Germany, live music, restaurant reviews

A live jam session at Tommi’s Bistro!

Yesterday, after several days of eating Hello Fresh meals, I was craving a good steak in the worst way.  We happen to live within walking distance of Tommi’s Bistro, an excellent steak restaurant.  Although Bill had been planning to cook this week’s chicken dish from Hello Fresh, I was all about going out.  It wasn’t too hard to convince Bill to change his plans since he’d been sitting in 90 minutes of traffic and was in no mood to cook anyway.

Obligatory shot of Bill…

Last night was Thursday, so I had a feeling there could be live music at Tommi’s, though nothing was posted on their Web site.  We usually go there on Fridays, when nothing is going on.  Since I am also a music lover, I was pretty curious about how good the music is at Tommi’s.

When we arrived at about 7:00, most of the tables were reserved.  There were two very large tables that weren’t spoken for, so Bill and I took spots by the window.  I looked up at a sign and saw that yes, there would be live music later.  Knowing that Bill had to go to work today, I figured we’d just eat and stick around to hear a couple of songs.  Sometimes, I’m so dumb.

We ordered a bottle of wine and two dry aged Argentinian rib-eyes with baked potatoes, which came with house shots of sherry.  I will reiterate that despite being in little Unterjettingen, Tommi’s offers excellent steaks.  In fact, I think they are among the best I’ve had in Germany.


Early numbers.

As the hour got closer to 8:00, people started showing up to claim their reserved spots.  Musicians started setting up.  It looked like a very casual set up.  The band members appeared to be laid back older guys with day jobs.  No one wore sequins or leather pants.

We finished our dinner just before the music started.  A young girl of about fifteen or sixteen with an acoustic guitar, apparently a student at a nearby music school, joined the band and played a very impressive version of “Dust In The Wind” by Kansas.  Then they played “Tears in Heaven”.

I noticed a couple of other folks showing up who appeared to be musicians.  One was a young guy with a Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt and an electric guitar.  Another guy had a harmonica.  And there was a young woman wearing a hat and I could tell she was the resident singer.  One of the waitresses on a previous visit had mentioned her.

Bill and I were eventually joined at our large table by a couple of older German guys and the wife or girlfriend of one of them.  I noticed she kept sneaking looks at us.  I couldn’t tell if she was curious or annoyed, since we obviously weren’t part of what is a local and very enthusiastic crowd.

The Lynyrd Skynyrd guy got up and played “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama” with the band.  They did a damn good job with the music, though I noticed that none of them really knew the words to the songs.  “Sweet Home Alabama” was a little truer to form, though of course they really shined on the jamming part of “Free Bird”.  Then they played a ZZ Top song that I didn’t recognize.

Watching the band play suddenly reminded me of the last time we went to a fest and the band kept playing “So Lonely” by The Police and no one knew the words.  They kept sing the chorus over and over again.  Most everyone was either high on life or beer, so it was very much a happy celebration of music.  That, along with the sight of 19 year old drunk guys with bras on their heads is an enduring memory from the Canstatter Fest of 2007.  After that, my brain was riddled with two mas krugs of fine German suds and things get a little fuzzy.

Lynyrd Skynyrd guy was tearing it up!

On the way back from the bathroom, I stopped to tell the young girl with the guitar how much I had enjoyed her playing.  I had to do it in English, though I did add a couple of German words to emphasize my point.  She totally beamed at me.  It was really adorable.  I have a feeling pretty soon she’ll be getting a lot more kudos from strange people like me.  She was very good.

As it got closer to 10:00, Bill and I decided we needed to get going.  After we paid the check, we  made another pit stop.  The acoustic guitar girl was getting ready to leave and we said “Tschuss”.

Then I saw the guy with the harmonica standing in the foyer with all the smokers.  He was also very skilled, so I complimented him on his playing.  We struck up a conversation and I told him that I like singing.  He suddenly got very excited and asked me what songs I know.  I mentioned a couple that he didn’t seem familiar with.  Next thing I knew, he was working very hard to get me on the stage.  I gave thought to making a run for it, but then the resident singer got up and sang blistering renditions of “I Put A Spell On You” by CCR and “Long Train Runnin'” by the Doobie Brothers.  She was very impressive!

The time inched closer to 11:00 and I thought maybe we’d have to come back again sometime.  I was telling harmonica guy that we also needed to go after he told us that the bass player was going to have to go home because he had to work today.  “So does Bill!” I called after him after he ran off to see if he could squeeze me in somehow.  I was amazed by how eager this guy was to get me in front of the people.

Then the band broke into “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix (though their version sounded more like Sting’s, luckily for me).  I sort of know that song from listening to Sting’s version for years.  I was also a little drunk and certainly not prepared to join the band.  Nevertheless, harmonica guy, name of Gunter, hustled me toward the stage– I mean, he literally pushed me up there.  So I gave “Little Wing” the old college try… and I remembered maybe half the words.  Finally, during the last verse, I ad-libbed new lyrics, which turned out surprisingly well…

They went something like this, though my memory is a little hazy:

I’ve forgotten half this song…
I’ve been drinking so much, I need to go home.
It’s alright, it’s alright, I know.  You’re all good sports.
All I need to do tonight is refresh my memory.

I’m an American in Germany!
I’m so glad I’m here
Cuz’ I do love your beer!
It’s alright, it’s alright I say… 
All I need to do is learn some songs.

I got quite the warm reception and the new lyrics totally worked.  Most everyone seemed to understand that I was pulling the words out of my ass.  To be quite honest, I get a huge rush when I get to sing with live musicians!  I shook hands with the band and wished everyone a good night (in German, no less), then after I congratulated the resident singer with the powerhouse pipes (and she returned the sentiment), we hit the road.  Music is definitely an international language, though everything they did at Tommi’s last night was in English, anyway!

Needless to say, Bill and I had a great time.  I can’t believe the luck we have, living in a town within walking distance that offers open mic nights.  We’ll definitely be back, if only just to watch and listen!  On Saturday nights, they have live bands that come in.

Damn, Germany is fun!


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