Monday, December 29, 2008

New Zealand -- Bust Them Broncs Down Under

Shades of Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman....

It's reported that some 5,000 people attended the rodeo in Waimate, New in its 53rd year...

(OK, OK, their movie, which I haven't seen and based on the trailer and reviews I doubt if I will, is "Australia, " not "New Zealand", but Australian rodeo cowboys took part in this event.......)

TEST OF WILLS: Ashburton rider Brad Caley was holding on tight during the Open Bareback event at the Waimate Rodeo on Saturday.

About 200 riders from New Zealand, Australia and Canada showcased their skills with a stand-out performance from Lawrence rider Simon Roughan in the Open Saddle Bronc.

Weekend visitors were also entertained by steer wrestling, craft stalls and plenty of tasty tucker.

Read Full Article

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Slovakia -- RIP Dobrofest (at least for now) and RIP Cowboy Beckham

So, football star David Beckham is no longer going to be the advertising face of Pepsi Cola....Over the past 10 years in the job, he reminisced:
"I’ve played a gladiator, a cowboy, a surfer, and worked alongside Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez as well as some of the biggest names in world football. "
The tears are flowing....but why mention it on this blog? Well, I thought I'd mark the solemn occasion by recalling how a Pepsi poster with Beckham in his cowboy persona formed part of the atmospheric decor of a Wild West saloon in the little Slovak town of Trnava...

The photo was taken during the annual Dobrofest festival there -- I guess I have to call it the late, lamented Dobrofest, because municipal authorities, who sponsored the festival, have decided there will be no Dobrofest this year, and who knows if it will be revived.

Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

Real tears are flowing over the demise of Dobrofest.

It was a wonderful festival that honored the resonator (or resophonic) guitar, one of my favorite instruments (especially when it's played by Lubos Novotny, of the Czech band Druha Trava. He's a genius on it).

Lubos Novotny (and Peter Rowan) at Dobrofest in 2005. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

The festival was founded in 1992, just when Slovakia was gaining independence through its "velvet divorce" from the Czech Republic. The country was, subconsciously perhaps, looking for national heroes, and John Dopyera, who invented the dobro, became one -- the archetypical local boy who made good, even though he left the country to do so.... Dopyera was born in the village of Dolna Krupa, near Trnava, in 1893 and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1908. They ended up in California.

States the Dobrofest web site:

The sound of the resophonic or resonator guitar dobro has already hadseven decades of contribution to popular music. Its first appearance on the music scene began in the mid-twenties of 20th century in the USA, where today it is regarded as an American folk instrument, and since those times its use expanded into the whole world. It was created during the times when the musicians who played guitars felt the need for a louder sound for their instruments yet the possibility of electrification was still in the cradle. Clever application of acoustic sound technology, by which the metal resonators work like natural mechanical amplifiers, expressively changed the sound of popular music and went into the history forever.

Although it is undoubtedly one of the most significant artistic-craftmanship-technical inventions by which Slovakia through its natives enriched the world´s musical culture, the fact that the inventor of resophonic dobro was Slovak native Ján/John Dopyera (1893-1988), was until lately practically unknown. In June 1989, however, one year after John Dopyera´s death, a newspaper article came out with the information that the inventor of the dobro was from Slovakia. It is very symbolic, that the first article appeared directly in Trnava (in the monthly Culture and Life of Trnava), the same town where a couple years later there arose the international music festival Dobrofest-Trnava dedicated to the inventor´s memory.

In this way Trnava succeeded in discovering this famous native for the whole of Slovakia and later, through the Dobrofest, gave that information to the world. We can say without exaggerating, that the end of the 20th century belonged to the dobro in the worldwide music scene as well as in Slovakia. The resophonic guitar came back again to the foreground, after decades of eclipse due to electrical amplification, on the fashion wave of return to acoustic music and became literally the symbol of so called unplugged music.

Year after year, Dobrofest brought top international musicians to Trnava, including the Americans Peter Rowan, Bob Brozman and Jerry Douglas.

The extraordinary Bob Brozman at Dobrofest 2005. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

And a Dobro Museum - the "Dobro Hall of Fame" -- was established as part of the local Museum of Western Slovakia.

Dobro Hall of Fame museum, Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

So, read this and weep....

Friday, December 26, 2008

Country Music - Questions (and answers?)

At the Country Piknik, Mragowo, Poland, 2006. Photo (c) R. E. Gruber

I came across a question and answer session on pegged to the question Why don't most people like country music?

