Folk Club #105

 

Special Guest at this month’s Bonn Folk Club  Johannes (Hannes) Epremian from the band Le Clou looks very serious in my opening picture, and so he should – he’s playing The Blues Cajun Style.  John Harrison (with Eva on violin) though, as always had the first bite at this evening’s theme of Stormy Weather, and gobbled up the obvious choice with relish – Arlen and Hoehler’s classic of that very name that first saw the light of day with Ethel Waters in the early 1930s.  It’s been covered since by everyone – from Bing Crosby to Bob Dylan – and is probably as familiar to the people of this planet as oxygen.  A song that you would almost expect new-born babies to recognize.

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Stadtgarten

You had to get there early for a good place on the grass beside the Stadtgarten Stage.  Perfect weather for a picnic with free music was on offer on both Friday courtesy of Die Musikstation and Saturday courtesy of PopCamp.  Seven bands in two nights, so there really was something for everyone, and if a band didn’t catch your attention then there was always a chance to sunbathe or share a bottle of wine with friends.  Bonn Summer Magic was indeed in the air!

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Scorpions End Kunstrasen Season in Rocking Style

 

Back in the late ’70s, when I was an avid Rock music fan and gig-goer, Britain was rather proud of it’s contribution to the genre.  We were competing largely against American bands like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and mega artists like Springsteen.  The real metal-heads though knew there was also another rather excellent source of Metal music – Germany.  We really didn’t have a female equivalent to Doro Pesch, Michael Schenker was seemingly both a guitar master and madman but we loved them both – and there was a band, also with a Schenker brother in it – whose name appeared on practically every one of those denim waistcoats festooned with sewn-on patches that I saw.  A band called The Scorpions.

 

Fast forward over forty years and here we are at the closing show of the 2019 Kunstrasen season in Bonn.  There are cloth patches for sale at the merchandise table still, to show some things haven’t changed.  I still giggle nervously at the thought of these unkempt and motor-oil drenched bikers sitting at home with a needle and thread working on that patched to the hilt jacket.  But if the patches haven’t changed, can the Band really be live up to a legendary name from the ’70s at 70?  Interested to know the answer?  I was too, so let’s pick up a pair of free magenta ear-plugs from the Telekom booth and find out (where were they when I saw Sammy Hagar in 1978?!)

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From Brighton to Bonn – James Bay at Kunstrasen

I’m a firm believer that Brighton might well be the secret cradle of modern UK pop music.  Hitchin born James Bay cut his musical teeth in the bars of that very UK seaside town at open-mikes.  Now he’s heavily touted as a future Rockstar and warming up audiences for The Stones and Ed Sheeran.  His appearance, along with that of this year’s Eurovision winner Duncan Laurence, made a visit to Kunstrasen on Thursday too good to resist.

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BOB without Beethoven – Classic Picnic time at Kunstrasen

“Welcome to Bonn’s most beautiful Concert Venue”.  Perhaps Beethoven Orchestra Bonn (BOB) Director/Conductor Dirk Kaftan was genuinely only making a point about the beautiful surroundings at Kunstrasen.  A few spectators at this year’s ‘Klassik Picknick’ might well have taken it as a sly ‘dig’ at the disastrous renovation plans of the Beethoven Hall just down the road, however.  Aside from the fact it would get a bit cold in December though it started me to thinking that perhaps they should keep the Kunstrasen stage where it is and just build a football stadium-style roof over the spectator area to make it all-weather friendly and give the Beethovenhalle up as the ‘bad job’ it has become?

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Ismael de Barcelona & Juan del Rhin in Kessenich

Proof that you don’t need big halls and big bucks to hear top notch musicians was proven by Ismael Alcalde‘s appearance on a balmy Saturday evening in the unlikely location of a public library.  As it proved though, books are not just good to read, they also provide a good acoustic environment.  The solar roof of the Stadtbucherei St Nikolaus in Bonn-Kessenich also sent soft and shimmering Summer evening light onto the 100 or so people enjoying the music.

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Michael Jackson: A Man in the Mirror

David LaChapelle – The Beatification (segment)

Following its controversial run at the National Portrait Gallery in London and the Grand Palais in Paris Michael Jackson: OnThe Wall has continued to court publicity during its current run at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn. No publicity is bad publicity? It certainly won’t do the attendance figures any harm that Dan Reed’s ‘Leaving Neverland’ film has put Jackson back in the spotlight.

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