Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Italians Who "Invented" the West

Anyone interested in western movies (or even just movies) knows about "A Fistful of Dollars", "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and other so-called spaghetti westerns made by Sergio Leone and other Italian directors in the 1960s.

But few outside Italy -- few Americans, at any rate -- know about the rich matrix of Italian Wild West comic books that preceded the movies, and in many cases persist to this day.

They "starred" and star characters such Ken Parker and, above all, Tex Willer. An exhibit just opened at the Comics Museum (Museo del Fumetto) in Lucca -- called "...When the West Arrived in Lucca" -- showcases some 740 original drawings for wild west-themed Italian comic books. Featuring the work of 10 artists, the show marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of Tex Willer, Italy's most enduring comic book Western hero.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lee Bidgood's Definitions re Czech Country, Folk and Bluegrass

The American scholar and fiddler Lee Bidgood, who is in Prague working on his PhD on Czech bluegrass, has formulated a very apt series of definitions of terms related to Czech folk, country and bluegrass music, which he has posted on his blog. You can (I hope) access it by clicking HERE

Thanks, Lee!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Peter Rowan and Druha Trava Video

This clip is from June 2005, when Peter Rowan toured for a week with Druha Trava. I caught about three concerts on the tour - in Plzen, Brno and Trnava (Slovakia). It was the first time I got to know the members of the band; I ended up interviewing Robert Krestan and Lubos Malina and writing a story that appeared in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times.
This clip is from the performance in Trnava, at the annual DobroFest -- a celebration of the Dobro, or resonator guitar, held in a town near where  the inventor of the Dobro, John Dopyera (who emigrated to California with his family as a boy) was born. 

I'm posting this to see if I can "embed" the video from YouTube....

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Roland Heinrich sings at Berlin Country Music Fair

I thought I would post some videos of a few of the performers who took the four stages at the Country Music Messe in Berlin last month... It's taken me a little while to download the video clips, but I'll add them one by one.
Here is my friend Roland Heinrich, singing a Jimmie Rodgers song. Roland calls it Betrübter Jodler #3 (Evening Sun Yodel) but it sounds to me like a combination of the Evening Sun Yodel (Blue Yodel #3) and Muleskinner Blues (Blue Yodel #8).
Roland put out a wonderful CD of Jimmie Rodgers songs -- in German, his own translations --a couple of years ago, on Bear Family Records. It's called Einsam und Ausgebremst: Lieder von Jimmie Rodgers, BCD 16733 AH. This song is one of 14 tracks on the album. 
While I was in Berlin, I also saw Roland perform in a musical/play about Johnny Cash called "Johnny Cash: The Beast in Me,"  by James Lyons. Described as a "musical portrait," it has three characters -- Johnny Cash, June Carter, and a sort of Jimmie Rodgers/spirit of country music figure, played by Roland. The performance I saw was sold out -- as apparently are most performances of the play.