24th day, Hamburg, Germany, Friday, 8th of november 1996, Fabrik
11.30 AM, we’re leaving Berlin. The weather is changing, but mostly sunny and cold. Lester is walking around with his headphones and because he can’t hear he is talking very loud. Today 20 years ago we’re on the way to Hamburg. Today is Shay’s birthday. Happy birthday Shay. It’s long time since. Hope you’re doing fine today, because 20 years ago your voice was gone. But still I have the birthday picture. Oh, yes, a whole lot of pictures have been made in Hamburg, because we had plenty of time and the club Fabrik is absolutely wonderful. Real cult and still open today!
Barney is driving slowly. There is another gas stop. Lester Stirling is asking if he could change into our van. In the blue van, there are bad vibes, as he explains. I would like to help him, but it’s impossible. Otherwise he always wants to play “Bangarang”. Another mission impossible. Laurel Aitken asks me again, if I want to come to England with him. He’s sure I could play 3-4 clubs in England. He calls me the wicked DJ. Finally Lloyd Brevett asks me, if I could come to join the US-tour. I’m very sorry to say no to all of them. I love them all and I would love to do so, but I can’t.
These all are good offers, but good for what? Switzerland is expensive and to be away for weeks or months means, you need money aside. I don’t have none. So, what can I do? I can’t leave Switzerland just like that. And to play 3-4 clubs in England doesn’t mean to survive with that.
Meanwhile it’s 4 o’clock PM and we’re arriving in Hamburg. First of all, we check-in Hotel Meridian. There is an underground car park for our vans, what a comfort. And the rooms are nice too.
In the rooms I find paintings (not originals of course) of the austrian painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser. That nice hotel helps a lot to uplift the atmosphere in the group and the personal mood.
This is my first picture I take of Devon James. He is such a nice man and concious. While we’re waiting to go to the venue. Laurel Aitken wants his picture of the beard men. I don’t have it, because, it was shot with Laurel’s camera. But someone took a rare picture of mine.
Then it’s time for Fabrik.
The venue is too great. You have to visit it, when you’re in Hamburg. On three floors you can watch shows from the top. Ossie the tour manager for the German shows and founding member of Grover records didn’t know that I’m around. I met him for the first time in 1992 in France at my first Skatalites show. He recruited two DJs for tonight, and as far as I remember it will be cast on the radio. Really bad luck for me. But, while I’m thinking about sence and nonsence, I meet a very nice man.
I have a 45 vinyl record with me, called “The return of Herbert Spliffington”. This is the man, as I guess. A great man and herb man too. I can’t show him my 7inch because I don’t have my records with me, what for. To say thanks in a very special way, Herbert gives me a little piece of herb. I won’t smoke it, but this story is coming up later (on November 18).
Meanwhile in the backstage there is Jamaican Papa Curvin that I’ve seen on the Loreley Festival in 1988. He’re is the meeting with Lester Sterling in the backstage.
The whole Hamburg possee is already here to welcome us. I’m out of it and I have a kind of day-off. So I take my time with Cutty Williams to freak around. This club is amazing. Even elephants seems to be normal in there.
A great man on a great elephant. I take another.
The Cutty wants to take a picture of mine. I don’t feel like, but finally he wins.
House of Rhythm is on soundcheck and I can take some acrobatic pictures of them.
Then it’s time to have diner. Right inside Fabrik, there is a nice place somewhere upstairs to eat.
From left to right and front to back: Nathan Breedlove, Barney, Lloyd Knibb, Rolando Alphonso, Will Clark, Kirk Thorne, Jeff Lucas (standing), Duncan, Jermey, Lloyd Brevett.
The show begins as always with House Of Rhythm.
After the show, we’re celebrating a lot in the backstage. Before The Skatalites went on stage, I ask Will Clark for a picture. He just get this beautiful gilet form someone. And I looks like the door.
Just a great man in beautiful cloths with a funny background.
Doreen Shaffer is the real star of the evening. The audience is celebrating her the most. I just take a little look from backstage into the audience. Everywhere lighters, like in the bush in Jamaica, like glow worms. All over. Then she comes backstage with flowers in her hands and big big smile. She is truly touched.
And the house of rhythm take her into their middle to celebrate with her.
From left to right: Jeremy, Bessa, Cutty Williams, Doreen Shaffer, Jeff Lucas.
It’s one of the greatest moments of this tour. And it’s Shay’s birthday, this is my offical birthday picture of the day.
I’m sorry for that, Shay, I’m sure, you forgive me 🙂
Here are some more pictures.
Overview Hamburg, Fabrik
- audience: approx. 700 (capacity approx. 900)
- catering: great
- backstage: great, with Herb Spliffington and Jamaica Papa Curvin
- diner: in the club, Lester & Barney almost forgotten
- DJ-set: not me
- HOR: good
- Laurel Aitken: good
- Skatalites: Doreen is celebrated with lighters and flowers, her best!
- hotel: very nice, comfortable
- room mate: Will Clark
- driving the next day across Denmark and loosing Bessa
Website today: fabrik.de
On the map is not exactly the way, we took. But we will play in Lund, Sweden tomorrow, and Bessa won’t be with us. Read more tomorrow.