"im 13 years old, live in california and i personally LOVE country music (and i mean REAL country). i dont see anything wrong with country music even though growing up in a family who only listened to rap. i just dont understand why some people despise country!"
The replies (and the question) made me think of my friend, the Polish country singer Lonstar, and his recent English-language album called "What's This Country Thing?" -- which is also the name of the title song, the first part of which you can hear on Lonstar's myspace page.

Lonstar performing at the Berlin Country Music Messe, Feb. 2007. Photo (c) R. E. Gruber

The gist of the song is Lonstar's answers to a "lady" who asks the question, "What's this country thing" -- i.e. what is the appeal of country music. In Europe, where hardcore fans often dress up in wild west attire (and drink a lot... and line-dance a lot...), country music is often scorned by the mainstream. Lovers of pure American country music are sometimes embarrassed by the raucous "scene" -- such as that associated with the trucker festivals and other big events, where a carnival atmosphere can prevail. Many country music fans scorn, in particular, local-language country music, sung by local musicians in German, Czech, Polish, French.....

For example, in his book Das Neue Grosse Buch der Country Music (Koenigswinter: Heel, 2005), my friend Walter Fuchs, a staunch country music fan and one of Germany's most serious experts on the genre, wrote:
"[T]hat the German language country song, [. . .] with its interpreters dressed up like cowboys and its partly banal to infantile text has brought the altogether serious German Country Music scene into discredit is undisputed. Numerous friends of country music often do not dare to 'out' themselves in front of their friends for fear of being identified as a fan of German language country songs. [. . .] The German language country song and the original country song from the U.S.A. are worlds apart."

All photos (c) R. E. Gruber.

In his song -- which he sings in both Polish and English versions, Lonstar sets out to show his skeptical questioner that there is more to country music (and "country") than that.

He sings: "you criticize it, saying that it's kid stuff, backward and bad taste, stuff we should grow out of, dirty trash and waste."
"Country's not about a boot or a cowboy hat, you should learn about it just a little more than that. It's a life that prides every word to the music of your laughter, crying, joy and hurt. A friend you can rely on, faithful to the bone. If it feels like home, then it's country.

"Simple man and scholar, granny, dad and son; poor man and a rich man, there's room for everyone. And you insinuate it's isolated, 'cos pearls and swine don't mix. You claim it's a pastime, good for fools and hicks -- which is a lie, 'cos we have loving couples, and the cheatin' wives, those who've just got fired, and those who've won a prize, united in the country music circle, good as daily bread. Why don't you drop this line of accusation, lady, join our bunch instead. And see for yourself...."

(Earlier this year, I posted a video of Lonstar singing at the Mragowo Country Piknik.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

India -- Indian Movie Cowboys

We all know about the Spaghetti Westerns, the Karl May films and the DEFA East German Indianer film .... but, weeding out some old emails, I have just come across this remarkable blog posting from July about Indian actors (that is, from India) playing cowboys in Indian Western movies.

The posting, on the blog by Shaileh Limbachiya, describes Indian (especially Hindi) movie cowboys who were active mainly in a slew of films in the 1970s and 80s

They were basically inspired from Clint eastwood, Gregory pack and all other those once upon a time movie cowboys of hollywood. But our cowboys had qualities of those cowboys with essential benefits or qualities of Indian culture. Like western cowboys they used to ride on horses, wear boots, jeans and shooting bullets like playing with toys� but could also dance and sing very well, must fall in love with village girl etc etc. Most of our good cowboys had Daku or Thakur/zameendar as their hard targets.

The posting has wonderful photos of Indian cowboy actors -- and details a facet of the Imaginary Wild West of which I was utterly unaware.

According to the blogger,
FEROZ KHAN was the best Indian cowboy hindi films have ever seen. He had no name in Khote Sikke but whenever he used to appear on screen; special whistle used to play and he sing that hit song �jeevan mein darna nahin, sar nich kabhi karma nahin�� He superbly represented that arrogant nature and attitude. Instad of jacket he wore balck shawl shirt.

khote Sikke

In the film Joshilay
Dara(Sunny Deol) and Karan (Anil Kapoor) were the young, energetic, egoist and handsome cowboys. They had their pasts and had target to destroy Jogi thakur (Rajesh vivek) and Kulbhshan Kharbanda. I liked dusty nature and action of the movie. Joshiley had good cinematography representing landscapes of Rajasthan. Also the title song “Joshilay shehzaade hain” when Sunny and Anil are riding on horses - was beautifully composed and picturised.

Here's a video of that song

Anyway -- the blog post is eye-opening. I know next to nothing about the Indian cinema, but the posters, photos and other material on this post (also the comments) are fascinating and shed a lot of light on the vast reach of America's "foundation saga" and mythology.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Karl May -- Indonesian Links

Dana Weber, who is doing her PhD on Karl May festivals, has come across Karl May web sites in Indonesia....It's not Europe, but it is the imaginary wild west. I wonder how this German version of American translates into Asia...

