Saturday, March 08, 2014

Bad postcard of the week: "Behind the Music" and the impending breakup of the Om-pah-loom-pahs in Frankenmuth

Just looking at Hans, we know this band is on the verge of splintering.
This might look like a charming little musical scene. But I see trouble – big trouble – ahead for our tune smiths.

This week’s bad postcard takes us to Frankenmuth, which is a neat little place between Flint and Saginaw. I think the name is Bavarian for “near the outlet mall.”

The back has two separate descriptions for us.  The first: “The official Bavarian Festival Om-pah-pah Band entertaining visitors on Main Street. During the festival, held each year the second full week of June, we had approximately 24 different bands playing all dressed in lederhosen. Many visitors spend their time strolling down Main Street buying thousands of pounds of sausage, cheese, homemade foods, handicrafts and souvenirs.”

The second part: “FRANKENMUTH, MICHIGAN – where the gemuetlichkeit of Old Bavaria blends with the hospitality of New America. Located 6 minutes off I-75 expressway.”

Let’s get back to our Om-pah-loom-pahs.  This band is on the verge of a breakup, and this postcard is like an episode of “Behind the Music.” All the details are here, if you know where to look.

Notice Hans, the third guy on the left, with the trumpet. Do you see what’s out of place there? Everyone else in the band has a white plume and red socks.

But not Hans. No, he’s got white socks and a red plume.

Clearly, he’s already expressing what folks in the industry call “creative differences.”

Hans thinks he’s the star, and that people are flocking to Main Street to hear him and his trumpet. Well, they’re attracted by the sausage, cheese and handicrafts, too. But mostly they come to hear him.

The cracks are already apparent. Look at the resentful look from our drummer.  
Note the sneer of resent.

Slowly, Hans’ ego takes over.

First it’s the socks and plume. Then he’s demanding extended trumpet parts, you know, “to give the fans what they want.”

Finally, he shows up early to perform special solo trumpet performances near the Cheese Haus up the street.

This can go a number of ways.

We have the Stevie Nicks model, where Hans dresses like a witch and runs off for some solo albums with special guest appearances from Tom Petty, but stays connected with the Om-pah-loom-pahs. 

They give him his space because, well, he does attract groupies and some are willing to befriend a trombone player.

Or, you have the Phil Collins/Sting model, where Hans and his insufferable ego run off for some solo albums. 

Once Hans gets the taste of success and total creative control – and doesn't have to split proceeds seven ways – the band is pretty much toast. They’ll put out a few more albums, but there are whispers around the Cheese Mouse that Hans is saving his best material for his solo work. Save your money, tuba player. 

Hopefully there will be a high-profile reunion tour someday and everyone can get one more payday before going back to their new day jobs at Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland, or the Nike outlet, 

Or, sadly, there could be the Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs model. The music is magical when the rest of the band can keep Hans’ ego in check. They bring out the best in each other. But Hans finally stomps off. The band tries to keep things going with a series of new trumpet players, but it’s not the same.

And Hans, well, there’s no one to tell him “no,” and he’s off doing things like incomprehensible concept albums and setting 100 poems to trumpet music as fewer and fewer people care.

Nobody wins.

By the way, "gemutlichkeit" means a situation that includes a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance.

If only Hans embraced the spirit of "gemutlichkeit" and didn't stray from the Om-pah-loom-pas.Instead he's just another casualty of the Bavarian Festival lifestyle. Just wear the damn red socks, Hans. 


Ashie62 said...

As a German this is hilarious...

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Glad you enjoyed, Ashie. I'm German, too!