Hit by a Cadillac

Minnesota Boogie Woogie band Cadillac Kolstad & The Flats, at the Hotel Hirsch, Besigheim

Minnesota Boogie Woogie band Cadillac Kolstad & The Flats, at the Hotel Hirsch, Besigheim

The fourth night with the Boogie Woogie band at the wine festival here in Germany and it doesn’t sound as loud as it did the first three nights, our ears have gotten used to it. And as we resurface now on the fifth day, the barricades outside my mom’s taken down by the Stadt, venturing out to the grocery store to exchange empties and get more eggs, sound comes through a twisted tape reel that’s been left out on the dashboard too long, mom and I both sensitive to the small, crinkly sounds of people handling the pre-packaged produce, the weight of it being dropped in the carts, the clunk.

Though we have a shopping list, mom combs each aisle like it’s her first time there, and part of that’s because they put everything up willy-nilly, and the other part’s because there’s not much to do during the day so we take our time, and things present themselves to us — who guessed, a five-piece Boogie Woogie band from Minnesota would blow this little German town away.

The singer takes to the piano like it’s punk, in that irreverent Jerry Lee Lewis way of pounding it, his hair coming out of the pompadour as the night wears on, its own instrument, and Benny notes how he drinks on stage it’s not an act, but seems part of something more real and authentic.

They play for four hours, four nights in a row, with two more gigs planned later this week, and sell T-shirts with the singer’s face drawn up like a Voodoo doll with the eyes X-ed out and the hair hanging down, a couple shrunken heads or fuzzy dice hanging from a rear view mirror.

Then, the late night food truck scene with a half meter of grilled meat presented on a stick, a piece of baguette speared right through: action shots of teenaged boys and girls on the sign smiling, posing with their mouths open taking it from either end, only 5€!

The stage is so small, you can get right up to it and put your wine glass on the edge and reach out to touch the band. A couple white-haired German ladies muscle by me and form a pit in front during “Play With Your Poodle,” as the singer pronounces it more like pooter, makes a show of it as he cries, “I wanna play with your poodle,” and the Germans go on dancing and nodding, downright boogying.

Afterwards, we go home to collect ourselves and I put on the closest I have to the band, Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive — actually swing, but similar to the music up the street — and Benny tells me about the Swing Kids, a film from the early 90s, how swing was demonised by the Nazis for being Negermusik, performed by a number of blacks and Jewish musicians, and yet they’d crowd the swing clubs because they identified with British and American lifestyles, created a counter-culture with their hair and dress, their jargon, and mocked the Nazis by crying Swing-Heil for Sieg-Heil!

And I’d read that as they came into power Hitler began art directing, mandating what was acceptable and allowed, and art could not be ambiguous but needed to be “straightforward” instead. Benny writes in my notepad the phrase entartete Kunst, taking the art out of art, which the Nazis also said about swing music, “degenerate art.”

And the singer, Cadillac Kolstad, jokes between songs You can’t rush art, as he toasts the crowd with a whiskey, and Benny’s dad is there in the crowd and smiles at me and says, “What do you think of your fellow countrymen?,” and I say, That’s a loaded question.

I eat a salad for lunch that looks like a pig that swallowed a grenade, pink shredded wurst, raw onions, pickled carrots, a hard-boiled egg, and the kids insist I ride the rides with them at the fair down the road, and none of them seem to have proper belts, you just get inside and hold on, and as we climb and spin we see Eberhard looking for us down below, and what kind of cop can’t find four Americans at the amusement park in a small-town fair?

The guys operating the spinning-thing are all smoking, standing around looking cool, yelling German into the microphone from the booth with words that mean faster and ‘not loud enough,’ and they have tattoos and wife beaters or muscle shirts with distressed patterns, and lean over the kids in their seats with their cigarettes still going as it spins around and plays Vanilla Ice, ‘ice, ice baby.’

