Heart & Soul have been, yes, the heart and soul of Blues parties in the Bonn area and beyond for some sixteen years now. I’m not usually a fan of cover/tribute/memorial bands but the very best are just too good to miss – and since John Belushi’s death in 1982 rules out an appearance by the original Jake and Elwood I’m more than happy to head to Bonn Harmonie without expecting great things. As it turns out, the current incarnation of Heart & Soul is actually very much a great thing. Join me as the prisoners take some exercise.
For music historians The Blues Brothers began their charmed lives as a musical sketch on Saturday Night Live in 1978. An American blues and soul revivalist band dreamed up by comedy actors Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. What seemed like a fun idea at the time grew, and grew and GREW. Their characters – Jake and Elwood Blues – are likely to be discussed by said historians in 200 years as two men who, like Robin Hood, might actually have existed. Sometimes I’m not sure if Dan Akroyd is Elwood Blues or Elwood Blues is Dan Akroyd. I suspect even Dan Akroyd gets confused sometimes. Tonight though Ruhrpot born Dirk Zepuntke is Elwood and Oliver Glosch Jake. They take the stage with 15 other people, including three in American police attire – oh, and the whole band is handcuffed in chains.
With the chains off though the gang can relax, and do what they enjoy doing best. No, not beating up on each other or raiding liquor stores – playing God’s own Soul and Blues. The original Blues Brothers film featured musical performances by Aretha Franklyn and Cab Calloway. Both are also in attendance (well, sort of) tonight. Calloway can only find room onstage when Elwood takes a break but has time to deliver a fine version of ‘Minnie the Moocher’ in a white suit that washing detergent companies would describe as ‘After using our product!’.
Cinja Pauswang, alias ‘Aretha’ spent a good bit more time onstage and given her long legs and shimmering dress I’m not complaining about the arrangement. She certainly delivered a scorching ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ and a very respectable ‘Respect Yourself’ and best of all a beautifully sultry ‘Natural Woman’. Easy on both the eyes and the ears in fact. I’d go to see her alone at a show.
Praise goes out also to the band. Zita Martine’s soloing on ‘Shotgun Blues’ was great – inspired maybe by Mike Zito’s autograph on her Fender? Mike would have loved it I’m sure. The band allround were spot on but special mention also to Stephan Dupre for some fine pumping bass runs and Hendrik Hoinkis on drums. The two provided a rocksteady backing to the music. An extra mention goes out also to Ferdi Goebel who has been blowing the blues with Heart and Soul since 2004 and was playing his final show tonight. Hopefully there will be a replacement – what is a Gospel Blues Band without a saxophone? Anyway, on tonight’s performance his will be a hard act to follow.
Jake and Elwood truth to tell remind me of English comedians Morecambe and Wise at times. Not least because Dirk Zepuntke looks just as I imagine Eric would have looked dressed as a Blues Brother. Believe me Dirk that is a compliment. He and Oliver Glosch (Jake) have their own dance routines too just like Eric and Ern. Always well thought out and looking spontaneous in that way that you only get after you’ve practiced, sweated and lived a character to the maximum.
The show itself hasn’t changed it’s format too much since I last caught it in 2009 but the current line-up is about as good as it gets. Dan Aykroyd currently reprises his character, Elwood Blues, as the host of the weekly House of Blues Radio Hour But the dancing, joking spirit of Elwood can be found right here in Germany. Do yourself a favor, next time Jake, Elwood and company are allowed out from their cells, pay them a visit. The guards won’t bother you and at the shows end, when the band are back in their cells, you get to go home – sanctified with the Lord’s righteous Music played by and from the Heart & Soul.