Sorry long time no blog. My German adventure I shall come to, but first up was a wee gig in Welbury in Yorkshire for a beer festival gig which was very nice. There were quite a few kids there who particularly enjoyed it which is always nice. There will be banjo players in the future! Then came a set at the wonderful Towersey festival, always a favourite of mine and this was no exception. The banjo went bananas as I started so getting through reels was a bit of fun but it settled down after that and a fun gig was had. Also enjoyed Fabian Holland and Vamm who were also on the bill. I actually did two sets come to think of it, one in the village hall earlier in the day and that too was good craic. The towersey spirit deserves a mention here. With my German gig looming I was using my, well Pat McGarvey’s (thanks Pat) flight case which does not allow room for the strap to be on the banjo. I’m sure you can see where this going…like a prat I didn’t have my strap on, as it were, and two fine chaps ran around trying to find me one and they did so many thanks to them!
So then Germany. I had been once before for a social visit to a chum living in Hamburg but this was my first gig there. I arrived into Cologne airport and discovered that trying to get out of the airport on foot is no less than an extremely mammoth task. When after much walking backwards and forwards thus looking a burke I found a walking underground thing I used it and navigated my way to my hotel. There I was informed that precious little happened around there and was directed to Cologne city. I googled live music in Cologne and stumbled across Papa Joe’s Jazzlokal and thought I just fancy a bit of jazz. I got the train in and discovered German trains are rather more informative than British ones (not difficult) and found this place, eventually. On my way to it I discovered Cologne is full of great, quirky places to go whether you like the wine bar, pub or music end of things. Papa Joe’s was just amazing – decorated with so much jazz memorabilia right down to the trumpets hanging in front of the barman and barmaid! The band were wonderful anyway, an old troupe of German jazzers the lead singer of whom was a woman who must have smoked all her life and she had a quite amazing voice. Several beers and chats (in very bad German, I mean mine obviously theirs was pretty good) later I headed to get the train back and wander back to my hotel. En route I got the fright of my life as a quite appalling huge dog barked at me unexpectedly leading me to let loose a rather startled exclamation.
So next day was gig day. I headed into Gelsenkirchen and discovered that there is not very much there and on a Sunday nothing is open whatsoever except a cafe and a pub! So a fairy tedious while later I headed to my gig in a woodland area and realised this was quite a big gig. This was confirmed as 1,000 people were there for my first German gig as part of the Sommersound series of outdoor gigs over…Summer. Anyway off I went and launched into some reels and they seemed to rather approve. Particular hits in the set were a medley of Easterny things, Old Joe Clarke at the end and rather unexpectedly the Same But Different. After coming for an encore, I then played Duelling Banjos with Guntmar the orgniser, a stirling chap and serious guitarist. All in all much fun had and some memorable chats with people after the gig, probably topped by ‘The Boxer’ as he is apparently known, a recently released prisoner of seven years. Nice to have his arm round me, very reassuring…Also had a lovely chat with a lady who said I must tell people in England how good Germany so…Germany is ace!
Next day I wandered back to Gelsenkirchen train station and on my way was stopped by a couple who simply said ‘Banjoman – wonderful’. That was really nice and a good closing to my German adventure. Hope to head back there soon!