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In the Middle of Nowhere: Eisenach and Its Organically Grown Blues and Jazz Infrastructure

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Popular Music Scenes

Part of the book series: Pop Music, Culture and Identity ((PMCI))

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Given the regional location of the small German town of Eisenach and the historical context of its music tradition, the presence of a stable (and mainly US-influenced) blues and jazz infrastructure may seem out of place. Nevertheless, there are organizational forms and locations that were constituted slowly over decades by a small group of visionary people to support blues and jazz (as well as related styles of popular music). Eisenach is anything but a metropolis. On the contrary, it can be considered more of a peripheral town or region that has been struggling with a declining and ageing population for many years.

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  1. 1.

    The term ‘infrastructure’ has been chosen deliberately to avoid the term ‘(music) scene’. Eisenach has less a local scene of active blues and jazz musicians but more a very good environment for blues and jazz musicians as well as researchers from outside. Some theoretical approaches term this a cultural infrastructure (Institut für Kulturpolitik der Kulturpolitischen Gesellschaft e.V. 2010).

  2. 2.

    Cf. Thüringer Landesamt für Umwelt, Bergbau und Naturschutz in Jena (2020); Stadtverwaltung Eisenach (2017).

  3. 3.

    The Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ, Free German Youth) was the youth organization of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany, SED), which ruled the German Democratic Republic (GDR) for almost 40 years.

  4. 4.

    AG is a German abbreviation for Arbeitsgemeinschaft (working group).

  5. 5.

    In 1971, the club magazine was refused official authorization and had to be discontinued.

  6. 6.

    In recent years, some folk concerts with international artists have been organized by the Andraczeks, who also perform at the club on a regular basis with their Spätlese band.

  7. 7.

    See Richards (2009). The regional newspaper wrote: ‘Not even the bandleader knows how often the Trevor Richards Trio has already had guest appearances in Eisenach.’ There is also a mention of the ‘Jazz Club old-timers’ and their ‘frequent presence’ (Kaschke 2011).

  8. 8.

    Only the Jazzkeller, a club in the nearby metropolis of Frankfurt am Main, is older. It was founded in 1952 (Jazzkeller Frankfurt 2020).

  9. 9.

    What was intentionally omitted in this narrative is the fact that Horst Lippmann – apart from his brief time in Eisenach – ‘spent his childhood … in Frankfurt’ (Rieth 2010: 197).

  10. 10.

    Daniel Eckenfelder and his brother Christof form the general management of the Eckenfelder company in Wenigenlupnitz near Eisenach. It has a staff of about 80 and produces various printed materials (Eckenfelder GmbH & Co. KG 2020).


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Correspondence to Nico Thom .

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Thom, N. (2023). In the Middle of Nowhere: Eisenach and Its Organically Grown Blues and Jazz Infrastructure. In: Bennett, A., Cashman, D., Green, B., Lewandowski, N. (eds) Popular Music Scenes . Pop Music, Culture and Identity. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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