Hubert von Goisern


"We were the world"

Kronen Zeitung 27/09 | Text: Jürgen Zacharias | Photos: Alex Schütz /

For two years Hubert von Goisern gave concerts on board a flotilla of ships along the waterways from the Rhine to the Danube delta. Now the journey ends with a harbour festival in Linz. In the LiVE interview he discusses the smooth-talking at the ORF and explains why he tells everyone what he thinks.

Hubert von GoisernYour Danube journey is coming to an end with the Linz harbour festival. Melancholic?

There is of course a bit of melancholy, but it's nothing compared to the joy in having done the whole project. The past two summers were exceptional conditions in a positive sense. It was a constant challenge to keep the ship and project above water. But it's been great to float together on board through the landscape and to make imperceptible but constant progress forwards. The stress of everyday life fell away, we had everything we needed on board - we were the world.

What do you especially remember from this world?

The concerts. The one in Ismail in the Ukraine in particular, where completely out of the blue we were told that the show couldn't take place. The local mayor suddenly wanted our guest bands - Zdob Si Zdub from Moldova and Haydamaky from the Ukraine - to sing in Russian, he wanted translations of my lyrics. The two bands then refused. But when it was all looking as though we would have to cancel, we suddenly had 10,000 spectators and we sang in our own languages. That was an impressive experience.

A fundamental part of your Danube journey was its unifying character, bringing people together - did it really come into its own?

Sure. We were "am-boat-adors". We were able to soften many boundaries and make them easier to cross. We gained an insight into the lives of the people there and found that many of their problems and worries are the same as ours. These people don't just live on the same river as us, they tick just like us too.

Your journey was documented on television. Are you happy with the result?

I often get feedback from people who liked it, or those who saw the reports on Bayerischer Rundfunk, where they had much better viewing figures than the ORF broadcasts. The first part of the journey was filmed in five 30 minute episodes for the ORF, but was put in such an irrelevant broadcast slot that you really had to ask yourself if they were serious. The ORF invested a lot of money, co-produced and put in a lot of time and effort and then they broadcast it on Sundays in the summer at half past one in the afternoon on ORF 2.

Hubert von GoisernIt evidently really rankles you.

Of course. I have quite a fight with the ORF programme director Wolfgang Lorenz, because I'm not putting up with it. Then you get the smooth-talking from the gentlemen there. And then I can't take any more. I'd find it more honest for someone to say that nobody in Austria is interested. I could at least do something with such a statement.

Doesn't the situation seem familiar to you? You enjoy great standing abroad, but in Austria you're mostly reduced to your maverick nature and your song Hiatamadl. Has the prophet no honour in his own country?

It definitely also has something to do with the fact that I don't live in Vienna. If I was friends with everybody there, certain things would be much simpler. But it doesn't interest me. I'm not someone who mumbles away in the back rooms at these Seitenblicke parties, talking about the World Championship. Aside from that I - and I must be honest - am not diplomatic. I can't suck up to every idiot.

Does it hurt sometimes to not have the status in the place you come from of all places, that you are so happily given elsewhere?

That's just the way it is. Although I have my audience in Austria too. The difference is: in Bavaria nobody would come up to me and tell me that it's such a shame I stopped performing. It happens to me all the time in Austria. I was in Salzburg two weeks ago and a taxi driver said exactly that to me. For many Austrians, if it's not to be heard on Ö3, or the Kronen Zeitung don't report it, then it just doesn't exist.

Coming back to the harbour festival: what are you especially looking forward to?

I can't highlight one thing in particular. Many friends have asked me which of the three days has the best programme. And I've told them all that everything will be exciting and it would be best to come for all three days. There will be in total more than one hundred musicians at the harbour festival. It's a great condition for something unusual happening and for things really igniting.

