East Germany tour diary part 2

Monday 11 September 2017. I drove west towards the Hartz mountains south of Hannover and the beautiful town of Witzenhausen. The only forests by the autobahn were the forests of wind generators. When Merkel’s government announced a few years back that Germany was going to give up nuclear power it seemed hard to believe, but the investment in green energy has been astonishing. This has had a tipping effect on other countries. The more wind generators and solar panels are made, the cheaper they get, and the more are ordered by other countries. Hats off the the green lobby that never gave up and particularly to the protesters who spent 35 years chaining themselves to the railway lines leading to the nuclear dump in Gorleben. You have actually changed the world.

The Witzenhausen Ringelnatz is named after a poet and had a great old piano which I played during my set, these old pianos have a soul, a spirit, even if they are often more than a little out of tune. The show was bookended with a Ringelnatz poem read by the owner Uwe and the next day when an old man entered the cafe he greeted us with a theatrical quotation from Bertolt Brecht. Methinks there be culture here.

Next stop was Magdeburg and an acoustic show in a violin workshop. I played here two years ago, the luthier Martin Banditt (real name) just clears away most of the stock and fills the floor with chairs and benches, it is a little like a house concert and a very intimate setting for a show.

On to Berlin and my third time at the Petrus Kirche, a church with a bar and the best folk club in Berlin. This time it was a double header with Kerstin Blodig, a great Norwegian artist who lives in Germany. We split the sets and also managed to play few songs together. Someone stole one of my songbooks from the merch desk; should I take that as a compliment?

Then south to Hainichen in the Leipzig area and a Thursday night show for the very hospitable Kuno at EigenARTig (that’s some kind of play on words, can anybody tell me what it means?). Kuno did not speak any English and I did not speak German but we pointed at things like the stage, the clock, the kitchen, and got on just fine. The club was a restaurant/pub and was jammed by the time I came on. Normally these kid of places are noisey but not tonight, the audience were very quiet. I wasn’t.

Next, was one of my favourite venues of all time, the old castle in Goseck. I think this was my fourth time here. Originally a slav fortress, it became a monastery, then a residential castle. Perched on top of a cliff overlooking the Salle river, it is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I know and thanks to the warden Robert Weinkauf I feel very at home here.

The last stop was the Schloss Trebsen XVII Highland Games festival. Three days of music, caber tossing, non stop bagpipes and some very serious dressing up. I did not grace the stage in my own tartan (Anderson) because, although I am half Scottish I am afraid my knees are very English and best kept in trews. We were blest with great weather and a beautiful setting by the River Mulde. They kept me working though, three sets over two days. I was well fueled by Haggis and the hotel breakfasts. On Sunday morning I got up so late I thought I had missed breakfast, only to find it all laid out for me and a band practicing at the end of the table. Turned out they were English, called Folklaw and I can say I really enjoyed listening to their rehearsal as I ate my brötchen and cold boiled egg. Nice to hear a band doing original songs, watch out for them.

I am now back on the Rostock Trelleborg ferry, looking at the German coast receding and thinking again about how grateful I am to my friend Juergen Hannes for organizing another great tour for me. I dedicated a few songs to him along the way. He left only kindness and goodwill behind him.

