FEIER ON THE MOUNTAIN 1997
-review by Phil Demetrion
Relix European correspondent PHIL DEMETRION´s report on the Black Forest weekend…
It had been a year since I´d gotten together with all the German Deadheads at a memorable gathering in Potsdam -although a few of us had run into each other in an interim at Phish concerts in Amsterdam and Paris – but now the German heads were convening for Feier on the Montain III, a long weekend in the Black Forest, August 21-25. “Feier” is the German word for party and believe me we were ready to party! After a long but easy road journey, my wife Marti and I, accompanied by our pal Philos Guerra, an impresario from the Eyes of the World events production organisation in Paris, drove into the charming little Schwarzwald town of Nordrach in the late afternoon of Friday the 22nd.
We found an inviting sidewalk café that had been mentioned in the event announcement mailing. I parked our rental car out front,and we walked over to a TABLE where we were warmly welcomed by one of the events organisers Gerd Baumann, and his wife Beate. We didn´t know these folks beforehand, but Gerd´s tie-dyed teeshirt was a Dead giveaway!
Between Marti´s long dormant German (she grew up a U.S. army brat and lived in Germany for a time as a child) and the Baumann´s serviceable English, we soon established that everything was in good order up on the mountain. A number of Heads had arrived on Thursday, set up the site in the Rautsch cavern, and had partied to primo tapes and CDs long into the night.
Tonight the Heidelberg-based American duo, the Goodman brothers, would play a couple of live sets. Gerd and Beate had come down into town to shop for a few items in the grocery store next to the café. They kindly offered to lead us up to the site whenever we were ready.
Marti and I went looking for the café owner Siggy (Siegfried) who had made lodging arrangements for us at the lovely old farmhouse next door. Philos, like most of the heads, would be camping on the mountain.
At the farmhouse, Marti engaged in a long involved broken-German conversation with Frau Spitzmüller about the cost of the room and the time for breakfast, but finally we settled in and returned to join Philos, Gerd and Beate at the grocery store.
The deal on the mountain was that for an additional 5DM each night you had had access to a beautiful dinner buffet of delicious salads, veggies, fruit, breads and desserts. Fires were available for grilling anything you cared to add to your dinner. And of course there was a bar where beer was available at all hours.
That´s where we found our buddy Ralph M., Grand High Guru of the German Deadheads, wearing a cowboy hat and a wining grin. Ralph is a big, burly, salt of the earth guy if ever there was one. He´ll give you the shirt off his back but more importantly will fill your hands with the tastiest Dead, Phish and Zero tapes you´ve ever heard . And he expects nothing in return.
He even called to diss me once after I had written in RELIX that he showed up in Potsdam with a boxful of tapes to trade. “Phil”, he shouted, “I give people tapes. I don´t trade. If someone has a tape they think I´d like and offers it to me, that´s OK.”
After bear-hugging Ralph, we looked around and found other old and new Head friends. Linus Sheffran, my tour guide last year in Berlin and Postdam and a frequent contributor to this newsletter, was there. Like Ralph, he he had subsequently come to stay with us for fun times in Paris. We introduced ourself to Hajo Lorenz, the moving force behind this years gathering. He is a great guy who has been working continuously to to make this third Black Forest Feier the best so far.
As far as we could see, he had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The decorations and the sound system and the deep forest ambience couldn´t be beat. Together with his crew, Hajo had taken a bend in a mountain road and transformed it into a compact, self-contained festival site.
A rustic building housed the kitchen, as well as a large room for the buffet and hanging out, plus shower and toilet facilities.Hajo´s wife Moni led a working ad-hoc kitchen crew that turned out all the delicious veggie buffets. Everyone helped in the communal kitchen. Walk in and find dirty dishes in the sink? Wash ´em and boogie on back to the music.
Upstairs in the cabin was a loft where musical instrument were stored and the sound and light system was controlled. A series of picnic TABLEs and benches where small groups of Heads could hang out, flanked one side of the building. A TABLE towards the back shortly became known as The Stoners´ TABLE. Some of those guys hardly ventured away from their prime real estate for the entire weekend!
As Friday evening drew on, more Heads arrived from all around Germany. Rudi Tewes, a longtime trading partner of mine from Sassenberg, arrived and met Marti for the first time. Rudi had a sack of smokin´ Phish 97 Euopean Tour tapes for me and I´d been spinning tapes for him and Ralph all week in Paris. We met a couple of American Deadheads, Marguerite McLamb and Michael Kelly, from the U.S. army base at Darmstadt. Marguerite helped keep the Dead dancin´ going all weekend, while Mike helped hold the bar steady.A German couple Geli and Karl, brought their three super kids for a fun freaky weekend in the forest.