Linz Europe Harbour Festival: The Finale

6th July 2009 | Photos: Sarah Marchant

On the last day of the Linz Europe Harbour Festival Hubert von Goisern and his band played together with Stelzhamma, Konstantin Wecker, Zdob și Zdub, Willi Resetarits, Wolfgang Niedecken and surprise guest Xavier Naidoo! [More photos]

Linz Europe Harbour Festival: Day 2

5th July 2009 | Photos: Sarah Marchant

On 4th July Hubert von Goisern welcomed on stage another group of artists from the Linz Europe Tour: Loredana Groza, Haydamaky, Haindling and BAP. [More photos]

Linz Europe Harbour Festival: Day 1

4th July 2009 | Photos: Sarah Marchant

On 3rd July Hubert von Goisern and his band played together with Philipp Poisel, Claudia Koreck, Karandila and Klaus Doldinger. [More photos]

Street music in Gmunden and Hallstatt

3rd July 2009 | Photos: Sarah Marchant

Hubert von Goisern and his band, Karandila, Claudia Koreck, Zdob și Zdub, Haydamaky and Klaus Doldinger played as street musicians in Gmunden and Hallstatt. Together on 2nd July they made a super atmosphere in front of enthusiastic and curious passers-by in the two towns. From 3rd July things really get going with the Linz Europe Harbour Festival in Linz harbour! [More photos]

The end of a great adventure

OÖN 1st July 2009 | Text: Bernhard Lichtenberger

Since yesterday Hubert von Goisern has been setting the mood on the 70 year old paddle boat "MS Stadt Wien" on the Danube in Linz for the three day harbour festival with which the Capital of Culture project the Linz Europe Tour - begun in 2007 - will be brought to a close.

How does it feel after two summers the musical vagrancy on the water comes to an end with the harbour festival?

Pretty tense, because a big cloud with a lot of rain to discharge needs to pass and hopefully we will have nice weather in the next few days. The arena is amazing and if I was a member of the audience I'd get here on Friday, put up a tent and not leave until it's all over. It's a dream place, I hope everyone will think so. The first taxi driver who took me here was ashamed, because nobody had asked him to take them to the model aircraft flying ground for 20 years and he couldn't find it.

Hubert von Goisern and KarandilaNo wistfulness?

It's a great joy for me to be meeting people again with whom I experienced such an intense time. I have no idea how I'll feel when it's all over. There's also a great risk because for a week a hundred musicians are getting involved with each other and something great, something cool should come from it that has never happened before, that can only happen when so many creative people are together. I don't think the blues will be so big when the project is over, because the friendship remains and there are plans to work together with many of these musicians.

So there isn't a sense of emptiness looming?

It would be really dumb if in the last 200 or 300 metres before the summit you started thinking about what it will be like back down in the valley.

What will people be taking with them from these three days?

Nobody will be able to avoid this colourfulness and variety that Europe has to offer.

As ambassador for the Capital of Culture have you had time to see the other Linz09?

As good as not at all, unfortunately. I was travelling the whole time and after the harbour festival we are still on tour until the middle of August. In September I intend to treat myself to what is still here in Linz09.

Hubert von Goisern drops anchor

Die Presse 1st July 2009 | Text: geme

The Linz Europe Harbour Festival, from 3rd to 5th July in Linz, is the high point and finale of a long journey: "An exceptional event rather than a festival," says the main celebrant Hubert von Goisern. The founder of "alpine rock" travelled for two years between the Black Sea delta and Rotterdam with his band and musicians from the countries they visited on a cargo ship converted into a concert ship. Now - with a heavy heart - he has dropped anchor in Linz again and is presenting the result of the musical exchange in the home port of the Capital of Culture 2009.

"It was a unique experience, I still get goosebumps when I think about it," says the 56 year old of his time on the ship during preparations for the festival. Music arose with the "river orchestra" that had never existed before and will never be again.

