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Category Archives: Music

A German Singer In South Dakota

Looks like somebody got something really wrong in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. What you see above is the internet version of an article in the local newspaper “Argus Leader”, which announced Tish’s concert at the Grand Opera House (unfortunately I didn’t save a copy of the printed version). For some reason, after hearing that Tish now resides in Germany,  the local promoter had decided to combine the show with a German dinner. Naturally the interviewer from the newspaper talked to Tish about that aspect, and then the person writing the headline took it just a little bit further …

Anyway, the German dinner, cooked by chef Horst from Eisleben, East Germany, featured some very good beef rouladen and a tasty Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cake). Afterwards though, during the concert at the amazingly beautiful theater, nobody seemed to care much about Tishs’s “German side” anymore (although once again our little St. Pauli song was received enthusiastically).

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Looking For Lewis And Clark

In southeastern South Dakota, not far from Lilly’s farm, we had our first encounter with signs referring to the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 (there would be more to come on our way to the northwest). Apparantly, on August 24, 1804, the two explorers with some of their men left the Missouri River in order to explore a nearby “high hill”, as they put it in their diary. Well, some people in east South Dakota may consider “Spirit Mound”, as the place is called these days, a high hill, but I’m pretty sure that Lewis & Clark regretted having used this term somewhat prematurely, when they approached Montana and then the Rocky Mountains later on into their trip.

Nevertheless Spirit Mound is quite a fascinating place and well worth the little hike to its … well … summit. Tish, the three kids and I were lucky to get there right in time for sunset.

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I might as well admit it: I only wrote this post (and had Tish take the picture on top of the page) to be able to introduce you to the song “Looking for Lewis and Clark” by a US band I have always loved, the Long Ryders. When I first heard the tune in 1985, it was my first introduction to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, since in Germany you don’t learn about it in school.

While listening to the song for the first time in years, I had to realize that it’s a little more rock’n’roll than I would prefer, but it’s still catchy. And by the way: The Long Ryders, who broke up as early as 1987, might play some reunion concerts in 2013, so keep your eyes open!

State By State (23): Wisconsin

Time for some political talk again: Some weeks after the sad turnout of the referendum on gay marriage that we had to witness in North Carolina, we happened to be in Wisconsin, when that beautiful state was the site of yet another depressing vote that attracted strong national attention. What had happened was that some scary republican governor, who goes by the name of Scott Walker (which of course in itself is an offense to the real Scott Walker) had been trying, among other things, to deprive the public workers in Wisconsin of their right to collective bargaining (Tarifverhandlungen, more or less). This caused a stream of protest, which lasted thoughout the year 2011 and eventually lead to Walker having to face a recall election (Referendum über den Verbleib im Amt). But instead of taking advantage of this comfortable opportunity to get rid of this creep, the Wisconsinites confirmed him in office, making him the first governor to politically survive a recall election. Another chance for a positive political signal in these dreary days gone by.

Apart from that disappointment, our short time in Wisconsin (home of squeaky cheese and the great Marvin Dykhuis!) was great. Tish’s show in the little town of Fort Atkinson, where our new friend Bill Camplin does a great job at running the “Cafe Carp”, gave me the chance to meet the wonderful writer Bill C. Malone in person, author of what is probably the best book on country music ever written (“Country Music USA”) and of many other titles (check out his latest one on folk musician Mike Seeger).

With Bill C. Malone and his wife Barbara in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

The concert at the festival theater in St. Croix Falls was easily one of the most enjoyables on the tour: great audience, beautiful theater and Tish in excellent shape. And the stage there was definitely the biggest one that I had been singing on so far.

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Here’s Scott Walker with his phantastic version of Jacques Brel’s “Jackie”:

(Written in Hamburg, Germany, August 4, 2012)

Das Herz von St. Pauli

I promised you a while ago that I would write more about a new element that Tish has integrated into her shows, so now I’m pleased and honored to be able to tell you that this new element actually includes my participation. Ever since Tish’s show in Columbus, Mississippi, we have been performing a duet of the German song „Das Herz von St. Pauli“ on stage. For some reason, audiences everywhere just seem to love it, sometimes to an extent that seems a little exaggerated.

