Bonn Four days, eight bands. The editors of the WDR music show Rockpalast have held the Crossroads Festival featuring international artists in the Bonn music club Harmonie in the spring and autumn for 15 years. The 30th season begins on 14 March.
Peter Sommer, WDR editor responsible for the “Rockpalast” brand, has been sending his outside broadcasting vehicles to Bonn-Endenich twice a year since 2003. Rockpalast organises the Crossroads Festival with the operators of the Harmonie music club. The concept is this: eight well-known or unknown bands define rock music over four days, reinventing it or indulging in the varieties of the founding generations. There have been 29 series in 15 years and the 30th edition starts on 14 March.
And why the Harmonie? “It is one of the best clubs I know,” says Sommer, referring to “infrastructure, ambience and audience.” 232 bands have made their mark over the years in Endenich, including established acts such as The Brandos, Beasts of Bourbon, Green on Red, Tito & Tarantula, Beth Hart, Fischer-Z, Ian Parker, Dana Fuchs, Roachford, Paul Carrack, Inga Rumpf and Chris Farlowe. And how does a festival of this kind come into being? Sommer grins. The editorial team sends several hundred emails twice a year to artists’ agents, managers, record companies and producers all over the world – and collects suggestions for a coherent festival programme. Which artists are available? Who has an album taking off? At the moment, Peter Sommer is working at his computer on correspondence for the next-but-one festival in the autumn.
The 30th series in March has long been in place and is full of surprises. The band Orango is presenting their album “The Mules of Nana”. Orango comes from Norway. The bass player, Hallvard Gaardlos, played with the band Spidergawd at Crossroads in October and was telling the WDR editor about his band Orango over breakfast at the Endenicher Hotel. But the Norwegians will also be surprised as they are sharing the stage on 14 March with the Californian Chris Robinson, who is coming with his new band Brotherhood. Robinson previously wrote a chapter of rock history with the Black Crowes. Some of his biggest fans are three musicians from Norway: Orango.
And something to note: Southern rock today does not necessarily come from the southern states nor Motown-soul from Detroit. The band D/troit comes from Copenhagen and the ladies from Heavy Tiger from Sweden.
As is already tradition, Endenich will also be honoured at the festival. The Rockpalast team likes to fan out and invites musicians to small, unplugged performances. The Flying Eyes will therefore be playing between the carnations and daffodils in the neighbouring flower shop. John Coffey will be holding a session in a demolished house. And the Crossroads presenter Rembert Stiewe prefers to hold his interviews with the artists in the workshop cellar of the Harmonie.
Original text: Heinz Dietl.