Despite the pain of goodbye, there is also good news: for him, the Cologne band BAP, the dialect blues musician Claudia Koreck, the Bavarian Haindling, the Ukrainians Haydamaky with their Carpathian ska, the Bulgarian gypsy brass band Karandila, saxophonist Klaus Doldinger, Konstantin Wecker, Stelzhamma, Willi Resetarits and all the others who will be on stage in Linz harbour with weekend: "There shouldn't be any more storms," von Goisern hopes. Perhaps the harbour festival with "Hubert von Goisern and Friends" will not be a goodbye in tears, but rather in sunshine.

Hubert von Goisern opens the doors for a jam session on a ship in Linz

Rundschau 30th June 2009 | Photo: Cornelia Emperger

The musical ambassador for Linz09 improvised with BAP legend Wolfgang Niedecken and others.
The harbour festival takes place from 3rd - 5th July.

Linz - On Monday Hubert von Goisern sent out an invitation to a jam session in the intimate surroundings of the backstage ship in Linz harbour. There the construction work for the three day harbour festival is currently going on in top gear.

In the romantic sunset atmosphere on the Danube Hubert von Goisern improvised with the gypsy brass ensemble Karandila from Bulgaria, the BAP legend Wolfgang Niedecken and the German singer-songwriter Claudia Koreck.

Von Goisern travelled Europe as a musical ambassador for Linz09: in 2007 his musical expedition to bring people together went to the east, downstream on the Danube to the Black Sea. In 2008 Hubert von Goisern started his second journey heading westwards to Rotterdam via the Rhine Main Danube Canal.

The three-day harbour festival from 3rd to 5th July will be the closing high point of Linz Europe Tour. Von Goisern will be playing there with his band as well as numerous musical travel companions who helped shape the tour.

Hubert von Goisern & Wolfgang Niedecken

Hubert von Goisern's river of life

Kleine Zeitung 28th June 2009 | Text: Gerhard Nöhrer, Bernd Melichar | Photo: Albin Janoska

Hubert von Goisern travelled the Danube for two years as ambassador for Linz 09.

Hubert von Goisern

You travelled the Danube for two years. First eastwards to the Black Sea. Then up to the North Sea. How would your summary logbook entry read?

It was an exceptional situation in all respects. As far as stress was concerned as well as the beauty of the encounters with other people. And the experience of nature! It's like in the alps. You can build a bit, but it was always remain nature. And a river as big as the Danube gives you that feeling too. With many, many kilometres, where there's nothing but the natural world to the left and to the right, nothing can be because the Danube is too dangerous when it leaves the shores. And it's fascinating that something like this still exists in Europe, where everything is made of concrete and fenced in.

You were in Bulgaria and Romania before they entered the EU - and were then there afterwards with the ship. What changes did you experience?

The surprising thing for me was that the people there are as afraid of us as we are of them. Fear that people will suddenly come along who buy up everything that they can't afford. And here there's the panic that they're all coming and will take away our jobs. Aside from that: of course all these countries have mafioso structures. And now people are afraid that in addition to their own mafia will come, as they say, the EU mafia.

How has the Danube tour changed you personally?

I have seen that it's not so simple to develop a sense of togetherness, but it is an exciting challenge. And it's not just difficult down in Bulgaria and Romania, but up in Holland too, to say nothing of France. They all have their own quirks. You're often told: we don't need you, what do you want here? In France, in Strasbourg, we weren't allowed to play. You have to imagine this: in the city in which the European Parliament has its seat, French local politicians prevent the mooring of a concert ship from the European Capital of Culture 2009.

Seemingly people are still afraid that they lose their own sense of identity as soon as a sense of "we" is developed.

"I" is a construction that should be challenged again and again. What is "I"? What constitutes me? Is it my parents, my environment? Have I inherited lots of other "I"s? Or is it really something that only I have and nobody else. "I" is mostly a hindrance. In contrast "we" - and "you" in particular -, that's something really exciting. It's always the case with an open exchange that I get something. It's as though someone lends you his eyes, his ears, his senses and his thoughts as well; so that you yourself become greater. Then you have four eyes, four ears and two brains.

Where would you see the European borders at the moment?

