Wednesday, April 12, 2006

4.09.06 Germany: Solingen and Braunschweig

Nothing of particular note happened at the screenings in Solingen and Braunschweig--small cities, small crowds, nice people. It was inspiring to note in both towns, however, the motivation of small groups of people to make things happen. I have found this all over Germany, like with the communally run youth centers, and I've definitely been impressed with the results.

In Solingen, for example, our screening was put on by a group of about 20 people (the "cow club"), who work together to put on regular independent concerts and events. In the US, promoters are usually only very small groups of 2 or 3, or even one individual, so it was interesting to see how a bigger group shares the burden and gets a lot accomplished. (On a side note, one of the first things someone told me in Solingen was that the town is famous for its' knives. Nobody except for Johannes thought it was funny when I replied that, well then, I better not piss anyone off. I can't tell you how many times I've thanked my lucky stars that I am on tour with someone whose sense of humor is as stupid as mine!)

Even more impressive than the group in Solingen was the club--Nexus--where we screened in Braunschweig. This large club, which included a bar, performance space, band rehearsal rooms and more, was literally built from the ground up over 4 years by the group of people running it now, all of whom have thus far made no profit from the venture. Our host and promoter, Timo from Riptide Recods, (who had the cleanest bachelor pad I've ever seen despite having already hosted 2 bands that week), explained the plans to develop the club even further, and also turned me on to some really cool bands like Boy Omega.

(The "willich" of Johannes's youth)

On the way between Solingen and Braunschweig, we took a countryside detour to the tiny village--and I do mean village--where J's family moved after they left East Germany when he was a kid. It was nice to meet his younger brother and catch a glimpse into his red brick, pitched roof, open green-pastured past.

A couple of J's really, really nice friends came to the Braunschweig screening and I mentioned to one of them (who interviewed me for that we were headed to Weimar next. He got surprisingly emotional and explained that he grew up in that area, and had really mixed feelings about it since he knew that his grandmother had been standing there proudly heiling to Hitler in her younger days. So, after a couple of relatively uneventful days, we headed to Weimar, which was to be one of the most impactful days of the tour for me.

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