Friday, 8 May 2009

Live Music That's Like a Wee Bit of Home

This is Anita Davis, and you must hear her sing. An American who has lived in Cologne for the past 15 years, she has developed her chops transforming diffident Teutonic audiences into lively groups who miraculously develop the ability to dance! (If you've ever witnessed the zombies-on-Thorazine shuffle that passes for dancing in many local clubs, you can appreciate how surprising it is to see these folks bust out the moves.) Anita's effect on audiences is amazing to watch--right up there with turning water into wine. And she has this gorgeous voice: rich and deep and strong. She can belt out a song without harshness or a single missed note. I would sell my soul for a gift like hers.

At Breugel last night, she covered soul and funk tunes from Amy Winehouse and Duffy to Prince and Stevie Wonder. The three sets were strewn with opportunities to piss off fans of those artists by "screwing up" classic tunes, or to devolve into camp, or to fail in one of countless other ways. But Anita danced through that minefield like Anna Pavlova en pointe, and delivered original, irresistably dance-worthy interpretations of them all. I'm not ordinarily a bar-goer, and I'm really not given to staying up til 2am on a weekday, but hearing Anita sing was completely worth it; not only did I enjoy her amazing voice, but the atmosphere she created from the tiny stage at Breugel was actually giving me the odd sensation of being back home in Chicago. Yes, her stage presence is so compelling that it appears to affect the space-time continuum, transforming a few square meters on the Hohenzollernring into a wee bit of home.

For those who aren't music fans, I have to mention the second-best reason to see Anita perform: her sax player. Of the two guys in the trio--a keyboard player and the saxophonist--I had the best view of the latter, who happened to be wearing a short-sleeve shirt that showcased a gun show that would make the NRA jealous. For reals...his triceps cast their own shadows. Worth seeing in their own right. He's also an incredible musician, if you can tear your attention away from his looks--a feat I accomplished only sporadically!

Anyway, I will try to find out when and where Anita & Co. are performing next, because it would be a terrific outing for the English Speaking Cologne group.

Finally, I should mention how I came to attend last night's performance: I don't really know Anita, having only met her by chance after we struck up a conversation (typical Americans--talking to strangers!) while waiting in a long line at the Sparkasse in Neumarkt last December. Since then, I've run into her twice while walking down Zulpicherstrasse--most recently yesterday afternoon, when she invited me to her performance that night. With my boyfriend out of town on a business trip, I was feeling aimless at home, so I went--intending only to stay for one set and run back home to bed. I ended up staying for all three sets, talking lots more with Anita, and thinking that the rest of the ESC group should know about her.

So there you have it: stay tuned for details on Anita's upcoming gigs.

Your roving correspondent, over and out,