Tour Diary 10th September 2017

On tour in eastern Germany
The tour started with the long drive through Sweden followed by a relaxing 6 hour ferry from Trelleborg to Rostock, just me, a lot of Polish lorry drivers and a bunch of Germans in camper vans coming home from holiday.
This tour is quite strange as it was organized by my friend and agent Juergen who died suddenly just 3 weeks ago. I had all the addresses of the shows but no names or phone numbers. I lost a friend and an agent but still had a tour to do.
Feeling like I had just fallen out of a space ship, I drew up outside the seaman’s church in Ahrenshop on the north coast of Germany. It had a thatched roof, looked like an upturned boat and had great acoustics, not a problem to play this one with no mic. The problem was that I don’t speak much German and suddenly I found a need to. I could not even ask who had booked me or where I was going to sleep the night. The little church was full and it all worked out in the end, as things usually do. Normally I would phone or text Juergen every day to say how the show went, it felt strange not to do that.
It was a wild and windy night, as it often is on the Baltic coast. The next morning I met an old lady who had been at the show. She told me she had slept in her car but was kept awake most of the night by the noise of the trees. Funny how I am learning to guess what people mean when they speak German although I can’t say much back. I did try and learn German a long time ago, but back then I was playing in rock clubs and staying in hotels and after 2 years I had still not met anyone who would speak German back to me, everyone wanted to practice their English. Now I am touring in east Germany and talking to old ladies it is a bit different.
I drove to the beautiful city of Greifswald the next day expecting to play in the ‘Kulturbar’ only to find it closed for 3 weeks and inside only some building workers. The cafe next door (which was selling ‘Real DDR ice cream, Soft Is’) said the Kulturbar had ‘a problem with the water tubes’. I guess a message was sent to Juergen but I never got it.
No matter, I went on to the next show, the Basiskulturfabrik in Neustrelitz and found sanctuary in their very nice hotel. Housed in an old stove factory, this place combines art house cinema, hotel, restaurant, bar and art gallery as well as concerts. What’s not to like? It was good to have a day without traveling and I made good use of the time rehearsing some new songs on their old Yamaha piano. Great people there.
Next day I drove through the old state of Brandenburg, on arrow straight roads lined with huge oak trees. The gig was another church, organized by my friend Tom the taxi driver. I had met Tom (in a taxi) a couple of years ago when my car broke down in Berlin. Tom is from the east and we got talking about the old DDR days, he described for me what he was doing the day the wall came down. I told him I had written a song about my memories of East Germany and gave him a CD. We kept in touch and tonight’s show in the old church in Wegendorf near Berlin was the result. The church, built in 1213 also had wonderful acoustics. I used a mic in the first half, then went fully acoustic, didn’t need it. Thanks everybody for turning up to see this guy you have probably never heard about before, and thanks to Tom and his friends and family for making a great show for me.
On south to Bad Smiedeburg and a charming outdoor show in an old court yard behind the priest’s house. It felt a little like one of those Elizabethan theatres. Luckily the weather was fine and just warm enough. As darkness fell the stage  lights failed more than once but the audience pulled out their phones and shone the torches at the stage. I am feeling very lucky that I get to play in such nice places. Thanks to Juergen.

German Tour in memoriam

I am about to set off on a tour of the eastern part of Germany, taking in a lot of beautiful places and great cities, castles, churches, clubs, a Scottish Festival, it’s going to be great. The tour was arranged for me by my good friend Jürgen Hannes of Songs On Tour. I am very sorry to say that he has died suddenly at the age of only 56. Jürgen, my friend who helped me so much, the great music fan, the crazy priest from Hannover has left us. The tour will be a memory of him .

.. mit tiefer Betroffenheit und Trauer muss ich Ihnen leider mitteilen, dass mein lieber Freund und
Geschäftspartner von ” songs on tour ” Jürgen Hannes unerwartet verstorben ist.
Selbstverständlich werde ich aber die von ihm vorbereitete Tour so durchführen wie verabredet 
und freue mich darauf, Sie an Ihrem Ort kennenzulernen.
Bei Fragen und Gesprächen die Zukunft betreffend wenden Sie sich bitte direkt an mich:

Wednesday 6 September Ahrenshoop near Prerow  Schifferkirche, Paetowweg 4, 18347 Ahrenshoop     Website

Thursday 7 September Greifswald
Greifswald, Kulturbar, Lange Str. 93, 17489 Greifswald   Facebook

Friday 8   Neutrelitz  Basiskulturfabrik       Alte Kachelofenfabrik Sandberg 3a o 17235 Neustrelitz o Tel: 03981 – 20 31 45

Saturday 9 September Wegendorf kirche near Berlin Alte Schulstr. 4A, 15345 Altlandsberg
Website

Sunday 10 September Bad Schmiedeberg Hofkonzert
Kirchstraße 4, 06905 Bad Schmiedeberg Website 

Monday 11 September Witzenhausen Bistro Ringelnatz Steinstraße 12
37213 Witzenhausen,    Facebook

Tuesday 12 September  Magdeburg Werkstatt für Streichinstrumente BANDITT
Große Diesdorfer Straße 249 39108 MAGDEBURG  Violin workshop acoustic show   Website

Wednesday 13  September  Berlin Petruskirche   Double bill with Kirsten Blodig    Oberhofer Platz, 12209 Berlin Kerstin Blodig   Website

Thursday 14 September Hainchen, EigenARTig
Ottendorfer Str. 5, 09661  near Dresden  Website

Friday 15 September Schloss Goseck, Schloss
Burgstraße 53, 06667 Goseck   Website   My favourite castle.

