Bonn – ‘Half the size of a Berlin Cemetry and twice as dead’… in front of the old Bonn Guildhall in Marktplatz there are six people and a large poster aiming to challenge that infamous remark made from the new seat of government in 1990. Stadtgarten Concerts, Jazz Tube, Stadtmusik Festival. All coming Bonn’s way this Summer – and all free! Ah! I thought that last line would get your attention…
The nucleus for this years Stadtgarten was intensive research in 2012 when new Cultural Affairs Officer in Bonn Martin Schumacher began a ten year plan for improving the Cultural landscape of our City. Not surprisingly a deficit was noted where popular musical culture was concerned, but what was surprising for Bonn is that it was decided not just to actually do something about it, but actually to make it happen. As a result Bonn introduced an official to oversee the development. Step forward Hans-Joachim Over (or ‘Ha-Jo’ to his increasingly large number of friends). Ha-Jo is one of those people who seem to be everywhere at once, but on this particular Thursday morning he is in the Guildhall office of Martin Schumacher and alongside a small group who are determined to put the beat back in Bonn.
This will be the sixth time that the Cultural office has presented concerts near the Alten zoll in Bonn, and the list of sponsors, like the audiences, gets encouragingly bigger each year. In fact they are the reason you will be sitting on the lawn with a cool drink listening to great music for nothing: Hotel Königshof for example provides accomodation for visiting musicians. Leaving visitors guaranteed their money’s worth since the concerts are all free, and secondly, barring a thunderstorm, guaranteeing a great evenings music in one of the most idylic locations the City has to offer. The only ‘obstacle’ seperating visitors to the shows from a walk beside the Rhine itself is actually the beer garden. Hard to pass through successfully on a hot day I know!
The Stadtgarten concert season starts on 4 August with an event that Ha-Jo announces with some trepidation: ‘Underground goes Stadtgarten’. A Hip-Hop Festival no less. Untested territory. “And now for something completely different…” as Monty Python would say. Will a Hip-Hop fesival be a failed idea, or become a veritable ‘Parrot Sketch’ to savour in future years? Fresh ideas and approaches. I like it!
Many highlights to come. So many in fact that I suggest looking at the poster HERE. but of particular note will be the concerts by two favourite local bands: ‘Steal A Taxi’ fronted by the charismatic Makeda (fresh from appearances in a starring role in ‘Bodyguard’ in Cologne) and the multi-pop- fantastic Blümchenknicker – Bonn’s most ‘mücketruppe’. I did ask what that meant once and they did answer, but I still don’t understand. What I do know is that the current crowd record of some 3000 could well fall at one of these shows so get there early (Steal a Taxi 26 August, Blümchenknicker 1 September).
Other recommendations are Luna Gritt (2 Sept) in cooperation with the Institut Francais in Bonn who promises an evening mixing Chanson, Soul, and Britpop. Worth a visit just to see if such a mix is even possible! My own extra ‘tip’ is the David Nevory Band (12 August) who I tipped for Toys 2Masters success last year and was pleased to see them reach the final.
There are six people standing by that poster outside of the Old Town Hall and that’s not a result of ‘over-staffing’ for the Stadtgarten concert offices. The six represent Institut Francais, PopCamp, JazzTube, Bonn’s Culture Office and it’s Rock/Pop Representative. It’s an encouraging sign that the local movers and shakers in the music Bonn music scene are pooling their knowledge and resources to good effect. An excellent example here involves the ‘Green Juice Festival’ which is celebrating its 10th anniversary with shows throughout Bonn before the main Festival on 18th & 19th August. This includes a ‘Green Juice Special’ that will kick off with the winners of a local competition, and rock on with Juri and Killerpilze at Stadtgarten on 11 August. Another example of the synergy created this year sees JazzTube kicking off, not from a tube station this year, but from the Stadtgarten stage with the Alexander Wünsche Trio and Luciel (5 August). Rest assured though that it will then be bringing music to the Bonn Underground as in previous years. More about the JazzTube Season coming soon on 3songsbonn.
Mark August 12th firmly in thick black ink in your diaries. On that day there will be music, not just at Alten Zoll but throughout Bonn Centre. ‘Stadt Musik’ to give it its proper moniker. Don’t be fooled by the sub-title ‘Bonn Klingt’ this isn’t a bicycle rally, It will mean music throughout the City Centre and it will be great as many of the best local musicians will be playing for you, for free.
Friedensplatz will be the place to find, amongst others, Folk Club legends and Toys 2Masters Finalists in 2016 Dennis and Marvin Ledermann better known as Bromo. Taubengang, Lampenschirm and Ultraschall are other top local bands that will make this probably the busiest stage of the day. Bottlerplatz will be offering a stage for World Music with, amongst others, Buntes Herz (Oriental Rock) and BonnIndo (African-Arabian-Chinese sounds) and Markt will kick off with another Folk Club favourite Meoneo (2 pm).
Phew! A lot to digest I know. Take a deep breath and then check out the full Stadtgarten concert season. I can’t guarantee the weather, but musically a hot Summer in Bonn is guaranteed.