Saturday, February 7, 2009

Das Spardosen Terzett

Friday evening I was at the Grillo Theater here in Essen for a performance of the Spardosen Terzett. Die Spardosen are regulars at the Grillo, where they have a loyal following that enjoys their special blend of music, cabaret, humor and hospitality. They began with a short set of jazz inspired numbers and I was impressed in particular with how complete a trio made up of drums, bass and saxophone could sound. I really felt that the drummer was crucial to the mix. His playing was melodic and filled the gaps in what could have been a very thin sound. After warming up the audience, Die Spardosen introduced their "guests:" Weber-Beckmann, a voice/piano duo that performed in a similar vein, mixing humor with music. As the evening continued, Weber and Beckmann traded sets with the Spardosen and joined them on stage for an interview segment, a quiz (!) and the finale.

I was already familiar with the Spardosen Terzett from a video I saw a while back on YouTube. The song performed in the video spoofs a proposed Ruhr Region slogan that was first made public in March of last year. The slogan seemed so dämlich, I wanted to know more about it and thanks to the miracle of blogging, even almost a year later I can still follow the excitement. From the very first news story in the WAZ, (Westdeutsche Algemeine Zeitung) the facts were wrong. The slogan should read as shown in the image above, but instead was printed as Ruhr Hoch N Team-Work-Capital. Hoch N means "to the nth power" and presumably the problem is that wordprocessing software didn't easily allow newspaper reporters to use a superscript in their text. The second problem, splitting Teamwork into two words and putting in dashes contributed to the wave of negative response that followed. Take a look at the original wordmark and slogan here and I think you'll agree, it loses a lot as it is reported in the news and discussed in the blogs.

When the dust finally settled, the slogan was re-thought by the advertising agency that developed it and the consortium of Ruhr businesses that funded it. It's a small story, but like the introduction of the Chevy Nova in Spanish speaking countries (No va! = doesn't go) it demonstrates how tenuous comprehension can be and how completely situations can spin out of control when we forget to manage the details. As near as I can figure, the slogan is being used in a changed state, but its target audience is international, so I'm not in a position to see it here. You are in a position to see the Spardosen Terzett performing Ruhr Hoch N Team-Work-Capital by clicking here. I highly recommend it.

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