Category Archives: Music

Mostly of the mountain variety

16/3/13 – Engadine marathon 2013: the verdict

Engadine marathon - making for the starting pens on the lake at Maloja

Making for the starting pens on the lake at Maloja

Aches and pains? Huffing and puffing?

Well, up to a point.You can read more about what it was like to be a first-timer in the largest ski race in the Alps in my Telegraph and Planet Ski articles.

But last Sunday I had a surprise: the Engadine marathon was fun, satisfying and not as exhausting as I’d predicted.

They arrived in matching pairs...

They arrived in matching pairs…

Along with 11,312 of  the 12,540 starters, from elite athletes to flailing novices, aged 16 to mid-eighties, I finished the 26-mile course.

It followed the snow-clad frozen lakes and wooded paths of the far eastern corner of Switzerland, in the Graubunden canon.

...they arrived in matching groups

…they arrived in matching groups

If you’ve seen it in the papers lately it’s mainly because Pippa and James Middleton – the siblings of Kate Middleton, Prince William’s wife, in case you live on another planet – were taking part.

Pippa was the fastest British girl at 2hr48 and her brother, James, took 2hr17.

And there was even a Brit in tweeds and a Jimmy hat

And there was even a Brit in rather fetching tweeds and a Jimmy hat

The fastest Brit, Alan Eason, clocked an impressive 1hr41.

The overall female winner, a Finn in her mid-thirties, glid round in 1hr29, setting a women’s course record on her first Engadine outing.

Which ones are mine again?

Which ones are mine again?

She was only a minute behind the male winner, a 23-year-old Frenchman, while the slowest racers took six hours.

I was overjoyed with my time of 3hr30 (as a first-timer of questionable fitness, four hours had been my target).

Engadine marathon start

And we’re off. You can see the classic style racers on the right, following the grooves

Anyway, here’s the full list of results.

After clicking on Results 2013, you can view them by class (which corresponds to age and gender), or by nationality.

Something especially impressive is that there were 223 finishers in the men’s over-70s category – and the oldest racer was born in 1926. This is a sport for everyone.

A few miles before Pontresina, where there are bottlenecks by the hills

This is me a few miles before Pontresina, where there are bottlenecks by the hills

Here’s another link some readers may find entertaining.

The super-efficient organisers have posted videos of – seemingly – almost every finisher crossing the line.

Simply find a person on the results list you want to watch, look up their start number (eighth column from the left), input it or their name into the field on the right of the screen and there they are. 

This is what was needed afterwards

This is what was needed afterwards – cakes from Kochendorfer Conditorei in Pontresina

Here are some numbers to try – though with the first few it’s hard to tell which is which as they’re going so fast:

Pierre Guedon (the male winner, from France) – 317

Riita-Liisa Ropenen (the female winner, from Finland) – 9

Alan Eason (the fastest Brit – I can’t identify him, but you get an idea of the speed) – 1079

Pippa in the middle: the Middletons and friends at the finish

Pippa in the middle: the Middletons and friends at the finish

Christian Wenk (a paraplegic who completed the race in a sitski) – 4191

Pippa Middleton (in red and black; photographer close by) – 4606

James Middleton (in black, I think, with red headband, skating past camera) – 41847

Me (in pink and black; the knackered-looking one making straight for the camera) – 5807

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Filed under Food and drink, Gear, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Link to film, Music, Racing, Switzerland, Transport

12/1/13 – Obergurgl apres-ski: David’s Hut

The Oetztaler Alpentornados at David's Hut

The Oetztaler Alpentornados at David’s Hut

Jolly, traditional, Tyrolean music in Obergurgl, I was glad to discover in December, is alive and well, even though the band at the excellent Nederhut is more inclined to high-volume “ruck’n’roll” than it was when I worked there 15 years ago (see my Telegraph article on Obergurgl – out in print in the Telegraph Saturday travel section today – for more on “then and now”).

