Happy days are here again

By Frank Dam


Through my sister Ada, who worked at the Golden Tulip hotel, I became aware of the existence of weekly singing evenings in an Amsterdam cafe at the Zeedijk, This happened during the construction of the Golden Tulip Hotel Royal Barbizon at the Prins Hendrikkade: ‘It’s really something for you; it is very gezellig’, she said.

These singing evenings were especially meant for the people involved in the construction work. The hotel would be ready by the end of 1987, and the cafe Bar Bizonder at Zeedijk 10 opened November 28, 1986.

My sister was right; it turned out to be a fantastic acquaintance and delightful atmosphere. I got to know Hans de Bruijn, the amazing lead pianist. The numbers played were 'evergreens', I knew the melodies. Since copies of the lyrics were handed out, it was an ultimate experience. All kinds of people showed up. Also from the neighborhood, visiting regularly. Here, I met Riny and the unforgettable:

Aldert Klut

Aldert was a striking personality. With his voice and charisma, he virtuously led the singing. Many will still remember him. Too bad he is no longer with us.

At the end of 1987, the Golden Tulip Hotel Royal Barbizon was finished and this was also the end of the musical evenings. Riny suggested to Hans de Bruijn to move to In de Olofspoort and managed to convince him. So, from 1988, the Sing-Along evenings continued in the tasting café. In 1990, we even appeared in the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool, with a nice picture of Hans with a straw hat at the piano and an enthusiastic singing crowd: ‘It’s the beat of the music, the 'gezelligheid', the kick of unabashed singing explosion’, according to the reporter.

Later on, Hans, part of the Jazz-O-Matic-Four, got reinforcement from other band members Tom Stuip (banjo), Peter Ivan (cornet), and Ad Houtepen (bass saxophone). A great band that made the musical evenings even more fun.

I hope – and many will share this – that we can enjoy these musicians and their excellent music for a long time. The reason why each singing evening again and again is an authentic experience.


Sing-Along celebrates its fifth lustrum

By Hans de Bruijn


In 1988, the first Sing-Along took place in tasting cafe In de Olofspoort. It meant the beginning of a tradition that unexpectedly grew, and celebrated its fifth lustrum in autumn 2013.


Before 1988, exercises were held at the Zeedijk, where a small building was bought to foster the construction works of the Barbizon Palace Hotel, named 'Bar Bizonder'. There, a piano was needed to play songs from the popular American book.

During the construction, this event took place, if possible twice a week. It was a gathering for the Golden Tulip staff, KLM employees, construction workers and neighbors. The finishing of the enterprise and the opening of the Barbizon Palace meant the closing of Bar Bizonder.

When Riny asked me if I wanted to organize a Sing-Along once at the recently opened tasting cafe In de Olofspoort because she had enjoyed these evenings before, we agreed to do this on Prinsjesdag (Princes' Day). Many former singers joined and the mood quickly was just like it had been in previous years.

Afterwards, Riny called me a bit timidly, telling me that a lot of guests including herself had really enjoyed the event and that it would be very nice if we could repeat it. So, this is how we set up to continue this singing celebration on every third Tuesday of the odd months. This happened until we lost our brilliant lead singer Aldert Klut at the end of the 90's.

In order to fill in this gap a whole band was needed, and since then the Jazz-O-Matic-Four accompanies the Sing-Alongs. 2013 was a Jubilee year, for this band too; since they celebrated their fourth years of existence. In the ‘70's they had played every Thursday evening to a full house at the Shaffy Theater. Not a lot has changed, except for the fact that nowadays everyone sings along. Their Jazz-O-Matic-Four CD with the appropriate title Happy Feet, was recorded in the tasting house. The acoustics is perfect there; the only drawback was that the recording had to stop once the municipal garbage van rode along the alley.

Every singing evening is different, which makes it so unique. Riny, Bas and Raymond's hospitality was and still is an example, and Riny also supports the music with her magnificent voice. Once, there has been a try-out with a Dutch repertoire, but it turned out that the English song sheets are resonating a lot better. Hopefully for many years to come.