Kurz vorweg: Ich arbeite für das Tonträgerlabel Blue Rose Records, das sich dem Genre „Americana Music“ verschrieben hat. Vor etwa einem Jahr kam Werner Michels auf mich zu mit dem Anliegen, eine Gruppenreise durch den „Wilden Westen“ der USA mit dem krönenden Abschluss beim 3-tägigen Braun Brothers Reunion Festival in Challis, Idaho durchführen zu wollen.
Ich erklärte meine Bereitschaft, bei der Planung mitzuhelfen, war ich doch bereits zwei Jahre zuvor auf besagtem Festival, das praktisch alle Spielarten der Americana Music abdeckt. Die Reise war, so kann man zweifellos sagen, ein voller Erfolg. Alle Teilnehmer verstanden sich auf Anhieb, es gab keinerlei Reibereien und Grüppchenbildungen.
Der Reisebus war sehr komfortabel, Fahrer Bernard Wheeler machte einen tollen Job bei Tag- und Nachtfahrten. Dank Werner Michels unternahmen wir so nebenbei auch noch eine „Studienreise“, denn er erzählte während den Fahrten viel Wissenswertes über Land und Leute, über Gepflogenheiten und Geschichtliches. Die ausgewählten Hotels waren prima bis sehr gut, die organisierten „Events“ wie Abendessen im Restaurant Irma, der Besuch des „Centers of the West“ sowie eines Rodeos, alles in Cody werden allen Teilnehmern in Erinnerung bleiben.
Für die Facebook-Seite von Blue Rose Records habe ich einen kleinen Blog gemacht mit den Highlights der Tour, den ich hier zusammengefasst habe. Er ist zwar in englischer Sprache gehalten, sollte aber dennoch verständlich sein.
USA-Trip Day 1: Frankfurt – Washington, DC – Denver, CO
USA-Trip Day 2: Denver
We spent the first day of our trip in Colorado‘s Capital Denver. First stop was the very impressive capitol, followed by visiting the grave of William F. Cody, better known as the great Buffalo Bill, at Lookout Mountain in Golden. Lunchtime was spent in Golden before continuing to the incredible Red Rocks amphitheatre where everyone big in the music business has performed. Of course music lovers like record stores so nine of us went to „Twist & Shout“. The ninety minutes ran by too fast but everybody left the store with lots of additions to their record collection. Final stop was at Annie‘s Bar at Colfax Avenue for a great dinner.
USA-Trip Day 3: Denver, CO – Custer, SD
First stop after an extensive breakfast was a shopping stop at Walmart and another stop at a liquor store where we refilled our beer supply with a good quantity of Shiner Bock. Next stop was Fort Laramie with rebuilt barracks and houses. The rest of the day was spent on the road. DJ Edgar Heckmann entertained the travellers with great music from albums by the Jayhawks, Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Chris Hillman, Blackberry Smoke, Greta Van Fleet, Wild Feathers, Michael Stanley, Turnpike Troubadours and more. Our *** and wandering encyclopedia Werner Michels told us a lot about American history and local facts. Custer in South Dakota was our stop for the night where hundreds of bikers filled the town with motorcycles and their noises – a first impression of what’s going to happen the next day…
USA-Trip Day 4
A very busy day: First stop was at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a sculpture carved in the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a batholic in the Black Hills, showing the four US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Not very far away is the Crazy Horse Memorial which will became the world‘s tallest sculpture created by humans. Right now only the head is done and nobody knows how long it will take until it‘s completed. I don’t think that anybody who is living now will be able to see the final version.
Next stop was the town of Sturgis where the annual motor bike week was happening. Ten thousands of bikers are filling the streets with their motorcycles and hundreds of temporary stores are making a fortune with selling t-shirts, biker clothes, patches, jewelry, helmets, drinks and food. It‘s just impossible to describe what‘s going on, you have to see it.
We had tickets for a show with Blackberry Smoke at the world‘s largest biker saloon „Full Throttle Saloon“, a parallel universe 7 miles outside of Sturgis. The whole happening reminded me on the „Mad Max“ movie with all the weird custom bikes, the mostly tattooed people with black leather clothes, the sculptures of cars, bikes, and engines, table dancing ladies on the bars, loud music and lots of alcohol. Very surreal.
