February 22nd and 23rd, 2002
Tommy Schneller Extravaganza
East Blues Experience
"East Meets West"
Everything centred on the three chords
The "blues avalanche" cascades once
again through the Haus der Jugend
The B.B.Band presented a rather unusual picture. Karel "Sipus" Simon, drummer of the four-man team from the Czech Republic sat at a small, old set that in German musical jargon is aptly named a shooting booth. Vaclav Schwarzinger and frontman Vladimir "Orlick" Orlovsky both sometimes reached gladly for the acoustic guitar and Milan Svitek with a good old Fender bass completed the picture of an old-fashioned, classical blues band.
The four occupied only the front half of the stage and the sound confirmed what the view promised – classical, back-to-the-roots blues with bottle-neck, blues harp and Orlik's throaty singing from people that are right at the bottom or right at the top, in other words have got the blues.
What is really noteworthy though is that the music of the B.B.Band that took the boards for the second half of this year's Blues Lawine didn't fit the mighty Marshall guitars, amplifiers and gigantic drums that towered at the back of the stage. The equipment suggested an upcoming attack on your ear-drums, and the three musicians of the Berlin East Blues Experience provided what the equipment promised.
They play the blues in the hard, loud version, music that makes one think that Berlin is situated somewhere in the southern states. And music that has all that southern hard rock has – drive a la Steve Ray Vaughan, great, precise drum playing from Ronny Dehn, solid bass playing from Jacki Reznicek who can look after the five strings as well as the double bass, high-speed guitar solos and lusty vocals from Peter Schmidt.
It is the mission of the Bluesverstärker to present the blues in all its variety. Thus the handful of enthusiasts continue to organise the Blueslawine (blues avalanche) year after year. And in order to be able to present even more of the famous three chords and twelve bars this year the festival stretched over two days. With the result that there were only 300 to 350 guests each evening as compared to the invasion of previous years when, at times, the Haus der Jugend was splitting at the seams.
There were six different bands, six different styles with an emphasis on the Saturday of the harder and louder variety – to end the festival the Dutchman Julian Sas demonstrated what he'd heard from Jimi Hendrix and what he'd made of it: hard, virtuoso rapid music which the drummer Pierre de Haard and the bass player Phil Poffe powerfully supported. Actually, they must accept the criticism that they sounded the same 20 or 30 years ago.
On Friday the journey "East meets West" continued appropriately, taking us from Poland with the band Teksasy to Ireland, represented with a three-man team around the guitarist Martin Hutchinson.
The stop in between, though, underlined the importance of the blues town Osnabrück. The sax player Tommy Schneller with his band Extravaganza played urbane blues: jazz-flavoured boogie, Funk you could dance to, relaxed Shuffle and, – as a surprise guest at the end – the blues harp player Big Bones from San Francisco. And that was great fun.
(NOZ article on 24.02.2002 by Ralf Döring)
(Translation: Dennis Newson)