Archive for the ‘Music’ Category.

Dar Williams live in Krefeld 2016

Nach dem schönen Konzert am selben Ort im vergangenen Jahr kehrte Dar Williams am 25. Mai in die Kulturfabrik zurück. Im Vorprogramm bot diesmal Vanessa van de Forst recht gewöhnlichen Country-Pop mit einer facettenreichen Stimme. Neben Mainstream-lastigen Stücken wie “Middle of Nowhere”, “Ponchartrain”, “Twenty One” und “Lucky” gab es mit “Jolene” (Dolly Parton) und “Free Fallin'” (Tom Petty) zwei nette Coverversionen.

Ganz anders dann Dar Williams mit ihrem eigenwilligen Folk. Zu nahezu jedem Lied streute sie eine umfangreiche Erläuterung ein und vertonte Themen wie moralische Kompasse, Babysitter, griechische Göttinnen, Psychotherapie, Gender und (natürlich?) Hippies kongenial. Das mit lieblichster Stimme gesungene “Family” war für mich einer der Höhepunkte des Abends. Dar ging auch auf zahlreiche Publikumswünsche ein und wurde gleich zweimal für eine Zugabe auf die Bühne zurückgerufen.

Dar Williams

  1. Emerald
  2. The Light and the Sea
  3. The Babysitter’s Here
  4. I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything
  5. Family
  6. I Had No Right
  7. After All
  8. Slippery Slope
  9. Mercy of the Fallen
  10. You’re Aging Well
  11. Iowa (Traveling III)
  12. Storm King
  13. When I Was a Boy
  14. February
  15. The Ocean

Element of Crime live in Ulm

Während ich häufig bei Konzerten auf die Hauptband warte und dem Vorprogram mit Skepsis begegne, war es letzten Dienstag umgekehrt. Nachdem ich Von wegen Lisbeth letztes Jahr in Potsdam und Stuttgart live gesehen hatte, wollte ich nicht bis zur Headliner-Tour im Herbst warten. So fuhr ich nach Ulm ins Roxy, wo um Punkt 20 Uhr die Lichter ausgingen und Element of Crime-Frontmann Sven Regener die Vorband ankündigte mit den Worten “Die sind halb so alt wie wir und doppelt so gut. Sie sind jung. Sie sind schön und sie sehen toll aus und sie können übers Wasser wandeln. Sie geben sich selbst einen seltsamen Namen, aber den tragen sie mit Stolz und Würde. Hier sind sie: Von wegen Lisbeth.”

Dem habe ich eigentlich nur wenig hinzuzufügen. Los ging es mit “Bäreneck”, dessen Stimmung gleich gut beim Publikum ankam. Nach “Mon Cheri” folgte der wohl poppigste Titel des Abends, nämlich “Sushi”. Spätestens hier kippte dann die Abwarthaltung der meisten Zuschauer, denn es folgte lautstarker Applaus. “Zimmer” unterstrich anschließend die ausgezeichnete Passung Von wegen Lisbeth mit der Hauptband, die man so eigentlich gar nicht zwischen Indie-Pop und Retro-Romantik-Melancholie erwarten würde. Noch melancholischer wurde die Stimmung dann bei einer neuen Ballade. “Lang Lebe die störung im Betriebsablauf” war auch schon der letzte Song, der bislang nichts von seinem Reiz eingebüst hat – im Gegenteil, gerade live ist der Groove herrlich mitreißend. Dankenswerterweise war der Sound bestens ausgesteuert und die Lautstärke nicht übertrieben. Zum Glück gibt es im kommenden Herbst eine Headliner-Tour der Truppe, wo sie dann sicher länger als 25 Minuten spielen (dürfen).

