Folk Club #90 (yep, rapidly approaching a centenary!) was a Country affair with special guest from Canada The Great Plains. Lots of local talent too from the likes of Brother Movement and Daniel Bongart. This was one of those evenings when a good show was predestined.
The theme this evening was children and perhaps John’s choice of ‘Hard Times Come Again No More’ fitted the bill from an experienced father’s economic perspective and John did bring along some jokes from the perspective of children to their ‘dinosaur’ aged parents and teachers to fit the evening’s theme. I’m not sure where ‘Bring me flowers whilst I’m living’ fit in but who cares? It’s a great sentiment – You will probably never ‘get’ more flowers than at your funeral, and you don’t get to appreciate them then.
Two short and sharp floor-spots followed. One by the Clubs resident ‘Bönnsch’ poet Gert Müller and one by a young lad known to me only as Louis who is already playing guitar better than I ever will as you will know if you heard his delicate instrumental rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’
It was it seemed left to Mario to truly deliver on the ‘Children’ theme. ‘Gespräch mit den Tieren’ had a touch of the Doctor Doolittle’s about it for sure. I haven’t heard a Burl Ives song since I was, well a child, so the ‘Tailor and the Mouse’ was warmly welcome by me and I happily re-lived my distant youth by singing along to the chorus:
Through the town of Ramsey
Hi diddle um, come over the lea
Hi diddle um come feed a
“The Great Plains is merely a name; something to appease the trending styles dictated by the music industry, festival producers, and venue hosts. We’re still the same old Saskia & Darrel”. That’s how tonight’s main guests introduce themselves online. Saskia and Darrel Delaronde do indeed need only five minutes before they seem like old friends.
Their music as I hear it online and on disc seems more heavily tilted towards Country than their performance tonight would suggest. This might be partly due to Saskia having borrowed an acoustic bass from Daniel that is almost as tall as she is which forces her to sit down to support it. Partner Darrel takes a few minutes to get used to looking to his left and then down to see her beside him but he’s always greeted with a smile back. You can tell this duo are in perfect harmony both on and off the stage.
There are a couple of excellent cover versions in the duos set. Saskia admits to Emmylou Harris as an early inspiration and delivers up ‘If I Needed You’ perfectly to prove she learned well. Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer’ suits the couples tight harmonies perfectly too and ‘Going Over Jordan’ seems natural from the pair, but it’s really the self composed songs that are the gems. This is no surprise since the duo come across so genuinely and even if when Darrel says for thee fifth time with a wink in his eye “This is a true story” everything sounds so true.
A particular favourite of mine this evening was ‘Laura’s Kitchen’ and, yes, although it was composed for children, I did love ‘There’s a Bear’. A useful song to know if you are confronted by one of these magnificent but terrifying beasts. “It was inspired by Saska having to brake the car suddenly when a bear ran into the road” recalled Darryl with that wink that said it might or might not have been true. Since the couple travel often on the roads of Canada I’m inclined to believe this one. It might be a while until I can test out what I learned in the big, bad Kottenforst here in Bonn (maybe what works for bears also works for Boars?).
It’s not all fun and fairytales in the Great Plains songbook though. Darryl recounts relatives telling the story of Louis Riel, like Darryl himself Riel came from the native Canadian Métis people. Riel led two rebellions against the then government of Canada. The song is sweetly sung but the battles were obviously bitter. Food for thought but presented so well that it doesn’t jar at all with the friendly banter and smiles that Saska and Darryl bring to Bonn Folk Club on this early Summer evening. Always worth a visit, this evening’s meet was in my humble opinion, one of the very best.
In case you wondered what Great Plains looked and sounded like with microphones and both standing up…