Unknown Music

The suburb of Lamboy is home to a Sinti-Clan living under poor conditions

By Pamela Dörhöfer

"An extremely gifted family of musicians' lives at the border of our city, hardly anybody noticing", says Annette Schulmerich from the Hanau Culture Society. The clan, she is enthusiastic about, is about 40 people strong, from child to grandmother. They live in mobile homes, RVs and a small stone house in the north of Lamboy. The Bambergers are Sinti. In 1961 they came to Hanau from France, where the city provided them with the area as "Interim-Quarters"

Only a single water source

Since then, the family lives in poor, semi-legal conditions – tolerated, but not more. Four to five people share one RV, barely larger than a single room. There is only one spot outside for tap water; it needs to be carried to the mobile homes by bucket. Two showers, two toilets, and two washbowls have to suffice 40 people. During rain they wade thru mud, since there is no pavement, the 44-year old Vano Bamberger comments. He is born in Hanau and as guitarist has performed on many stages.

Both, the living circumstances of the Bamberger Clan and their music, the Hanau Culture Society will feature during an event at the Comedienhaus Wilhelmsbad on Friday, September 25th. The focal point will be a concert by Vano Bamberger and his band. Vano Bamberger himself will play his precious old guitar, which he inherited from his grandfather Joe Weiss. The latter once performed together with the legendary Django Reinhardt at the "Hot Club de France" in Paris and taught the instrument to his grandson early on. Besides Vano Bamberger his brother Terrangi (rhythm-guitar), his son Donani (solo-guitar), the Jazz-Clarinetist Jeff Senfluk and the known string bass Lindy "Lady Bass" Huppertsberg will play. Their music is down-to-the-earth Sinti-Jazz, ballads and allegros, souped-up by improvisations partly based on melodies by Django Reinhardt, partly on Vano Bamberger's own compositions. The whole is decorated by elements of swing featured especially by "Lady Bass" Huppertsberg.

Photographs by Maria Dorn                               

The concert, however, is only one part of the evening: in the foyer of the Comedienhaus, Maria Dorn, assistant president of the Hanau Culture Society, presents black and white photographs, which she took at the Bamberger's housing area. These are atmospheric, insistent pictures, artistically ambitious, vividly illustrating the living situation of the Bamberger Clan. The workings radiate warmth, intimacy and sadness simultaneously, avoiding any voyeuristic touch whatsoever. Maria Dorn describes how she was excited about getting to know this different culture. That the Bamberger's gave her the chance to do so is not obvious: though at least part of the clan loves to be on stage – privately the Hanau Sintis are rather shy.