Von wegen Lisbeth

Zwanzig Minuten später betraten dann Element of Crime die Bühne. Der Sound war verblüffend nah an den Studioaufnahmen dran. Gerade die Rhythmusgruppe wirkte recht zurückhaltend. Richtig lebendig wurde die Musik durch die gefühlvolle Lead-Gitarre und natürlich durch den charismatischen Gesang von Regener. Als Gelegenheitshörer von Element of Crime freute ich mich über den tollen Sound, da die Texte gut verständlich waren und immer wieder mit faszinierenden Ausdrücken (“ex-Spargelkönig”) begeisterte. Das Publikum lauschte eher zurückhaltend, spendete aber zwischendurch kräftig Applaus. Dreimal zwei Songs als Zugabe waren die logische Konsequenz eines kurzweiligen Auftritts in der gut gefüllten Roxy-Werkhalle. Meine Lieblingsstücke des Konzerts waren “Immer da wo du bist bin ich nie”, “Immer noch Liebe in mir” und das flotte “Mehr als sie erlaubt”.

Von wegen Lisbeth live in Stuttgart

Ich habe die Zukunft gesehen. Sie tanzt. Von wegen Lisbeth spielten im Rahmen des Hellopop-Festivals in Stuttgart im Im Wizemann (Club). Mühelos überzeugte das Berliner Quintett das Publikum, in dem ich zur Abwechslung mal zu den älteren Semestern gehörte. Dabei gab es gleich zu Beginn zwei bislang unveröffentlichte Stücke. Melodie, Groove und Eingängigkeit waren aber auch hier sofort zur Stelle. Es gab reichlich Applaus. Die Band verzichtete angesichts der Festival-Situation auf ausschweifende Ansagen. Stattdessen gab es eine Stunde lang durchweg flotte Stücke, die mit Popappeal, eigenwilligen und doch auch nachvollziehbaren Texten und rockiger Liveatmosphäre punkten konnten.

Nachdem ich Von wegen Lisbeth im September diesen Jahres in Potsdam live gesehen hatte, ohne vorab mehr als ein paar YouTube-Videos zu kennen, war ich diesmal besser “vorbereitet”. So gefielen mir neben den Bandhits “Sushi” und “Lang lebe die Störung im Betriebsablauf” gerade die neuen (?) Songs “Bitch” (toller Beat, griffige Textphrasen in den Versen und im Refrain) und “Vor deiner Tür” (klasse Atmosphäre). Einmal mehr faszinierte die Band mit zahlreichen Instrumentenwechseln, gerne auch innerhalb einzelner Songs. Optisch zeigte sich die Klangvielfalt unter anderem in der Abwesenheit der sonst so verbreiten MacBooks. Auf alle Fälle war es ein starker Auftritt, der Von wegen Lisbeth einige neue Fans beschert haben dürfte. Ich hoffe nun, dass ich nicht allzu lange auf den nächsten Konzertbesuch warten muss.

Von wegen Lisbeth live in Stuttgart (Foto von Jutze)

  1. Vor deiner Tür
  2. Bäreneck
  3. Kafka Luise
  4. Plötzlich
  5. Milchschaum
  6. Drüben bei Penny
  7. Lang lebe die Störung im Betriebsablauf
  8. Bitch
  9. US-Studie
  10. Sushi
  11. 14 Tage Testversion
  12. Schwester
  13. Das Zimmer

Von wegen Lisbeth live in Potsdam

Kurz entschlossen besuchte ich am 12. September das Konzert von Von wegen Lisbeth im Waschhaus in Potsdam. Ich hatte am Tag des Auftritts zum ersten Mal von der Existenz der Band erfahren und ein paar Stücke auf YouTube angehört. Für 15 Euro an der Abendkasse kam ich so in den Genuss eines kurzweiligen Popmusikkonzertabends. Als Vorband spielten Findlay. Im vorderen Teil der Halle gab es leider sehr viel Bassgewummer, so dass Gesang und Melodien häufig im Lärm untergingen. Bei eingängigeren Songs wie “Electric Bones” wusste die Musik aber durchaus zu gefallen, zumal der Gesang bei aller Eigenwilligkeit eingängig blieb. Insgesamt hätte ich das Ganze natürlich gerne poppiger gehabt, da ich mit Grunge-Gitarren so meine Probleme habe. Den etwa 150 anwesenden Leuten schien es zu gefallen, wenngleich es nach acht Stücken keine nennenswerten Zugaberufe gab.

