Friday, August 25, 2006

High times and German country

John at Salems Lots has a hee-larious video of a German group covering OutKast's Hey Ya. Country and Western style. Well, sort of. The yas are most definitely jas.

One of the commenters questioned the German country music connection. Well, I can tell you I had the time of my life in a C&W bar on the outskirts of Hamburg. They're well up for it.

My brother (VolBro), husband (the Vol-in-Law) and I were staying at the house of German friend's parents in the burbs. We were a little early arriving so had to kill some time before collecting the key. On the way to the house - about a minute's drive away - we spotted a dive. A dive with Confederate battle flags proudly displayed. Failing to make the potential connection between confederate flags, white supremacy and Germany's unfortunate history we walked back there to kill a little time.

Germany has some strange licensing laws, so the bar wasn't open at 4:30 pm, but we peered through the window to see a bar chock full of C&W memorabilia and the state flags of the Confederacy.

Of a sudden, the door opened and we were ushered inside by the owner. She couldn't serve us any beer until 5, but she sold us cokes after we explained we were travelling and waiting to get a key. Where were we from - she wanted to know. We pointed out the Tennessee state flag and she was excited. Her English was pretty rough and our German was downright non-existent. She even called an English speaking friend to ask us to come back that night for an open-mike/session. And we said we would.

After dinner, we went back. There weren't many people in the bar, but they all turned to stare.

"Are your instruments in the car?" One asked.

Turns out that word had spread (but clearly not that far) that we were a travelling country band from Tennessee. They were very excited about hearing us play.

They bore their disappointment with good grace and indulged us by playing back up to the country music songs that we knew some of the words to. "Vat key should I play?" Uhhh... key? How 'bout the key of follow me - I have no idea. It was all pretty good fun. The owner plied us with free drinks - Jack and beer and a strange rum-based homemade concoction called Virginia Brandy.

Finally, we asked if they knew how to play the one song - other than Happy Birthday - that VolBro and I know all the words to. Rocky Top.

One guy did. The guy who'd learned to speak English from country records. He'd played back up for a German C&W band on occcasion and Rocky Top was part of their repertoire. We sang it through three times. But not all at once. That would be overkill.

HT: Sharon Cobb