On the last night, a girl with the band asks if I can take pictures with my good camera and says I can get up on the stage with them behind the drum kit because they want to capture the view of the people up the street with the lights hanging from above, and Dawn has more wine than she has since 2003 we calculate, and at the end of it she needs to take a walk for some fresh air, and starts crying because the singer reminds her of an actor friend she knew who died, who was 100% instinct, just channeling, in his real element — and I think the crying’s good because she realised a part of herself died when she stopped acting, and the band does so much for us this way, which is why the art is frightening to tyrants and control freaks, it reminds us of who we really are and could be too if only we had the guts, the nerve.


Categories: music

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24 replies

  1. I talked about time on my post simultaneously when you just put your post up. You bring up about time and relate your life so well here. Rhank you from Seattle!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this one, my friend…think I’ve eaten that salad and have definitely gone to that fair! Hope all is well…

    best, gregg

    gregg s johnson 206 399 3066

    Pardon my brevity, I’m sending this message from a mobile device.



    • It’s a tough combination, but makes me feel I still ‘got it’ you know, able to eat raw onions, get on these European rides with the Vanilla Ice…having a ball here, and great to hear from home, thanks! – Bill


  3. sounds like another dreamy drug hazed trip, but it’s real and that’s what’s the best about all of this.


  4. Man I’m really enjoying these posts. Favorite line was “…and what kind of cop can’t find four Americans at the amusement park in a small-town fair?” And a cathartic cry…always surprised how old pain bubbles up like that. It never kills us but wriggles free on its own accord.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, glad you connected with that ‘old cry’ as it were, Kristen. It’s odd, but I thought it was really good in some weird way. That friend of hers was in the film “The Master” too, and when she saw him on screen she blurted out That’s Chris Welch, and I think it affected her in numerous ways, seeing a former actor friend and then, his untimely death thereafter. Strange, how you can sometimes make late night epiphanies like that (but pay for it, if you’ve whacked yourself out of your mind).

      I made that joke about our dear friend Eberhard as the ride was starting and I was trying to distract myself from crapping or puking on myself, it was going so fast. They don’t mess around over here – no apologies for nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This one plays out like a film in my head, but not really. There is no way to describe what I mean. I see all things happening at once in there entirety, like a montage in an instant. Great ending too.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That’s a gut punch ending.
    Vanilla Ice? Makes me think of the film Adventureland, where the amusement park plays nothing but Falco. “Rock Me Amadeus”? Or “Der Kommissar”? Does it matter?


  7. Touching, Dawn’s story at the end, and how art is almost this organic, living thing inside us that comes out from time to time.

    Great shot of Cadillac too. Looks like a still from some ’70s movie…

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you found it touching Kevin, thanks! You’d know the art-as-organic better than I, having started and finished books of your own. But mystifying it like some cobra you charm out of a basket, I don’t know – would like for me that I can figure it out to where it’s more natural than supernatural. Easier on the body too, I think. Glad you liked that photo of Cadillac too; as I told him today he’s a real inspiration, to be in his element like that, doing his thing. So fun to watch people do that and think I could do that too, in my own way. Probably not going to learn to play piano and sing that way now, approaching 45.


  8. Does that band sound as good as they look? Who says appearances are irrelevant? Have you ever seen Biran Setzer perform? A master of his instrument.

    I have a brag. I saw Joe Jackson tour the Jumpin’ Jive album when it came out. The bad part of that brag? That’s how OLD I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You deserve that brag, man. I’m just glad to know that record, is all. And you’re right about appearances not being irrelevant, which is bad DICKtion. I haven’t seen Brian Setzer like that live, but I’ve heard that — would love to have the opportunity. I never would have sought out something like this but feel good it seems to have found me, at least for four nights. I mean, who sees anybody for four nights in a row? Haven’t done with my wife even, really?!


  9. I am the girl with the band that told you to get up on that stage. I am so very glad I did. ” it’s not an act, but seems part of something more real and authentic” . Performing is a partnership with the audience. We will never forget Winzerfest in Besigheim 2015!


    • I’m glad you did too, and sorry we didn’t get to meet properly – kind of overwhelming for everyone, I think. But you guys made the festival for us and rocked this small town, likely will never be the same – and those who missed it really missed it. Thanks for reading and visiting (here, and Germany). – Bill



  1. An apple no worm had found – Bill Pearse

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