Von wegen Lisbeth machten im Anschluss daran praktisch alles richtig. Statt einem pseudoatmosphärischen Intro vom Band, begann der Auftritt mit einer passenden Keyboardexploration, die nahtlos in den Opener “Vor deiner Tür” überging. Mit vermeintlich einfachen Worten näherte sich das Lied vermeintlich einfachen Begebenheiten, doch zusammen mit der fluffigen, flotten, aufgeräumten und zugleich schwungvollen Popmusik wurde ich sofort in den Bann gezogen. Die Rhythmusgruppe legte einen starken Groove vor, auf dem sich Gesang, aber auch Gitarrenlicks, Elektro-Spielereien und Glockenspiel ausbreiten konnten. Die Stücke waren eingängig, eben nicht, weil der Titel zigmal wiederholt wurde, sondern weil Zeilen wie “Lang lebe die Störung im Betriebsablauf” so charakterstark sind, dass man unweigerlich den Drang verspürt, an Ort und Stelle ein Plakat mit dem Slogan zu malen. Manche Kompositionen wirkten ein wenig austauschbar, doch es war da eben etwas Eigenständiges, das deutlich zeigte, dass hier eine Band ihren Stil gefunden hatte.

Die fünf Musiker hatten sichtlich Spaß und lebten die Musik auf der Bühne, jeder auf seine Art. Statt dämlicher Loops gab es wohl dosiert Offbeats und richtiges Schlagzeug, welches von einem jüngen Simon Phillips-Klon gekonnt bearbeitet wurde. Statt langweiliger Soloteile gab es heitere Ansage; statt Coverversionen gab es durchgängig tanzbare Stücke, die bereits beim ersten Anhören zündeten. Kaum jemand im (überwiegend jungen, weiblichen) Publikum stand still. Statt verkrampft mit dem Handy das Geschehen zu filmen wurde getanzt, wurden die Gefühle der Musik verinnerlicht. (Entsprechend habe ich auch nur rasch ein einzelnes, unten zu sehendes Bild gemacht, was mit meinem Super-Duper-Handy auch ganz toll gelungen ist.) Etwa anderthalb Stunden lang waren Band und Publikum gemeinsam glücklich, wobei dieser Zustand auch nach den drei Zugabeliedern fortbestand.

Von wegen Lisbeth live in Potsdam (2015-09-12)

  1. Vor deiner Tür
  2. Bäreneck
  3. Schwester
  4. Kafka Luise
  5. Plötzlich
  6. Hellersdorf
  7. Cherie
  8. Milchschaum
  9. Drüben bei Penny
  10. Lang lebe die Störung im Betriebsablauf
  11. Bitch
  12. US-Studie
  13. Sushi
  14. Pflicht
  15. 14 Tage Testversion
  16. Das Zimmer

Von wegen Lisbeth Setlist (Konzert in Potsdam, 2015-09-12)

Help! A Beatles Tribute live in Schramberg

On Saturday, July 4th, 2015, I finally got to see Help! A Beatles Tribute. Two band members used to play with The Brandos, which is why I became aware of this Beatles cover band in the first place. Still, I went to the concert primarily to hear Beatles songs – and, hopefully, to get an idea what a Beatles concert would sound in the year 2015 if John, Paul, George, and Ringo had magically travelled through time (and had even more magically solved their conflicts). So I drove to Schramberg in the middle of the Black Forest. It was a particularly hot summer day and the town seemed very sleepy. As the sun set, however, people flocked to the venue, a beautiful garden area. About 350 people had arrived when the four musicians appeared on stage.

The music sounded terrific, mostly because the songs were and are amazing, but also because the band brought the tracks to life with fervent passion and dedication. This wasn’t about creating an exact copy of the original in terms of looks, chronology, or stage banter. Yet, the songs themselves were performed faithfully to the point where you could just close your eyes and pretend to witness the magical journey through time mentioned above. Here was a group of musicians with strong voices and even more impressive melodies. Song after song, hit after hit, classic after classic – it was a barrage of the very best that music has to offer. The first set was a blazing journey through 2-minute pop symphonies. The second set was more of the same with a few songs off the later albums. I just loved that Help! A Beatles Tribute focused on songs that work in a live setting.