The bad thing of this night was that we couldn‘t stay for Blackberry Smoke. Although the show was announced for 8:30pm on the internet the schedule at the venue said 10:30pm. Too late for us since we had to drive back the 90 minute distance to Custer. Bummer! But I think at the end we made the best out of it.
USA-Trip Day 5: Custer, SD – Cody, WY
We had to get up pretty early – a 400 mile ride was ahead of us. But we had enough time to make a 45 minute stop in Deadwood. This small town (kinda tourist trap) became pretty popular because of two characters from the Wild West: „Wild“ Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Both are buried here. In the recent past Deadwood got to fame because of the TV show called „Deadwood“, probably the most realistic TV show about the West in the late 1800s.
While heading towards Cody in Wyoming several people of our group introduced CDs they really like, old and new. Very entertaining!
Right on time for dinner at Buffalo Bill’s hotel „Irma“ (named after his daughter) we arrived in Cody. Great dinner at the accompanied restaurant.
USA-Trip Day 6: Cody, WY
With the visit of the „Center of the West“ we learned a lot about William Frederick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill. The afternoon was free for everyone, using the chance to do shopping, having lunch, taking a nap or going swimming in the motel‘s pool.
At 6:30pm we had dinner at the „Center of the West“ followed by a live show at the same room by „Dan Miller‘s Cowboy Music Show“. Dan Miller himself with his lovely daughter Hannah on fiddle and ukulele and Wendy on acoustic bass. They offered the American songbook with great harmony vocals and funny jokes by Miller. Pretty entertaining 60 minutes.
Back in the bus for the Buffalo Bill Rodeo outside of Cody. None of us had ever been at a Rodeo before and I don‘t think that many will be going to another one in the near future…
Back at the motel we killed the last bottles of Shiner.
USA-Trip Day 7: Cody, WY – Rexburg, ID
Cody is the next city to the Eastern entrance of the Yellowstone National Park, just 50 miles away. Yellowstone is the first (1872) and biggest national park in the USA with over 4 million visitors each year. It is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser.
USA-Trip Day 8: Rexburg, ID – Idaho Falls – Challis, ID
The main reason of this trip was the attendance at the annual Braun Brothers Reunion Festival in Challis, organized and ***ed by the Braun family with Muzzie und Joann Braun and their sons Cody, Willy, Gary and Micky. Over 30 years this 3-day festival is a highlight in their calender and app. 10.000 music fans all over Idaho and other US states are enjoying several styles of Americana music.
When we arrived at the entrance they couldn’t find our names and sent us to another booth. When we told them about our group the young lady at the counter was screaming „The Germans are here!!!“. They were awaiting us – what a nice welcome!
Day 1 featured Jeff Crosby & The Refugees, American Aquarium, Cody Canada & The Departed, Ned LeDoux and Micky & the Motorcars.
Braun Brothers Reunion Day 2 Part One:
Rosie Flores burned the house down with an unexpected rocking set with Reckless Kelly as her backing band. For „Wild Horses“ RK frontman Willy Braun came on stage and did a 10 minute version of the Stones classic.
Braun Brothers Reunion Day 2 Part 2:
The second day of the festival featured Jason Eady & Courtney Patton, Rosie Flores, Asleep At The Wheel, Corb Lund, and The Turnpike Troubadours.
Braun Brothers Reunion Day 3:
Day 3 started three hours earlier, at 1pm the Braun family began with Muzzie, and the following 70 minutes family members and friends came on stage switching lead vocals and swapping instruments. Next was Bruce Robison from Bandera, TX with the BBR Allstar Band featuring Josh Owen from Micky & the Motorcars on electric guitar and pedal steel, Cody Braun on fiddle and Willy Braun on drums! Suzy Bogguss, Mike & the Moonpies, Robert Earl Keen came next before Reckless Kelly closed the 2018 BBR with a rocking set.
USA-Trip Day 11: Salmon, ID – Salt Lake City, UT
Our trip is almost over. We left our „home“ in Salmon at 8am since we had a long way ahead to our final destination Salt Lake City. Not much to tell really, most of the day was spent in the bus. But it gave us the possibility to look back and realize what a great trip we have made. Lots of interesting places, a festival which exceeded all our expectations, finding new friends, especially the ones in our group, fantastic weather and last but not least great music!
USA-Trip Day 12: Salt Lake City, UT – Chicago, IL – Frankfurt