Summer Festival and Jazz in the Beer Garden

More than 60 free concerts in the Rheinaue

Bonn. The Summer Festival and Jazz in the Beer Garden series of events attract many people to the Bonn park. Around 50,000 visitors are expected by the end of August.

In February 1978, Rolling Stones fans Volker Hovestadt (guitar) and Jochen Kleinebreil (vocals) started a band, which first performed to the public a few months later at the annual “Bonn Summer” city festival. The local press asked for the band’s name, but it did not have one yet. However, one was quickly found: Sticky Fingers, the name of their great inspiration’s ninth album.

Sticky Fingers have now been playing the former classics by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for 40 years. The band, with guitarist Volker Hovestadt and current singer Günther Grothaus, are part of the programme for the Summer Festival, which has been taking place in the beer garden of the Park restaurant in the Rheinaue since 1997. Together with “Jazz in the Beer Garden”, which has been running five years longer, organisers Dirk Dötsch and Walter Schnabel attract more than 40,000 music fans to the gastronomic centre of the park each year.

The jazz concerts have been running on Sundays from 2pm since the start of June. The Summer Festival started on 9 July. This year, assuming good weather conditions, the numbers could reach 50,000. There are a total of 63 concerts planned until the end of August. And rain hardly deters them any more: “We will play in all weathers,” assures organiser Dötsch. As a restaurant owner used to the weather, he has taken precautions: large umbrellas will let hardly a drop through onto the 800 seats.

Walter Schnabel is playing it safe as artistic director of both series: old jazz is popular with the audience, as are ambitious cover versions from Abba to Queen and the Police. This is confirmed by regular guests like the music fan Willi Schumacher from Plittersdorf: “The variety is impressive,” says the retired master baker, who has been coming to the concerts daily for 15 years. He says: “We don’t even look in the programme any more, we go there blind by E-bike no matter who is playing.”

Renate Otta is a professional singer from Cologne and founded a tribute band four years ago. Fleetwood Rocks plays Fleetwood Mac, of course. But to Otta it is about more, about musical empathy and solid craftsmanship. “We have worked on the songs with endless commitment and analysed the original songs down to the smallest detail,” says the singer.

Because covers are also art. “It’s about the music, not about imitation,” emphasises Volker Hovestadt from Sticky Fingers in a GA interview. “We want to make the Stones classics as authentic as possible.”

And Peter Hoffmann loves the Californian band Creedence Clearwater Revival, which is shortened to CCR. It is pronounced like “Sissi A” and that is the name of the tribute band from Darmstadt, which is now making its eighth appearance at the festival in the Rheinaue. “A home game,” says Hoffmann. “Bonners are on good form from the first minute.” In his Hesse homeland it takes longer for the first hands to go up.

Further information on all concerts can be found here.

Original text: Heinz Dietl. Translation: kc