We hung out with Billy and Frank Goodman, explaining that we had listened to their tape Crooked Smile during the five hour drive from Paris. I told them how much I enjoyed the songwriting on this mostly acoustic production, which features Zero´s Bobby Vega on bass and was co-produced by New Rider Rusty Gauthier. (You can write for a copy to Trinity Records Inc, PO Box 151268, San Rafael, CA 94915, USA).They did a number of tunes from Crooked Smile in their wonderful show this evening plus some great covers such as “Willin´”, “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”, and a jammy first set closer of “Good Shepherd”. Billy Goodman had played second guitar and roadied for Jorma Kaukonen on a few tours, and this salute to his friend appears as the only cover on Crooked Smile. The duo´s sweet harmonies, deft acoustic picking and soothing melodies were good tonic for tuckered heads who had spent long hours on the autobahns and autoroutes. A contingent of French Deadheads had arrived, including members of the Paris-based Deadicace, who would play Saturday night, . The French Heads – among them Michel Ravinet, a long time suppporter of Deadicace and earlier Parisian Dead cover bands — were grateful for the opportunity to meet again with German heads who had travelled to Eyes of the World gatherings in the past. Ralph M. was particularly thrilled by what he called the German-French connection.The Goodman Brothers performed two generous sets under the stars, the coloured lights and the wonderfully cheesy mirror ball effects that somehow seemed right in place under the tall trees of the Schwarzwald. Folks swayed to fine Goodman ballads like “Girl Unusual”, “Teardrops will Fall”, and “Where Are You Tonight?” and danced to their well-chosen, uptempo covers late into the night.
The next day Marti and I, hardcore city dwellers, decided to take a drive around the beautiful Rhine Valley… Around the beautiful Rhine valley, crossing back to France at one point, and then returning by the tiny auto ferry at Rheinau. In the late afternoon we drove up the mountain to the Rautsch, where Deadicace was setting up for a soundcheck.
In true GD tradition, they entertained the assemblage with a lengthy warm-up session that included a first time version of Stephen Stills´ “Love the One You´re With” and “Eyes of the World”. The soundcheck served as a first rehearsal for this particular version of the band which featured Alex Manconi and Stephan Missri on guitars, Charles Jannic, bass, and drummer Christophe Rossi.
Because keyboard players Bill Giles and Jean-Michel Laugier were both away on vacation, Christophe quickly dubbed the stripped-down line-up “our garage band”.
This guitar-oriented edition of Deadicace really rocked. While the keyboard fills were missed, solos and jams seemed more concise and focused. The resulting crispness served to freshen the familiar repertoire. Veterans in the audience like Michel Ravinet noted the difference right away. After only a soundcheck rehearsal in this formation, the guys were cookin´!
Highlights of their two long sets included “Viola Lee Blues”, “Sugaree”, a second set opening sequence of “Dark Star” into “Cryptical/The Other One” into “Stella Blue” (sung in French!), a rockin´ “Shakedown Street” and encores of “New Speedway Boogie” and a “Not Fade Away”, which of course was completed by the jubilant crowd. One More Saturday Night indeed!
Most Heads left the site on Sunday, with Dead tunes still echoing from the mountainside. Rudi Tewes put it best a few days later when he praised “…Hajo´s major majestic event! The whole action and power I got from this is just incredible to feel.” The weather had been fine and everyone was caught up in the natural beauty of the place and the in spirit of Head conviviality.Next year, Rudi says, he´d like to see more Heads than the nearly one hundred who attended. “So, maybe… if the word goes ´round… this is really a place to boogie once a year in great style!”
– review by Walter S. Hahn
The 97 Black Forest “Feier on the Mountain” Gathering on a place called “Rautsch” in the Central Black Forest was a five-day event you wish had attended. The majority of Heads gathered between Friday night and Sunday afternoon but there were already some there on Thursday and there were some 15 left on Monday to help clean the place up.
The live gigs were Goodman Brothers who played Ripple and Truckin´ on request (after a very good and original set) and Deadicace from Paris.
Both bands were worth the trip. As promised, the music never stopped, however, as live tapes of GD, JGB, Phish and Zero were played almost all night long. Still, people who wished to go sleep before day-break, found the camping-ground just a little below the party-ground silent.
The Rautsch is a place like you´ve ever fancied the Black Forest to be. The spring water that you can drink both outside the cavern and on the camping-site, tastes like water can taste. The views are phenomenal, and you have the feeling you are in a really beautiful spot of the world. The scene was VERY relaxed, the food was excellent and the whole event well organized by Hajo and company. Come 1998 from August 20th till August 24th.