On a Thursday evening before Christmas, our family group of three generations – aged nine to 72 – booked in to a fondue/Schweinshaxe (pork)/meat-on-stone evening at David’s Hut (Davids Huette), a few hundred yards downhill from the Nederhut and a place I knew mainly for its outstanding spaghetti Bolognese.

We walked up from the village (25 minutes from the centre, on a lane that starts steeply and flattens out); other groups arrived by taxi. It was beginning to snow.

The van of the promisingly named band, the Oetztaler Alpentornados, was parked outside; tables were filling up, mostly with German guests; a few teenage locals were drinking Weizenbier at the bar; a 20-strong British group, celebrating a birthday, were colonising one corner.

We’d booked meat fondue, mostly the chunky bourgignonne variety, but three of us had Chinoise, which came in jucier, thicker slices than usual. The sauces included sweet chilli as well as cocktail, curry, sour cream and chives, tartare and an unpindownable pink one. Salad arrived first, then rounds of chips to go with the meat.

The meal was spot on, as was the service – the friendliest I’ve encountered anywhere in the world, let alone the Alps. I first met the four longstanding chief waiting staff when working in the village in the mid-1990s, and the fact they’re all still happily there says a lot about the place (David himself is in the kitchen, or behind the bar).

But how was the music?

The band started sedately, circulating around the hut to give each set of tables a kind of private performance before plugging themselves in.

About five songs later, one of the Weizenbier-drinkers jumped up and danced energetically, all on his own. Here he is (in action on Youtube).

A few waltzes later Inge and… ah, I’ve forgotten this great David’s Hut longtimer’s name, I’m sorry to say… took a break from fetching, carrying and pouring to show how Austrian dancing is done.

Here they are – move over, everyone from Strictly (and of course we were rather amateur by comparison, too, when we had a go).

The Tornados played for well over an hour without a break, using a tableful of tuneful little metal bells for several songs – watch and listen here – and getting diners to come up and play them.

They finished their first set with a ‘Polonaise’ or conga around the benches and tables and out of the window onto the now-snowy terrace.

I was glad to see our neighbours join in: usually Brits find it too embarrassing to jig round in a queue holding onto a stranger’s shoulders from behind and being similarly grasped themselves. Usually, they pretend not to understand when beckoned to the line by a German, or they find some excuse such as finishing a drink or ordering another. But these ones were well fuelled by rounds of birthday schnapps.

As the Tornados rested at the bar in readiness for their second set, we paid up (about 45 euros each) and headed back to the village, the fresh snow beneath our feet and in our heads the swinging sounds of mountain music mingling with excitement about the next day’s powder…

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Filed under Austria, Food and drink, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Link to film, Music, Transport, United States

2/1/13 – Apres-ski at the Nederhut in Obergurgl

“GOODAFTERNOONLADIESANCHENTLEMEN!!! We are weryheppytoseeyoufortheapres-skiPARTY!!! Heute willwemake ruck’n’rolllll-boarischen-valzer andifyou nokenskidown because you loseyourski-drinktoomanyschnaps-forgetyourguggles don’tworrywetakeyoudown tothewillech withaSKIDOO! Jetzt heng ein byyourneighbour andwemakethe SCHNEEWALZER!”

The stage awaits several members of the Gamper family at the Nederhut in Obergurgl

The stage awaits several members of the Gamper family at the Nederhut in Obergurgl

The enthusiastic welcome by Rudi Gamper, hotelier, restaurateur and rocker, to his famed après-ski sessions at the Nederhut has barely changed since I was working in the Austrian resort of Obergurgl more than 15 years ago.

Then, when ski hosting for a couple of winters for Inghams, I took a group nearly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to watch Rudi (on guitar) and two of his charismatic, musical mates – Gebi (mostly on accordion) and Toni (mostly on tambourine) – sing and play for a few hours from 4pm.

Benni (left) and Rudi

Benni (left) and Rudi Gamper

Afterwards, we’d ski the floodlit blue run, which leads to the doors of most of the village’s hotels and guesthouses. (Read more in this post.)

