Hubert von Goisern on tour in America


In March Hubert von Goisern took the Federn Tour 2016 across the big pond to where it all began: America. Musical explorations of the south of the USA were the inspiration behind the album Federn, which reached number 2 in the charts on release. What he brought back with him from Tennessee and Louisiana was carefully crafted, from the powerful rock numbers and swinging country songs to the heavy-hearted ballads. Pedal steel and electric guitar, Cajun and accordion. It's all Goisern - as American audiences in New York, Washington D.C. and Austin discovered.

Datum Ort Venue
09.03.16 USA - New York Austrian Cultural Forum
10.03.16 USA - New York Rockwood Music Hall
12.03.16 USA - Washington D.C. Austrian Cultural Forum
19.03.16 USA - Austin/Texas South by Southwest

Goisern goes USA

9th September 2016 | Photos: © Servus TV

A musical journey through America on Servus TV

America inspired Hubert von Goisern to his last album Federn. In 2016 he was drawn as a globetrotter and musical ambassador to the very country about which so much is written and said. Together with his band and pedal steel guitarist Bob Bernstein the Upper Austrian travelled the USA. Along with the motivation of testing out his fusion of alpine and southern states sounds on an American audience for the first time, one thing in particular drove him: the desire to build bridges. "I think it's a real shame that there's such estrangement between the societies of the United States and Europe, a mutual misunderstanding", the musician says before the start of the journey.

Goisern travelled from New York to Washington D.C., Los Angeles and on to the most important international conference in the music industry, the South by Southwest-Festival (Texas). Especially inspiring were the meetings with musical colleagues such as Richard Gibbs and Tito from the band Tito & Tarantula. Goisern shares his view on subjects such as the US election campaign and the difficulty in overcoming one's own prejudices.

Hubert von Goisern listens to the silence

Salzburger Nachrichten 13th October 2016 | Text: Bernhard Flieher

Ten concerts to go before the end of the month.
Then Hubert von Goisern will be stepping away from the stage for some time.

Hubert von Goisern said one time before - 22 years ago - that he was going to take a two year break. That turned into seven years. It won't last that long this time, says the 63-year-old musician.

As of today, Austria is on the tourplan one more time. Linz and Vienna have already been done on the Federn Tour. On Monday he'll be coming to Salzburg to the Großes Festspielhaus. Then there are another seven shows in Germany.

"These will be my last concerts for a long time", says Hubert von Goisern. It's not that he has "grown tired of the stage and tour life. But the Federn programme is "getting a little long in the tooth". The album was released two years ago. He'd already played the songs live before then. For something new to now be able to be develop , he needs "silence" in order to hear within him whether "whether there's anything there that just has to come out".

In the new documentary Goisern goes USA, which can be seen today, Thursday, on Servus TV, there's a clue as to in which direction things could develop. At the end, the idea comes up of playing with a Mariachi band.

There were four concerts in the USA in March - two in New York, one in Washington at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. The Goiserer had already played in Austin and New York back in 1994 - at the height of his success with the Alpinkatzen.

The US dates were actually meant to have rung in the break and with it the end of the long collaboration with his band Severin Trogbacher, Alex Pohn and Helmut Schartlmüller. They've played around 400 concerts since the first rehearsal together in November 2006. Three studio albums and two live albums were made.

The Goiserer also set off on a musical search for clues beyond the stage in the USA, in a country whose musical roots shaped the album Federn more than any other album of the Goiserer's. Years ago the Goiserer began to take a look at American music traditions such as Cajun and country, and roots music. He followed his desire to "to better understand America", this country that over the course of many years had transformed from the Land of endless possibilities into "a land of endless impossibilities". And he also tried to find colleagues in Nashville and New Orleans who would join him on an exploration between the Mississippi Delta and Lake Hallstatt. Instead of openness, he was met at times with "unfathomable ignorance" Thus he returned feeling "more estranged" than he'd been before the trip. Now - a few years after the first, failed attempt, many concerts and the success of the cinema documentary Brenna tuats scho lang - Goisern goes USA shows that things can go better in the so-called land of endless possibilities.

Director Jens Pfeifer accompanied him. In Goisern goes USA there are many scenes when you see the Goiserer up close and personal - for example when he talks about the unfathomable nature of the current election campaign, about his idea of a bridge functionality in music, or about the weight of prejudices towards the unknown.

