Onkel Pö’s Carnegie Hall in Hamburg, located on Lehmweg 44, was in business from 1st of October 1970 until 1st of January 1986. It was the only location in Hamburg, or maybe even the only place in Germany, where all styles, from free-jazz to punk were allowed on stage.
…….The first licence from 1920 described the premises in the following words: “Bar serving alcoholic beverages, where bands may also perform. The location covers app. 220sqm and the maximum number of guests admitted is 180.” Failure to comply with this rule might have led to a loss of the licence. I had constantly one foot in jail. It was still cosy with 300 people squeezed in. With 350 it became a bit crowded. There were days when we lost control and I blame the alcohol. But 400 was really the maximum for our location, a space which was probably smaller than the living room of some of our stars…..
By all means our audience was particularly demanding, eager for new things and spoiled rotten. Sometimes it took a while for the cheers to start. Good performance was always demanded by the audience but nobody lifted a hand to clap. There was hardly ever polite or sympathetic applause. Our audience had a fine instinct and could be absolutely silent at the right moment and explode the next minute. Usually the crowd was a wild mix of devoted fans, musicians, media people and representatives of the record industry, of course. They were so persistently demanding encores, that bands often had to return back on stage three or four times on a single evening and eventually had to admit that they had no more new pieces and would therefore just start all over again. The people really got something in return for the 5 to 12 Deutschmark admission fee. Around half-past eleven at night the cashier left and absolutely everybody could just walk in. Nobody guarded the door……..
…..That night the bar was crammed with recording equipment from the NDR and we could only admit 200 people. Thank God they were jazz fans. Thus, low-maintenance and easily stackable. Besides jazz there existed no music for many of them. Of course they did not dance. They just nodded their heads from time to time. When it comes to drinking habits, there are two types of jazz aficionados. Some drink everything they can lay their hands on, others sip one small bottle of water the whole evening long. Even worse for the sale of beverages were the free-jazz fans, usually teachers and social pedagogues. This lot brought the water bottles along from home. When Harriet confronted them, it was not uncommon to get a reply such as this: “Existing is more important than the essence”. Oh, I see?!……
Holger Jass aus dem Buch „Mein Onkel Pö“ · www.offline-verlag.de