The Cuba Boarischen
Lederhosen at the Festival del Habano
Text: Gabriela Greess / Photos: Jo Lüders
If you unabashedly mix folk songs from Bavaria with Cuban salsa rhythms, then you’ve got a musical party at its finest on your hands – a lot of lederhosen-Caribbean fun with the Cuba Boarischen.
This kind of uniting of peoples between a proud Bavarian mountain folk and a patriotic Caribbean island gets the walls vibrating – fueled by yodelers, timpani and trumpets, but also from wild drums and the velvety Salsero voice of Hubert Meixner. To melt for, in the melodic Spanish of the Cubans, he sings about a mulatto love and a Cantinero innkeeper’s “Branntwein Frust” (“brandy frustration”).
You’re inclined to think of the legendary music of the Buena Vista Social Club. But then the band leader of Cuba Boarischen, with his men dressed in decorative costume, then drifts playfully back to the traditional Bavarian dialect: “Servus, habe die Ehre, sog amoi, wia geht’s da?” And then, suddenly, it’s about a beer tap from the uplands at Chiemsee. What fits perfectly to this is a pinch of “snuff” – with Bavaria being the stronghold of snuff. But the reality is far from it. On many trips to the tobacco island, the musicians from Rosenheim have discovered their love of Habanos.
So Andreas Meixner, the guitar-playing brother of the band leader, always makes sure that during the concerts – they play up to 100 per year – the tobacco fields of Pinar del Rio and Havanna’s cigar manufacturers are running in the accompanying photo show. The big aficionado from the band proudly remembers a Cuba Boarischen performance in Havanna, in the ball hall of the Hotels Melía Cohiba. “Late that night we were almost enshrouded by clouds of smoke from the best Cuban Puros.” That was at the Festival del Habanos, where the Bavarian ensemble played for guests of honor of the world’s most exclusive cigar shops. “We had on short lederhosen and were enjoying the beautiful Cuban women who were offering fine Habanos on silver platters.”
The Inspiring Smoke of a Cohiba
That the head of the band studied church music and plays Bach as adeptly as romantic Boleros was known only by a few at this performance. Hubert Meixner, a multi-instrumentalist like most of his folk musicians, also likes to enjoy a Cohiba Robusto after the performances. “The wonderful creamy smoke immediately takes me back to my second homeland”, he says. Perhaps that’s why he elicits such tantalizing folklore rhythms from his accordion. Accompanied by a tres guitar along with bongos, the band takes you on a courageous nosedive from Alpine Bavaria to the palm-tree lined tobacco island.
Contributing to this is also the Cuba Boarischen three-voice ensemble. “This is part of our musical tradition; with this we build a bridge to Cuba. But there the rhythms flow gently, like balls. With us it’s more like square dice”, says Meixner, making reference to the “lederhosen-clad musos” of his homeland. So it comes as no surprise that on their CD cover the traditional rustic musicians pay Cuba a generous compliment. “An island as beautiful as edelweiss”, they write in Bavarian. And it’s amazing how well the characteristic blue-white of the obstinate free state harmonizes with the Cuban flag. And those hearing Cuba Boarischen’s famous “Weisswurst-Äquator” (www.diecuba boarischen.de), will perhaps have a little giggle at how cross-grained folk musicians like these can also become exotic from a culinary perspective. Like in the song “Rehragout-Manisero”, in which the most-loved venison in Bavaria runs into a peanut seller from Old Havanna …