HENNING WAGENBRETH



www.wagenbreth.de


 
Dallas String Band – Dallas Rag  

Over the last few years I've turned more and more to early acoustic music.
There is a close connection between handmade drawings and handmade music. This is not because of Robert Crumb, although I admire all his great artwork for American roots music.

A few years ago I started playing music on my own again, just for work breaks and as a reason to meet friends.

First I played trumpet, but this was not compatible with my neighbors since we usually started playing after work at 9 pm.
So I turned to the mandolin. No one complained anymore. 
The advantage of a mandolin compared to other instruments is the small size but it still being a 'real' instrument. 
It is also not very cool. On my list will be quite a lot of mandolin music.
Ragtime is a form of broken, ragged music.

 

Bob Dylan – Everything Is Broken

 

When I listen to this song I see lots of images of broken things in front of my eyes. This is just a typical illustrators approach to a subject: to take one idea and apply it to a variety of different things.

Bob Dylan was important for me in the 70's, when I first started to listen to popular music. 
As an illustrator I am devoted to radio and audiobooks.
My reencounter with Bob Dylan was Theme Time Radio Hour, A great series of Music shows, that are available online.
He and his team play a lot of early popular music.
Illustration as a popular art form has a lot of similar characteristics to pop music.

 
The Rolling Stones – 2120 South Michigan Avenue  

A very early Stones song.
I had a good friend when I was about 13 years old who had to live with his grandparents because his parents were imprisoned for trying to escape East Germany.
Somewhere on his grandparets shelves we found a single from The Rolling Stones with this song on it. It was produced in 1964 when I was 2 years old. This was a gem to us and still is to me. 

2120 South Michigan Avenue was the address of Chess Records, the famous R&B label in Chicago.
There is this legend that Jagger later said "I went to Chicago and Muddy Waters played with me in a club"
Muddy Waters said: "No, no, he played with me!"

 

Howard Armstrong – State Street Rag

 

Talking about Chicago: Howard Armstrong played on Maxwell Street.
I first heard this song on an early mandolin compilation.
Later I discovered that Terry Zwigoff made a great documentary about Howard Armstrong "Louie Bluie" and his musician friends Ted Bogan, Carl Martin and others. Even the blues mandolin player Yank Rachell has an appearance in the movie… he is not playing but sitting in the corner eating chicken wings.

Howard Armstrong is a great storyteller and visual artist.
But first of all a great musician, violin and mandolin player.

 

Kilby Snow – John Henry

Great mysterious popular music!
In the 80's I was traveling in Romania on a train. The rail cars were dark, only one light bulb per wagon. It was a scary atmosphere. Out of the dark I heard the most beautiful voice from somewhere. A blind singing girl walked through the train and begged for money.

The autoharp is a form of a zither. It has nothing to do with a real harp, but inherited the name.
It has chord bars with filth cube glued on. The dampers mute the strings that do not belong to the chord you are playing.
It was developed in Germany at the end of the 19th century and was exported to North America where it became popular within Appalachian Folk music. However, it was never a popular instrument in Germany.
I first saw an autoharp in the United States, and wanted to buy one, but it could not be delivered on time. So I went back to Germany, did some research and found out that there is still a company in former East Germany that builds autoharps. They are located in Klingenthal/Vogtland (an area famous for making musical instruments) where the harps originally came from. He sold me one and said that during the cold war he was selling many autoharps to American soldiers on the other side of the wall.

The blind Kilby Snow is one of the greatest autoharp players.
You can see and listen to him here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ewfhy9R90u4

 
Jacob do Bandolim – Assim Mesmo  

In Portuguese a  mandolin is called a 'bandolim'.
The bandolim is played in the choro. A music style mixed from different music traditions that started in Brazil. 
The choro is to Brazil what the ragtime is to North America
Jacob do Bandolim worked as a pharmacist, insurance salesman, street vendor, and finally notary public, to support himself while also working "full time" as a musician.

 
Nancy Whiskey – Ella Speed  

The tragic story of Ella Speed and Bill Martin in New Orleans is a jealousy drama.
The story was brought into form by street musicians, one of them who was reportedly Lead Belly.

I like skiffle a lot, because it's played for a good part on improvised objects and home made instruments.
I love the idea of the early freak bands, playing on the strangest things.

 
Roy Eldridge – Rockin' Chair  

One of my trumpeter idols.
This small man, nicknamed 'Little Jazz' played the trumpet like a saxophone.
It is said, he pretended once on a tour with the Gene Krupa Orchestra to be a hotel bell boy, bringing his suitcases up to the roam of Mr. Eldrigde in a white segregated hotel, then blocking the door from the inside for the night.

He played a great record with Dizzy Gillespie: Roy and Diz
The cover is a great illustration. It shows the two trumpeters as the white and the black spy of Antonio Prohias.

Eldrigde also sold Radios.

 
Los Lobos – La Pistola y el Corazon  

Being young I only knew Los Lobos only from their hit 'La Bamba'
This song I discovered later thanks to Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour Show.
It is great Tejano music, with roots in Spanish, Czech, Polish and German waltzes, polkas and mazookas.
'Kiko and the Lavender Moon' is another touching song.

 

Kapaikos – Gauck

 

My only band of actual music.
More mandolins!

Kapaikos is a Berlin based electric mandolin quartet topped with bass, keyboard and cajon. They play highly infectious dance music such as eastern european folktunes, heavy surf-progrock as well as beautiful romantic waltzes performed with feisty punk attitude. Most of their songs are instrumental but when you least expect it they'll start yelling the hell out of their guts. http://soundcloude.com/kapaikos

 



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