A rare opportunity - the Brass Wiesn Festival

It is summer and there are lots and lots of festivals to go to in all of Germany with all kinds of music. All of Germany? Yep - even in Eching (close to Munich) you can find the tiny, colorful and vibrant Brass Wiesn Festival. The organizers promised a lot and the promise was kept beside the one for good weather, which - to be honest - they weren't able to influence. The brass bands playing came from all over the world and provided excellent music, different genres like the traditional Bavarian or famous US brass band and bands with their own unique sound. The audience was completely mixed in age and appearance - you could find people with cowboy hats, captain´s hats, Seppl hats, traditional clothing - old, young, party people, the village youth - and a stuffed tiger obviously having been so much loved in his life until getting a see-through fur, showing up on stages and being referred to by artists. The venue is perfect: extensive meadows, lots of shady places, the Eching lake´s lido: which all could be more enjoyed on Saturday as it wasn't raining then.


So let me introduce you to the New Orleans based "Hot 8 Brass Band" playing twice at the festival, whose name can be taken literally as these big guys made such a hot show! Even though looking fiercely like gangsta rappers on their website, the band seemed to be relaxed to a degree that it was a real pleasure watching them perform. Playing at jazz funerals, festivals and local jazz clubs it was a rare opportunity to have them in Eching. From their added BMI it was easily a ton of talent on stage loaded with their golden instruments - what a massive force! To see the tuba player and his way of playing - always closed eyes, sucking the sound out of it - with the huge marching band instrument roped around him was amazing and a one-time experience!

All of his colleagues communicated this tranquility while moving the sound forward like a rocking locomotive, giving everyone a good time with their mix of jazz, funk, hip-hop; grounded on the tradition of marching bands, in the name of Maceo Parker´s heritage. The small beer tent´s stage was a very personal experience, the sound speaking to the audience.


Now let´s switch venues - the next band was playing at the open air main stage - no more rain for that day! - and it was a nice way of organizing the festival as bands could prepare themselves and the audience didn't have to wait for them to start.


Shantel & Bucovina Club Orkestar immediately got everybody´s attention. From their appearance they are convincing as Balkan rockers, their clothing a stereotype: pleat-front trousers with white shirt/black muscle shirt/white shirt + red vest: the latter worn by the drummer who easily could be mistaken as an Addams family member in way of appearance and behavior.

Their disco partizani music and Balkan dancing on stage - contagious. 2002 Shantel brought this unique mix of folklore and electro pop to Europe as something new and his success shows that it was good timing. He himself describes his music as street dog. And the street dog was released that Friday; the big hits as well as their other songs let people go bananas - and the musicians very well knew how to bring the heat to the public. The Addams family drummer came as tamer to literally let everybody crouch and made them wait for minutes - in my opinion a bit too long - till resuming the song and bringing everyone back to dancing.

What needs to be mentioned as well is that Shantel was one who did the rare thing: inflaming the West with Eastern music. He also is touring with his "Bucovina Club" bringing live music and DJ gigs to people - with bands that easily can be a Macedonian wedding, Moldavian rock or Italian funeral band. And people do whatever comes to their mind - belly dancing, Serbian Kolo and Macedonian circle dancing. What a gain for German culture!

That evening the band played till the police showed up and Stefan Hantel which is Shantel´s civil name was joking with them in his charming, dry Frankfurt way of speaking. He negotiated one more song to play - and everybody was happy with that.


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