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andré michael bolten
Working the word and the power speech is. Making music.


About Me

I am a poet, percussionist and storyteller, born Friday, January 13th, 1956 in Düsseldorf, the town where the Grateful Dead rocked the Rhine. As a poet, I found out soon, that I am a member of the oral tradition. As a percussionist I was confronted with peers, who had no use for a cat with bongos, because their horizon was the usual three piece band.

In my early 20s I started to perform my poetry with a band like that. Guess it was 1978, when I played conga in a jam band. And after the show a guy came up to us and said that we play like the Grateful Dead. I had no idea, what he was talking about. So I went to the record store later and, prefering live music, returned to my stereo with Live/Dead. Phew ! But always living on little money, I never saw them live.

I bought LPs and CDs from Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart. As well as a few books, including the Tom Wolfe Acid Test and Bill Graham's biography. So I got a glimpse of what Deadheadism is about. And I like it, like it, yes I do.

As a poet I worked with different kinds of musicians, then dancers, too. As well as a sculpturer and a painter. Shared the stage with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ed Sanders and Miguel Algarin (among others) in 1981 or 82 in Düsseldorf. Was invited by Miguel and Bob Holman to take part in the Deutsch Nuyorican Poetry Festival, that took place on Manhattan Island, in November 1995 .... and started one of the first generation Poetry Slams in Germany a year later.

As a percussionist I played blues and rock, tried and failed playing jazz standards. Founded a few ensembles with three percussionists and one reed player. Was member of an up to 60 piece improvising orchestra with a conductor (yes I know that sounds contradictory, but it aint). Played improvised music in projects from two to four people. Accompanied poets, dancers, worked with performance artists. Invented the Düsseldorf No Book Session for Free Improvised Music.

In the mid eighties I went to school again and became a dance therapist. Then worked with mentally handicaped people, focussing on the real lost, locked up ones for 18 months. Got no new contract and realised that there were no jobs available, because back then only a few peole knew about this form of therapy. So I switched to working with physical handicapped people, helping them to get through their day. But had to quite, because my back got bad and I could not move them anymore.

Now I am unemployed for almost six years. Not for the first time in my life. But this time I had to realise that the German society has no need for people like me. I have no real problem with it. There is enough things to do. And I am used to being poor.

In the first week of 2008 I looked for the lyrics of Ripple and got into reading for about two days. Also had a look at this site and signed in after another day of reading. Should have done so way earlier.

Although I never been to a Grateful Dead concert, I am sure to pass the test, whether being a Dead Head or not. I dig their music (my mac is working double shifts seven days a week since I found etree) and their kind(a) transportation business.

I lost my interest in "popular music" in the early 70s. Except collecting Neil Young, Joni Mitchell. Also have LPs and CDs of a few others, from those early days. I have almost complete collections of Mingus, as well as the Art Ensemble Of Chicago and its members, and Dollar Brand/Abdullah Ibrahim. Lots of Albert Ayler, Johnny Dyani and a few others.

I treat people with respect as long as they treat me with respect .... the anarchist, zen-buddhist, straight, intelligent, sensitive way

But well, my abbility to think positive is limited. Which started in my teens, when I got aware what man does to man, life and this planet, most of the time against better knowledge.

I would never have thought to be alive, when things start getting as bad as it has begun> Global Warming.

A few years ago I thought the problem will be that mankind will run out of space for (german) "Einfamilienreihenhäuser" ("bad" translation :) "houses for one family each, standing in line". Or water. Before we will be able to settle on Moon or Mars. But I am sure I was wrong, as the world wide weather tells the real story.

Last fall, due to the rules and regulations for long time unemployed people in Germany, I was ordered to find a cheaper flat. And as it is almost impossible to find one, here in the town of my birth, I took the offer of an 80s good friend of mine and will soon move to an area, where more and more lights go out ... young people move away, the unemployment rate is at 22%, nothing going on. with lots of lakes and woods with sandy ground ... A village with less than 700 people living there. flat big enough to have my percussion instruments set up in one room, ready to play any civilised time. I want to. And three good people, a painter, percussionist, guitarist, his lady (percussion, tenor sax) and their incredible eight year old son, right next door.

So I am looking forward to continue my long strange and truly amazing trip at this refuge.

Looking for

Good people, exchange of music, what the last third of my life will be and what will happen the day the Maya calendar ends.


Member for
10 years 32 weeks