After midnight

At the last minute, my buddy had let me down – but I still decided to take that trip northwards. So I took out the vehicle and went up the country, to that small spot called Ernzen. It was peeing down with rain, and even the hard boiled smokers were missing at the entrance of the “Little Woodstock” when I arrived. Inside too, in that small, somewhat trashy bar with a rudimentary music stage not all the tables were occupied. Slowly, more guests rolled along. The young waitress, blond with a golden heart, was busying around. In the toilets, the rain kept falling through the leaking roof. Time passed.

Finally, “The Heritage Blues Company”, a bunch of four guys and a gal, all well over fifty, took their seats. THBC has been playing around for some years now, mostly doing cover versions of blues and boogie. Having won the Luxembourg Blues-Contest, they even represented Luxembourg at the European Blues Challenge in Norway earlier this year. Not clear if the guests, local folks of different generations, mingled with barflies and lonely wolves, knew about their luck. Just some aficionados from further away had chosen their strategic watching places when the show began.

Drummer Rob Schauls without a doubt looked best, wearing his hat and sunglasses with great elegance. He and bassist Marc Schwickerath kept the ship rhythmically in safe waters, while guitarist Mario Jung and keyboard-player Christian Ries had fun making some impressive solo excursions. But the figurehead was of course frontwoman Chantal Gottschalk. That lady is not only blessed with a great and carrying voice, but also with the talent to get people to join the game. Her timbre obviously resembles that of Janis Joplin, and it was no surprise that “Mercedes Benz” was included in the program. However, Gottschalk showed with “Who’s been Talkin’” that she also feels at home with softer tones, something one would have appreciated to hear more of.

Right from the beginning, it was clear that the band was playing with great precision and relaxed professionality. The first set showed a well versed crew, showing with their convincing arrangements of classics like Dylan’s “Gotta serve somebody” that the Company is more than just a cover band. But it was during the second one that the last sleepers in the bar woke up. Elder couples were swaying to the rhythms of “Let the good times roll” or “Boogie like you wanna”, teens and twens were rocking and rolling, and a youngster taking to Kwak beer revealed himself to be the best dancer of Ernzen and its surroundings.

When I left far after midnight, the rain had stopped, a log was burning in a metal barrel outside the door, and for the real tough ones, the night had only just begun.

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