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FRITZ GRAMSS

THE SOLO ENTERTAINER

In his hometown on the Bavarian border, Fritz Gramß proves that music knows no bounds, and that yodeling goes well with chart hits.

”Sure, we put on lederhosen,” recalls Fritz Gramß. The heart of the 77-year-old musician and solo entertainer has always belonged to Thuringia, but for a long time his head shuttled between the traditions on both sides of the border. "We wanted to dress in the traditional Seppe style with a Seppe hat and Seppe jacket. And then there were some folks at the sports club who yodeled, and I realized, you can do that too!” Lauscha is only 20 kilometers away from Bavaria, so the Rennsteig is also the "language border.” The Franconian dialect spills into Thuringia, just like the radio waves from Bayern 1, the station where Gramß first heard hits and folk songs on heavy rotation after 1945. "The Puchstein song was a big hit, of course,” Gramß says.

We wanted to dress in the traditional Seppe style  with a Seppe hat and Seppe jacket. And then there were some folks at the sports club who yodeled, and I realized, you can do that too!

Bavarian folklore naturally mixed with the musical tradition of the town of Laucha with a population of 3,000 people, where the first classical orchestra was founded as early as 1860. By 1945, there were two orchestras and five choirs with upwards of 60 singers, which were converted into SS and SA bands under the Nazi regime. ”After the Second World War, the musical groups immediately reorganized, controlled by the new regime, of course. Connected to the factories, fight songs were sung, there was a party secretary in each choir," recalls the passionate yodeler. ”Many home workers went to singing rooms or music rehearsals in the evening. People looked forward to getting away after working all day," says Gramß, who first learned to be a toolmaker in Neuhaus and then worked as a locksmith and an energy technician during the period of centralization of the factories. ”I realized, of course, that business couldn't go on like that, so I started my own business in 1990. First in occupational safety, but actually always with the goal of music," Gramß says. The Thuringian founded his first school band in ninth grade, and has been playing the accordion for 60 years - but not only that. "That was the fashionable instrument at the time, so I thought, I have to do something else so I learned the clarinet. But in the end I became a saxophonist,” he adds with a laugh.

Lauscha was a health resort, after all, and the vacationers wanted to be entertained.

”Lauscha was a health resort, after all, and the vacationers wanted to be entertained,” Gramß says. ”So at 16 I played dance music. With the army, I joined the choirs. Then I worked as a music teacher. And so it went, on and on." With yodeling came the Lauschatal Yodelers, whose leadership Gramß took over. Today he sings with eight to ten men of all ages in four voices with the Lauschensteiner Jodlers. But that’s only part-time, so to speak, because Gramß earns his money with appearances as a solo entertainer at parties. ”From 1990, everything was suddenly done with a keyboard, then came the hard drives, but I quickly noticed that live music was still in high demand at family celebrations." Only with the "modern stuff" the computer comes into it, he says. ”You can't even play those songs anymore." When Fritz Gramß builds his set-up today, he has a small sound system and a laptop with him. ”There are almost all the songs on it from AC/DC to Helene Fischer," says Gramß. "And when the kids tell me about new hits, I write them down and have them with me the next time, of course."

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