I remember the press conference for Stadtmusik 2017. I had this vision of standing by numerous stages, cold beer in one hand and Nikon in the other. Meandering down Sternstrasse from the Marktplatz to the stages at Bottlerplatz and Friesenplatz in blazing sunshine, worrying that my sun lotion supply would be inadequate for a whole day in the open air. God though took pity on my concern and sent me… rain. Not the quick shower, wet and gone, variety either but the drizzles all day down your neck kind. Some twenty bands between 2pm and 10pm. Only good music could save me. It did.
My first port of call had to be Marktplatz and the Jazzbäckerei stage. Master of Ceremonies Sobo was setting up the mixing desk when I arrived – two bananas, some yoghurt… well it was going to be a long day. Folk Club regulars will have recognized Claudia and Werner aka Meoneo. Don’t tell the non-electric Folk Club MC John Harrison this, but I really enjoyed hearing Werner’s semi hollow Gibson amplified across the Markplatz. He and Claudia did their best to help us forget that it had just started raining half way through their fine set but a half hour later, I’m down at Friedensplatz to catch another Bonn Folk Club gem in the form of red headed brothers Bromo and the rain is still coming down. A long shower?
When I arrive Aaron Dulfer is well into his set of acoustic folk. If he hasn’t yet played at Folk Club he should. Maybe a bit too melancholy (a happy song would have jollied things up a little) I did like his take on Johnny Cash’s ‘Give my love to Rose’ but with the rain too I needed something a little uplifting.
Dennis and Marvin came to my rescue. The brothers Bromo repeated their presentation of ‘Englishman in New York’ from last weekend’s Munsterplatz appearance and, with the rain still trickling down in it’s best damp english style it seemed an appropriate choice. The live sets have made me very curious to hear the duo’s upcoming debut disc – available September 1.
The rest of my evening was spent at the Bottlerplatz stage where Saman Haddad was Master of Ceremonies. Oh, and he brought his own bar with him too. The Viertel Bar is actually a live music venue but the bar part of it also goes on tour occasionally. When I arrived the band playing was a late addition to the bill. A banner by the stage named them as Johnny Reggae Rub F which seemed an odd name but certainly the reggae bit was accurate and they were a fun band with a fair bit of Ska in the mix.
Bonnindo were certainly a colourful group onstage – consisting of musicians from Bonn and from Indonesia. Rather like an iceberg has most of it’s body invisible so did this band. Right at the back were two percussionists and a man playing tubular bells. Fortunately their smiles lit up the shadows otherwise they may never have been seen and people would have claimed the band were using backing tapes. Enthusiasm and fun are good requisites for a great live band and Bonnindo have both in spades.
Which can also be said for Hop Stop Banda. They’re not a secret of course – the Bandas play regularly here in the Cologne/Bonn area. But how to explain the unexplainable? Here is what their website has to say:
“When a Jew meets up with a Chilean, a Russian, a German and a Tatar it sounds more like the beginning of a politically incorrect joke, but if you add a double bass, guitar, accordion, saxophone and flute then it sounds like HopStop! An obscure mix of folk music made up of Russian, Ukrainian, Jewish and Oriental elements and charged with Latin/Balkan grooves”.
The music and the smiles are infectious in equal measure. Singing in the rain? There were plenty of people dancing in it when I left the City centre for the evenings musical fare starting at Stadtgarten by Alter zoll.
I arrived to a quieter affair than the crazy atmosphere I’d just vacated. Sickies had led to the evenings fare being heavily redrawn. No ’21 Gramm’ or ‘Dog Hunters’. No panic either because the replacements were high carat local matadors in the form of acoustic maestro Ijaz Ali whom I had enjoyed hearing not so long ago at the Rock and Pop Zentrum and Toys 2Masters winners Millennia.
It was Ali’s set that I caught the end of and after the Hop Stop Banda mayhem it took a few minutes to recover my senses. I like the man’s music though and his thoughtful (in english) lyrics too. David Nevory Band need no introduction on this website. I’ve caught them now several times and am looking forward to hearing their first CD. Like their show here tonight, it will be a good one. They need to get a little crazy though onstage if they are to compete with the last two acts of the day.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Millennia when I first saw them in an early round of Toys 2Masters. They seemed rather loud, brash and lively but slightly directionless. This evenings show though made me a fan. They hit the ground running, jumping, skipping, leaping… and kept going for the best part of an hour. They made some great Rock music too along their lively way. Fabian Jehnen has the Rockstar riffs too.
It’s still raining when last band of the evening Red County Jail take the damp stage. Southern Hard Rock is their game and it’s something they do very well indeed (and have to if they are going to compete with the previous act). The band from Burg Brohl headed by the charismatic Jan Kröll look like a seasoned band long on the road and remind me of The Spin Doctors which is no bad thing. Kröll gives his respect to the several hundred people who’ve remained throughout a wet evening to hear the music “Just dance and kick up the mud” he suggests, and much dancing and kicking of mud is done. That’s indeed the way today has been throughout – never mind the weather, enjoy the music!