Sipping a cool glass of wine on a sunny Summers day, Relaxing live music wafting on a slight breeze, with no waiting at an airport or hotel bill. Bonn City Centre on Stadtmusik 2018 Day was indeed like a one day holiday on Saturday. Friedensplatz, Bottlerplatz, Markt and later Stadtgarten were the ‘holiday’ locations and, much like that beach radio, if you didn’t care for the music on offer you just needed to change your location but with your feet rather than a dial.
Last year’s Stadtmusik Day was memorable for two things – the good music and the bad (all-day-rain) weather. This year we had the good music again but sun to enjoy the sounds. If there was a grand opening speech I must have missed it – Perhaps to get Bonn Council truly involved you have to have the word ‘Beethoven’ in the title of your event? Anyway, proceedings started in Marktplatz at precisely 2pm (German precision, thanks Jazzbäckerei) where the Wedding party emerging from Bonn Guildhall received an unexpected musical fanfare as The Vlad Vaschenko Trio kicked off proceedings in fine Santana influenced style. You will perhaps be familiar with Vlad through his excellent backing of Astatine but it was a pleasantly surprising discovery (one of many throughout the day). that today’s set revolved around his own music with texts from Astatine – who was also on hand to sing of course. Nice to hear her present a Country style number too. Top class music and musicians (I even sneaked away from the Rupp Wine booth with a glass of Weissburgunder to savour the Summer to its fullest).
Sadly you cannot yet be in two places at once (maybe somewhere scientists are working on it? would be great!). The best alternative was to find a place that best linked at least two stages together and then make a leisurely sprint from one stage to the other. Apologies then to those playing later at Marktplatz (and to Jazzbäckerei the organizers there) but the rest of my afternoon was spent at Friedensplatz/Bottlerplatz.
Be warned that once you spend more than ten minutes at the Bottlerplatz stage a feeling of not wanting to leave this quaint little square quickly sets in every year. Introduced by Viertelbar-Strassenmusik, if there was a literal heart to the Heart of this City, today it would most definitely be here – under the cool trees, and by the children’s playground and splash pool trench. The reason for this is Saman Haddad. Instantly recognizable by his black curly moustache and the happy glitter in his eyes – not to mention his encouraging shouts to audience and musicians throughout the afternoon – Haddad seems to bring not only a miniature bar (The Viertelbar) to the square but also a whole mini-village of smiling, dancing people.
Both the music and musicians are as varied as the people listening to them. From the Oriental sounds of Duo Celsant and the Udi Met Trio to the Kletkmer/Balkan swing of Vagabondoj and finally the ‘organized chaos’ of Trubaci Veseli Vranjanci’s Brass Band whose sheer numbers threatened to overrun the stage – which they finally did, to join the dancing masses before them.
Bottlerplatz and the Viertelbar – two places to enjoy and be happy that one has chosen to live in, or at least visit Bonn, on this sunny Summer Saturday of music. My last view and memory of the events there was of Saman Haddad dancing through the audience with a dish of fresh fruit on his head from which grateful dancers were plucking grapes and berries.
The stage just around the corner at Friedensplatz was, of necessity, a very different affair. Bus stops and the constant flow and bustle of bus/commuter traffic demands and gets, a more Urban musical style. It’s an ideal place then for a young organization like ‘Die Musikstation’ to present from. I missed Basti, but their title of Unplugged-Punkrock suggests they would have held their own against the street distractions. German rockers Gunnar certainly did. I very much enjoyed listening to the electric folk of Huck Le Berry Finn. Thoughtful songs, infectious smiles and an easy-going stage presence I would like to hear more from this young band. Maybe drop by Bonn Folk Club sometime ladies and gentlemen?
Rounding off the music at Friedensplatz was another surprise. Okay, David Nevory was not a surprise, I’ve praised his music for a while now after first catching him in Toys 2Masters a couple of years ago. The surprise was that he was alone with just an acoustic. A nice surprise at it turned out too. Nevory’s band sound has always had something of the sparseness of early Bruce Springsteen in it, and on that basis, this appearance was very much from Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’ period. I like the band sound and also the solo sound – It’s always the strength of good lyrics and tunes when songs work in both formats. A pleasure to hear David.
7pm then and time to head for the ‘big’ stage at Stadtgarten/Alter Zoll for Folk Club favourites Dennis and Marvin aka Brother Movement…
Aching feet bring me to Alter Zoll, but unless they’ve aged somewhat and added a drummer, this is not the Ledermann brothers. In fact, it’s Maastricht rockers The Ride, scheduled to close the evening’s proceedings, who are just starting a powerful rock-trio set. I would quite happily have had them closing the evening too – great powerful sound, and assured presence despite having to play to an audience, for the most part, sitting a distance away on the grass verge. Nice Hendrix covers in their set too. Such a shame this stage cannot, for sound reasons, be turned around. I see a couple of familiar faces from Bonn Folk Club look confused too. A shame for Dennis, Marvin and numerous fans who have travelled down to see them at the scheduled 7.25 pm only to have missed their set. The Ride are good, but I suspect not necessarily what the ‘Bromo’ fans wanted.
Maybe the schedule change regarding The Ride was made to accommodate fans of the local Toys 2Masters bands appearing tonight. The final band order reflected the three band placings in last years Toys competition, it was good to see the camaraderie that exists with these youngsters that was evidenced by Brother Movement’s Dennis lending his guitar for an acoustic number of Elia’s at zero notice (much to Nico’s obvious relief).
That all four band’s this evening have been a part of Bonn’s Musiknetzwerk at the RPZ in Bad Godesberg is a credit to the organization’s existence. There is some excellent local talent here in the neighbourhood. Elia were runners-up at ‘Toys’ last year but brought a large and enthusiastic audience with them. Certainly, what they lack in fine musicianship (and they’re not bad now!) they more than make up for already in enthusiasm and energy onstage. The music is certainly not lacking for anyone with a leaning to Indie -Alternative Rap-Rock because they certainly pack a musical punch. It’s a genre that didn’t exist in my teenage days but a popular one now it seems – fusing Gangster-rap style with classic Hard Rock riffing. Lots of jumping about – on and off-stage.
‘Toys’ winners last year Attic seemed slightly older in comparison for some reason. More seasoned? The music seemed similar to that of Elia and I had the impression that many of the listeners were fans of both bands. At the back there was a merchandise booth selling T-shirts so the marketing machine is already in motion, and why not? New bands don’t have too much music to sell and more often than not it’s sold via Spotify and the like online anyway. Whether any or all of the musicians onstage this evening will be playing to bigger audiences in five years time who can tell, but they will have trouble playing to more enthusiastic fans than those in the front rows on Saturday. It might be fun for Stadtgarten to hold a poll amongst the picnickers as to who their favourite band was during the current season. I suspect there are a good few who keep coming back each week – as good a measure of the Stadtgarten’s success in 2018 as any.