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Monday, 7. May 2007

Bluegrass in Hamburg with Dawgmatic

As the 2007 Banjoree approaches, I continue to report on those whom I hope to see and hear there...

While in Hamburg last weekend, I got the chance to sit in on a rehearsal of Dawgmatic, a bluegrass band (not to be confused with the Dawgmatics in the United States). Fiddle Player Sven Fritz spent the better part of his day showing me the sites in Hamburg and then, even though I insisted on calling him a Fischkopf for most of the day, took me along to hear them play.

Although Sven sang one song with a convincing, accurate and mellow voice, most of their material is purely instrumental. Their mix of jazz and bluegrass is not normally music I would listen to on CD. But I found it very enlightening to listen to live. The opportunity to hear them rehearse - and thus hear the same song several times in a row - began to open doors for me and win me over. It is material that is too complicated for me to play on my banjo any time soon, but which I could quickly learn to love if exposed to more often.

The banjo player for this group is Veit Doehler, the main organizer of the banjoree. I spent most of the rehearsal time watching his left hand move deftly up and down the fretboard as he skillfully balanced his occasional soli with constantly-changing background variations.

Unfortunately, the band won't be coming to the banjoree. Hopefully, however, I will get more of chance to hear Veit play his beautiful Stelling Bellflower than I did last year. Let's hope admin duties don't keep him off the strings the whole time.



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