Bonn Folk Club number 73 was themed ‘Old Favourites’ which made Tom Kannmacher the ideal special guest for the evening. Not because of Tom himself of course, who at the mention of musical instruments immediately has the enthusiasm of a teenager, but because of his partner for the evening a 1905 German Lute. It was an evening that dipped it’s feet into oldies from Folk, Pop and Bluegrass so take a walk with me on the vintage side…
John Harrison’s first offering tonight was probably one of the oldest numbers outside of Tom’s ‘catch’ with the traditional ‘A Begging He Can Go’. Aided by a very dapper looking Paolo he also visited Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell’s (love that name) ‘Wee Midnight Hour’ and Jene Bodewelt lampe’s (another name to savor!) ‘Creole Belle’ which chimed all the more onerously Bluesy through John’s Dobro.
Canadian Carol Atwell was a surprise walk-in or in this case,´, walk in and sit down’ since she played some gently jazzy piano including Prince’s ‘How come you don’t call me anymore’. Clearly a bit nervous but Carole had a nice touch on the ivories and we don’t get too many pianists at the Club so welcome Carol!
Then it was time for the Passionate Penguins. Well lead ‘penguin’ Nick Nuttall said John had insisted on a name for the playlist so they had to think quickly (a close second choice was ‘The Grateful Gerbils’ but that of course would have been plain silly…!) The music itself from Nick, and messrs Hay, Monnerjahn and Schuster though was certainly seriously good, in fact just to my taste comprising as it did of Richard Thompson’s ‘ I Misunderstood’ (made visually emphatic via Nick’s lively hand waving and urgent vocals), and a lively take on Dylan’s ‘Percy’s Song’ with the most popular sing-along of the evening of “Turn, turn again!” following the evergreen Sandy Denny hit ‘Who Knows where the time goes?”. Really a perfect choice of set and delivered with the ease of the seasoned veterans of FCB that they are in their various bands.
The Bluegrass Guerilla describe themselves as “Honest handmade music from Bonn” which is one of the shortest but also most accurate band descriptions I’ve come across on Facebook. Musically inspired to work together by Robert Altmann’s 1975 film ‘Nashville’ which is a pastiche of the Country/Gospel music scene in, you guessed, Nashville. I haven’t seen the film but if it’s even half as much fun as the band then I recommend it sight unseen. Their set included Johnny Cash’s ‘Further up on the Road’ (as opposed to the Blues classic ‘Further on up the road!) and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s ‘Take me in your Lifeboat’. Lots of jumping about with banjo and fiddle – lots of fun. They play regularly in Bonn so my advice is not to miss them. When not jumping about they are also a treat for the ears and my favourite number of the evening was a beautifully harmonised version of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘If I Needed you’
I give the same go-see advice for two local singer/songwriters Sebastian Landwehr and Daniel Bongart. Sebastian is a regular FCB visitor but always delights with the sensitivity of his playing and Daniel on Banjo with Glen Hansard’s ‘Lowly Deserter’ was excellent. Also excellent was his take on Dylan’s (that man again!) ‘Forever Young’ which also had a sad undertone this evening as Daniel was joined on guitar by Janero, making his last FCB appearance before moving away from Bonn. Thanks for some wonderful memories Janero – passing out slips of paper with parts for different sides of the audience, singing accapella Philippine songs, oh, and of course for creating a video library for so many of the bands who pass through on the first Friday of every month. You will be GREATLY missed my friend!
Tom Kannmacher joked that it was a hopeless situation to follow The Bluegrass Guerilla’s Fiddle and banjo driven momentum with ‘just’ an old lute. Of course it helps that you are a virtuoso player of said instrument and that it really is a beautiful sound. I sort of expected the lute he played to be a couple of hundred years old, part of the headstock seemed held together with string and the neck was replaced due to the ravages of time (and no doubt by tunes played uncountable). Still, 1905 certainly beats messrs Gibson and Fender into a cocked hat.
Tom has a wonderful way of talking about the tunes purely and simply that just draws the listener in and some of them (the songs not the listeners) go back to the 1800’s. Tales of Knights seeking Nuns ‘Ich stehe auf hohen Bergen’ or women dressing as men to go to war ‘Es reist eine Jungfrau’. They seem to have an infinite number of verses which even without the beautiful playing I would take my hat off to Tom for in that he actually remembers them all (only on one occasion did he chide himself for singing the same verse twice – which given the songs length was miraculous).
An evening then of Guitars, banjos, fiddles, flutes (Ulrike Maria Hund of ‘Zwei von Zwei’ also appeared with Stephan Weidt backing Sebastian Landwehr) and last but certainly not least, German Lutes. Certainly a musical selection you don’t meet every day!