I can't for example imagine a Europe without Serbia and Croatia. Albania belongs to it too. As far as Turkey is concerned: the back country is still very far from what we would call civil rights. I say: yeah, okay, that's just like Borneo. Headhunting, blood feuds. And you think: Yes, that's bad, but it's so far away and that's how they want it. But in the case of Turkey, I ask myself: does it have to be so? I've got double standards already in my head. But no matter where the borders are: they shouldn't be like a wall, but rather penetrable.

The new Austrian government has been in office for a year. You couldn't get on with Alfred Gusenbauer so well, what do you think of Werner Faymann?

I'm not unhappy with Faymann. Aside from that I'm completely on Voves' side. I find it unbelievable that there's no inheritance tax. I think it's unbelievable that you can't talk about taxing the rich. I count myself among rich people and I'd find it completely okay to pay more tax than I'm already paying.

What are things like for an Austrian musician in Austria?

For years I was against letting myself be roped in to the demand for a quota. Now I'm at the point where I'm saying: quota, quota, quota. The ORF only thinks in quotas. The proportion of Austrian music on all broadcasters, in regional programmes too, is beneath contempt. And when you talk to the broadcasting managers about it, across the board they all think it's shit and rely on statistics and the coercion from advertising bods. Someone has to finally have the courage to say: Quota! Otherwise nothing will move.

How happy are you to come back home again after long tours abroad?

When you're away for such a long time, a lot gets a rough deal. Friendships, landscapes, sitting still too.

Is there a place where you'd be happy sitting still for ever?

No, but the land from Salzburg to Aussee, that's mine somehow. If you take it further the whole Alps is my homeland. Almost. I have a hard time with North Tyrol. I really wanted to love Tyrol. Like a woman you want to marry. But after the fifth declined proposal you ask yourself: why am I doing this to myself?

Where will the future be taking you?

I still have something to attend to in Africa. But that's still all in the planning phase and I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Old clichés and new realities

Der Standard 25th June 2009 | Text: Karl Fluch | Photo: Hannelore Mollnhuber

The first six months come to a close with the Harbour Festival: at Hubert von Goisern's invitation there will be familiar and unfamiliar live music from central and eastern Europe

KarandilaThe Karandila Gypsy Brass Orchestra consists of a good ten men. And one woman. Somebody has to sing. And that doesn't work out so well when you have to blow into the horn at the same time. There are a number of reasons for these dimensions. For one, the persuasive power of an ensemble is increased when nearly a dozen men are blowing through their instruments at the same time. Then there is the economy of it. When one plays at a wedding for example, it can be eight to ten hours before everyone is so tired and drunk that the dancing finally comes to an end. So the condition of the orchestra can be better distributed. And finally a musical battle commando with this power creates with all its imprecision a dynamic like no twelve-times synthesizer could ever generate.

The Karandila Gypsy Brass Orchestra was formed in Bulgaria in 1994 and will be playing at Hubert von Goisern's invitation at the three-day Harbour Festival in Linz 09 (3 - 5 July). Goisern began travelling the Danube in 2007 with a ship converted into a floating stage. As ambassador for the then future European Capital of Culture, he did not just promote Linz 09 and commit himself to the European concept, but also took interest in the music from the countries through which he was travelling.

Cliché and counter cliché

Goisern did not play just by himself in our neighbouring countries both near and far, but also worked together with regional artists, played music with them and invited them to the Linz Harbour Festival. Even the Karandila Gypsy Brass Orchestra is a cliché and counter cliché all in one. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain eastern European folk has boomed. But what initially exuded the appeal of the exotic has meanwhile become well-known. The eastern European musicians have changed under their new conditions, which suddenly allowed them to travel and to tour too of course.

Therefore the Karandila Gypsy Brass Orchestra is no pure folk-combo, they have long since connected their "gypsy music" with others styles. Afro beats are touched upon, as is electronic music. Yes, they've even recorded together with Shaun Ryder, famous and notorious from the British rave band Happy Mondays (Kinky Afro!).