There was hardly any pause between songs. There were no solos, no pointless animation attempts, no tiresome history excursions. Only once in every set did the band encourage singing along (“Yellow Submarine” and “Hey Jude”). Plus, there was a conga-line (Polonaise in German) during “Ob-la-di Ob-la-da”. Naturally, people sang along during most of the songs, anyway. The song selection left nothing to be desired. A few lesser known songs spiced up the show – and similarly to the original, there were a few driving cover songs sounded oh so good. I don’t remember the exact setlist, but the list below should be rather complete. If you get the opportunity to see the band (tour dates can be found here), go to their concert!

Help! A Beatles Tribute live in Schramberg (2015-07-04)

First Set:

A Hard Day’s Night
Eight Days a Week
Ticket to Ride
Love Me Do
I Should Have Known Better
Please Please Me
It Won’t Be Long
Rock and Roll Music
I Feel Fine
We Can Work It Out
The Night Before
From Me to You
Please Mr. Postman
Yellow Submarine
Can’t Buy Me Love
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Long Tall Sally

Second Set:

Help!
Day Tripper
Drive My Car
Paperback Writer
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
I Saw Her Standing There
Get Back
Here Comes the Sun
Come Together
Revolution
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Ob-la-di Ob-la-da
I Wanna Be Your Man
She Loves You
Let It Be
Twist And Shout
Get Back
Don’t Let Me Down
With a Little Help From My Friends
Hey Jude

Encores:

The Ballad of John and Yoko
All My Loving
Yesterday
Roll Over Beethoven
Something

The Hooters live in Neuleiningen

The Hooters are touring Germany relentlessly. Having seen more than 20 gigs and having written about several of them here, I find it a bit tiresome to write about the regular stuff afterwards. The trend away from lots of jamming towards a tight collection of classic songs and a few other tunes continued at the concert in Neuleiningen on July 3, 2015. The small town near Mannheim used a (gorgeous) castle ruin to stage the show. It was a really hot day, but it became bearable towards the evening. The walls around the court provided some shade and nobody seemed to mind the absence of an opening band. The show was sold-out.

I find it funny that I have never seen the Hooters in the same venue twice. They keep branching out into small towns and other pampa regions. The audiences are remarkably similar (unless it’s a big, big festival thing like Sound of Pop with about 100,000 people in the audience). The front row consists of die hard fans. They are rocking out from the first note on. The rest of the audience needs a few songs until they start grooving along. It helps when “Day by Day” appears early on. The Neuliningen concert featured a surprisingly large number of songs off “Nervous Night”. I was happy to hear “Hanging on a Heartbeat” for the first time. I’d suspect, however, that German audience are well familiar with the subsequent albums, too. From what I read in interviews, “Zig Zag” isn’t the band’s favourite album, so that might explain the reluctance to go beyond “500 Miles” and the occasional “Deliver Me”. The first encore, “Give the Music Back”, made a strong case that the album does deserve some of the limelight.

From “Karla With a K” onwards, everybody was eagerly cheering, singing along, and simply having a great time. Naturally, “All You Zombies” had paved the way, and the German parts of “Private Emotion” elicited a strong reaction. All in all, it was yet another excellent gig that underscored band’s reputation as a live band.

The Hooters setlist in Neuleiningen (2015-07-03)

  1. I’m Alive
  2. Hanging on a Heartbeat
  3. Day By Day
  4. Silver Lining
  5. Morning Buzz
  6. Private Emotion
  7. South Ferry Road
  8. All You Zombies
  9. The Boys of Summer
  10. Graveyard Waltz (Slight Return)
  11. 500 Miles
  12. Where Do the Children Go
  13. Karla With a K
  14. Twenty-Five Hours a Day
  15. Satellite
  16. And We Danced
  17. Pissing in the Rhine
  18. Give the Music Back
  19. Johnny B
  20. Major Tom (Völlig losgelöst)
  21. One of Us
  22. Time After Time

