Cherno Jobatey & Groove Gangster GmbH feat. Michael Vassiliadis

Cherno Jobatey and his band “Groove Gangster GmbH” perform regularly at the Hard Rock Café Berlin – and invariably there will be a special guest eager to set in on a session for the audience. But recently patrons got a special treat in the form of Germany’s IG BCE union boss Michael Vassiliadis.


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Union leaders in Germany are not usually known for their musical prowess. But Michael Vassiliadis — the head of one of Germany’s eight largest unions representing more than 600,000 miners, chemical and energy sector workers – amply demonstrated to an audience in Berlin recently that he knows what he’s doing when he’s plugged in on stage.

Ordinarily, Vassiliadis is a dead serious and highly focused political figure in Germany, giving earnest interviews and sharp analysis on the labor conditions across the country in front of cameras. But not many people were aware of the fact that the head of the major IG Bergbau, Chemie and Energie trade union who also serves as government advisor is also a passionate guitarist.

This most improbable story began with a TV shooting session for a portrait of the union leader that Cherno Jobatey was working on for ZDF television called „On the move with. . . „, in which political big shots are interviewed in a more relaxed and personal environment away from the rough and tumble world of German politics in Berlin.
Vassiliadis suggested they meet at his favorite guitar shop in low-rent Kreuzberg of Berlin – just a few miles south of the government quarter but light years away from the world of Berlin Mitte. The ZDF crew came along and Jobatey couldn’t resist when he saw Vassiliadis pick up a guitar. „Of course I had to accompany him with some chords on a guitar as well,” said Jobatey.

TV shooting raises an old passion

And these „few chords“ with Vassiliades… stirred something deep inside. Jobatey’s dormant musical past flickered back to life. „We really had so much fun shooting, and we just couldn’t stop“. And it was not long before Jobatey was back on a stage with a guitar – as a surprise guest with his old drummer’s band.

The audience responded so enthusiastically that it became a regular project. After many years of retirement, the old band got back together. And Jobatey has discovered that the passion for rock music is far more prevalent he could have dreamed about. Many movers and shakers in Germany are closet blues brothers, rattling rockers or just virtuosos of an instrument. Jobatey even goes so far to say that rock / pop / jazz bands have replaced the string quartet as the most popular form of music for many in Germany’s political, industry and media establishment. and it is quite apparently the „new form of bourgeois music“.

Naturally, Jobatey told Vassiliadis that the TV shoot triggered so much interest in music and so the union offered to join the new old band Groove Gangster GmbH with a special guest performance for a show. The audience was so enthusiastic that well-known personalities are now at almost every concert, such as Jochen Trus, king of the Berlin’s morning radio, advertising guru Michael Trautmann or EnBW-CEO Frank Mastiaux.