English – The wall comes tumbling down!

By Posted in - General News & History on November 8th, 2014 0 Comments 1989-CBATFOW-20141104-045XXX©Pollert

Six shows in seven days. October 1989 in East Germany. Read about it in the history books. We were there.

With Vera our East German tour manager we drove from East Berlin to Dresden. Vera was there to look after us, and to make sure we behaved ourselves. She did a great job.

We spent the next day in sightseeing in Dresden, the local promoter had arranged for us to visit the Karl May Museum. Karl May was a German writer of Western stories featuring the Indian chief Winnetou. Although May never visited the USA, he had the ability to make his stories appear authentic, and his books were published throughout the world. The museum’s director took us on a conducted tour, he was a real cowboy fan, and like most people here he was under the illusion we were a traditional country hand, Johnny Cash in person! I hated to disappoint him. We had lunch at the Dynamo Dresden Soccer Club, which was the highlight of the day.

Stage

The show was “Open-Air” in a beautiful setting, a classical amphitheater seating about two thousand people. The support bands “Hufeisen” and “Beifahrer“ (Horseshoe and Passenger) were real East German country, down to the phony stetson and cowboy boots! They went down well with the thousand or so country fans that had turned up to see what the West had to offer! We played weil, we had thrown out a lot of old songs, and we were playing what was basically the next lp, but it didn’t mean shit in Dresden. We didn’t play “Ring of Fire” and they wouldn’t forgive us for that!

The. concert in East Berlin was part of a week long festival, featuring Philip Boa, Jeremy Days, Cutting Crew and various East German and Russian bands. We were headlining the third evening, in a sport stadium holding about six thousand people. The crew, Heaven, Harry, Rüdiger and Udo had been woken at 6am to set up. There was a huge dressing-room complete with everything the young popstar about town could possibly need. East German radio was recording the show, so we did some songs for them, and an interview was recorded for broadcast later.

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First on the bill were Biber’s Farm, an East German band playing Dwight Yoakam songs. Then came the Beatitudes from West Berlin, who soothed the audience with a mixture of country and pop music.

We came on around 10pm and started with the acapella song „Seven blocks”, to which four and a half thousand people were yelling and clapping. lt went on like that for 90 minutes. We finished with a version of Lou Reed’s “Busload of Faith and dedicated it to the changes taking place in Eastern Europe. Heaven came on and played acoustic guitar with us, and we also threw about two thousand CBATFOW stickers into the crowd, so if you see a Trabant with a picture of Cliff Barnes you’ll know where his driver was! The show was great and really made up for the disappointment in Dresden.

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We proved to a lot of people (East and West) that we could handle the big stage and the big crowd. We had a party after the show, and they even let us into the hotel bar, where we drank vodka with drunken Cuban air-pilots. But we won’t go into that now!

We moved to Dresden, and into the news. We were booked into a hotel across the street from the main railroad station, where about five thousand people were gathered in protest. The whole city was blocked off by police and soldiers (remember this was just the start of the unrest, the 4th of October, 1989 and we had to convince them to let us through. They let us reach the hotel, but only if we stayed there and didn’t leave it. There was no way we could have because armed police were everywhere. The trains carrying the East German refugees from the Prague Embassy were on their way from Prague to West German and expected that evening to go through Dresden. We stayed up most of the night listening to the western radio news, and talking to a delegation of female factory workers on a culture trip to Dresden from East Berlin. They were very upset about. the whole thing, it seems that most of the early demonstrations took place in the cities of Dresden and Leipzig, and it was their first experience of such a thing. The next day we saw the station, all the windows had been broken, molotov cocktails had been thrown and cars set alight.

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Next day we played in Karl Marx Stadt to an audience that had a culture subscription. Which meant they got to see the Bolshoi Ballet one evening and Cliff Barnes and the Fear of Winning the next. We had talked about what happened in Dresden the nicht before and if we should comment on it that night. We were warned not to say anything, but art cannot be quiet, especially in these situations. There could have been a war from that day on, if Gorbaschow had not held the DDR leaders back. Anyway for the first encore i went back on stage on my own and sang „Seven Blocks of Home“, a song about love, home and sadness. If just seemed right. I led into the song with an announcement, saying that this song was for all the people on the trains out of Prag, all the people that cannot live without some form of freedom. The audience was a privileged well dressed crowd, and it was stony quiet, until somebody upstairs in the cheaper seats started to clap. This grew but never reached the first rows. I sang the song, CBATFOW had done it’s bit for art and had not sold themselves short.

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We left East Germany the day Gorbi spoke at the parade for the.40th Anniversary of the state. I’m sure he knew what was coming. The rest is history.

l’m pleased we went there. We learnt a lot about the mentality of the people there. They’ve been deprived of a lot of things we don’t even think about, freedom of travel, freedom of the press and the information flow. The scenes we all saw as the Wall feil are the results of this frustration. We wish them weil on their way into the uncertainty of a new era. Dvlan said “Don’t follow leaders”, and that’s what it comes down to.

Bobby Tijuana „November’89

Here’s the original contract for the tour:

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