After Hours: It’s cozy, intimate and like a living room
FRANKFURT, GERMANY — It’s 15 minutes to show time and the smallest jazz joint in Frankfurt is nearly empty.
One couple occupies a table. A lone man sits at another. And that’s about it, except for the bar staff and Siegfried Bäuerle-Kessler, aka “Berry Blue,” the evening’s headliner at Mampf. He’s sitting by himself, waiting for patrons and his playing partners to arrive.
“A lot of American GIs used to come to Sachsenhausen when I played there in the ’70s,” Berry later recalls.
Back in the 1970s, there were thousands of U.S. troops in Frankfurt. Now there are none, though the city remains a popular nighttime hangout for Americans. While Sachsenhausen dominates the scene, bars and restaurants in the Bornheim District, where Mampf is located, are solid alternatives, too.
On this night, however, Berry and the barman are concerned about the turnout. Then the door swings open and in comes a regular. Minutes later, a few more filter in and before long the joint is loaded, so much so that later Berry’s saxophonist often had to step to the side to let patrons reach the loo.
“It’s like a living room in here,” says 47-year-old Volker Autze.
From the looks of things, he’s not exaggerating.
For starters, the club can accommodate no more than two dozen people — tops. So on nights such as this the place resembles the home of a large family on Thanksgiving Day, with people unable to turn around without knocking into someone or something else.
Mampf is also garnished with all sorts of garb, not unlike a grandparents’ house, only more eclectic. The trimmings range from pictures of Louie Armstrong and Soviet space pioneer Yuri Gagarin to a ship’s wheel, a bust of Beethoven and a red, mailbox flag. A metal sign hanging on a wall near an electric guitar reads: “Avoid Hangovers, Stay Drunk.”
“We like the music here,” says Peggy, a French-Canadian who would only part with her first name.
“And you can talk to each other over the music,” adds her friend, Fritz.
“The fact that it’s small makes it intimate,” Peggy continues. “It makes it more cozy.”
One Web site called Mampf the smallest jazz bar in all of Germany.
Now more than a quarter-century-old, Mampf is a place where you can see young women rolling cigarettes and old men smoking pipes. Generations mingle a lot here. It’s the fabric of the place, stitched together by a mutual love of jazz and blues.
“This is a small club,” Berry says. “It’s like a living room. And I like that the people are in front of me. I want to be able to look into their eyes.”
See previous After Hours reviews here.
Drinks prices: No sodas are sold, but juices and bottled water are. Mampf’s prices are moderate. A half-liter of pils cost 2.60 euros, a glass of wine a bit more. Shots of hard liquor are about 3 euros.
Food: Small kitchen serves hot snacks.
Cover charge: Live talent often means a small cover charge.
Entertainment: This is a jazz club, but blues is big, too. Folk, country and swing is also played. The decor features an array of knickknacks, some of the anti-establishment variety, making the joint even more authentic.
Clientele: A laid-back mix of young and old frequent this small club in Frankfurt.
Service: Friendly and responsive.
Location: Sandweg 64, Bornheim District of Frankfurt. A parking garage is around the corner on Waldschmidtstrasse. The best nearby landmark is the zoo. Off of A-3, take 661 into Frankfurt. After crossing the Main River, look for signs to the zoo. Mampf is located on Sandweg, which crosses Habsburgerallee (B-3/8/40).
Phone number: 069-44-8674