The performances of "radspitz at the staffelsteiner altstadtfest are cult. The marketplace is bubbling when the five musicians get going. For manuel balzar this is always a home game. The 33-year-old insurance specialist was born in berlin, but grew up on the obermain river. He had his first performances with the school band of the realschule under the direction of wolfgang habler, which also played on the market square about 20 years ago.
Between 2008 and 2012, manuel balzar was a member of the band "catweazle," which performed at the staffelstein and ebern old town festivals as well as at guardian festivals in kronach and coburg, and also at music events in the staffelstein peter-J.-minor hall. Manuel balzar never had classical guitar lessons. In his youth, he learned to play the piano, and he taught himself how to play the guitar.
At some point klaus pfreundner, the bandleader of "radspitz, the young guitarist and spontaneously asked him if he would like to join the cult band. What was initially intended as a temporary job became a permanent commitment. From then on, manuel balzar was part of the core cast of the five-headed formation, which played gigs all over germany. Radspitz" played at the cannstatter wasen already, at the straubing gaubodenfest, at the bamberger sandkerwa or at the brandenburg gate on berlin’s new year’s eve mile.
The performances are different every time, individually designed, have no fixed program sequence of songs, says manuel balzar. "We react flexibly to song requests from the audience", he adds. Among the highlights that he has achieved with "radspitz he pays for example for the "ketscher backfischfest, a very popular rough event near mannheim. He says that people line up there from early in the morning to be there when the concert starts in the evening. They have already been on stage with several greats of the genre – with jurgen drews, peter wackel or mickie krause.
Radspitz" has about 20 songs of its own in the repertoire, eleven cover cds (live recordings) of the band are currently available on amazon to have. "We try to bring out a new song every year", tells manuel balzar. Probably the most famous song in the 38-year history of the band is "the islander". This hit came about after the 2016 european soccer championship, when the icelandic eleven played their "huh"-caused a furore in the stadiums. "We wanted this huh-hype." The band worked up the viking battle cry into a song, which since then must not be missing at any performance. "We hope that the icelanders will qualify for the next world cup again", says manuel balzar.
The audience response, he continues, is very important to the band. "It’s not necessarily the grossness of the fest that matters, but the flair", describes the guitarist the performances. The staffelsteiner altstadtfest with its party character is not comparable with the straubinger gaubodenfest, where a concert is held that attracts around 5,500 visitors.
The band, he continues, has repeatedly jammed together in its decades-long history. This is perhaps one of their recipes for success, because "radspitz" is the name of the game go down just as well with young festival-goers as with middle-aged music lovers. Of course an increase is still possible, says manuel balzar and grins: "maybe we’ll manage a hit in the charts one day"." The band received a prestigious award last year – the specialist media prize "artist of the year from gedu publishing. For orientation: DJ otzi has already been honored with this award.
For the five members of the band, the joy of making music is the most important thing. "We play everything, we are ready for every song", the 33-year-old describes the band’s musical versatility. Musicians try to elicit from the audience which song they have just listened to.
The formation performs around 80 gigs a year throughout germany – about 80 percent of them outside of bavaria. Radspitz" performs at private events on as well as at fixed rough companies (brose, frankenbrunnen) or at the FC bayern dream match in august in coburg. When it comes to covering songs by other artists, says manuel balzar, "our highest priority is to get as close as possible to the original.
When the performance at the staffelsteiner altstadtfest is over, manuel balzar is already looking forward to the next year. "We always start differently", the evening on the market square always has a special charm for him because of the audience’s participation – precisely because he has known this place since his performances with the secondary school band. And when the last song has been played and the last bars have faded away, the musicians like to call out to each other self-deprecatingly: "there was a lot of good stuff in there."