As happened during the first Corona lockdown, musicians, creative souls that they are, have been finding ways to keep their music in the public eye or get the buzz from a live show (depending on your viewpoint of the musicians concerned). So let’s take a look at some of the music that’s been happening in the musical bubble of 3songsbonn.com.
Hats off straight away to Scottish fingerpicking maestro Simon Kempston. Folk Club favourite Simon emerged from the first lockdown so pumped to put down new music that he went into the studio as soon as was possible. The result is his new disc ‘Hand on my Heart’ which was recorded in a single afternoon with no overdubs. As Simon admitted to me recently: “There’s an element of madness in releasing an album with everything else that’s going on at the moment, but I’ve never been one to follow the grain as you well know”. I’m looking forward to hearing the results of Simon’s afternoon – experience tells me it will be worth the wait for the postman. It’s looking bad for Simon’s annual Christmas appearance this December at Bonn Folk Club though. Christmas without Simon Kempston? Fear not – the CD is available from Mr Kempston’s website. HERE is a video of the title track to help pass the time until your order arrives.
Finland’s top slide guitarist Erja Lyytinen has taken a new path, or at least, not one I was aware of last Lockdown. Lyytinen Played a whole concert from Bluessounds Warehouse Studios in her hometown of Kuoplo, with a full band but without an onsite audience, The result has now been released as a ‘live studio album’ (try getting your head around that contradiction – although some might argue there has been many a star band who have released purported ‘live’ discs with so many overdubs that they are more the studio variety). She has steered clear of presenting material from past live discs like 2012’s ‘Songs From The Road’ on RUF on her new CD. Titled ‘Lockdown Live 2020’ the concert is actually released as a double – CD/DVD package. It seems a bit strange never seeing a camera pan around to waving heads – particularly as the music here represents Erja Lyytinen’s music at it’s rockiest. The result is an energetic tour-de-force showing a singer and band clearly having fun making music together. Can musicians feed off the energy of an invisible Livestream audience? This one certainly feels the love from those computer screens locked into the songs from homes around the globe. It also proves to be a chance to see the Lady herself’s playing style, as the camera has fewer distractions, especially following her slide technique. The lighting technician also has a field-day. Normally just one of those little R2-D2 stage floor spotlights is enough to almost blind me at Rockpalast shows, I think a real audience at this virtual live event would have needed guide dogs to find their ways home after the show. A blinding performance in all senses of the word by Erja Lyytinen and band.
More locally, The Marion & Sobo Band have used Lockdown to release their show in September last year at Bonn Harmonie. Unfortunately, it’s not a DVD, since I missed this show when it happened. A particular pity since the show featured twin vocalists in both Marion and her sister Claire Lenfant-Preus. Claire now lives in France, so this was a rare treat for the band, and, as it turns out, also for the fans. Crisp and clear production from the first ringing notes of Sobo’s guitar on opener Migrateurs to the vibrato of Frank Brempel’s violin on the closing ‘Aqua’. It’s actually Brempel who produced, so hats off for an excellent job. Worth a mention too that the disc was mixed at Brempel’s ‘Blue in Green’ studio in Kessenich. The flying fingers of Alexander Sobocinski are a pleasure to hear – especially his seemingly effortless skills on Rheinhardt Aand Grapelli’s ‘Django’s Tiger’. Even die-hard Zaz fans would easily mistake Marion Lenfant-Preus for their heroine on ‘Amor Confidentiel’ and the icing on this musical cake has to be the dual vocals of Marion and sister Claire on Gerry Mulligan’s ‘Line for Lyons’. Super scat singing by the girls, and harmony vocals that really make me want to kick myself for missing the show. Thankfully though it’s all captured for posterity in fine stereo quality. If you’re not yet familiar with The Marion & Sobo Band then ‘Twin Edition Live’ is the one to get you up to scratch with one of Bonn’s most talented ensembles.
Finally, congratulations to Jeremiah Johnson, whose new disc has debuted in the American Billboard Blues Chart this week at 4th place. Top marks also for the most topical Corona period Album Title: ‘Unemployed Highly Annoyed’. Suffice to say that the smooth, infectious Blues-Rock on this disc should ensure that Johnson will be neither annoyed or unemployed for long. Good music will always find an audience – and Johnson gets better with every release. The last tracks title says it all – ‘Rock N Roll For The Soul’ indeed!