Dar Williams live in Krefeld

Dar Williams has been touring in the United States steadily for over 20 years. She also played a few shows in the UK and in the Netherlands from time to time. On Saturday, 30th May, she played her first German concert in 17 years. I was thrilled! Much to my delight, I wasn’t the only one at the Kulturfabrik that evening. About 100 people showed up, filling the small club to the last row. The opening act was North Alone, a singer/guitarist with a fiddle player. The voice reminded me of Tom Waits, but the music was quite folky and upbeat. The audience (myself included) needed a few songs to warm up to the duo. I liked the songs “Missing Heart Shadow”, “Scatter My Ashes in the Sea”, and the closer “The Road Most Traveled” best. That last song in particular sounded really good and had everybody sing along at the end

Dar Williams entered the stage with a somewhat lengthy welcome speech that included the German translations of babysitter and hippie. Her first song was consequently “The Babysitter’s Here”. Dar accidentally said “The play was called ‘The Babysitter'” in the middle part, which was funny. Each song was met with friendly applause. “Emerald” and “Buzzer” were two highlights early in the set. When Dar asked for requests, many different song titles were yelled – and she played pretty much all of them! First came “Iowa”. Dar timidly asked us to sing along and someone in the audience replied “We won’t let you down!”, which drove any tension that might have remained at this point. Sing along, we did! It’s such a great song. Dar’s voice shone on “You’re Aging Well” (another request). <fanboy>She really is the best!</fanboy>

There was the usual banter between songs. Some stories did not really relate to the following song (e.g., her husband had asked her to thank the Germans for improving the passive house building techniques over the past few decades), some were funny, some were graceful, some were sincere. It still baffles me that Dar never seems tell any anecdote twice. Much too soon, she had played her final song. Thankfully, she came back for two encores (“February” and “Are You Out There”, both fantastic in their own way). Afterwards, she patiently signed cds and talked to the fans. There seems to be hope for future concerts in Germany. I’ll be there!

Dar Williams live in Krefeld (2015-05-30) - Picture by Johannes Schult

  1. The Babysitter’s Here
  2. Spring Street
  3. The Beauty of the Rain
  4. Emerald
  5. Slippery Slope
  6. Buzzer
  7. Empty Plane
  8. Iowa (Traveling III)
  9. You’re Aging Well
  10. Something to Get Through
  11. The One Who Knows
  12. Mercy of the Fallen
  13. New York Is a Harbor
  14. When I Was a Boy
  15. February
  16. Are You Out There

Chris de Burgh live in Mannheim

Perhaps the most magnificent element of the Chris de Burgh concert in Mannheim last Tuesday was the perfect sound mix. Unlike most live concerts, it wasn’t too loud. The vocals were crystal clear, the bass present but never obnoxious, the drums a piece of the puzzle instead of a bulldozer driving all across the puzzle. The acoustics of the Mozartsaal certainly helped transporting the sound to the audience’s ears. The light show was inventive but again never distracting from the actual star of the show: the music. Sure, some fans might indulge in seeing Chris de Burgh. I, however, was there for the music. Once again, the setlist (see below for pic and details) contained a balanced mixture of old and new material. There were plenty of songs that hadn’t been played for many years; there were the inevitable classics; there were seven songs off the new album “The Hands of Man” – some great (like “Where Would I Be?”), the rest at least good; there were other songs that were neither classics nor obscurities – “Where Peaceful Waters Flow”, “The Spirit of Man”, “The Same Sun”.

The mood was good on stage as well as in front of the stage. In addition to the usual presents (flowers, wine) Chris also got tomato soup. The first few songs were presented without comment. Later on, the banter between songs grew longer. It was generally filled with thankfulness and a bit of wit. In my opinion, the only flaw was the use of click tracks and samples during some of the band songs. Don’t get me wrong, “Go Where Your Heart Believes” sounded brilliant with those strings. It just made the show seem a bit like a TV show rather than a live show. I’m sure the band could have easily played the songs without additional help. I still enjoyed the songs, of course, even with the diminished tempo dynamics. As for the highlights, there were plenty.