Check out and indokarlmay. com

Friday, December 19, 2008

Canada's imagineNATIVE's CULTURE SHOCK program at Berlin Film Festival

The Canadian indigenous film and media arts project ImagineNATIVE's CULTURE SHOCK PROGRAM will have its European premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2009.

Contemporary Canadian Aboriginal artists Bonnie Devine (Ojibway), Keesic Douglas (Ojibway), Darryl Nepinak (Saulteaux) and Bear Witness (Cayuga) respond to the image of native people as portrayed in the 1960s Karl May films in West Germany (featuring the French actor Pierre Brice as May's Apache hero Winnetou) and the "Indianer Films" in communist-era East Germany (often starring the Yugoslav-born actor Gojko Mitic -- who went on to play Winnetou in stage productions after German reunification).

States the press release:

For the program, four artists were selected to respond to two films from West and East German film collections, provided by the Goethe-Institut Toronto. The films represented classic German cinematic interpretations of Indigenous North Americans from the 1960s, such as the infamous Winnetou films based on Karl May's novels popular in West German cinema and the so-called "Red Westerns" created by East Germany's legendary DEFA studios. The artists created four new video works in response to the two films that had their world premiere at imagineNATIVE in October 2008. The Culture Shock program was accompanied by a publication provided by V tape with essays by curator Steven Loft and guest writer Stephen S. Foster.

Pierre Brice and Lex Barker in Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi (Winnetou and the Half-Blood Apanatschi)

imagineNATIVE's Artistic Director Danis Goulet stated: "The presentation of Culture Shock will be a landmark showing of Canadian Indigenous-made works at the Berlin International Film Festival and represents a breakthrough year. It is a significant accomplishment for the artists and curator of the program to have their incredible works presented in such a renowned and international forum."

For the full press release and links, click HERE

Gojko Mitic in Die Söhne der großen Bärin (The Sons of the Great Bear)

I saw Gojko Mitic perform as Winnetou several years ago at the annual Karl May Festival in Bad Segeberg, Germany (founded nearly 60 years ago). And I actually met him this year at the Karl May Festival in Radebeul -- he was a guest of honor, dressed, this time, as a cowboy. (At some point, I'll post the interview I did with him.)

Below, here I am with Gojko and with Dana Weber, who is doing her PhD on Karl May festivals.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cowboy and Country-Western Saloons

Swinging door saloon, Pilsen, CZ. Photo (c) R. E. Gruber

Sam Corbett writes about U Bocmana, a country-western saloon in the current issue of the NYU student online magazine The Prague Wanderer. (He quotes me....)

Places like this are "wild western spaces" par excellence, and there are dozens of such saloons (with or without swinging doors and spittoons) in various European countries -- I have visited them in Germany, Poland, CZ, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia....

Some are just bars or cafes; some feature live music; some are full-service restaurants. Most are individual, privately-run venues, but in Poland there is even a chain of western-style restaurants called "Sioux." There is also a big chain of western-style steak-house restaurants in France (with outlets in Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg) called "Buffalo Grill."

One of my first experiences in the Imaginary Wild West was, in fact, a cowboy-style party in a country-western roadhouse in a remote village in southern Bohemia....I was led there by Willie Jones, an American who at the time was working as a singing cowboy at the Pullman City wild west theme park in Bavaria. Along with a Slovak bluegrass group, we traveled in a three-car convoy from Pullman City into CZ.

The road house was in a village too small to appear on my map. From the outside it looked like an anonymous village restaurant, but inside it was decorated with Wild West paraphernalia including horseshoes, sepia photographs of Native Americans and Billy the Kid, and a framed arrangement of pistols and playing cards.

The occasion for the party was the 50th birthday of Franz Zetihammel, a figure well known on the Czech and German western show circuit for his portrayals “Fuzzy,” an “old coot” persona harking back to characters played by comic western actors such as Gabby Hayes or Walter Brennan. Fuzzy has long straggly grey hair and beard and never appears in public without his cowboy hat, cowboy boots and turquoise bolo tie and other jewelry.

A Czech country duo got the guests up and dancing with locally written Czech country songs and Czech covers of American hits such as John Denver’s “Country Roads” and even “I’m and Okie from Muskokee.”

One of the party guests, a man in his forties, was dressed head to toe in full cowboy attire, including sheriff’s star and a six-shooter – which Fuzzy at one point pulled from its holster, brandished at the dancers and then fired at the ceiling – fortunately, it was loaded with blanks....

