Detlef's report from Folk Club No. 135 on May 5, 2023
Folk Club in May with virtuosity from Italy
Ah, May! People love it, and poets and composers give free rein to their imagination for the merry month. I can think of several German songs that have May as their theme. Our chieftan John Harrison, however, loves an English (how could it be otherwise) May song that is performed annually at this point: the "May Song" by Dave Webber is easy to learn and has a catchy refrain. Therefore, the congregation could sing along diligently. There is also a nice anecdote about the song: In the village of Padstow in Cornwall, a May festival is traditionally celebrated, the traditions of which include exactly this May song, which sounds as if it were an ancient folk song. When Dave Webber once performed this very song at a gig in Padstow, the locals grumbled that this was their traditional May song after all. Webber had to explain to them that it came from his pen. After all, the complaint of the people from Padstow was something like an accolade for Webber. Also well suited to the theme of the day (blooms and blue skies) was John's poem of the "Green Man," the legendary figure who symbolizes fertility and life and the rebirth of nature in the spring, and who is even found in many decorations on and in churches. A small reference to the recently crowned British King Charles III (also known as Charles III) was the song "Charlie Is My Darling," but it referred to an earlier bearer of the name who attempted to seize the British throne for the Scottish dynasty of the Stuarts in the 18th century with an unsuccessful military action. Had his action succeeded, the British succession to the throne would have gone in a different direction. John was supported by Christoph Thiebes on harmonica. The song "Silver City" by Mance Lipscomb was less about flourishing nature and sunshine than about the lives of people at the bottom of the wealth hierarchy. Again, the support of Christoph's harmonica provided the right sound.
Rainer Goetzendorf had a few original songs from his own production on current topics in store. "The cell phone" / „Das Handy“ humorously describes the enslavement of people to the small electronic marvel, without which many can no longer imagine their lives. "That can't be the future, to give hour after hour to the cell phone, to be always only its slave" is the refrain. The audience was enthusiastic. However, most of them hardly noticed an unintentional element of comedy: Rainer recommended the audience to listen to his songs on YouTube. Well, how does that fit together? YouTube consumption takes place primarily via smartphone. Yes, that's how it is with lifestyle criticism. Before you know it, you fall into the trap of your own inconsistency. The reaction to the song "Me too, me too," with which Rainer sang his frustration about being confined as a man to the role of oppressor and harasser of women, was rather mixed. Even a little flirtation on the subway could be misinterpreted. "Because everyone thinks me too, me too, better leave her all alone" is the key message. Some women in the hall commented on the song with uncomprehending eye rolls. Without lyrics came the pretty melody "Meine schöne Welt" (My beautiful world), where Rainer exchanged the guitar for the trumpet. Rainer is also a member of a Bonn jazz band ("Hot Pepper Jazzband") that has been performing in Bonn and the surrounding area since 1989. Leo accompanied Rainer on the piano - much applause for the two.
Always an eye-catcher is Yawen Liu with her guzheng, the Chinese zither. Yawen gave the audience two songs on the expansive instrument with the characteristic sound. I once took a look from behind at the notes Yawen was using. Even Mozart wouldn't have been able to do much with that. Perhaps Yawen will explain the meaning of the signs to us at a future performance. I found it impressive - the melodies, Yawen's virtuosity, the large and beautiful instrument, and the notes for the songs.
After these preliminaries, Franco Morone from Italy, our featured artist, took the stage and wove us into his fantastic guitar playing without much ado. On "Dangerous Roads" he presented us with intricate finger picking combined with percussion elements on the guitar body. After the furious start, things got a little quieter but no less virtuosic with "Song For You to Stay". "Walking The Shoreline" tells a story together with guitarist Tim Sparks on the beach of Santa Barbara in California. Beautiful to the point of tears was Franco's rendition of the folk song "The Water Is Wide" with several variations.Franco also brought a reference to his Italian homeland with a series of Italian dances called "Calderaio-Giga-Tarantella". Dedicated to the women of Samos was a Greek song in 7/8 time called "Samiotisia".
After this fireworks of solo instrumentals, Franco's wife Raffaella Luna came in with her stunning voice. "La Bergera" tells the story of a shepherdess in Italy when Napoleon's soldiers came. From Piedmont comes the song "Il Re" (The King). The husband won't let his wife go to a party for fear she won't come back. Franco knows how to accompany Raffaella in her enchanting singing with virtuosity yet restraint - a perfect harmony of the two "instruments". The audience is spellbound and proves that amplification in such a setting - despite the 100 or so listeners in the room - is completely superfluous. On the contrary, the absence of amplification promotes contact between musicians and audience and creates a unique atmosphere - if only the musicians would implement this in other performances as well. But the fear of being drowned out acoustically tempts people to resort to amplification - and this often has the opposite effect of what is intended. But whatever, the Folk Club has a unique selling point this way, and that can only be good for us. In any case, the reaction of many musicians to the atmosphere is clear. Franco ended the set with the piece "Flowers Of Ayako", which reminded of a Celtic melody.
After the break, Caroline Bernotat (vocals) and Jeremy The on piano presented their self-penned songs. "Woman's Lament" described the "most important" grief of a woman: figure, appearance, appearance. "Yet I sing with my voice," the song laments, how true! "Go and Just Be Gone" was penned by Jeremy, who accompanied Caroline's vocals with gorgeous jazz harmonies. Caroline sings the jazzy piece with impressive vocal delivery. Closing the floor spot was Caoline's "Secretarial Blues" with which she wittily describes the daily life of a harried secretary. Big applause for the two - for Caroline's wonderful singing, for Jeremy's skillful and professional accompaniment on the piano (help, the instrument needs to be tuned again) and for the original songs.
A small hole in the program due to an unannounced smoke break was filled confidently by John Harrison with the blues "Come On In My Kitchen" by old master Robert Johnson. In his day, in the 1920s/30s, playing without an amplifier was still the norm - the technology simply didn't exist yet, or at least not yet for the average musician. How did the poor artists stand it?
Franco and Raffaella brought the evening to a close. Franco started with three instrumental pieces. A reference to Ireland was formed by a "Jig On Planxty Irwin", a piece about the famous Irish folk formation. Also referencing Ireland was the piece "Giants' Causeway," about the bizarre volcanic rock formation on Ireland's north coast. Franco struck very tender notes with the piece "Porta sul mare," which is about the gateway for refugees coming across the sea in Italy. Raffaella and Franco continued the series of sung songs. It was interesting to learn that many of the popular songs were rediscovered by a musicologist named Roberto Leydi. Ironically, Leydi moved his extensive collection to Switzerland. It is kept in Bellinzona at the "Centro di dialettologia e di etnografia". "Non potho reposare" (I cannot let love and heart rest), a song from Sardinia in Sardinian dialect or rather Sardinian language, is one of the songs. On the lyric sheet accompanying the CD, there is even a translation into Italian for this song. Also included in the collection is "Siamo tre sorelle" (We are three sisters) is a tender song about love that Raffaella sang with incredible grace. At the end there were two songs from the English-speaking world. Beautiful to the point of tears was their interpretation of Jimmy Webb's song "Moon's A Harsh Mistress". With "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan they said goodbye, and the audience gave frenetic applause.
But wait, the evening wasn't quite over, as the congregation still had to pay homage to the patron saint of the Folk Club with the song "Jock Stewart."
See you on June 2 with Featured Artists Stefan Mönkemeyer from Dortmund (guitar) and francophone Johannes Epremian (violin) from Bonn. À bientôt!