Doubts always travel with you, says Hubert von Goisern in the documentary, the drawback of which is that some worthwhile approaches are only touched upon by the director. Obviously it has to always continue quickly to the next setting, so that all the stops of the journey (including alphorn playing at Joshua Tree National Park) can be shown. What becomes clear though, is that after early disappointments, the mood lifts.

Accompanied by pedal steel guitarist Bob Bernstein, who stands on stage with the Goiserer on the current tour, the hope for openness is fulfilled. The Goiserer jams in Los Angeles with Tex Mex musicians, who like him recognise the relationship between the musics of the world. At a short session, a purely alpine-rooted song such as Krippensteiner unfurls in boundless breadth between these worlds. And something one of the Mexican musicians says seems a good basis on which something new could grow in the Goiserer's break: "He doesn't follow any rules."

The Goiserer's statement on the length of his break. "I intend to keep off stage for two years."

Live: Großes Festspielhaus Salzburg, 17th October. | Documentary: Goisern goes USA. Servus TV, Thursday (20.15).

Hubert von Goisern on tour in the USA: Photo travel diary

March 2016 | Photos: © Hubert von Goisern

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Hubert von Goisern: Live at the SXSW Festival - 19th March 2016

Rock Paper Scissors 20th March 2016 | Photo: © Samantha Brickler
Hubert von Goisern

Hubert von Goisern and Enrique Martinez in the studio

17th March 2016

After concerts in New York and Washington D.C., Hubert von Goisern's travels led him to the west coast of America. In California, he paid a visit to the Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica, where there was a fruitful session with pedal steel player Bob Bernstein and several well-known representatives of the American and South American music scene: René Camacho (bass), Enrique Martinez (keyboards/accordion), Freddy Ramos (guitar), Martin Flores (drums). As the musicians jammed together, the musical traditions and roots of Austria, Spain, Mexico and America were explored and shared.

"Alpine Grunge" or "Folk Rock 'n' Roll"?

Music Information Center Austria 16th March 2016 | Text: Markus Deisenberger

What hasn't this man been accused of: denigrating folk music, being a cultural imperialist and even awkward. But let's be honest: all these accusations have constantly bounced off like rubber balls off a squash court wall. And while most of these charges sound as laughable today as they did back then, this man is still one of the most successful Austrian pop artists, without having ever even wanted to be.

Hubert von Goisern experienced his first career with the Alpinkatzen band, whose breakthrough was the album Aufgeigen stått niederschiassen (1992). He had hits with Heast as nit, Weit, weit weg and not least the inescapable Koa Hiatamadl which are still valid today: from Ö3 to Austropop, from Radio Wien to the beer tent. At the time someone in a short documentary called the mix of earthy rock and folk music "alpine grunge" – yes, it was the time when bands such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana had taken off and people wanted to market Hubert von Goisern's music in their wake, though in principal it had little connection with it.

Later the term "alpine rock" became more common. But however you want to characterise the music of Hubert von Goisern and the Alpinkatzen – Hubert von Goisern himself paid no heed at all to these genre designations - the fact is that a completely new style of music had been invented. In hindsight it can be said that this album opened the door for such diverse acts and artists as Broadlahn and Bluatschink.

Today Hubert von Goisern has long been a brand that has appeal far beyond the borders of the Austrian dialect speaking world. He fills auditoriums in Germany and is also a known name in many other countries across the globe thanks to his numerous tours and travels. This year, he's also appearing at the renowned Texan music festival South by Southwest (Saturday, 19th March 2016), which in itself shows with what great appreciation this artist is regarded internationally. Dates in Austria and an extensive tour through Germany are to follow.

Over the course of his career Hubert von Goisern has released more than 20 albums, the most recent of which being Federn, released in May 2015. Almost at the same time, the biographical documentary film Brenna tuat's schon lang (Still Burning) from filmmaker Marcus H. Rosenmüller celebrated its premiere. In this film Goisern explains that from the beginning his stage name was meant as an act of revenge, since he had never felt accepted in the town from which he came - and he has only ever played music for one purpose: to build a bridge between people.

