Dienstag, 25. April 2017

Perry Friedman - Hootenanny Vol. 2

"Singe-Bewegung" and "Oktoberklub" in East Germany, part 1.

In the early 1960s, after the erection of the Berlin wall, East Germany underwent a phase of economic reforms accompanied by a short-lived ideological thaw. Literature and cinema dared a critical take on real life behind the Iron Curtain. The “hot music” the regime had formerly stifled was now promoted. With the indigenous folk and protest songs came “left-wing” songs from “the other side”. The new song culture that emerged differed markedly from the songs of struggle and agitprop of previous years.

The musical protest movement in the West inspired many artists in East Germany. In 1963 Wolf Biermann wrote Ballade vom Briefträger William L. Moore (Ballad of a Mailman), which Fasia Jansen performed to resounding applause at the first West German folkfest at Burg Waldeck in 1964. In July 1966, half a year after being barred from performing and publishing his work, Biermann sent a Vietnam song to Walter Ulbricht (first secretary of the socialist party), declaring that it had “every chance of becoming an important song in the international anti-Vietnam war movement”. Gerhard Schöne, the 15-year-old son of a priest in the Saxon town of Coswig, wrote Sag mir, was ist deine Welt (Tell me what’s your world) to the tune of the West German hit Welche Farbe hat die Welt (What colour’s the world), which made a name for him in church circles. Around the same time an 18-year-old high school student in East Berlin, Hartmut König, composed Sag mir, wo du stehst based on the American song Which Side Are You On: König’s version became the most best-known title at the Hootenanny Club (later called the Oktoberklub). In 1968 Eulenspiegel-Verlag, an East Berlin publisher, put out a collection of protest songs with lyrics by Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Franz Josef Degenhardt, Dieter Süverkrüp, Hartmut König et al. It came with an LP on which Manfred Krug sang songs from Chile, France, the US and a Vietnam song of his own.

In 1960 Perry Friedman, a Canadian folk singer who’d moved to East Berlin the year before, began holding “hootenannys” there, i.e. sing-along folk music parties. He set out to transplant in the GDR the casual style of singing and performing songs that had become an established tradition in American left-wing circles. In 1965, DT 64, the radio station for young people, began promoting these events, and hootenanny clubs sprouted up a year later in Berlin and other East German cities. These clubs attracted both amateurs and pros, including Perry Friedman, Hartmut König, Reiner Schöne, Bettina Wegner, the Beat band Team 4, and many others. The hootenanny movement was neither oppositional nor unofficial. Though government-funded, it was not a campaign decreed from above, but a relatively spontaneous outgrowth that was unusually laid-back and unconstrained by East German standards in those days.

Perry Friedman - Hootenanny Vol. 2 (AMIGA, 1966)
(320 kbps, vinyl rip, cover art included)


If you want to find out more about the "Hootenanny" in East Berlin, visit this years "Festival Musik & Politik".

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