20 July 2012

KlezFactor Road Trip

Things have been busy in Berlin!  Between the editing of my dissertation and the three gigs the band has played thus far, I've been a little to occupied to blog, but it may be late, but here's a new post.

KlezFactor made its European Debut on Thursday June 28th at Berlin's Kaffee Burger club.  Unfortunately, Thursday, June 28th was also the day of the semi-final game between Germany and Italy in the 2012 European Championship (or Euro 2012 -- EM 2012 for those of you in Germany).  So while our audience was not particularly big, they were enthusiastic! 

The most important thing was that the Berlin version of the band, with violinist Dea Szücs, guitarist Florian von Frieling, bassist Alex Bayer and drummer Daniel Prätzlich, has really come together well.  These musicians are not only good musicians (important), but generous with their time and creative energies (more important), which allows us to discover something new in the music in every rehearsal and concert.  The Kaffee Burger show was very tight musically, and it showcased the band and the unique sound that KlezFactor has always had in a great venue.

Our second concert was for a better audience (i.e., bigger) audience the following Thursday - July 5.  We played at a great little English bookstore in Prenzlauer Berg called Shakespeare and Sons.  While the venue was small, the crowd was enthusiastic as we played without any extra amplification (beyond small amps for the electric bass and guitar).  Again, there was a lot of space for creativity and it felt like the band took another step towards really getting a great sound.

Earlier this week, we traveled to Bayreuth in northern Bavaria.  Bayreuth is the place that Richard Wagner chose for his opera house.  Wagner was also a notorious anti-semite, so it was with more than a bit of poetic justice that KlezFactor, playing our "Jew-ish" music, performed in the town. 

I had been invited to give a guest lecture for the Anthropology Department of Bayreuth University, and the department was more than happy to accept my proposal to bring the band down as well.  While the weather attempted to conspire against us (by making our original outdoor performance venue far too waterlogged), we managed to bring in most of the attendees of my lecture to the kneipe (pub). 

This was by far the most enthusiastic reception of the band.  It could have been the alcohol, it could have been the fact that these anthropologists hadn't heard anything other than Wagner live for a while, but the excitement that the band generated in this performance matches pretty much anything that I've experienced in the years that KlezFactor has been around.  It makes me more and more secure in my thoughts that Europe is the right place for KlezFactor... if only it was easier to get paying gigs like this one!

Now the band kind of refits for our August 4th concert at B-flat Jazz Club in Berlin.  Our bassist, Alex Bayer, will be away and we will have a special guest, Markus Müller coming from Nuremberg to join us.  I'll write more about Markus soon.