“Transmission Ends” was wonderful, “Say Goodbye to It All” made me cry, the acoustic session proved that the players on stage don’t need to rely on backing tracks. And the solo section with “Carry Me”, “Borderline”, and “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” demonstrated that Chris de Burgh is still very much an amazing singer, musician, and performer. Then there was the cheesy synth sound in “Man on the Line” (awesome!). “Spanish Train” and “A Spaceman Came Travelling” were a blast from the past that got lots of applause. And for the encore, “Patricia the Stripper” made an (acoustic) appearance!

This was my fourth Chris de Burgh concert. Once again, the Irish singer delivered a fresh performance with just a few inevitable repetitions (which, by the way, haven’t lost any of their appeal – “don’t do it!”). And not only did he cover most periods of his career, the fans embraced pretty much every song with equal appreciation. The “cost” of this is probably a slightly smaller audience (the hall was pretty much sold out with maybe 1,700 people) compared with the draw of a pure best of program. The ticket prices were rather steep, so you certainly won’t find me at another concert of the current tour. Yet, from a musical and emotional perspective, it was an excellent show, sincere, uplifting, thoughtful, moving, and towards the end even rocking.

Setlist Chris de Burgh Mannheim (2015-05-26)

  1. The Hands of Man
  2. Big City Sundays
  3. The Light on the Bay
  4. Have a Care
  5. Go Where Your Heart Believes
  6. The Candlestick
  7. Ship to Shore
  8. The Same Sun
  9. Spanish Train
  10. Through These Eyes
  11. Transmission Ends
  12. A Spaceman Came Travelling
  13. Man on the Line
  14. Missing You (acoustic)
  15. Pure Joy (acoustic)
  16. Love of the Heart Divine (acoustic)
  17. There Goes My Heart Again (acoustic)
  18. Carry Me (Like a Fire in Your Heart)
  19. Borderline
  20. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
  21. Where Would I Be?
  22. The Words “I Love You”
  23. The Keeper of the Keys
  24. The Lady in Red
  25. Africa
  26. The Spirit of Man
  27. Say Goodbye to It All
  28. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  29. High on Emotion
  30. Patricia the Stripper
  31. The Moonfleet Finale

The Brandos Want Your Money

The Brandos want your money in order to make a new album. I want a new Brandos album to happen. So, indirectly, I want your money. I will elaborate this below, but for the impatient tl;dr folks: I suggest you go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/365667282/the-brandos-new-studio-album and give the band your money. Thank you!

The Brandos are one of my five favourite bands in the world. I admire and enjoy they music ever since I saw them live in Stuttgart back in 1995. So far I’ve attended 19 of their concerts. Some were hot (Winterbach 2006), some were accompanied by snow (Stuttgart 1998), some were loud (Stuttgart 1997), others were simply sonic bliss (acoustic gig in Stuttgart 1996). The band awed (“The Keeper”), the band rocked (“The Light of Day”), the band folk-rocked (“My Father’s Gun”), the band stayed true to itself throughout the years. The music tends to be serious. You find dark stories and moody characters galore (look no further than “Hard Luck Runner” and “Partners”). Then again, the lack of stainlessness in our lives (bonus points for anyone recognizing this reference) is also reflected in a manner that moves your heart (“Over the Border”) and gives you hope (“Hard Times”) – and if all hope is lost at least solace (“My Friend, My Friend”), sometimes even redemption (“Hallowed Ground”). The Brandos are equally sincere and passionate, which is what sets them apart from ordinary (classic/guitar) rock bands. I backed the project earlier today. Now I will “Pass the Hat” to you.

The Brandos Go Kickstarter

The current crowdfunding effort is unlike most other musical Kickstarter/Pledgemusic/Indiegogo projects, because the value of the rewards does not match the price tags. The majority of album campaigns are basically presales in disguise. The Brandos offer a new single (with exclusive bonus tracks) for $25. Commonly, one gets the whole new album for that money and then some. The band is not trying to fool anyone – what is offered in the various options is what you get. The Brandos get the money needed for a proper record. My impression is furthermore that successful funding would facilitate the album production and make a late 2015 release a realistic possibility. Most of the money will benefit the recording process of the album. Only a small share will be needed to fulfill the various rewards.