Every time I’ve been back, the operation has become fancier – more (and more massive) speakers, ranks of guitars and several big screens.

Just before Christmas, I was back again, and my sister and her family managed to bag us one of my favourite tables (arrival often necessary by 2.15pm to guarantee a  spot), to the left of the band at the front (best if you’re a group; the taller tables on the right, where the bar once was, are possibly better if you want to mingle).

Rudi Gamper (right) with his friends Toni (middle) and Gebi in the late 1990s

Rudi Gamper (right) with his friends Toni (middle) and Gebi in the late 1990s

Toni and Gebi are long gone – there’s a revolving cast now, the permanent fixtures being Rudi (as full of stamina as ever), Benni, his son (who has taken over running the place – I found it better than ever as a mountain restaurant), on the accordion or guitar, and his wife, Sissi, who learnt the drums so she could join in.

The order of play has evolved, though the playlist is similar. Rudi and Benni begin by standing on a table strumming like crazy, belting out AC/DC. After another couple of energetic, quite loud rock numbers it’s time for Rudi’s longstanding welcome (above) in Oetztal-German and then in funny English.

After the Schneewalzer (watch it on Youtube here!) there are two or three excellent traditional Austrian songs – one of which aims to get couples walzing with the promise of a free schnapps (on my visit the song was Gruene Tannen; the schnapps was Willi mit Birne; my partner was my fantastic dad).

Here’s one of the traditional songs on Youtube.

There follows solid rock and Europop, plus the odd country-style piece (including Vest Wirginia) until about 6.15pm, when there’s more traditional stuff after a break.

We were there with children, and didn’t want to stay too long, so I can’t tell you whether they did any yodelling later on (the Oetztaler Bergsteigerlied used to be my favourite).

Many people will prefer the new to the old Nederhut – it’s slicker and more professional (and it’s now on Thursday, too, at 4pm, as well as Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

However, as I’m only really mad about the traditional stuff, it’s probably less my thing than it once was.

I’ll still always go at least once for apres-ski (and definitely for lunch, as well) every time I’m in Obergurgl, and I’m happy to report that there are other options, too, now, concentrating on Tyrolean stuff. Read/watch more about these in another post, coming soon.

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26/10/12 – Bodo’s Schloss, London’s new Austrian bar: the verdict

The logo for Bodo's Schloss is a goat wearing a bell. Not very Kensington

The logo for Bodo’s Schloss is a goat wearing a bell. Not very Kensington

Last night I went the opening night of a new bar in Kensington. Not my usual habit, but this was a place I was itching to see.

This was Bodo’s Schloss, decked out, I had read, like an Austrian ski lodge, complete with dirndl- and lederhosen-clad staff and a telecabin as a DJ booth. Now, I’m a bit of a veteran of the real thing, so I wanted to check it out.

Wood, wood, everywhere. And chamois horns and cow bells

Wood, wood, everywhere. And chamois horns and cow bells

Bodo’s Schloss (nothing to do with that king of mountain-euro-pop DJ Bobo) is in the basement of the Royal Garden Hotel, replacing a casino.

According to online reports such as this one, the people behind it – Piers Adam and Nick House – also masterminded Mahiki, Whisky Mist and the Punch Bowl, none of which I know but all of which probably sound rather cooler to most people.

Inspired! Can anyone identify this button lift?

Inspired! Can anyone identify this button lift?

At 7.15pm there was no queue at the street-level entrance to the right of the main hotel (it’s free to get in till 10pm; thereafter £15), where smiley female staff are stationed, wearing fur coats over their dirndls.

The reception area (coats £1 per item) has a knockout pine aroma, a film of a button lift in action keenitely slotted behind a window frame and a line of skis from circa 1970.

Four privileged pairs

Four privileged pairs

In we went, down a few steps (with railings made of wagon wheels), and pulled up a fur-seated stool at the bar.

Over a glass of Petra Unger Q Gruner Veltliner (£6.90 for a 175ml glass; the cheapest white is a Spanish viura/chardonnay at £4.20 a glass/£17 a bottle), we surveyed the scene.