Saturday 16 September Schloss Trebsen 2x 1 hour  Highland Games
Zum Schloss 1, 04687 Trebsen/Mulde     Website

Sunday 17 September Schloss Trebsen 2x 1 hour  Highland Games
Zum Schloss 1, 04687 Trebsen/Mulde     Website

 

Interview and live recording

Tonight 
Thurs Aug 31st Live set from @folkonthepier Cromer Festival and interview http://www.westnorfolkradio.co.uk/listenlive.html at 7pm British time repeated on the 8th September at 8pm. Thanks to all at West Norfolk Radio.

Next tour of England February 2018. Details to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Germany

Wednesday 6 September Ahrenshoop near Prerow  Schifferkirche, Paetowweg 4, 18347 Ahrenshoop     Website

Thursday 7 September Greifswald
Greifswald, Kulturbar, Lange Str. 93, 17489 Greifswald   Facebook

Friday 8   Neutrelitz  Basiskulturfabrik       Alte Kachelofenfabrik Sandberg 3a o 17235 Neustrelitz o Tel: 03981 – 20 31 45

Saturday 9 September Wegendorf kirche near Berlin Alte Schulstr. 4A, 15345 Altlandsberg
Website

Sunday 10 September Bad Schmiedeberg Hofkonzert
Kirchstraße 4, 06905 Bad Schmiedeberg Website 

Monday 11 September Witzenhausen Bistro Ringelnatz Steinstraße 12
37213 Witzenhausen,    Facebook

Tuesday 12 September  Magdeburg Werkstatt für Streichinstrumente BANDITT
Große Diesdorfer Straße 249 39108 MAGDEBURG  Violin workshop acoustic show   Website

Wednesday 13  September  Berlin Petruskirche   Double bill with Kirsten Blodig    Oberhofer Platz, 12209 Berlin Kerstin Blodig   Website

Thursday 14 September Hainchen, EigenARTig
Ottendorfer Str. 5, 09661  near Dresden  Website

Friday 15 September Schloss Goseck, Schloss
Burgstraße 53, 06667 Goseck   Website   My favourite castle.

Saturday 16 September Schloss Trebsen 2x 1 hour  Highland Games
Zum Schloss 1, 04687 Trebsen/Mulde     Website

Sunday 17 September Schloss Trebsen 2x 1 hour  Highland Games
Zum Schloss 1, 04687 Trebsen/Mulde     Website

Thursday 12 October  Riedtstadt BuechnerBuehne   Kirchstraße 16  D- 64560 Riedstadt   Small funky theatre. ‘The Whiskey Man Bar’     Website

Saturday 14 October Weinheim Hamiltons Marktpl. 5, 69469 Weinheim                      Phone 06201 9896444     Website

Friday 20 October  Reinighof 1     76891 Bruchweiler- Bärenbach  Website

I am also playing 7 house concerts. There are still some free dates too, please mail me ray@raycooper.org

Autumn tour in Germany

 

Wednesday 6 September Ahrenshoop near Prerow  Schifferkirche, Paetowweg 4, 18347 Ahrenshoop     Website

Thursday 7 September Greifswald
Greifswald, Kulturbar, Lange Str. 93, 17489 Greifswald   Facebook

Friday 8   Neutrelitz  Basiskulturfabrik       Alte Kachelofenfabrik Sandberg 3a o 17235 Neustrelitz o Tel: 03981 – 20 31 45

Saturday 9 September Wegendorf kirche near Berlin Alte Schulstr. 4A, 15345 Altlandsberg
Website

Sunday 10 September Bad Schmiedeberg Hofkonzert
Kirchstraße 4, 06905 Bad Schmiedeberg Website 

