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German ‘King of Pop’ Michael Wendler to host first American concert in Cape Coral

February 22, 2018
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Who is Michael Wendler? His Cape Coral neighbors might say he's a friendly guy with a nice family. The girl at the grocery store checkout line may say he's the stylish tall dude with a German accent. At the French Press cafe in Cape Coral, customers walk right past him on line for their lattes, without giving him a second glance. But in Germany, Michael Wendler is the King of Pop.

Attracting millions of YouTube viewers, the word "humble" does not do any justice for the cool, laid back German pop singer who met with The Breeze at the French Press Cafe before catching his next flight back to Germany. Here we talked life in Southwest Florida, music, and German stardom.

The German King of Pop lives a much more laid back lifestyle in Florida compared to Germany.

Article Photos

Ulli Winckler of Rebel Cafe and right, Michael Wendler, German King of Pop.

"I can go to the supermarket, and nobody recognizes me!" he joked of his newfound anonymity. But Wendler's incognito lifestyle is subject to change, especially with his first American concert debuting Friday, March 2, at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.

In Germany, Michael Wendler is a famous singer. We're talking Lady Gaga, Kanye West famous. He's known for producing award winning music, and is signed with Sony records. Wendler has earned six gold records and one platinum, and is determined to be the first musician to bring pop-schlager to mainstream America.

In the U.S., Wendler is just a normal guy. That's partially why he was drawn here. Wendler suffered a near fatal accident in 2015 while bungee jumping on a popular German television series "Ich bin ein Star Lasst mich wieder rein!", translating literally to the American TV Show "I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here!" After spending three months in the hospital, Wendler had a lifechanging experience and decided to bid farewell to his fame in Germany to focus all of his energy on his family. His journey of departure is featured on a TV show called "Goodbye Deutschland" a documentary series on German emigration.

Claudia Wendler, his wife of nine years immediately fell in love with Southwest Florida.

"After the accident, we came here on vacation, and when we came back we decided to make a one-time decision to move to the U.S. We discussed about it as a family over the course of two days, and we made the decision to sell the house and move to Cape Coral," said Claudia. "We are happy to live here, and very thankful."

The couple's 15-year-old daughter Adeline is now attending a private high school in Lee County.

Because Wendler is not as famous in the States, the family has gained a private life, something they struggled to maintain in Germany.

"In Germany, I'm very famous. Fans and paparazzi wait for me outside of my house, they come looking for me and my family. Here, nobody knows me. I get privacy."

But even in sunny Cape Coral, not even Michael Wendler can escape his fame. In an economy saturated with tourism, Southwest Florida is a hotspot for German travelers.

"In the summer, many Germans are here. And if they spot us together, many of them will chase us," said Ulli Winckler, a German native and longtime friend of Wendler. "We will be on the boat, and they will stalk us all the way down the river. We'll head for the ocean, and there they are, following us all the way to the Cabbage Key, then they meet us at the restaurant."

Winckler has resided in Southwest Florida for 12 years and owns Rebel Cafe in downtown Fort Myers.

Luckily, the famed family has support of friends like Ulli, who helps them dodge star-struck tourists on the river, and connects them with prominent leaders such as Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson.

"We are now good friends," said Wendler of Henderson, who will be attending the concert on Friday, March 2.

Also attending the concert will be more than 40 fans flying directly from Germany, attracting international investment interest to Southwest Florida's economy. The day after the concert, Wendler will host a special "star" day for his traveling fans, where they will meet at Rebel Cafe for breakfast, and be taken on a private boat tour around Cape Coral.

"I am so humbled by my fans travelling all the way from Germany, so this is my present to them."

Since Wendler's move to the States last year, he's played an ambassadorial role for Southwest Florida to the rest of the world. He released his first American-made album last summer, named "Flucht nach vorn," literally translating to "Escape to the Front." The album's music videos showcase the paradisiacal beaches and flatlands of Southwest Florida, generating over 2 million YouTube views across the world since.

"It has been crazy, wonderful, successful." Wendler said of the 2017 album, which ranked third on the top 10 charts in Germany.

Michael Wendler's next album will be titled in English "Next Level" and is set to release on June 22. The album will feature his customary German popschlager style.

"Americans have never heard of schlager!" Wendler said of America's obliviousness to the upbeat dance music that is deeply rooted in the European music industry. He scrolled through videos on his phone, hoping to be the first to break our schlager virginity.

The German popstar's mission is to be the first to introduce Schlagger and discofox to America. Discofox is a two-step couple dance embedded in European culture, and is just as popular in every German nightclub, if not more, as America's cha-cha slide. Needless to say, Germans are generally mind boggled when Americans say they've never heard of discofox.

"It is not easy to bring a new kind of music. In order to pull it off, you have to be the first. If you are the second, you won't be so successful." Wendler and Winckler made their case, rattling off famous German musicians in America, or lack thereof. "There was Falco, you know, the one who sings Amadeos Amadeos. And then there is Hammerstein band, but they are metal. Other than that, there hasn't been any breakthrough artists from Germany for over 20 years."

"He is very brave," Claudia said of her husband's mission to bring new music to America.

Wendler hopes to see both Americans and German Americans attending his concert at the Cape Coral Yacht Club on Friday. "

When I look out from the stage, I just want to see people dancing," Wendler said. At the concert, Wendler will be accompanied by his original crew, including back-up dancers all the way from Germany, as well as his guitarist. Also there will be Cape Coral's Ida Baker H.S. cheerleading squad.

"So there will be a little piece of U.S. blended in the show," said Wendler, who aims to support his new community through music, business and philanthropy.

Michael Wendler and his family are head over heels in love with Cape Coral.

"It's paradise. Strangers speak with you, they look you in the eyes and tell you how amazing you look, and that they like your shirt. Everything is happy, the sun is shining." So why do German's love Southwest Florida? "First, the American dream. Second, the weather," Wendler stated. The German popstar hopes to bring to America "a little bit of good German lifestyle, and a new kind of dance."

Michael Wendler's concerts in Germany generally max out 50,000 seats, and usually host an ornate fire show, so Friday's concert will be a glance of what the German popstar is capable of. The Cape Coral Yacht club concert will be the kickoff to Michael Wendler's American tour in the near future, as planning is in the mix.

Tickets for the Friday, March 2 concert will be sold at $20 + tax in advance, and $25 at the door, where his wife, Claudia, will be greeting guests. The concert location will be at 5819 Driftwood Pkwy, Cape Coral, Fl 33904 at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. Doors open at 7 p.m.. You can buy tickets in advance at the following German owned business locations:

Rebel Coffee Roastery & Tea: 1520 Broadway Fort Myers, Fl 33901

Austrian-German Restaurant: 1400 Colonial Blvd. #33, Fort Myers, Fl 33907

Haus of Trikes & Bikes: 4601 Fowler St., Fort Myers, Fl 33907

Bread & Pete: 4402 Del Prado Blvd. Cape Coral, Fl 33904

Geiers Sausage Kitchen: 7447 S. Tamiami Trl, Sarasota, Fl 34231

Engel & Volkers: 1031 Cape Coral Pkwy E., Fl 33904

 
 

 

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