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.