It makes you want to yodel... but the music is more London than Lermoos

It makes you want to yodel… but the music is more London than Lermoos

A big effort has gone into decor. A waiter told us most of it comes from Austria, and I believe it.

There are sledges on the walls; light fittings made of antlers; wood, wood, everywhere; two fireplaces stacked with logs; a chamois head; giant cow bells overhanging the bar; cosy lighting; an ibex sculpture; chairs with backs in the shape of deer-heads, and rustic boards on wrought-iron wall-fittings to indicate table reservations.

Can anyone find this on a map?

Can anyone find this on a map?

The ‘Toiletten’ are marked with jaunty Austrian writing, their walls painted with names, funnily enough, of two of my favourite ski resorts, Obergurgl and Soelden.

There’s a poem on another wall that I could half-translate, and, bafflingly, another name, ‘Innsburg’. Did they mean Innsbruck?

The barmen lent us their hats

The barmen lent us their hats

Most tables were taken by couples, chattering groups of 20 to 30somethings and a few parties of older blokes trying not to stare at the blonde, plait-haired waitresses in checked dirndls or short-ish lederhosen – definitely the Austrian variety, rather than Swiss traditional dress.

Ninety per cent of the waitresses, the friendly Hungarian barman told us, are Swedish, and though he didn’t think there was anyone from the Alps front-of-house, the head chef, Franz, is Austrian.

They've even got hold of a schnapps ski

They’ve even got hold of a schnapps ski

I was impressed that, as I’ve seen in Austria, the barmen wear shirts (some with braces, some with hats, too) while the managers wear a jacket (again, decidedly Austrian, rather than Swiss).

Behind the bar are steins (litre glasses for beer), china ski boots (fill it with a rum cocktail for £100 to share between up to eight) and a decent array of schnapps.

Antler wall-lights and wrought-iron hooks. Unheimlich gut!

Antler wall-lights and wrought-iron hooks. Unheimlich gut!

‘Winter season’ cocktails (from £8.50) are named after ski runs (not all in Austria): Lauberhorn, Vallee Blanche, Hahnenkamm, Harakiri, Madloch and Corbet’s Couloir. ‘House’ cocktails include the St Bernard, which contains Mozart liqueur.

Draught beer (£2.80) is Stiegl or Schremser, Austrian brands, and Erdinger Dunkel, that tasty German ski-slope staple, comes in bottles. Plenty of Austrian wines are in the mix, towards the pricier end. And tap water, unlike in many places in Austria, is free.

Perfectly executed spinach dumplings

Perfectly executed spinach dumplings

The most extravagant drink is the ice castle (£5,000), which I gather is a limitless supply of the bar’s signature cocktail (including Ciroc vodka, passionfruit, creme de peche and Dom P), served in some sort of ice vessel – which hasn’t arrived yet, so it’s not available for the moment.

You can download a copy of the drinks menus here.

Apple strudel, no icing sugar spared

Apple strudel, no icing sugar spared

When a table became free we glanced through the food menu.

It’s so full of things you’d find up a mountain that it felt odd not to have to ‘translate’ the prices. Sauerkraut £4.50; goulasch soup £5.50; spaetzle £3; Wiener schnitzel with potato and cucumber salad £16.50 (the priciest dish). So would the proof be in the, er, dumpling?

Our empty schnapps glasses

Our empty schnapps glasses

It turned out it was. Spinach dumpling with grated cheese (£7.50), served in a very new-looking cast-iron pan, was as meltingly satisfying as the last one I had, in the Hohe Mut restaurant in Obergurgl.

Classic salad with chicken strips (£9) was good, too, and generous on the toasted pumpkin seeds. Apple strudel (£5), which I requested without custard but with ice-cream (for which they charged an extra £1), had the requisite sultanas and melt-in-the-mouth apple, though the pastry was a bit tough. Overall, nicht schlecht!

This is what happened after the schnapps

This is what happened after the schnapps

There was a bonus to come, when, at 9.30pm, everyone in the place was presented with a schnapps – a decent-sized one, and not the throat-searing, petrol-fumed variety but something quite smooth.