Monday 11 September Witzenhausen Bistro Ringelnatz Steinstraße 12
37213 Witzenhausen,    Facebook

Tuesday 12 September  Magdeburg Werkstatt für Streichinstrumente BANDITT
Große Diesdorfer Straße 249 39108 MAGDEBURG  Violin workshop acoustic show   Website

Wednesday 13  September  Berlin Petruskirche   Double bill with Kirsten Blodig    Oberhofer Platz, 12209 Berlin Kerstin Blodig   Website

Thursday 14 September Hainchen, EigenARTig
Ottendorfer Str. 5, 09661  near Dresden  Website

Friday 15 September Schloss Goseck, Schloss
Burgstraße 53, 06667 Goseck   Website   My favourite castle.

Saturday 16 September Schloss Trebsen 2x 1 hour  Highland Games
Zum Schloss 1, 04687 Trebsen/Mulde     Website

Sunday 17 September Schloss Trebsen 2x 1 hour  Highland Games
Zum Schloss 1, 04687 Trebsen/Mulde     Website

October tour Germany

Thursday 12 October  Riedtstadt BuechnerBuehne   Kirchstraße 16  D- 64560 Riedstadt   Small funky theatre. ‘The Whiskey Man Bar’     Website

Saturday 14 October Weinheim Hamiltons Marktpl. 5, 69469 Weinheim                      Phone 06201 9896444     Website

Friday 20 October  Reinighof 1     76891 Bruchweiler- Bärenbach  Website

I am also playing 7 house concerts. There are still some free dates too, please mail me ray@raycooper.org

The Swedish Kitchen Orchestra, and more touring

I just played a couple of shows with The Swedish Kitchen Orchestra here in Sweden. We have one more coming up in nearby Dunker Kyrka next Wednesday. I wish I could take these guys with me on tour, they sound pretty good. Thanks Gustav, Jenny and Patrik for the wonderful playing. It is great to hear the songs with full arrangements.

Plenty more solo shows coming up including the Wickham Festival in England on August 6th. On Aug 5th I will be guesting there with my old Oysterband pals

 There will be more October dates announced soon.

Festivals and tours 2017 

For full details of the shows click here 

Sweden July 19 Ekenäs Kvarn with The Swedish Kitchen Orchestra  

Sweden July 23 Dunker Kyrka with The Swedish Kitchen Orchestra

Denmark July 29 Aarup (Fyn, Denmark) Singer/songwriter Festival   

England August 6th Wickham Festival Hants  

East Germany Castles Churches Highland Games etc. Tour

Wednesday 6 September Ahrenshoop Schifferkirche

Thursday 7 September Greifswald Kulturbar

Friday 8 September Neustrelitz Basiskulturfabrik

Saturday 9 September Wegendorf kirche 

Sunday 10 September Bad Schmiedeberg Hofkonzert

Monday 11 September Witzenhausen Bistro 

Tuesday 12 September Magdeburg Werkstatt BANDITT

Wednesday 13  September  Berlin Petruskirche   

Thursday 14 September Hainchen, EigenARTig

Friday 15 September Schloss Goseck, 

Saturday 16 September Schloss Trebsen  Highland Games

Sunday 17 September Schloss Trebsen   Highland Games

October tour Germany

Thursday 12 October  Riedtstadt BuechnerBuehne   

Saturday 14 October Weinheim Hamiltons 

More TBA.

 

Inspirations

Just had a much needed break in Gotland, always a place of inspiration. The last time I was there was last summer and I remember staying up all night to hear the depressing Brexit results. This time I was cheered by the election results in Britain. Corbyn was my MP for many years in London and I voted for him several times. He always turned up to events and demos and had a lot of time and energy for ordinary people. Interesting times.

Now I am back in the studio with some renewed energy. I just tuned the Finnish Fazer piano in my studio, not my favourite occupation, but playing it tuned is. It sounds beautiful.

Back in Sweden

Back in Sweden now and trying to adjust back to recording mode. I came back from England armed with some new recording software that I am excited to try. Not that I am intending to make a complicated album, far from it, I just want to get a good sound. The improvement was instant, but yet another learning curve to grapple with.

Last week end I was in Germany for a folk festival in Venne near Osnabruck, and a lovely little show in Wedemark near Hannover.