Wanderlust as a lifelong companion

Nowadays there's barely a stage photo in which you don't see Goisern with his Styrian accordion. It almost seems as though the two have melded into one instrument. He actually learned to play the Styrian accordion relatively late, at the age of thirty. The first instrument with which he was familiar was the trumpet. Hubert Achleitner played it in the local brass band and even in those early days, the artist's stubbornness showed: after disagreements about the repertoire and the length of his hair, Goisern withdrew from the brass band and learned to play other instruments (guitar and clarinet). He didn't encounter the accordion, which he taught himself to play, until much later. It was in his twenties that Goisern was first drawn abroad. He lived in South Africa and studied in Toronto, Canada. Wanderlust was to become a lifelong companion. One need only think of his commitment to the Jane Goodall Institute and for a free Tibet, which took him respectively to Tanzania and the Dalai Lama's seat in Dharamsala in India and always gave fans special band projects and/or music productions from these journeys. There's barely been a journey in Goisern's life that didn't musically enrich him and in turn us.

No question: Hubert von Goisern is a citizen of the world. And he takes almost every opportunity to prove that. Many will still remember the Linz Europe Tour, a tour planned across two years, which led through many European countries to promote the Linz 2009 – European Capital of Culture project: with a cargo ship converted to a stage, and a tugboat and barracks ship, band and crew, he sailed from Linz down the Danube to the Black Sea and then west to the North Sea. They docked at many places along the route to play concerts on board with local artists - concerts with free entry for the thrilled audiences on shore. The tour then had its grand finale in July 2009 with the Linz Europe Harbour Festival.

It's fitting that Hubert von Goisern once said that for him home is everywhere where he knows people. But of course the feeling of home is strongest in the Salzkammergut, which is not just where he's from, but also where he regularly plays concerts.

Despite all this grandeur, Goisern has always remained faithful to the small format, the more or less spontaneous concert in a manageable space - namely the "tavern concert", about which there is also a wonderful film: Tavern Tour with Hubert von Goisern. With a small band he hoofed it from the Großarltal over the Gschütt Pass into the Salzkammergut, from Frankenreith to Leopoldsschlag on the Czech border, from Ottenheim to Wenig. Accompanying them was a small camera team, which caught him and his musicians in intimate dialogue with the audience out in the sticks in Austria. What resulted was an excellent documentary, which showed the artist in a special light: as an approachable artist, as a person and a nature lover. In the natural world, he once said, he feels closer to divine creation than in any church. For music though, he needs the city. Everything's perfect in nature, the rustling and chirping. Music as a balance against the imperfection that surrounds us in the city? Perhaps. An attempt to transfer nature and its transcendence into the urban environment that is home to the majority of the Austrian population.

However the documentary Tavern Tour with Hubert von Goisern shows another of Goisern's facets, which directly disproves the accusation that he is denigrating folk music and modernising it where it needs no modernisation- something that the artist has faced since his early days: his absolute desire to maintain a certain sentimentality in folk music. His project Steilklänge can also be seen this way, for which he literally dug through numerous music archives and put together an extremely information cross-section of unadulterated alpine folk music, from every region of the Alps (Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Slovenia and Bavaria).

In May 2001 Hubert von Goisern received his first Amadeus Austrian Music Award as Best National Male Artist Pop/Rock. In his acceptance speech he criticised the Austrian music business and the country's radio broadcasters in particular for not sufficiently supporting national artists - a criticism that in the face of the quota discussions of recent years is more relevant than ever.

Hubert von Goisern was and is an intense person, who either dedicates himself body and soul to a topic, or simply lets it be. One of the many secrets behind why he is still so successful nearly a quarter of a century agter his first big success, is his versatility. He has thus far managed to reinvent himself multiple times and - bet you anything - will continue to do so.

And Hubert von Goisern has also always been an artist who doesn't beat about the bush with his political opinions. The fact that he has been described more than once as "awkward", doesn't necessarily speak to this country's approach to opinions and the freedom thereof.

The fact is: in a world in which folk music and standards are not mutually exclusive, in a world where daughters are included in the national anthem, Hubert von Goisern is the true and genuine "folk rock 'n' roller".

Hubert von Goisern: Live at the Austrian Cultural Forum, D.C. - 12th March 2016 14th March 2016 | Photo: © Bruce Guthrie

Accordion, pedal steel guitar and alphorn – they were all to be heard alongside drums, guitar and bass when Hubert von Goisern and his band showed what they were made of on Saturday evening. Their third concert in the USA led them to the Austrian Cultural Forum Washington D.C. – one of thirty such cultural forums worldwide. After a quick trip to Los Angeles, the tour will head to the Lone Star State at the end of next week: Texas. There HvG and his musicians will be appearing at the 30th SXSW Festival in Austin on Saturday, 19th March.

