Kaltenberg-An Entertaining Trip to the Middle Ages

We did it again. We do Kaltenberg on every German trip. Look, here is the Grand Entry. The Kaltenberg Medieval Jousting Show and Marketplace is hosted at Kaltenberg Castle, the residence of the Duke of Bavaria.

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2017 Summer Pictures: Lakes in Bavaria, Castles in Switzerland, Fearsome Knights and More

My favorite 2017 Summer Pictures




























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Bob Everhart Lives for Old-Time Country Music

42nd National Old-Time Music Festival and Pioneer Expo

August 28 – September 3, 2017
Plymouth County Fairgrounds—LeMars, IA 51520

Funny, how a small Bavarian village (where I spent most of the summer) can harbor all kinds of memories. But country music? When the Ascholding riding club let out a few country western tunes, it sent me down memory lane. Those tunes sounded much like the skiffle group that I taped two years ago at Bob Everhart’s Festival at Le Mars, Iowa (above), or back then at guesthouse Lacherdinger.

EverhartCountry music was nothing new in Ascholding. More than 30 years ago, old-time country music ambassador Bob Everhart came to perform in my quaint German hometown. Maybe those stones got rolling there?
During his European trips, Bob and I and another few put several country music acts on stage in Germany. I will never forget when the Black Bottom Skiffle group heated up the fully stuffed “Saal” and eventually made off with all the door money, or when Jeff Doty ran up the phone bill mile high at my friend’s house. Kathl, by now almost 90 years old, still remembers the story. Jeff had the love-sick blues. Duh, that explains the phone bill. Luckily, there were more stints to come in Wolfratshausen and Munich.

Bob Everhart has been promoting traditional country music all his life. He has recorded classics for a select album for the Smithsonian Institute (Folkways Records), runs the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame, “live-streams” the traditional tunes (Wabash Cannon Ball etc.) at countless appearances and hosts every Labor Day the Old Time Country Music Festival in Le Mars, Iowa.

Bob Everhart is a country boy to the bone, as he reveals in his autobiography, “What I Saw”. Bob came from a day laborer family, which was terrorized by an alcoholic, violent dad and held together by a saintly mom. The singer had his first “radio appearances” in the Navy as a radioman. Maybe he also caught the travel bug there because the Navy took them as far as Japan.

Soon after his college studies, music fever led Bob Everhart into the hard-knock music business. Big record labels called the shots, and good bands got their songs stolen. In his early beginnings in the hard-hitting music industry, newspaper reporter Bob met the Rolling Stones when they toured America early in their career before the Battle of the Bands in Omaha, Nebraska.

Bob&MeI visited Bob’s Traditional Country Music Festival in 2015 and was amazed that his flagship event was still going. My friend Maria (also from Ascholding) faithfully played the zither there at several workshops as 30 years before. Bob apparently had not changed much; but he was close to 80 years old now (did I miscount?). How did he keep up this energy? Music keeps him young.

BobFolkwaysEventually, I stopped at the festival information booth. Boy, some of these photos seemed familiar. When I was a student at the University of Texas, I attended Bob’s Old-Time Country Music Festival several times. And took pictures. Yep, some of my snapshots stuck out of the photo display. Bob had kept them all these years! Even Bob’s Folkways album cover seemed awesomely familiar. I remembered that performance in the 80ies. I came to Iowa from the University of Texas. Could I have taken the picture for the album cover and didn’t know it?

Bob Everhart has a fabulously strong voice, Nashville-good. But he didn’t want to go that route, selling out to the music industry. He decided instead to serve the Midwestern people’s old-time music and friendships. It’s no easy feat to pull off such a large festival each year. Seems the audience has gotten a little older. But many young musicians join the lineup just as well as the old faithful make the pilgrimage to present faithful crowd pleasers.

If you like traditional people’s music and want to spend a couple of casual days with friendly people, the Traditional Old-Time Country Music Festival is just the right place for you.