Flying out of Stockholm Arlanda with 3 instruments, the logistics were complicated; the guitar went in a soft bag in the overhead lockers, the cello had it’s own ticket, Mr Cello Cello, (should have been Mrs really) and the mandolin went inside a big suitcase. I then hired a car in Dusseldorf and set off. It had been -7C early that mornng in Arlanda, now it was a beautiful warm spring day.

The festival was lovely, I met a lot of good people there and also had a meeting with my record company where we planned out a rough release schedule for the album. Performers and public sat around a big open log fire into the small hours, talking, drinking and staring into the hot embers.

The show in Wedemark organized by Imago was in an old barn, an earth floor, no chairs, no heating, in fact the barn doors were wide open on both sides. The audience had all been primed to bring folding chairs, and sure enough, just half an hour before I started playing, they came drifting in from all directions. We were blest with a very warm evening, the barn was full and the audience with their deck chairs spilled out onto the grass.

Photos by Andreas Mikonaut.

Drunk On Summer

Monday morning, I am sitting in the decaying splendour of the Palace Hotel in Buxton, the Big Session festival is over and it was great. Meeting Oysterband again is always a kind of social event and this time it certainly was.

I had my own show on Saturday in The Pavillion, it was quite a short set so I decided to sing mostly new songs, here is one of them. The audience had no trouble singing along. People like to sing.

 

After my gig I raced around the corner to the Opera House to catch a soundcheck with Eliza Carthy, Saul Rose and Oysterband. Later in the evening the Oysters played their full set and then at the end we reprised some of the songs from the Big Session album that Eliza was also involved in. It was also a lot of fun. After the show we all retired to the spacious lounge of The Palace and rearranged the sofas and armchairs into a large circle to accommodate the entire party…then sat down to have a little drink.

The next day, bright and bleary eyed most of us were off on a walk up the hill called Solomon’s mount which John had organized. We met outside the Opera House and there must have been over 100 of us. This included at least 20 of Boff Whalley’s Commoner’s Choir. When we got to the summit they let rip with a few songs. What a great start to a fine spring day.

Next on the agenda was a ceilidh dace in the beer tent, a lovely joyous occasion. Great week end.

Next is a travel day and then another 6 shows before I go home.

Tuesday May 2 Coggeshall Library

Wednesday May 3 Wavenhoe Library

Thursday May 4th Writtle Library

Friday May 5th Folk On The Pier Festival Cromer

Saturday May 6th St Edwards Netley (Hants) with Steve Skaith

Sunday May 7th house concert Oxford

Monday May 8th home

…..and May 12th Venne Folk Fruelling Festival (near Osnabruck)

May 13th Pfarreshaus Wedemark (near Hannover)

Spring In England

I just got home after some very interesting shows in Germany. I was pleased to play the Hamburg Heidbarghof, a great place with a very fine grand piano. I am using the piano more and more these days if there happens to be one there in the venue. I am not so mad about electric pianos, but the acoustic kind, yes, and the bigger the better.

Next up is a trip to England at the end of the month, what was just a short visit to play the Big Session Festival has turned into a short spring tour. I am looking forward to seeing my old pals and to be joining them on the Sunday for the ceilidh. The Essex Library sessions is a new initiative to use these public spaces for music. Also part of this initiative is a run of shows featuring the excellent duo Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. I will play them totally acoustic, singing with cello, mandolin and guitar. The Folk On The Pier Festival in Cromer is a lovely one, I played it several times with Oysterband and I love the old wooden theatre and the sea views from the pier. The Netley Chapel session near Southampton will be a chance to hook up with Latin Quarter singer Steve Skaith again and maybe to play the church organ for a few songs if I can get to it. And lots of new songs to play!

For the full details see my Concerts page 

Sat April 29 Big Session Festival Buxton solo show 4.30

Sun April 30 BS Ceilidh with Oysterband

Tues May 2 Coggeshall Library

Wed May 3 Wivenhoe Library

Thu May 4 Writtle Library

Fri May 5 Folk On The Pier Festival Cromer

Sat May 6 Netley Chapel Sessions with Steve Skaith

Sun May 7 House Concert Oxford