Hubert von Goisern

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Hubert von Goisern: Live at Rockwood Music Hall, New York - 10th March 2016

12th March 2016 | Photo: © Scott Friedlander

For his second gig in the city that never sleeps, Hubert von Goisern headed to the Lower East Side. Since opening in 2005 Rockwood Music Hall has played host to numerous artists and on Thursday evening HvG and his band brought the sound of the Alps combined with country, rock and blues to the venue's stage, delighting the New York audience. On Saturday the band's next stop lies 225 miles south: in the nation's capital, Washington D.C.

Hubert von Goisern and Band

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Hubert von Goisern on tour in the USA

Music Export Austria 10th March 2016 | Text: Michael Ternai

On his most recent album, Federn (Blanko Musik) Hubert von Goisern explores the traditional music of America, where the world musician from Salzburg is now on tour. Hubert von Goisern and his band will be making stops in Washington D.C., New York City, and a very special stop by the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Hubert von Goisern has been one of the Austrian music scenes most successful representatives for many years now. Not many Austrian artists have been able to remain at the top of the business as long as the ethno-musician from Salzburg. An unstillable curiosity for everything new is the main ingredient in the recipe for success that Hubert von Goisern has been following since his early days as a member of the legendary band Alpinkatzen. It has served him well. He is one of those rare musicians who are capable of consistently and successfully reinventing themselves.

Socialised in alpine folk music, the man from Bad Goisern has experimented with an astounding variety of styles and musical traditions. He was, and still is, a musical globetrotter; collecting experiences and impressions on his travels that find their way into his recordings. A process he has continued on his most recent release Federn (2015).

Hubert von Goisern and traditional American music

Federn takes the musician who once studied electroacoustic and experimental music at the Viennese Music School to the U.S.A; home of jazz, blues, bluegrass, rock 'n' roll and country. The traditional music of America is one of the final puzzle pieces in his life work and experiment with world music.

Hubert von Goisern has once again managed to unite apparent contradictions with his combination of Austrian folk music and the sounds of the southern U.S. The result is a collection of captivating and diverse songs, from electric guitars and powerful rock to swing and moving ballads. The extraordinary thing about Hubert von Goisern is that, no matter where or in what style the music might take him, he always manages to add his own, signature sound to it. A skill that is very much on display on the album Federn.

Hubert von Goisern: Live at the Austrian Cultural Forum, New York - 9th March 2016

ACFNY 10th March 2016 | Photo: © Christina Haller

Hubert von Goisern's Federn Tour 2016 celebrated its premiere in America on Wednesday night at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, where the band played to a packed auditorium. After another concert in the Big Apple at the Rockwood Music Hall, the whistle-stop tour will head to Washington D.C. and finally the renowned South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

Severin Trogbacher and Hubert von Goisern

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Gig Alert: Hubert von Goisern

Soundcheck 9th March 2016

Riotous cross-cultural musical fireworks tonight at the Austrian Cultural Forum, tomorrow at Rockwood.

Hubert von Goisern worked in a South African chemistry lab, studied flamenco guitar in Canada, learned tribal Philippine instruments, and all the while listened enthusiastically to Jimi Hendrix, Ravi Shankar, and Miles Davis alike. In short, he's obsessed with sounds. But none more so than the deep musical traditions of his native Austria, which he stews in Western rock and blues. Hubert von Goisern's new record is Federn.

Reclaiming the Lederhosen, Retracing the Sounds

Rock Paper Scissors 5th February 2016

Austria's Hubert von Goisern Goes from Alpine Enfant Terrible to American Music (Trouble)Maker

For a man who has tirelessly pushed the envelope of Austrian popular music, while somehow scoring hit after hit in Europe, Hubert von Goisern keeps it simple: "I like sounds," he insists. "I just like to get sounds out of everything," one reason he brings everything from accordion to nose flute into his work. "I bang on things, pluck, blow... I love getting things to resonate. I am not into virtuosity, even though I do appreciate it. I am just into sounds."