A bell rang, we all sipped or downed, and out of the kitchen marched a five-piece band, playing “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit, der Gemuetlichkeit” – which was brilliant until it segued into YMCA.

Translations, please! Something to do with Pisa and its tower, a fisherman and a worm, and then I am lost

Translations, please! Something to do with Pisa and its tower, a fisherman and a worm, and then I am lost

By now it was standing-room only, Bodo’s Schloss was segueing from apres-ski to nightclub, and after a second free schnapps it was time to pay the bill (£57.62 for four glasses of wine, three plates of food and a 15pc service charge) and step out into the October night for a Boris bike ride to Waterloo and a train home.

I’ll be back, and now I know it’s properly Alpine, with the trappings and trimmings, I’ll dig out one of my dirndls for the occasion.

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23/10/12 – Leukerbad, where 40 is the magic age

Olden days Leukerbad, with track to the Gemmi pass winding up behind

Olden days Leukerbad, with track to the Gemmi pass winding up behind; picture from the thermal springs trail

Few ski towns are a pleasure to visit year-round. Examples are Zermatt and Chamonix, which have busy mountaineering scenes and famous peaks and glaciers that ‘grand tourists’ like to admire. Last month I went to another place I’d spend time in any month of the year – the Swiss resort of Leukerbad.

Just inside the German-speaking part of the Valais, it sits in a cliff-fringed bowl up a side-valley between the Rhone Valley towns Sierre and Visp. Two things feature strongly in its history – avalanches and thermal baths.

The Via Ferrata on the Gemmi. No thanks!

The Via Ferrata on the Gemmi. No thanks!

Avalanches persistently wrought destruction until someone thought to rebuild the town in a less exposed spot, in 1719, and put up protection walls (1829). Now they’re not an issue.

As to the baths, they’re mentioned in documents from the 14th century, but the Romans were onto them the previous millennium. In the 16th century a local bishop raised their profile when he took to conducting political and clerical business, semi-submerged, with European statesmen.

In 1556 public baths were built for the poor, and visitors to Leukerbad over the next centuries included Goethe, Mark Twain, Picasso and the writer James Baldwin – probably the first black man to come to the valley, in the 1950s (his essay, Stranger in the Village, recalls his time there).

The contents of Leukerbad's 40-year-old thermal spring water, as shown on a board on the thermal springs trail

The contents of Leukerbad’s 40-year-old thermal spring water, as shown on a board on the thermal springs trail

Every day 3.9 million litres of thermal water flows from springs all over town, feeding 30 thermal pools – four of which are public baths; the rest mostly in hotels.

When the water comes out, it’s about the same age as me.

It works like this. Rainwater sinks into the Torrent massif (2,300-3,000m) – where the ski area is, east of town – trickling, dripping and gushing through cracks in the rock down to 500m below sea level. En route it picks up minerals.

This graph on the thermal springs trail shows guest numbers increasing as more baths are built

This graph on the thermal springs trail shows guest numbers increasing as more baths are built

After being given a roasting while flowing around underground channels, it rises back up another route, seeing daylight again at 1,400m in Leukerbad, at a steaming maximum of 51 degrees centigrade, 40 years after it started life as a shower.

Avalanches, earthquakes, floods and landslides affect the rate of flow (900 litres a minute) – as does building activity, so locals need to take care they don’t dig up a source.

When doctors prescribed all-day bathing, patients dined on floating trays. Picture from the thermal springs trail

When doctors prescribed all-day bathing, patients dined on floating trays. Picture from the thermal springs trail

So what’s the point of sitting in it? The theory is that if you soak in the water, the minerals do you good – changing the balance of ions (according to the dictionary, a ‘gaseous particle’) in the skin; soothing rheumatoid and neurological complaints; and speeding up recovery after a trauma or accident (these are chemical effects).