Another of von Goisern's guests skilfully walks the tightrope between tradition and modern too, between old clichés and new realities: Antonije Pusic, better known as Rambo Amadeus crosses traditional music, the Andrew Sisters, soul, funk and pop.

The Montenegran musician and his songs often dripping with humour perfectly render prejudices against pop music from the east null and void. This sound, these songs, they could come from Rio de Janeiro, or New York, New Delhi, London - or even Belgrade.

Just as globally-oriented are the band Zdob și Zdub from Moldova. They call their music alternative or folk punk - and that's right. A metal guitar starts up, dancefloor beats, DJs and rap singing, or Grandpa's old wooden flute. It results in contemporary pop music, which deals with the area of tension between old and new dynamics and which is also a subject in videos such as that for Everybody In The Casa Mare. Plus, Zdob și Zdub is probably the only band on the planet who have played with Rage Against The Machine and Biohazard, as well as entering the Eurovision Song Contest.

But Goisern didn't just make discoveries in the east, there will be old and new familiar faces from Germany at the Harbour Festival too. Established names such as Konstantin Wecker, the grumpy Bavarian Haindling and his band, as well as Willi Resetarits & Stubnblues will (also in collaboration with Hubert von Goisern) be on stage.

Or Klaus Doldinger's Passport. Or German rockers BAP, who were once folk heroes in Germany with their songs performed in Cologne dialect.

Speaking of folk heroes: the world has another famous German musician to thank for Philipp Poisel, who will also be performing: Herbert Grönemeyer discovered the songwriter from Stuttgart and published him on his label Grönland.

New sensitive souls

Poisel is a new sensitive guy, who mostly performs his German songs with acoustic instruments, using strings and not shying away from baring his soul.

A good 15 bands will be performing over three days in Linz harbour, the host will be there on all three evenings. May the weather gods smile upon them!

It takes a harbour for the harbour festival

Linz 09 / APA 8th June 2009 | Photo: © Linz09 / Kurt Groh

The Linz Europe Harbour Festival from 3rd to 5th July 2009 is the crowning high point of the Linz Europe Tour 2007 - 2009 with Hubert von Goisern. Numerous musical guests, who helped shape the tour, will be together again on stage at the harbour festival.

Hubert von Goisern

Hubert von Goisern and Martin Heller in Linz

The Linz Europe Harbour Festival is indeed a unique event, Linz harbour will be the location of a festival for the first time in its history. The area is usually in use as a model aircraft flying ground and the infrastructure is undeveloped; linkage to electricity, water and sewerage has thus been a great challenge for the Linz09 production team. The power supply is now being guaranteed with emergency power units and long pipelines are being laid and containers installed for water and sewerage. The lighting for the entrance and festival arena will be fixed to existing masts and fences. A team of around 70 workers is responsible for the construction and during the festival around 100 helpers will make sure everything runs smoothly.

There will be reference to the Linz Europe Tour 2007 - 2009 for the artists and workers at the Linz Europe Harbour Festival too, with the ship the MS Wien, which will serve as a backstage area and provisional sleeping quarters. On board will be the kitchens and dining rooms for artists' catering, the production offices and the emergency services control room, as well as four luxury cabins, twelve smaller cabins and a sun deck.

In this idyllic atmosphere the sparks will fly at the Linz Europe Harbour Festival. This three-day concert from east and west takes up what was developed during the Linz Europe Tour 2007 - 2009 and lets more arise. Hard rock, sparkling pop and wild Balkan beats melt together to become a unique, frontier-crossing musical experience. The lineup promises an energetic concert adventure. Stars such as Zdob și Zdub from Moldova with their version of Hiatamadl, the lateral thinker Rambo Amadeus from Montenegro, or the "Romanian Madonna" Loredana Groza - to name but a few - bring Eastern Europe within reach. The more familiar, but no less multifaceted west will be represented by the great ship's guests of the west tour, among them BAP, Klaus Doldinger, Willi Resetarits and Konstantin Wecker. The best conditions for a festival at which musical collaboration is the agenda: the band will play their own sets and jam together too. Hubert von Goisern will be on stage time and again too, as well as playing his own set with his band each day. The ORF will be recording the highlights of the concerts.

