If you’ve ever visited one of the many Art exhibitions or events at Katharinenhof in Schweinheim then you will know that the landscape is as big a part of the visit as the event itself. A slightly wild by nature yet astoundingly relaxing place amongst all the artistic ‘chaos’. Where one can be confronted by Cologne Cardinals made from steel, rusty metal ‘skeletons’ sitting stiffly on equally rusty chairs, lifesize wooden people gazing down paths, and today, real-life local musicians making real life local music…
The Acoustic Sessions here have actually been going for some years now as I learn whilst having a pre-concert chat with Dominik Gassen who is a co-organizer as well as guitarist-vocalist with Cinnamon Trail. In fact, past events have read like a whos who of Bonn Folk Club musicians. Recent years have seen appearances by Dennis Ledermann and Daniel Bongart. Dominik’s band Cinnamon Trail appeared in 2018 (when Daria Kulesh was headlining). In fact, all today’s acts have links to Folk Club’s past. Precious Few appeared in 2016 and Wandering Souls have made numerous appearances in the recent past (as well as being penciled in for September again I hear)
First band onstage were Dominik Gassen’s Cinnamon Trail and they had to keep an eye out when stepping backwards as there was actually no back to the stage at all – just a wonderful view back towards a sunny field full of sculptures and various artworks sticking out at various heights from the sun-yellowed (has it ever been such a dry Summer?) grass. Dominik is probably wary as he reads this since I admitted to him that I was not a great fan of coverbands. I do enjoy bands though who play with enthusiasm and have a varied repertoire – Cinnamon Trail ticked both boxes with ease. True, there was a heavy leaning towards Neil Young and for some reason a lot of Fleetwood Mac (the Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham incarnation rather than the Peter Green one) but all in all an enjoyable and relaxing couple of sets. Also nice to hear some lesser-known songs get covered such as one by Delamitri and Paul Weller’s ‘You Do Something for Me’. Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ was also one to relax to – I felt old knowing that Rafferty actually played in a band with comedian Billy Connolly even before his early fame with Stealers Wheel. Check out ‘The Humblebums’ Dominik and especially their ‘Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway’. I like to have such food for thought at concerts though. Nice set and maybe I should check out Neil Young again. You inspired me.
I remember thinking how somber Barbara Hoefgen and Chris Wiegelmann aka Precious Few were at Bonn Folk Club all those years ago and they are still not a band I would book for my Wedding. I would even issue them with a special category in HMV and assorted surviving record shops – that of ‘Fatalistic Folk’. The secret of their longevity is how hypnotic that wistful vocal and haunting Melodika is, with just a featherlight touch of rhythm to hold it all together from the guitar of Chris Wiegelmann. It certainly created the ideal mood for meandering thoughts and, well, just the perfect tempo to say “It’s the weekend. Chill Out, and take time to watch the bees gather pollen and the birds collect twigs for their nests. I rather liked the song about Barbara getting a chance to answer back the Boss who sacked her. If you’ve ever felt the backlash of an unjust World… oh, and ‘Astronaut’ was a good one too – I remember it from that Folk Club meet when Paulo Pacifico was on harmonica. Where is Paulo these days? See, the music today is music to contemplate to. Or is it the weather or indeed the location? Possibly all three.
Wandering Souls, if you haven’t yet had the musical pleasure, and love beautiful vocal harmonies, are a must-see. The duo are a vocal powerhouse. There is a wealth of tracks out there on social media of them doing cover versions in cars and car parks, in search of the perfect acoustics for their voices. Check them out, each one is a gem. The open spaces of Katharinenhof should by all accounts have sent their sweet but gentle harmonies to the four winds never to be heard again. Instead, God obviously loves a good song well sung, and (with the help of a little electrified amplification) they were the perfect mix to wind down the days excellent music. My favourite of the evening was the melancholic but thoughtful ‘Part of Life’. I am already looking forward to Lorena & Gerrit’s next appearance at Bonn Folk Club.
My first musical visit then to Katharinenhof was a memorable one. It really is a magical location in itself, but add beautiful music to the mix and one of the best slices of plumcake I’ve ever tasted (with whipped cream!) and it may well be the closest thing to heaven you will get this side of the Pearly Gates themselves.
Finally… At the concert, Gerrit mentioned an excellent videolink to the new EP by Wandering Souls. HERE it is. Enjoy!