They are now so much of a musical institution in Bonn that it’s hard to imagine a music scene here without Bill Baum and his partners in music The Bluesbenders. It was then, a mark of the respect Bill has gained from the Blues scene, that for his 25th Anniversary show at Bonn Harmonie, Bill was joined by a man nominated in three categories for this year’s International Blues Awards, Richie Arndt. It was guaranteed to be a good evening for Bonn Blues lovers.
The local paper reports that Sir Van Morrison said ‘Thank You’ before leaving the stage on this pleasantly warm evening in Cologne. The only words I can recall from Ireland’s celebrated and knighted (2016) musical son all evening were song names, barked more for the band to follow than for listeners to hear. Ultimately though, with such a legend, it’s the music that should do the talking; and it did so perfectly in front of a sold out Roncalliplatz audience.
There are not too many musicians treading the boards today with careers stretching back five decades but Steve Winwood at 70 still has the enthusiasm of a teenager when he straps on a Stratocaster or digs in with his Hammond Organ along with a talented band of colleagues. Support for the evening Gary Clark Jr was last seen in Bonn during Santana’s concert here, but is a highly rated guitarist in his own right.
A great evening of Music was guaranteed then at Kunst!Rasen this week.
“100 years of Blues & 60 minutes to play it”. That’s how Edinburgh Blues band The Blueswater describe their musical mission at the yearly Edinburgh Festival. Certainly, they play at an often frantic pace that suggests they might even cover all that ground in an hour. They even got an extra 30 minutes on top at Kult 41 on Sunday and sneaked in half the band for the support slot to shoe-horn in as much premium RnB as any sane, blues-loving human could hope for. Certainly, if you didn’t know by 10pm what the Blues was all about, then quite frankly, Jack – you dead!
It’s a funny thing about people. You spend some considerable time with them, think you even know them quite well, and then you go to the Rheinaue Flohmarkt. There I was, a few years ago, flipping through racks of ‘Top Pops’ and ‘Schläger Allstar’ discs – the average fare at a market stall CD stand in fact. Suddenly, staring back up at me was a familiar black and white face – John Harrison. Like most of the visitors to Bonn Folk Club I had no idea that John had ever gone into anything other than a sun studio, yet he had visited a recording studio and here it was, a gem of a Blues disc called ‘Blues to make your Ice Water’. Tell the truth – who else but a Brit could write a title like that? Meet The Trentonians and grab some chips early at Kunst!garten.
Just when I thought all the ‘best kept secrets’ in British Blues were out, this landed in the post. It’s had some stiff competition for time in my CD player recently with Tedeschi Trucks, Gary Clarke Junior and the new Layla Zoe all competing for space and time but I keep coming back to Connie Lush. Her new release Renaissance really is THAT good.
‘Blue Sisters’ is this year’s title for the RUF Records Blues Caravan Tour that rolled into Bonn on Sunday. Following on from last years ‘Guitars with Guitars’ though perhaps ‘Maidens with Microphones’ would have been more in keeping?. Certainly there was Blues in the music, but none of these girls was playing it Bessie Smith style. Texan girl Tasha Taylor had the roots of her Soul star father Johnnie’s sound to draw on, Finland’s Ina Forsman made more than a passing nod to Reggae in her set and Layla Zoe’s closer was clearly tilted firmly in a Rock direction.
There are three ‘givens’ in life: Death, taxes, and a Julian Sas gig at the Harmonie in November. At least it seems that way. The only change I can remember from the shows past is that I seem to vaguely recall there being room to move from one part of the hall to stand somewhere else. Or maybe that was just a fantasy. Certainly it hasn’t been possible for several years now – and Saturday night was no exception.