Swimming in it while wearing fins, or doing something called ‘wet-vest aqua jogging’ (yes, really), are among the ‘training therapies’ used in rehabilitation (these are mechanical effects).

The warmth, for reasons easy to understand, is relaxing.

Switzerland's sources

Switzerland’s sources

Another chemical effect is a diuretic one – it helps you ‘go’. But beware actually drinking the stuff – apparently a few glasses might give you the runs.

Leukerbad expanded dramatically from the 1960s to the 1990s, when the number of overnight stays rose from 200,000 a year to more than 1.1m. During this period, when doctors prescribed a spell in Leukerbad for all sorts of ills, health insurers would pick up the bill not only for the treatment, but for hotel stays, meals and even wine, often for months at a time.

When insurance companies tightened up, paying just for the treatment, the tally dipped, and today there are just over 800,000 stays each year.

You can walk above the water as well as sit in it - this is the walkway in the Dala gorge

You can walk above the water as well as sit in it – this is the walkway in the Dala gorge

Doctors used to advise patients to spend the entire day submerged, and bathers would eat their meals on floating trays. This has been revived today as a bit of a gimmick in the form of things like champagne breakfasts in the water (other innovations include cinema nights).

The baths now range from the family-friendly Burgerbad (entry SF22/18/13 for adult/youth/child), the largest themal spa complex in the Alps, to the Rehabilitation Centre, which started life as the Institute for Paraplegics in 1962.

Each of the sources has a name

Each of the sources has a name

Today’s wisdom says you’re meant to go in for 20 minutes, followed by a spell in the relaxation room to let your body absorb the minerals before another ‘dose’. You can repeat this all day if you like.

I spent a relaxing couple of hours at the Alpentherme (SF23/18), both in the baths and in the ‘Valaisan sauna village’ (see etiquette for the sauna, here).

I was just as impressed by the rest of Leukerbad, which has a year-round population of 1,630, beds for all budgets – 6,900 in apartments and 1,500 in hotels – and 50 restaurants, including several within an easy mountain walk.

The town is spread across the hillside, with beautiful as well as bland buildings, a lovely, mostly pedestrian lane at its heart, lined with ancient chalets, and a cheerful, rushing stream.

Veg on view

Veg on view

In summer and autumn you can admire lovingly tended vegetable and flower gardens at every turn, which aren’t hidden behind hedges or fences like they are at home. There are festivals from music to literature to shepherding, and I was sorry to miss a weekend of Swiss ‘Laendlermusik’ by just a few hours.

There are walking paths galore, both from town and up on the Gemmi (a pass at the top of the cliffs to the west of town), in summer and winter. During my visit I followed the excellent and gentle marked ‘thermal springs trail’ from the centre of town, the highlight of which is a metal walkway bolted to the cliffs of a spectacular gorge. Lining the route are information boards with fascinating photos, diagrams and statistics about the baths, some with roaring waterfalls nearby.

Here's what I missed by a few hours

Here’s what I missed by a few hours

If you’re there for longer, there’s limitless walking, both summer and winter, including a path from the top of the new Gemmi cable car that goes all the way to Kandersteg. And the skiing? Well, it’s smallish and south-ish facing, a bit like Anzere, where I’ve spent a lot of my skiing life. I reckon I’ll be back to check it out and rebalance those ions again.

For more, see leukerbad.ch, and read this entertaining article by James Cove of Planet Ski, about his experience of a ‘Roman-Irish bath’ in Leukerbad, including pictures of the different baths.

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16/8/12 – London 2012: the Alpine houses

Our very first stop was this maze, built of 250,000 books inside the Royal Festival Hall. Pretty cool

The Olympics are over. Everything I saw – the beach volleyball from the stands at Horseguards Parade; the athletics on television; the cycle road race in Surrey – I loved.

But one of the most memorable parts, for me, was a couple of hours spent in the early evening near Tower Bridge, at Austria House. Various countries set up bases in London and one afternoon a couple of friends and I took a walking tour of the ‘houses’ of three Alpine skiing countries by the Thames.