From the point of view of the band, this is about covering the album production costs (partially or completely I don’t know). The label is going to take care of promotion, manufacturing, and distribution. (These three jobs will be handled external firms, I know; but the label provides the infrastructure and, hopefully, tour support.) From the point of view of the fans, backing the project feels more like a donation than like a trade. It’s certainly no bargain. However, the backers can enjoy the feeling of gratification when the new album is made, because they stood up for good music. Because they made their “Contribution”.

The time frame is short. Right now – with 19 percent funded – it doesn’t look too good for the project. (Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.) Yet, with more than a week left, it’s still possible to reach the goal of $25.000. “The Last Tambourine” has yet to be dubbed. There need to be 820 more fans chiming in with $25. Or 200 willing to contribute $100 or more. The Brandos have been under the radar for most of the last seven years. Reaching their old audience is a challenge. Hopefully, the band or the label can bring the project to the attention of radio stations that used to play the Brandos. More importantly, though, the current campaign could benefit from some additional options, I think.

Suggestions for Improvements

Add a new cheap option – say $5 – with, for example, an (early) download of the new song that is going to be on the single. This won’t be enough to reach the goal but it might create positive vibes (as fans generally like to support their favourite bands) and bring in at least some more dollars. Bandcamp could be used to fulfill the rewards without too much hassle.

Add more music to the options / more options with (more) music. My first thought here is that there have to be various live recordings – mainly audio, but possibly also on video. As an exclusive reward for maybe a hundred dedicated Brandos fans, a sub-perfect sound and production will deter no one from the band. The easiest addition could be a download of the “Live at Loreley” album (which has been out of print for some time). The album has two bonus tracks from other concerts – those two shows (one from 1987, one from 1998) would be something I’d love to hear, even if it were a quick rough mix. Throwing one of them into all the available options is likely to convince anyone who is hesitant because they feel they don’t get enough rock for their money. There are, of course, many other shows I’d love to revisit – early gigs, rare live cover versions, more Irish songs played by the whole electric band etc. A fan once gave me a recording of an unplugged show from 1995. It’s only Dave and Scott Kempner – and the duo sounds marvelous! Hearing those stunning versions of songs like “A Matter of Survival”, “Partners”, “Cheyenne”, and “Walking on the Water” will make any Brandos fan drool. Offer ten different shows, each for $30, and who knows how many dedicated fans will get some or even all of them.

Speaking of unplugged performances: A video of Dave Kincaid performing an acoustic version of a Brandos song of the backer’s choice would be a very tempting option for me – and probably for other fans, too. I’d set the price tag at $500 – maybe even $400. And maybe offer acoustic Creedence Clearwater Revival cover versions for $600 per piece.

Another attractive option could be access to unreleased demo recordings. “My Way to You” from before the first album was used on the “Contribution” compilation album; “Partners” is supposedly the initial demo version of the song. What about other demos of songs that were rerecorded for the (first couple of) albums?

The one thing that might annoy potential backers for which I have no remedy the necessity of having a credit card and a Kickstarter account (the latter one is free and can be deleted after the project has ended – and the chosen rewards have been delivered).

Finally, if you like the Brandos but not the available options because you’d want the new album itself and then some: The new album will be widely available thanks to Blue Rose Records, so you can quickly buy it for, say, $20 once it’s released. A ticket for a Brandos concert will cost you about $30. Now imagine a $75 option that contains the single, the album, and a concert ticket. Sounds good, right? The only catch is that you will be paying $25 now, then $20 when the album comes out and $30 when the band goes on tour. On the bright side, you don’t have to pay everything upfront and in case the tour schedule doesn’t fit into your calendar, you can actually save the money for the concert ticket. What are you waiting for? Go to Kickstarter and give the band your money!

Final Remarks

How about this: Instead of buying me a birthday present, support the Brandos with your money. It will make me happier than a pair of socks. And you will even get a Brandos single at the end of the year! My birthday is in the summer, I know. Who cares? I want a new Brandos album to happen – and you can help!