For those of you who are not from Hamburg: The song „Das Herz von St. Pauli“ („The Heart of St. Pauli“) talks about the neighborhood that Tish and I live in. It’s a very colorful part of town, characterized by the nearness of the harbor and the huge river Elbe, with hundreds of bars and clubs, many of which are open 24 hours a day. St. Pauli also hosts Hamburg’s red light district, and on top of it all it’s the place where the Beatles used to live and work for long periods during the years 1960-1962, before they became famous. „Das Herz von St. Pauli“ has been made popular by the Hamburg-born singer Hans Albers in the 1950s. Nowadays a lot of people identify it with our local soccer club, the FC St. Pauli, because the song gets played at the stadium before every game. Tish and I added a verse in English, which talks about a few of the things I just mentioned.

This video recording was taped at a house concert in Westerville, Ohio. Nancy Tomei and Roy Stein were the perfect hosts and made sure that Tish’s concert in their beautiful garden was one of the most enjoyable events on our tour. It wasn’t our best performance of “Das Herz von St. Pauli”, though, we definitely had it worked out much better by the end of the tour, but this is the only decent video recording, so you’ll have to put up with some flaws. I hope you will enjoy our little number anyway.

(Written in Hamburg, Germany, July 31, 2012)

New York City Hotels, Part 2

From Brighton Beach we headed for Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where Tish’s second NYC concert was going to take place. Once again we stayed at quite a remarkable hotel, only this time is wasn’t exactly cheap. Our room on the ninth floor of the „Thompson Hotel“ on Allen Street was quite swankily designed and had the most incredible view of Downtown, with the window reaching all the way down to the floor.

Tish liked the room so much, she decided to stay for another day – not the best thing possible to happen to our budget, especially since unfortunately Tish’s show at the “Rockwood City Music Hall” had a rather disappointing turnout -, but it gave me the possibility to explore the neighborhood in detail – and to try my first canoli in Little Italy. As often as I eat Italian food, I had never had this desert before, that they mention so often on the “Sopranos”. Seems to be more an Italian-American than an Italian thing. But whatever – it tasted great!

(Written in Austin, TX, July 27, 2012)

Another Island

Four weeks after leaving Bald Head Island, it was time for us to once again enter a ferry and leave the mainland. Our destination: Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, which of course is about 25 times bigger and a thousand times more famous than Bald Head Island. In fact it’s so big, Tish and I only got to see a small section of it. We stayed at the house of our friends Nat and Pam Benjamin in Vinyard Haven for three days and enjoyed the beautiful beaches and the lovely weather.

The only thing we didn’t like about Martha’s Vineyard was the traffic: There’s fast-going cars everywhere, and riding our bicycles felt much more dangerous than it did in New York City. Made us wish for the whacky golf carts from Bald Head Island.

For our last evening, Nat and Pam invited a few people over and cooked a great dinner. It was a pleasure to finally meet Tish’s old friend Kate Taylor and hear her sing some songs.

P. S.: Apart from being a great singer-songwriter and a wonderful friend, Kate is also the sister of her famous brother James. We also met Carly Simon‘s brother and John Belushi’s widow. It’s that kind of island.

(Written in Redding, CA, July 21, 2012)

A Good Man

Walking the streets of Boston with Howell Begle

As I already mentioned, the greatest thing about travelling with Tish is meeting interesting and friendly people. To this I should add that a lot of them are people that I never would have been able to meet if not through Tish. One of them is Tish’s old friend Howell Begle (pronounced “Bee-gel”). Howell is a renounced entertainment and media lawyer, who has become immortal by his successful fight for the rights of  African-American rhythm and blues musicians.

Since the early 80s, Howell has secured correct royalty payments and other financial support for dozens of the pioneers of black music, who in the 50s and 60s had been given very unfavorable contracts by the record companies. Directly or indirectly due to Howell’s work, about 1000 contracts between musicians and record companies have been altered in favor of the musicians. Howell is also one the founders (together with singer legend Bonnie Raitt) of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, an organisation, which over the years has collected millions of dollars from record companies and given them to old African-American musicians in need of financial and medical assistance.

It was quite an honor for me to get to know a man who has done such great work. We had lunch with Howell, his wife Julie and their son Charles and also got to see their beautiful town house near Boston Public Garden, which holds a lot of memorabilia from Howell’s work for the musicians.