Montag, 4. Juli 2022

Playing music for free (never unsonst!) on the streets of Bad Godesberg in July 2022

 Dear Folkies,

this is an issue that Bonn Folk Club and Daniel Bongart and myself have personally taken issue with in the past on several occasions. Bonn is unfortunately probably the worst city in the whole of Germany, and possibly Europe, for its restrictions on musicians playing music freely on the very streets of our beautiful city, which were once walked upon by one of the world's most famous musicians. 

Musicians, in order to develop, need to practise, and need to try out new ideas. There is a multitude of competent musicians living in Bonn and the surrounding areas and it is not only a great shame, but a great tragedy, that these people, who have  developed and honed, their not inconsiderable skills, often at great cost to the city of Bonn, through its many renown music conservatories, acadamies and schools, that they cannot freely do so.

Many people argue that musicians, who are also human beings, should enjoy a right to play on the streets in their neighbourhoods, as a basic human freedom.  (Please discuss below if you wish?)

The Nay-sayers invariably evoke the ficticious case of the badly behaved one-armed concertina player from a ficticious state in eastern Europe, who is also in a bad mood and plays the only two notes that he knows very loudly in exactly the same spot for four hours or more, without ever pausing for a break.  There are several things false in this scenario. Street music is regulated by the most elementary economic forces of the human urban jungle. If one is no good, one collects no money, and if one insists in prolonging this situation for several weeks with absolutely no "income", then one eventaually dies of starvation. Q.E.D. Problem solved. Furthermore, the quite well organised guild for Russian and eastern European musicians seemingly have quite an effective way of dealing with, and even silencing, such musical miscreants in Bonn. Furthermore, literally anybody can demand that any musician moves on after thirty minutes playing in the same spot, whether they are official law enforcers or just members of the general public.

Mere "begging" on the other hand has a long and honourable tradition on the streets of Bonn and if you wish to discover more, please take a stroll with me one evening in the year 1698:

"Begging" even today does not require a permit, but as it always was, is restricted, as it should be, to only the very poorest of people, who have fallen on hard times, often through no fault of their own. A troubadour, who is not begging, but offering a musical service, which benefits and uplifts city life generally, should really be an honoured guest and a source of urban enrichment and should not be punished financially by the city in order to pay off the interest on loans taken out, often misguidedly, by the city in bygone times. Street musicians, have little to fear from being included in any future "wealth tax" introduced by governments in order to fund COVID-19, the Ukrainian war or excessive gas prices. Taxing street musicians is not quite as bad as attempting to tax beggars, but you have my gist?

So, I digress, the folk club on Friday 01.07.22 was a resounding success, being outside, and thus corona free, with adequate distancing, but no formal entrance restriction requirements. 

It was very well visited , but it was also notable that those people who had previously, sometimes vehemently, complained that our COVID entrance requirements were excessively strict (like FCB #124 in honour of Steve Perry who has a very reduced immune system) were extremely noticable by their absence, when those entrance restrictions suddenly no longer applied.

As usual I was fortunate in singing "Jock Stewart" just before 22:00 hrs on Friday evening, accompanied by all the wonderful musicians who had performed during the evening. This is a form of simple communal tradition that I know well from England and a tradition that I have gladly brought to Germany with me and enschrined in the tradition of Folk Club Bonn. A song which is sung as a parting glimpse of a wonderful evening, and which featured this time Eva Henneken with a stonking fiddle solo. Even though Detlef was unfortunately not on tap to hand out the lyric sheets, I found that everbody either knew the words or had called them up on their smartphones. 

"The times They Are Indeed A-Changing!"

At 10:00 hrs on Saturday morning I was on the piste again in Bad Godesberg being welcomed by Renate and Hubolt outside Bergfeld's Boiladen on the Alte Bahnhofs Straße in Bad Godesberg. As in 2020 Axel Bergfeld has organised a communal group of like minded people to promote music on the streets of Bad Godesberg once again. The heat was hot, as it so often is, but the idea is well worth facilitating and promoting.

So, for local musicians wishing to participate, here are the dates which are still available throughout July:

04. bis 07. 

11. // 13.

15. // 16.
18. bis 23. 

25. bis 29.

There is no payment, the payment for the street music permits have already been paid, but you are at liberty to at least earn what you are worth!

If you wish to play and/or sing, Bad Godesberg eagerly awaits your musical contribution to enhance the otherwise musical urban desert of Bad Godesberg.

Contact Renate & Hubert at

Furter details here:

and here:

Looking forward to a multitude of musical resplendence in Bad Godesberg, during the mammoth month of July, don't be shy!

You can play between 10:00 hours and 19:00 hours normally, and even up until 22:00 hrs in the evenings, if you so wish.

Please show what local musicians can, and are willing to do, if given the chance!


John Harrison

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