Links of Interest

Johannes with his collection of Brandos albums title=

Squirrel

The challenge of the third round of SpinTunes #10 was to write a song with long run-on sentences. It took me a while to get a vague idea what the challenge was about. Loooong sentences are rather common in German, but there was no way I could communicate a German song to the (mostly English-speaking) SpinTunes audience and, in particular, the judges. I was stumped. But hey, what if I sang about German(y)? Could this be a topic worth rambling about? I wasn’t sure. I still don’t know. My only alternative idea was a detailed description of the pain of getting a part of your body pierced (while trying to impress your latest flame that talked you into it). I didn’t want to focus on pain and negative emotions (even in a comical way), so I began writing about my home country. Writing a song about an specific idea/concept is usually work and this song was no exception. Thankfully, I never ran out of inspiration. Most of the lyrics were written in the order I sing them. I only updated a couple of parts before I recorded the vocals.

I began composing the music when I had the first few verses and a rough idea where the refrain was headed. At first I found myself resorting to the chords and melody of a German traditional song (“Der Mönch im Nonnenkloster“) but eventually I found a sufficiently original approach, a catchy chorus, a chorus after the chorus (with lots of room for me to butcher the pronunciation of squirrel), and also a quick bridge to make it all more dynamic. I considered inserting the melody of the Germany national hymn between verses, but the song was already getting long. (I even shortened the second chorus.)

I consider the lyrics to be just a few looong sentences. I added two more parts with free-style rambling just to be sure that my entry would be run-on enough. The middle-part allowed me to address the issue of sarcasm. I felt this was necessary, because the initial lyrics came across almost serious. I mean, lines like “Invincible, almighty and fearless in the night” might go unnoticed. Finally, I have no idea what people who don’t understand German think of the line “their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long”. Maybe one of the judges remarks on it. Anyway, I was thinking of making a video for the song; I won’t have time for that any time soon, though. Meanwhile, here’s the music/lyrics:

Squirrel

When it comes to building cars, Germany’s the best
And Germans on the Autobahn drive faster than the rest
With the pedal to the metal and reckless as can be
Just like Michael Schumacher racing down the street
Nothing that can stop us on and off the road
Be it truck or airplane, be it bicycle or boat

And with regard to soccer, I’m sure that you all know
The Germans won the World Cup while England had to go
And while we don’t like to admit it, our country makes us proud
‘Cos Germans are the greatest – there is really no doubt
Invincible, almighty and fearless in the night
And if there’s something broken, we can fix it all right
Yes, there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as a citizen of this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Germans built the wall and they tore it down again
And they still miss the Deutschmark every now and then
For example when it’s time to pay at the Oktoberfest
Where schnitzel, wurst and sauerkraut are easy to digest
As long as there is order, as long as there is beer
With Merkel on our side, there is nothing to fear

German maids are beautiful and German men are strong
And their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long
And all the Black Forest cuckoo’s clocks are never running late
So why not book a trip and come to see the Brandenburg Gate
Enjoy some German music: Rammstein, Volksmusik
We rock you like a hurricane until you agree
That there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as a citizen of this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Anyway, Germans are always on time, sticking to the rules, very talented and charming, fantastic singers – like me, for example – builders, engineers, inventors, Nobel Prize winners, Friedrich Nietzsche, you know, and Dirk Nowitzki, Pope Benedict, Beethoven, Wagner, Nena, handsome German people each and every one of them, big fans of discipline, yes, that’s us, and when we use sarcasm, it’s always 100% obvious, smart, efficient, never making any mistakes – and most of all we are very modest!

Ja, there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as someone who grew up in this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Why couldn’t they just call it “Eichhörnchen”? I mean, they took so many German words for the English language like Rucksack or Kindergarten and we also took some words from them like Handy or like Public Viewing – okay, we misused them*, but anyway, it’s so weird and I can’t pronounce it; it’s a tongue twister and, ah, it’s driving me crazy and did you know that Chip an’ Dale are called Ahörnchen and Behörnchen in German?

* Handy = mobile/cell phone, Public Viewing = broadcast of soccer games in public places

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)