It’s that time of year that many live music regulars at The Harmonie in Bonn look forward to. How else can you explain why the venue is regularly packed full for four days in a row of music by bands that most of the local visitors have never even heard, let alone seen before? Well, these concerts do come with the seal of approval from Germany’s (the Worlds?) most celebrated music programme – WDR Rockpalast. A programme that has been bringing music lovers legendary performances by the likes of Rory Gallagher, David Bowie and the Who since 1977. On this particular Thursday evening in Bonn it’s the turn of Australian Band The Black Sorrows and Holland’s Sven Hammond to get the Rockpalast Star treatment.
The theme at Dotty’s Sports Bar for Folk Club Bonn meet number 106 was colours. But are Black (Back to Black) and White (Nights in White Satin) actually colours? Another question – what was that red plastic barrel on John’s finger for? Pull up a chair (or risk sitting on the floor), grab a beer when the waitress comes round with her tray, and settle down for another evening of music in all shapes, sizes, and colours…
It’s not very often that you see Blues-Rock being played by just a drummer and guitarist. It’s rarer still for the drummer to be both female and pregnant. Welcome to the unconventional musical World of CC and Tone aka Little Hurricane as the duo bring their very individual brand of Lo-Fi-Indie Rock to Cologne’s Luxor venue. 3songsbonn generally stays true to the name. Every so often though there are bands playing not too far away that are just too promising to draw boundaries on.
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.
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!
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?!)
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.