Yet behind that modest assertion lies a powerful curiosity, a burning desire to shake up tradition, both in his Alpine home region and worldwide, as part of a ground-breaking, chart-topping band and as a thought-provoking solo performer. Von Goisern has long nurtured a fascination with America's many sounds, exploring them on his latest (21st) album, Federn. He hears the Alps in Amazing Grace, and mashes up a Cajun tune with a well-loved and nearly identical ditty from Arnold Schwarzenegger's home region of Styria (Stoansteirisch).

Von Goisern hits the road once again, traversing the US on a brief tour that will take him to New York, DC, and Austin this spring.

"I myself thrive on the variety of music our world has to offer. The Alpine tradition is just one fascinating part," says von Goisern. "I think in times like this, we need to have an ear for each other."

Von Goisern grew up in a small Austrian mountain town, where Alpine music - the nationalist vibe, the folk schmaltz - was everywhere. He hated it. The radio offered a much-needed window into other worlds of rock, pop, and blues, the funkier sounds found on the European airwaves at the time.

Just listening wasn't enough. Von Goisern eventually wandered far and wide as a young man, taking in whatever musical elements he could along the way. His travels through South America and Asia for non-musical reasons led him to a revelation about his own heritage. "My fascination with other musical traditions developed during those times and made me question and reflect on my rejection of my own tradition. It was during my stay in the Philippines, that I decided to deconstruct alpine music and give it a new perspective. One of our slogans back then was: let's snatch the lederhosen from the Nazis."

The Nazis didn't stand a chance. Von Goisern started wrestling with Central Europe's peculiar past, wresting the wild, fresh sides from the cloying and tainted. He picked up the old accordion his grandfather had given him years before and forced all sorts of inspiring sounds out of the instrument. With a few like-minded musicians, von Goisern started the Alpinkatzen, a group that tore apart folk music, only to rebuild it into something that struck a powerful chord with young Austrians, as well as with the music business. The musician was busking in downtown Vienna, when a music exec from CBS Records heard him and offered him a deal.

"There was a craving for unburdened, uncaged music, for music that had a connection to our past, but without the shame, for music without the sticky candy-sweetness so inherent in most folklore," reflects von Goisern. "It was the desire for identity without the constrictions and demarcations that usually go along with traditions."

The band's second album sparked several major hits in German-speaking Europe and put von Goisern on the map. After several years of touring and regional stardom, however, the band played its last show.

Von Goisern has not been content to rest on his pop laurels, however. He has worked on soundtracks for feature and documentary films (when not starring in popular documentaries of his own). He turned back to the world, to collaborations with artists from Tibet and Egypt (Mohamed Mounir). He turned a cargo ship into a floating stage and performed a series of concerts with local musicians from Linz harbour to the Black Sea, a two-year project exploring the European Union's eastward expansion and regional traditions. The tour to celebrate the European spirit took von Goisern to nearly 15 countries, and he was joined by artists like Zap Mama, Rambo Amadeus, BAP, and Klaus Doldinger.

But the Alps stuck with him. After teaching at his son's school, von Goisern dived into Austrian folk music once again, hearing it as a musical primer of sorts. "If you want to sing together, you need a pool of common songs, and folk songs are like the ABC of music. There were only pretentious and embarrassing folk music recordings available at that time, so I did one myself that didn't feel that way," he recounts. "Just for fun, I told my management to organise a few concerts in small venues to round things out."

What started as a couple one-off shows became a tour of hundreds of theatres, concerts played to thousands. The tour ended in Timbuktu, at the Festival in the Desert, where Austrian traditions shared the stage with Tamashek, Malian, and all sorts of other musicians and music lovers from around the world.

Yet one of von Goisern's earliest and most sustained musical loves has been the roots music of the American South and jazz, as well as new music innovators like Cage, Glass, and Bernstein. He travelled extensively in the States, looking for torchbearers to jam with, soaking up the sounds in context.

The result was Federn ("Feathers"), a glimpse at the unexpected intersection of Central European and American folk music. Von Goisern catches that eerie connection between the honky tonk and the village fest, where pumping accordions (Es ist wahr) and raw brass (I bin ganz alloan), glittering lap steel (So a Segen) and Afrodiasporic riffs tangle (Am hell-lichten Tag). It's witty and gritty, and somehow thoroughly American, though sung in Austrian dialect.

The sound that is both here and there comes naturally to von Goisern, and is part of what he's dedicated decades to creating. "I am concerned by our transatlantic alienation, and my experience is that music does indeed help build bridges," muses the musician. "There is so much common ground, and it can be made audible."