More information about The Old-Time Country Music Festival: Le Mars Music Festival


Bob Eberhart & Sheila & Bobby Lhea

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Arnold Annen–An Extremist in Ceramics: Illuminations

DSCF1028Arnold Annen ist ein Keramik-Poet. Hier (oben) eines seiner Designs, das er der Natur (Mikroben) abgeschaut hat. Wir haben ihn und seine Partnerin Violette Fassbaender–unsere Freunde–kürzlich besucht. Beide Künstler sind einzigartige Keramik-Pioniere, Arnold mit seinen zerbrechlichen Schalen, Violette mit ihren marmorierten “Steinen”.

Our friend Arnold Annen from Basel, Switzerland, creates poetry in porcelain. His large bowls and luminescent sculptures are paper thin. His partner Violette Fassbaender, herself an accomplished ceramicist, helps Arnold push the edge of a fragile art.

We recently stayed at Arnold and Violette’s house amidst scores of highly exclusive, one-of-a-kind artifacts. All pieces of their collections were mindfully arranged to evoke a symphony of inspiration.


In 2014 Arnold, who has gained much recognition in Europe and Japan, won a prestigious award at an international ceramics show in Chicago, Best of Show at SOFA.

SOFA CHICAGO_award_ Galerie Officine Saffi Milano

Who would have guessed this world fame when Arnold was born in the small town of Gsteig (Gstaad, Switzerland) in a small farm village. Arnolds relentless passion for the ceramics process drove him to perfection. Among of our most priced household possessions is a pair of paper thin porcelain cups that Arnold gifted us.

Violette’s concept in ceramics is drastically different. She creates organic patterns from different colors of clay at different stages of moisture to build them into objects resembling rocks from nature. Organic patterns as in nature.


DSCF0970_rockThe detail in Violette’s hollow “rocks” tells stories of ancient magma–or an observant walk through the Swiss Alps. Eye-catching blocks of “Urgestein” shape-shift in the sheen of daylight versus dusk. She also has perfected her technique since she began her organic quest in Japan. Her deceptively casual patterns require a high level of skill, simplicity, and abstraction. The soul search. Or the simple admission that there are no accidents in life.

We spent some wonderful hours with these two remarkable artists who we are glad to call friends. Their hospitality is heart-warming as well. We enjoyed some very tasty, home-cooked meals at their house. Memories.


There is much more to know about Arnold and Violette’s art. Further reading:

ARNOLD ANNEN in Neue Keramik, 2014


Arnold Annen & Violette Fassbänder

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Standing Rock: Clean Water for All of Us

20161111_142116“Water Is Life” No debate about that. Thousands of people from all over the world gathered last fall 2016 at Standing Rock Reservation for a camp out. The Dakota tribe protested the pipeline because the DAPL violated tribal autonomy, desecrated cultural treasures and gravesite, and put the water resources–above all the Missouri River–in great jeopardy. To no avail. After a short-lived halt of construction by the American Corps of Engineers, the pipeline was finished by executive order and the protesters cleared away in January 2017. There are many stories of camp endurance, nonviolent resistance, and bravery in the harsh Dakota winter. Solidarity and support (such as donated wood-burning stoves from Germany) poured from all over the world.

Listen to this Native American speaker at a Phoenix solidarity protest march.

Nevertheless we humans keep building industrial conundrums. In the process we are soiling & spoiling our water resources. Industries sprout like there is no tomorrow. What kind of tomorrow will it be? The Dakota Access Pipeline is finished and open for business. Pipelines spill all the time. Only we don’t hear much about it, unless an offshore drill platform bursts into flames–mega disaster. Deep Water Horizon?

Here is a much better horizon: Nature listened to people at Standing Rock and sent its buffaloes.

People from all over the world joined the Dakota Nation for Thanksgiving 2016. Native Americans are the Greenpeace of our times. We all need clean water. The descendants of Sitting Bull and Red Cloud are still fighting the legal battle for sovereignty and the environment. Let’s stand with Standing Rock. The debate about water is here to stay.

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