It went so smoothly I could hardly believe it: Without consulting any notes from two years ago, I walked out of my hotel near the cathedral in Cologne, took the U-Bahn to precisely the right station, headed down the precisely right street and arrived at the Tankstelle bar to find an announcement outside that there was an open mic.
I had first discovered the Tankstelle bar‘s open mic two years ago on my first world tour of open mics. It had just begun three months earlier, and it was the only open mic in Cologne, and it was run only on the Thursday and I had stumbled upon it on the Thursday. Founded and hosted by the genial Daniel Klaus, a fabulous guitar player – his flamenco is crazy – and good singer, I had very little hope that I would find the open mic still existed when I set out last night. But there it was, soon to begin.
So I went out, ate a pizza and returned. Not only did Daniel remember me almost instantly but he remembered me precisely: “Cat Stevens?” he said. “Yes,” I said. “That’s me.” It was at the Tankstelle that I had sung “Father and Son” for only the second time in public. (I’ve now sung it probably around 100 times.)
Anyway, the atmosphere was fabulous as it was two years ago, but the open mic stage had moved to another part of the bar and now dominated the evening and the bar. It was full, bubbling with life, and a good mix of both German and English songs. Oh, and there was a wonderful touch whereby Daniel bangs a gong between each act, before and after the act, so that the bartenders at the other end of the large bar can turn on the house music between acts, on cue.
Definitely a worthwhile event if you’re ever in Cologne. I hear there are some other jam sessions, but I remain skeptical as to whether I will find them, and precisely what the quality will be like. Keep posted.