greying clouds finally burst and sunglasses are snapped shut whilst umbrellas are snapped open. Plastic covers go over the speakers but rain dripping down the drummers back signals a need to break. On the sound desk a man is speaking on his cellphone. Does he have a hotline to God? A few minutes later it stops raining and the said soundman has been assured that it will stay dry – at least for the next half an hour.
For those who braved out the wait there is some heartwarming Rock n Roll before Marco Marchi is left alone onstage to play an emotional ‘Georgia on my Mind’. There are still droplets of rain forming on his hair but we ignore them in favour of closed eyes that see a much warmer and sunnier place than the present rooftop has proved to be. When the applause begins I open my eyes and see rows of clapping hands. If keeping your audience depite the rain is a sign of a top notch band then Marcos Marchi and his Mojo Workers have passed the ‘Top Notch’ test. Hopefully they will be back this way again before too long – be it at the Rheiaue or the Harmonie, their’s is a sound that is guaranteed to create a good time – come rain or shine.