TheHagueOnline soak up some Sunday blues
A Brief History of Katvanger
Back in the 60s, The Hague was home to Livin’ Blues, a Dutch band with bass player Ruud Fransen in the original lineup. Fast forward to 1994, and Jim Wake & Sleepwalker formed, a bluesy mish-mash with Jim on guitar and Ruud on bass. When Ruud and Jim, formed a sort of Sleepwalker spinoff with original Sleepwalker lead guitarist Egbert Kemner, a special sound took shape. And then, four years ago, Jan Vereecke replaced Egbert.
That’s one US-born world traveller, one Dutchman and one Belgian. The result? A mix of cultures and a unique sound: Katvanger. In their own words, ‘it’s been working since 2015’, and here they are!
In The Hague’s charming Eetcafé Paraplu, Katvanger is preparing for a show. This side street venue has a great reputation with Dutchies and expats alike, with plenty of beers on tap. There are regular fans, new faces and curious visitors, all making themselves at home while the band sets up.
TheHagueOnline sat down with singer Jim Wake before the gig to talk about those trademark dubious blues.
THO: So, why did you choose the name ‘Katvanger’?
Jim: In Dutch it’s a word for lowlifes; people you can’t trust. It’s to show we don’t take anything too seriously – a tongue-in-cheek approach to a mixed genre with an upbeat personality.
Where does your influence come from?
I grew up listening to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I loved music in general and I saw that, basically, the Stones were playing their own version of blues and rock ’n’ roll, and had the good fortune to hear a lot of the blues greats as a student in Boston, MA.
Even when I was younger, and my parents used to take me to musicals, my favorite songs were songs that later on I discovered were the blues-inspired ones! Our sound now is a real mix of the three band members. Lately I’ve been writing most of the songs, but I work them out with Jan and Ruud until we’ve got an arrangement that we’re all happy with.
What are your favourite songs to perform?
I like anything political because we can get some ironic commentary in. We have a few tracks about Trump, which are pretty current and political, but those topics also lend themselves to criticism and that lets us have fun with our music.
A lot of songs are influenced by my travels. I had a lot of adventures living in Africa and a lot of good experiences here in The Hague, which is why I stayed. It’s really about writing something that speaks to people’s experiences, so we can all relate and enjoy – we’re here to have fun after all!
And then, it’s time to perform
There are catchy tunes like ‘Don’t Wake Me Up Until I’m Sober’ and ‘Money In My Pocket’ (listen on the website), with the set list showing off Wake’s animated, Dylan-esque vocals with a background of guitar, harmonica and a cappella harmonising. Our very own Scheveningen inspired the song ‘Back to the Coast’. From foot-tapping blues to barbershop quartet (well, trio), there are many faces to Katvanger, all of which leave you feeling good!
The musical talent speaks for itself, and lyrics like ‘civilise us, colonise us, culturize us if you will…’ show off the witty minds behind this great local sound. If you’re looking for some stripped back, classic blues, jazz, country and everything in between, this might just be the band for you!