The Swiss House, where we watched Steve Guerdat win gold in show jumping

First stop, after getting waylaid at a maze made entirely of books that we came across while hunting down a loo in the Royal Festival Hall, was Switzerland, near London Bridge. There a big screen, a stage and picnic tables were set up in a shady square and a few minutes after our arrival, the Swiss show jumper Steve Guerdat won gold – to rather restrained applause, we thought. We toasted his success with the free extra half-pint of lager we’d landed due to a mix-up at the bar (where half-pints cost £3; pints £4.50 – dearer than Switzerland, we noted!).

My friend Rebecca contemplates Tom Stoddart’s pictures on the South Bank, between the Swiss and Austrian houses

En route to Tower Bridge, we stopped to see Tom Stoddart’s moving outdoor exhibition of black and white photographs, mostly taken in conflict zones over the past 30 years, printed large on a maze of boards near City hall. This runs till 12 September and is well worth a visit.

On the far side of Tower Bridge, Alpinbanda were warming up…

On the north side of Tower Bridge, Austria had its base at Trinity House, with tables crammed into a courtyard, a couple of small screens and a bar where dirndl- and lederhosen-clad bartenders served beer, wine and bratwurst.

Paul Heis on washboard, Leena Schoepf on accordion and Miss Amadea (is she really called that?) on double bass

We grabbed a seat next to a tiny stage, on which, promisingly, stood a double bass. Sure enough, within minutes, a three-part band materialised and launched straight into the Kufstein Lied (more easily recognised as the song that goes: “…bei uns in Tirol”) and then the Zillertaler Hochzeitsmarsch.

On double bass, yodelling in harmony and frequently belting out a yyeeeeeeeeaaahhoooaaaa was a musician known as Miss Amadea (I know this because I saw her play the violin at a reception at Austria House a few days earlier – though I can find pretty much nothing about her online).

Leena plants a Tirol transfer on Kirstie's arm

Leena plants a Tirol transfer on Kirstie’s arm

On the accordion, and singing and yodelling with gusto – as well as throwing in a few yipps of her own – was Leena, short for Karolina Schoepf, who comes from the Oetztal, according to her website. Singing and playing the clarinet or sax and the washboard (with a cymbal on its top) was Paul Heis, who leads Alpinbanda.

With a glass or two of Austrian Gruener Veltliner, a few sociable neighbours at the trestle table and much enthusiasm from the crowd it was a brilliant couple of hours. Needless to say we never made it to the French house, also on the north side of the Thames – though we were told it was a great place to go after pub hours.

By the time we left Trinity House, the yodelling had drawn enough people to create a queue

By the time we left Trinity House, the yodelling had drawn enough people to create a queue

My recordings are pretty ropey, and I should have filmed the complete Kufstein Lied, but you can see and hear them by following these links: Kufstein Lied, film one, film two, film three.

I’d travel to London any time to hear Austrian music like this – what a shame they’ve all gone home!

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15/12/11 – Interlaken’s yodel festival in Songlines magazine

They sang by night...

Regular readers of morethanskiing may recall how overexcited I was in June about visiting Switzerland’s biggest yodelling festival – an event that takes place every three years and draws crowds of 200,000 – more than Glastonbury.

They sang by day...

This excitement turned out to be thoroughly justified: the trip my sister and I took to Interlaken for the festival was one of the best weekend breaks I’ve had – and that includes ski breaks.

...and they practised in the back-streets

The Jodlerfest was directly responsible for June’s higher-than-usual blogcount on this site – and now you can read more about it, in the January/February issue of Songlines, the world music magazine.

Buy the issue to see it on paper, or click the link below to take you to a pdf of a ‘Postcard from Switzerland’ describing the amazing experience of spending a weekend at the world’s biggest celebration of Swiss mountain music.

Postcard from Switzerland in Songlines magazine, Jan/Feb 2012 issue

To read more – and for more pictures, go to June posts such as these:

http://tinyurl.com/3rph4a3

http://tinyurl.com/6zhekyr

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Filed under Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Music, Switzerland