With Jazz fans having a regular meeting place to hear their favourite music live in the Summer air at Rheinaue, t’s about time that us Bluesers had the chance to enjoy our music outside of a dark and sweaty indoor hall. Well done therefore to Hans Joachim Over for introducing a Blues Night to his highly ejoyable Alten Zoll Season.
It wasn’t an evening for youth, with the three bands totalling existences of almost 60 years between them – but you wouldn’t have known it by seeing the enthusiasm and hearing the music.
An early (6pm) start meant the first part of B-Five Bluesband‘s set was shared with Boule players lobbing heavy metal balls around just a few feet from the stage. It was the only heavy metal of the evening though as local Bluesman Gernot Schreiber led his well rehearsed band through a snapshot of electric blues classics.
Some, like ‘Stormy Monday’ and ‘Who’s been Talking?’ have become staples of many a band repertoire, but it was good to hear some lesser known gems played too such as JJ Cale’s ‘Sensitive Kind’ and Tony Joe White’s ‘It’s Saturday Night’. I could certainly associate with the Monday morning feeling of ‘Why Get Up?’ too. All in all an energetic start that I’m sure acted like a live Pied Piper leading casual passers by around the University and beer garden into the Alten Zoll for the treasures to come.
The first treasure being my own favourite Bonn Blues Band Baum’s Bluesbenders. In case you’ve been sleeping musically where Bonn Blues is concerned (Bill and his Bluesbenders have been around since 1993) these guys are very definitely the real deal, don’t just take my word for it either, Lousiana Red and Richard Bargel liked them so much that they didn’t just have them supporting but actually as backing band. The fire still breathes in their show for sure.
Bill was telling me before the show how much he enjoyed the recent Steve Vai/Joe Satriani gig in Bonn and today he is sporting a suitably short all over Satriani haircut. I joke that if he jumps from the drum stand at the end I’ll catch him – on camera that is! He might not be allowed to play as loud as Satriani or Vai did, but he still plays with the fire and passion of a man half his age and the happy smile of a small boy in his favourite sweetshop.
Good news for the band’s many local fans is that I’m assured a new Bluesbenders disc with largely own compositions will be available in the not too distant future, and on the strength of the self-penned material played this evening I for one can’t wait to hear it. Outside of ‘Caladonia’ and ‘All By Myself’ I didn’t recognize much of the set, it all sounded like classic RnB from finest which is a testimony to the band. For me they are impossible to imagine without Uwe Placke’s high-voltage BluesHarp input and he reminds me very much of British Blues Harp legend Paul Jones in his phrasing not just on the harp but on the vocals too.
I’ve seen this band a few times now and for me this was one of the very best performances, lacking only Bill’s finally torching his white Fender or hammering it to the floor Townsend style to turn it into a classic for Rock n Roll posterity. A lot to ask for a man who sells guitars I suppose – he knows too well their worth! Lots of great music from Bill and Co, lots of great fun and smiles. Did he jump from the drum stand? Yes he did. Did I catch the moment? well sort of – I thought he was joking and found myself in the wrong place at the right time. Moral of the story: Never underestimate Bill Baum and his Bluesbender Friends. Certainly never miss their shows*.
One More Night are a super group of sorts. Drummer Axel Mikolajczak is Editor in Chief of ‘Sticks’magazine and guitarist Dieter Roesberg Editor in Chief of Germany’s ‘Guitar &Bass’. Certainly their choice of instruments should be an informed one. Their choice of music was similarly well informed with a selection of classics to make any RnB heart beat a little faster and feet tap a little more to the rhythm. ‘Tulsa Time’, and ‘Davy’s on the Road Again’ showed the bands wide palette, the latter perfectly chosen to showcase the talents of Hammond Man Karlheinz Kost. A man wearing a Beatles baseball cap can’t do a set without something by the Fab Four of course and ‘Come Together’ was a welcome one to get hands clapping.
I heard Gary Moore play ‘Still Got The Blues’ many years ago at Bonn’s Museumsplatz. More recently German Blues Master and confessed Moore fan Henrik Freischlader sent tingles down my spine with his emotional version at the Harmonie. It’s a number not to be attempted lightly by any budding guitarist so I expected the worst when the first notes came on Saturday evening. “This is not something to be toyed with by a coverband!” Or so I thought. I was wrong. Like Henrik before him, Dieter Roesberg played it with a perfect mix of feeling and technical prowess that did both Gary Moore and his classic proud. My stand-out song of the evening in fact, leaving not just mine but a good few hundred other throats with a lump in them as the stars started to twinkle in the fittingly blue fading light of late evening.
Will there be a Blues Night next year at Alten Zoll? Hans-Joachim Over had a promising twinkle in his eye as he said – “who knows, maybe…” Yes, it’s true that experience of the successful Jazz nights and coverbands at Rheinaue tells me a large part of audiences comes out to hear the familiar standards, but even so, perfect for me would be an evening showcasing young Blues musicians with more of their own material, I can run off a list of names from the UK alone who would I’m sure be interested in an audience in the hundreds on a sunny evening by the Rhine. Hey, let’s even make it a Festival? Okay, I can dream can’t I?
- Baums Bluesbenders are appearing at the Tin Star Saloon in Mayschoss on 3 September