Country Folk at Dotty’s

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:


Hi diddle um, come tintrum tantrum
Through the town of Ramsey
Hi diddle um, come over the lea
Hi diddle um come feed a
They don’t write them like that anymore.  Mario’s own ‘Traum Pirat’ (Dream Pirate) is much more closer to reality where children (and adults when they were children) are concerned.  Sneak a look round the door as junior is doing his homework – is he concentrating really hard with his eyes closed, or dreaming about being a pirate on the high seas?
If we’re talking about children then you might well consider the next act up as Children of this very Folk Club.  Dennis and Marvin Ledermann have made a name for themselves in the NRW area and even last week were to be seen in a short documentary on the local Bonn TV channel.  Their last visit here broke the record for CD sales and also Tshirt sales I would think (theirs was both the Club’s first CD release party and first band to have a merchandise table!)  Dennis and Marvin who became BroMo are now Brother Movement.  Things are never dull if you follow these two.
It’s difficult, if not impossible, not to warm to Dennis and Marvin.  There is an honesty about their music and a clear willingness to please the listener – and there are some well crafted Pop-Folk songs too of course.  Songs like ‘The Game we Play’ and ‘Machine’ are always fun to hear and it’s easy to forget in their apparent simplicity that the songs require perfect harmonies and precision timing.  They do say that twins are naturally tuned in to each others thoughts.  These guys are living musical proof.  Ed Sheeran’s ‘I See Fire’ is always a song to close the eyes and open the ears too.  No one wanted them to leave of course and only a small matter of time prevented ‘Wonderwall’ from being the first of many encores.
Following the twin red headed attach of the Ledermann brothers is no easy task.  Daniel Bongart however is also making a name in the area as a solo artist.  This evening he’s also taking on the Ledermann’s where promotion is concerned as John Harrison places a large blue sign on the piano at the back on which is written Daniel’s name.  I suspect it won’t be long until there will also be a stack of CD’s to buy after the show as well.
Daniel’s compositions are thoughtful and often melancholic but melodious too.  ‘Old Man’ is very emotional in it’s tale and a firm favourite with the audience.  ‘You’ gets the audience singing along to its refrain,Daniel reminds me very much of a former Folk Club regular Richard Limbert  with his Folk troubador style that pitches amongst Dylan, Guthrie and the like.  Folk Blues.  Already some nice material and I very much think there is a lot more to come from Daniel.
As always there are some songs to think about from Gerd Schinkel, accompanied this evening by GeWe Spiller.  Gerd’s recent musical appearances have been at the Bonn Easter March and his composition over the demolition of the Cathedral in Immerath was picked up by the local press.

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…

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