Music Is Everywhere


Published 2021-06-14 08:49

German writer Wolfgang Giese is one of Hemfrån's best, closest and oldest friends, and below you'll find his story.


For more than 10 years I have been working as a music editor and writer for Musik An Sich, and even longer for RockTimes. Last year I wrote a little article about how it came about becoming a music editor, the short story of a long winding road, subtitled 'Music Is Everywhere'.

It was in 2011 that, due to a review, I got to know an artist personally for the 1st time. That was the Illinois born singer songwriter Allan Frank, who lives in Hollywood, Los Angeles. We got in touch in writing and Allan decided to visit us on the occasion of his next trip to Germany. He stayed with us for a week.

It must have been March of that year, and I remember an excursion to a beach nearby. It was cold and the sky was clouded and we stood on the deserted beach and listened to the silence, which was only broken by the gently rushing waves of the tide. That's when Allan remarked, 'Music Is Everywhere', even in the noises of the waves, with different rhythmic and melodic noises of the rushing water. We joined in this melody and a song was born.

Yes, and since then I have always tried to discover music in all sounds, whether created by nature or oneself, and I was often amazed of the diversity. Diversity that extends all over the world and exists in every corner. For example I remember the Swedish jazz drummer Sven Åke Johansson, who played a drum solo on the radiators of the concert hall, and who of us has not drummed on something or made other noises in an unusual way?

But Allan wasn't actually my 1st contact with musicians and the variety of music that is omnipresent all over the world. So I had been working in a jazz club, The Blue Note, for a while with a friend, in the cash desk area and during that time already had the opportunity to come into closer contact with different musicians, mainly consisting only of small talk. So one night we were very proud, sitting in front of the small stage, to adjust the slipped effect devices for the guitarist Terje Rypdal. After a concert with the Swedish trombonist Eje Thelin on May 15th, 1976, the 4 piece band asked us to show them the way to a certain club. So the 6 of us drove off in their Citroen DS-19, and so developed a corresponding conversation. Further contacts were made later when I worked for almost 2 years in the newly established communication center 'Pumpwerk'. Parts of the old Blue Note had been integrated, as well as a continued strong focus on jazz.

Inevitably there had been lots of contacts with various musicians, and some of the events that happened might fill a little book, sometimes there were quite bizarre things. But at least this laid the foundations for a later access to musicians, and I found out that many are just completely different people, different from what you often imagine when they are acting on stage.

Another important aspect for me is to deal with different types of music, just to have a certain background knowledge and understanding. Listening to lots of different radio shows as a teenager opened doors for acts like Buddy Miles, Vanilla Fudge, Johnny & Edgar Winter, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and many others. By working in a local record shop around 1973, I gradually turned to jazz rock, and the new heroes were Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Lenny White, Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon and many others. Other important cornerstones were the Munich record label ECM with its very own musical direction or a first stay in Scotland with a focus on celtic music.

Interest in blues and jazz expanded and ended up mainly in the 50's and 60's as am important era for me, and interests were also upgraded in the genres of country, bluegrass, hard rock, southern rock, pop and classical music (Bach, Vivaldi, Sibelius, Grieg, Vaughn Williams, Ligeti, Pärt).

My part time job as a music editor started in 2004 when I posted a review for the 1st time in a music forum that no longer exists, on November 12th, 2004. Then I was able to establish my contact with the magazine RockTimes. I wasn't entirely sure if I would be able to write reviews, and I felt insecure about it. But my wife strongly encouraged me to do so. So my heartily thanks go to her for that support. Well, I'm still a little active with RockTimes, but the main focus has been on Musik An Sich for about 10 years now.

Many of these reviews led to more personal contacts with numerous musicians. I was able to arrange gigs and many of the musicians lived with us as part of the family, and we are still good friends with some of them. Since 2014 I have been able involve the pub Zur Scharfen Ecke in Sande as a venue and in October that year the premiere had been with Tom Shed from Florida. 2 months later, the bluegrass musician Tom Corbett continued the concert series, and more concerts took place until the end of 2019, because the current corona crisis initially led to a break.

But, as I wrote before, 'Music Is Everywhere', and that also opened doors and establish understanding, with further new impressions and getting to know new folks. And so it had been Allan Frank in 2011, and more artists followed, came to our hometown, we often offered accommodation, food and drink. So I remember Ted Russell Kamp ("feels like home", as he noted, staying with us), Tom Corbett from Los Angeles, Tom Shed from Florida, C Daniel Boling from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Kaurna Cronin from Australia, Nico Rivers from Boston, Massachusetts, Scott Krokoff from New York, Troy Petty from Chicago and Rob McHale from North Carolina. And I remember a concert we had with Herman The German, Hermann Lammers Meyer, whom I got to know in the 70's when he played with his country band in town.

This has resulted in friendships up to this day, friendships based on music too, music that paved the way for getting to know each other better and for understanding music that is beside well known paths.

But even if I couldn't meet them in person, there had been regular contacts with artists from Sweden (Buford Pope, Mikael Persson), Norway (Epidot) and some more from the USA, such as Fur Dixon & Steve Werner, Michael Tomlinson, and very exceptional to the legendary late blues guitarist Jody Williams.

A particularly great event for me was the meeting in 2019 with Russian jazz trumpeter Valery Ponomarev (pictured above), who lives in New York. I first met Valery briefly as a trumpeter in the band of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in November 1979. But it wasn't until the beginning of the new century that we got closer to him during a concert in town with his own band. Since then we have been in constant contact by phone and email and, through urgent efforts, we met again at the memorable concert in Jever. And, you all must know, Valery is a very warm hearted, friendly and positive person and it's always a great pleasure meeting him.

Some of these contacts were made through Peter Holmstedt of Hemifrån, from Sweden, for example he suggested C Daniel Boling for a concert. Peter also opened many doors. Another anecdote comes to mind in this context. At the time I had contact with Fur Dixon by email, we shared photos. She was very impressed by one of my photos, it was a soap bubble and she suggested that Peter should use this photo for his CD project "I Like It Better Here : Music From Home". He asked for my approval, no question about that, since then the soap bubble, created by my wife, has on that collection and the follow up sampler "I Like It Better Here : More Music From Home", thank you, Fur, thank you, Peter.

So there had been lots of very individual people in my life, including musicians with their own brand of music. Yes, music thankfully is very diverse, and if you only look back in its history, you will discover this richness in all its facets. But, often when I look around today, be it with friends, acquaintances or at events, I notice more than often enough people limit and narrow themselves musically. Sure, everyone may have their favorite music, their own personal taste. But how often can it be worthwhile to look over the edge of the plate and discover music that is not to be heard in a often medium class radio coverage which seems to be the measure of all things. Unfortunately many people lack the circumstance to discover, live and experience this diversity. Maybe we can contribute a little to this with magazines like Musik An Sich and RockTimes. But, this long and sometimes bumpy path to get involved as a music editor was at least a very satisfying one, and hopefully for many artists also a productive one, especially for those walking in the shade of the mainstream which often only turns out to be hype, scratching the surface, without any depth.

'Music Is Everywhere', this is hopefully what I try to express in Musik An Sich and RockTimes, through the wide variety of the records and music presented, with the help of busy promoters. Well, in conclusion, it's better to enjoy essential things in life, not only to scratch the surface and be on fire immediately, but to find the truth in music within its depth, and not only in music, but in life generally, too, in the big ocean of everyday occurrences, even on some beach listening to the melody of the rolling waves, as Allan and I did 10 years ago.

~ Wolfgang Giese