It is not just the musical boundaries that will be blurred during these three days, but the culinary ones too, as the catering stands will be serving dishes from the musicians' respective homelands: Bulgaria, Germany, Moldova, Montenegro, Austria, Romania and the Ukraine.

A large number of the artists will be arriving a few days before the start of the festival. The idea is that they should get to know each other, play together and rehearse. They will also be out and about in Linz and the region, in order to really set the mood for the concert highlight with improvised street music and other spontaneous events. Goisern is leaving things open as to what constellation might arise from this. What's certain is that many are coming without their own bands and will be appearing with his musicians: "I have not yet seen an artist who has played with my band be as good with their own band," he says proudly of his "wicked troupe".

Hubert von Goisern's project: "Unbelievable act of strength"

Kleine Zeitung 13th May 2009

Nobody can accuse Hubert von Goisern of inactivity

Hubert von GoisernThe current S'Nix Tour runs to the middle of August, the finale of his grand Linz Europe Tour (the three-part TV documentary series Goisern goes West will be broadcast in the summer), for which he sailed up and down the Danube on behalf of the European Capital of Culture, takes place with a harbour festival in Linz from 3rd to 5th July. And now there is also a book about "The World of Hubert von Goisern".

No biography. "The book came about without my help," the musician assured during an interview with the APA, "it's not a biography, but rather Bernhard Flieher's view of things, which I don't find any less exciting." The culture editor of the Salzburger Nachrichten has followed the path of the musician born in 1952 in Bad Goisern via many stops, from his native beginnings, "far, far away" (as the book is titled) to Timbuktu and Dakar. "I haven't read it yet, I'm keeping it for the long autumnal evenings. Aside from that, I'm also writing a book myself. I'm almost finished."

Retrospections. Hubert von Goisern is writing about recent years, about his concert travels on the Danube. Unlike the TV documentaries (Goisern goes East has already been broadcast), which were a component of his Linz involvement, he has taken up his book project on his own initiative and does not yet have a publisher. The time spent as ambassador for the Capital of Culture ("I prefer am-boat-ador") was "an unbelievable act of strength", that will have its high point and finale at the harbour festival - with BAP, Willi Resetarits, Karandila, Konstantin Wecker and many more. "I hope it will be a fantastic final meeting, but so many contacts have been made that there are many mutual plans for the future too. Something happened here that can't be undone."

"Schaurausch". He "[hasn't] taken in much" of the Capital of Culture programme, just the "Schaurausch" for example, and the "Führer's Capital of Culture" exhibition. However the new Ars Electronica Center is "amazing: for that alone Linz should be congratulated." The musician thinks that the critics of the programme are normal ("In Austria we have a tendency to think that everything's shit), whereas he prefers to be the attacked rather than to attack ("Every attack is a spurt of energy") and he has "the greatest respect" for the work of Linz09 manager Martin Heller.

Programme. The ambitious "Hörstadt Linz" programme from Linz09 music director Peter Androsch is in Hubert von Goisern's opinion "super in concept, though I'm not sure to what extent it will be comprehensible for those who haven't read the foreword". He shares Androsch's finding that there is too much noise in the world and one should return to silence, "as long as it is not doctrinaire and the silence is not forced upon you." He will be looking for the silence again after all the turbulence, says the musician: "I'm not giving any concerts next year, I want to compose and tackle new things. I want to finally have so much unplanned time again that something new can develop from the silence."

