When we wake up we are officially IN Germany, not some folks that stumbled off a plane. The hotel has a nice breakfast with soft rolls, home made jam, honey, cold cuts and cheese, and excellent strong coffee. At home I can’t take the caffeine, but for some reason I can take it when on vacation in Europe. Good thing because I drink about 5 cups. Getting up to speed here means slowing down. No hurry. We take a walk to get the feel of the townm learn the landmarks, watch the Molle, and wake up. Zappanale starts with America’s own Jim Cohen giving a lecture on the finer points of Zappa’s “Call Any Vegetable, in German, but it still cracks us up. Jim knows his Zappa and his lecture is well received. In German the word for vegetable is Gemuse, and if I was unsure before the lecture, I was assured after it.
The music doesn’t start until about 2pm, so we walk up to the festival site: the horse racing track outside of town. Steve assures me that it is a 15 minute walk. This is the beginning of an endless stream of 15 minute events that take much longer. The track is easily 30 minutes on foot, and probably more. But we arrive in good spirits and catch the last half of Weirdo Naffin. It sure is weird, but it is good. The following act is Jazzprojekt Hundehagen, who are likewise ass kicking. We had been in the backstage area and wandered back out into the crowd for Italy’s own Grand Wazoo. They are as good as any band I have seen. They aren’t trying for the ultimate polish, they knock out great versions of everything and they do it with a beautiful flow. Their timing is excellent and they get bonus points for opening with Regyptian Strut, a song that I went on a bender with just two weeks back. I think that I listened to the version on Lather about 20 times in 2 days. Grand Wazoo turns out to be just one of the bands that we would keep company with over the weekend.
Next up is Final Virus, a straight up rock band, excellent players, two drummers, and some really great material. The Arf Society got this one right. They didn’t do too much Zappa, but they were perfect for the festival. Peter Sonntag is thier bassist and he kicks some serious ass. Reno Schnell is their guitar player and she is also kicking ass. She also is hot and she has many of the Zappa faithful hypmotized. They came for the music, but hey, they know the only thing better than hot looking women is talented hot looking women. The two drummer assault is pretty rocking. Steve and I went up to the side of the stage because we really needed a closer look at this. Bodo Stricker is one of their drummers, very noticeable with the red-dyed horns in his haircut, and it turns out that he is German but born stateside. We saw a lot of music with him over the weekend and formed what I would have to call a “keeping it real” club. Luckily all the bands kept it very real.
I’m going to admit that things get blurry for me here. The bands were great, I found the food tents and started into sampling the best and the wurst (one pun down), and the beer wagons were open for business. I was really looking forward to seeing the Paul Green School of Rock. I made it my business to cheer them, promote them, hoot encouragement at them, and in general greet them all through the weekend. Maybe it was annoying, but I have so much love and respect for what they do.
So the PGSORM plays at 10pm (2200hr, ok?) and that is ok, but they made the same trip we did and we are shot. They have been hanging out in a tent and trying to stay awake all day. They don’t just learn the music, they learn professionalism, because they gave a great show. It was raining pretty good by the time they got rolling but they held a crowd, in the cold and rain, for their whole set. The focus was on the “esoteric Zappa”, and they pulled some of the older material out for this show. Great stuff.
The band that really got the shaft by the weather was Guru Guru, a krautrock ensemble. The crowd was wet, cold and tired, and the changeover pretty much cleared the place out. The pics prove that I was drenched and cold and needed to sleep. Sorry Guru Guru, you wuz robbed.