If ever a Folk Club came into my ‘Do Not Miss’ category in advance it would be this one. One of my all time favourite acts, the return of an old favourite, a set by the club’s current rising stars… Yes indeed, one to look forward to – and back on with equal relish.
With a theme of protest songs John kicked off with a typical Harrison twist in the tale: A protest song by a son of one of the most celebraeted of protest singers. Apparently Arlo, son of Woody Guthrie, got arrested with a bunch of friends in Philadelphia one night after singing Ring a Ring a Roises and famously wrote his ‘Ring around a Rosie Rag’ in a police holding cell. I was expecting an evening of Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan covers but Folk Club is not about the expected of course…! John writes his own protest songs and presented us with ‘1001 Protest Song’ and ‘Trouble & Strife’ which actually isn’t a cockney protest song about ‘the wife’.
Paolo was on hand with excellent harmonica duties and stayed to show he is also no slouch when it comes to playing acoustic guitar with the Venetian anti-war song by Gianni Morandi ‘ C’era un ragazzo‘.
A protest song evening in Bonn without Gerd Schinkel would be hard to imagine and he didn’t disappoint, keeping the genre bang up to date with comments on the recent Erdogan Coup d’etat and a rather cleverly song titled ‘Der getürkte Pütsch’ (‘getürkt in German = phony).
Time to rest out how many people could be fitted in front of the seating came next with the arrival of La Bella Musica. I gave up counting after twenty.
They kept the theme well though – a song titled ‘Hymn to Freedom’ has to be a classic protest against anything less than democracy – and headed back to the sixties in looks as well as music to a time when, on the backs of The Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam, the protest movement was full steam ahead in the States. ‘Die gedanken sind frei’ as they succinctly pointed out – at a time when whose cause you died for was not.
I still have pictures on my hard drive from a fresh faced youngster named Richard Limbert who managed to make a small Guild guitar sound very loud indeed and enjoyed taking walkabouts mid-song around the Grauerheindorf Folk Club tables. One of Richard’s strengths was his songwriting and gladly it was as intact as ever this evening when he made one of his all too rare visits back from his new home in Leipzig. A huge fan of Dylan and Van Ronk Richard spent time researching for his Bachelor Thesis in Greenwich Village – cutting edge of the Folk Music/Beat scene in the 1960’s. The result is a new look, a new guitar and, most encouragingly of all, new songs. I particularly liked ‘The Folk is Coming’ Richard. Hope you come back again soon too!
Barry Roshto was looking very pleased with himself all evening, as well he might. It transpired that Barry had discovered a very taalented young lady amongst his piano students – with a voice that when it settled from nerves, promised to be as good as any heard on the Folk Club Bonn stage and quite a few others too. She was really at her best when Barry joined in as a duet and then it was pretty evident why he was pretty excited about Lena Waldbröl. Wir Sind Helden’s ‘Gib mir nur ein Wort’ was a pleasure to hear and even the Justin Timberlake song ‘Love Yourself’ was welcome (actually I rather liked its lyrics: “My mother she don’t like you, and she likes everyone” rather nice. Think I might buy the album, or maybe…
John Hay proved how quiet a Folk Club audience can be with his flamenco numbers ‘Solea’ and ‘Bulera’ during both of which pins could have been heard dropping and the owners of clinking glasses looked embarrassed. Nice one (or two actually) John. A chance to mellow out before the Ledermann brothers made an assault once again on the hearts of the assembled drinkers as Bromo, particularly with ‘Schrei nach Liebe’ (Cry for Love) one of the best known political anthems and anti-fascist songs in Germany – written by Punkrockers ‘Die Arzte’ and inspired by xenophobic riots in Saxony.The brothers also enlisted the aid of Lena Waldbröl for Sheeran’s ‘Fire on the Mountain’ and it could be the start of a beautiful musical friendship. Certainly I would love to hear more.
And then there was ‘Yorkshire Matthew’ up from Bradford with his raggle taggle band of extremely talented musical gypsies. I loved these guys two years ago when they brought the house down and once again they did not disappoint as Matthew Robb brought his dry humour and Dylanesque style back to Bonn. Just take a listen to ‘Dead men have no dreams’ to know the band’s quirky but imminently listenable style. I liked too how Matthew happily invited Dennis, Marvin and Lena to join in on his set.
So there you are. A Folk Club evening that really spanned the years and underlined what these meetings are all about. People coming together not to make money but to simply make music. It was wonderful to see how much Richard Limbert has developed musically since his first tentative appearances here, how much Denis and Marvin Ledermann continue to develop with every show they do, and to be reminded that not only does Bonn Folk Club have a great past and present for encouraging new music but that, with Lena Waldbröl’s first promising appearance, there are still wonderful surprises to come.
Finally, a bit of Matthew Robb and Band…