"So much money spent on these crazy ideas"

Abendzeitung 7th May 2009 | Text: Andreas Radlmaier | Photo: Berny Meyer

Hubert von Goisern, in Franconia in the summer, talks in Nuremberg about his travel adventure

Hubert von Goisern and Bernhard Flieher

NUREMBERG - Haindling and BAP, Konstantin Wecker and Haydamaky, Klaus Doldinger and Willi Resetarits will be there at the Linz Europe Harbour Festival from 3rd to 5th July. With the "river orchestra" that forms a highlight of the Capital of Culture's programme on a model aircraft flying ground "right at the water's edge", Hubert von Goisern is certain that "things will develop, the like of which will have never been seen and will never be seen again." The "collaboration" is the finale of his musical ship adventure that took the Austrian from the Black Sea - via Nuremberg - to the North Sea. "The world is not the same for me as it was two years ago," said Achleitner, known as von Goisern, when he presented the results of his passion for travel at the Thalia Buchhaus Campe in Nuremberg.

He was there as companion to Bernhard Flieher, a Salzburg journalist and author of the book Weit, weit weg (Info). A Goisern pathfinder, that is more a musical journey report than a biography of a stubborn alpine stoic. Who looks for challenges between Texas and Timbuktu. And takes disappointments positively: the deceit will be overcome. For the searcher for sound, for the man for whom "the folk music issue is done" and who now wants to sound loud and uncomfortable again, "the joy of anticipation is often the only joy. Why should I give up on that?" So travel. Flieher reads about the desert festival in Mali and adds: "Membership in the club is more tiring that a journey into the desert." He should know: he has long been a member of Nuremberg Football Club.

Pictures and sounds of the Danube journey, of which BAP's Wolfgang Niedecken says that the idea could have been his own, flicker past. It immediately goes right through Hubert von Goisern. He extols the unique mania for prohibition in Bavaria, which Moldova surpassed hands down, and talks about "this crazy idea", for which he "has spent so much money": "I have resolved just to play in the German-speaking area now," he says. He starts his summer tour on 17th June at Burg Abenberg (Bamberg and Wunsiedel follow). He then wants to avoid public life, not give any more interview, not organise any more risks, just compose and play. But if someone invites him to Moscow and Costa Rica - why not?! Far away is still close.

At the end of the journey - a festival

Der Standard 30th April 2009 | Text: Karl Fluch | Photo: Petra Hinterberger

The journey as a concert: Hubert von Goisern's river journey leads to a three-day musical festival in Linz 09

Karandila on the shipThe Austrian musician Hubert von Goisern has travelled the Danube. Quite thoroughly. For Linz 09. Down to the Black Sea as ambassador for the Capital of Culture Linz. During the last two years. And where the blue Danube didn't reach, other rivers were accepted. On such a Linz Europe Tour the lore of the prospective Capital of Culture must be taken all the way to Amsterdam somehow too.

In 2007 Goisern began to visit European countries on a barge converted to a stage ship, delighting them with music. It was important to show not just what excellent music Upper Austrians can muster: Hubert von Goisern was of course also interested in the music of the various places to which he travelled.

Modern river adventure

Thus they did not just play and canvas the Danube, invitations to play alongside them were also made at the various stops. In Bulgaria for example, to the gypsy brass band Karandila - or to the Moldovan band Zdob și Zdub, who are stars in the Ukraine and Russia - thanks to the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest.

This modern musical river adventure cost a total of four million Euros, a third of which has been contributed by the city of Linz, main sponsor Red Bull raised a glass to a third and the rest Goisern met himself. Now the river journey is over, at half-time Linz 09 is musically celebrating Goisern's journey with friends with a three-day harbour festival from the 3rd to the 5th July.

Martin Heller, manager of Linz 09, says: "The harbour festival is something like a European summit of popular music. Here east and west are coming together on the stage and in the festival arena too - a European experience, that will get inside your head and under your skin."

Many of the bands and groups Goisern visited have accepted the invitation to Linz: the previously mentioned Karandila and Zdob și Zdub as well as the Montenegran Antonije Pusic, who as Rambo Amadeus plays a hybrid that he calls turbo folk.

Aside from the many Eastern European musicians, who have better success in the west with a taste of folklore than when they just re-enact western music, from the western hemisphere Willi Resetarits and bands like the Kölsch dialect rockers BAP have been invited.

A bit of collaborative playing

Further guests include the Bavarian fellow Haindling, the songwriter Konstantin Wecker and the German jazz musician Klaus Doldinger. Goisern will also be on stage on all three evenings - and will be tempted into playing with various guests.

"In the west not all that glisters is gold"

Oberösterreichische Rundschau 8th March 2009 | Text: Isabella Minniberger

Hubert von Goisern knows no bounds. He has conquered Europe with his floating stage.

You spent two summers sailing with a ship on a musical tour of Europe. Can you still bear to look at ships?

To be honest, I'm longing for a ship again. It is an unbelievable calm that the water emanates. I like the unhectic progress that is made. It was a great experience and I'd love to do it again. It was a unique thing though. With the cost alone, it was rather a miracle that we managed it.

With which expectations did you set off from Linz two years ago?

I set off with curiosity and didn't have any preconceptions. The experiences I had in Serbia and Ukraine were eye-openers. I thought I was an unprejudiced person. But when the people in the east surprised me by being so open, hospitable and pleased to make contact, I saw that I had prejudices too. On the one hand I understand why Serbia and Croatia are not yet part of the EU. On the other hand, I hope that they will be soon. At the moment they're rather like the castoffs of a family.

Has your concept of Europe changed and what have you taken with you from the journey?

My concept has certainly changed. I see Europe as a really exciting and partly still unexplored continent in which we live. And once more I have experienced that in the west not all that glisters is gold. Like the bureaucracy in the west, for example, and the hurdles put up by authorities, especially in Bavaria, Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Is there a difference between how the audience in the east and we Austrians approach your music?

In the east music is much more an article of daily use, which I think is a very positive thing. Here music is played at parties and special occasions. There they have fewer concert performances than we do. And the audience in the east is much more involved. Here there is often more distance. There's more devout listening. But it's down to us musicians to break through this distance.

Was your Europe Tour a success with regard to the Capital of Culture Linz 09 too?

Most certainly. For two years we took the concept of the European Capital of Culture to the people. But it is at the harbour festival that our cargo will be unloaded in Linz - then our tour will finally be history.

And what will this cargo in Linz harbour look like?

I'm bringing the Europe that I have experienced into the city. We will also be playing one or two impromptu street concerts in the city. Maybe I'll take all the musicians with me into my homeland, into the Salzkammergut. And there we'll paint the town red with the chamois.

Artists from across Europe at harbour festival

APA 5th March 2009 | Photo: Linz09

Heller, Goisern, HeinWilli Resetarits, Konstantin Wecker, BAP, the Bavarian shooting star Claudia Koreck, Klaus Doldinger, Haindling as well as countless artists from Eastern Europe will be on stage with Hubert von Goisern at the the Linz 09 harbour festival in Linz from 3rd to 5th July.

The concert forms the third and final part of Hubert von Goisern's Linz Europe Tour, after he spend two summers as ambassador for the Capital of Culture, sailing the rivers of the continent with a floating stage. He moored with his converted cargo ship in many European cities and played together with local musicians. Nearly all of them will be taking part again in the summer - this time at the harbour in Linz.

It is not quite certain yet whether Xavier Naidoo will come. Last year he stepped in for the poorly Austrian at a concert in Mainz. In just two days he put together a programme with Goisern's band and "deputised" for him in front of an audience that he was mostly able to win over. "It was something very special," Goisern said of the evening, which was recorded for posterity on video.

Hubert von Goisern will be on stage with different guests every evening at the harbour festival - "on land, but next to the water" - and will play a different set each evening. He hopes that synergies will evolve during the preparations. Only once the rehearsals begin "will one see who can or wants to do what with whom," he's leaving a lot open. Ticket sales for the harbour festival start on Monday, three-day passes are already available.