(I haven't been back to that place -- I'm sure I could never find it again. But I ran into Fuzzy last year; he was working as the blacksmith at the Halter Valley private wild west town near Pilsen in CZ.)

Fuzzy, Halter Valley, 2007. Photo (c) R. E. Gruber

Here is a slideshow of several country/western saloons in Europe. All pictures (c) R. E. Gruber:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kenyan Cowboy Shirts

I love it! Cowboy shirts from Kenya! They are made from discarded clothing "from around the world" and shipped from Canada. Part of the proceeds goes to charity.

From the FAQ from the web site:
The shirts cost $75cad - thats alot - what are you doing with the money?

Our tailors have set their own prices and we try to ensure that people involved in the process are happy. We hire people to help name the shirts, create exclusive music (mp3s) to go with the shirts (coming soon) and will continue to find ways in which more people can be financially involved in the process. Also, our costs for shipping from Africa is a bit on the high side.

Are you connected to a charity project like building schools or feeding children?

Yes. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to a lunch feeding program for school children in our neighbourhood of Rongai video link to some clips. Also, we plan to start a community cleanup & recycling business that will receive 10% of profits from Kilakitu - staff will work on cleaning up the environment in Rongai (where our business is based).

Is there a ladies line?

We have an awesome cowgirl dress coming down the pipelines - first thing in 2009. Its going to be amazing - designed to be worn over jeans (or not ;).

I see African models wearing the shirts, are they just for Africans?

The Kenyan Cowboy is for everyone! It just happens that this first model shoot we did at Olepolos, Kenya was an all Kenyan cast! Here is a pic of me in one of my shirts or watch the fashion show video for diversity.

Are all the shirts the same style?

Yes - the Kenyan Cowboy is cut after a classic 1970s Stetson shirt. The style and cut of each shirt is the same and only the size, color, fabric and patterns of the patches differ. Check your sizes

Speaking of Kenya and the global reach of American pop culture, one of the things I did when I visited Nairobi 30 years ago was to go to the movies to see a documentary about Elvis Presley.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thailand -- Yet Another Cowboy Town!

Eugene Tang reports on his blog on yet another Wild West town in Thailand -- this one is called Farm Chokchai, and it's a working dairy farm and cattle ranch, founded in 1957, as well as a sort of cowboy theme park with various activities including a petting zoo and western show.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

OWSS in Trevi -- Gunfight at Fort Alamo

OWSS match, Trevi. Photo (c) R. E. Gruber

I spent much of the weekend at a shooting match of the Old West Shooting Society, the Italian branch of the U.S. Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), which I joined last month. (See my post about it.)

This time, the match was held at the shooting range in Trevi, a gorgeous hilltown in Umbria between Assisi and Spoleto. It's an olive-oil zone, and the town sits proudly on a steep slope covered with thousands and thousands of olive trees -- in my area of Umbria most people I know, including myself, finished our harvest last month, but many trees are still loaded around Trevi, and harvesters were out working. This was, in fact, the first good weather for days...

Trevi, amid olives. Photo (c) R. E. Gruber

The Trevi shooting range dates from 1883; it's an indoor facility, located above Trevi in a grove of trees near the town cemetery -- there's lots of green-painted wood, and you stand in a protected area to shoot at targets that are set up in the open.

The weekend match was based on the Cowboy Action Shooting "scenario" called Gunfight at Fort Alamo. Participants, all dressed in cowboy or Old West attire, use a pump-action rifle, two revolvers and a shotgun -- all replicas of 19th century Wild West weapons -- to shoot, in specified sequence, at three sets of targets, set up at various distances. The object is to hit all the targets, in the proper sequence, with the correct weapon, in the shortest time. So it's accuracy plus speed. The sequence is meant to recall (or invent) a situation that supposedly took place during the defense of the Alamo. (To see the full instructions, in Italian, click HERE.)

Trevi, OWSS match. Photo (c) R. E. Gruber

I had been told that the event took place both Saturday and Sunday, so I drove over to Trevi (about 65 km from my house) on Saturday morning, but I only found a couple people there, including Stefano (AKA Marshal Steven Gardiner, his OWSS nickname.)

There were too few people to compete, but again I was able to get a little lesson in shooting -- this time I hit the target with (I think) all my shots, from both the revolver and the rifle.

Today (Sunday) I returned for the match proper -- the other competitors had arrived Saturday afternoon and evening. There were, I guess, 12 or 15 competitors, some of whom I had met last month at the OWSS convention. People had come from as far away as Treviso, in the Veneto region -- 500 km. Except for the wife of one of the contestants, I was the only woman there.

It was fun to watch and to shmooze with some of the guys, but I didn't take part in the match -- I'm not yet at ease enough with the weapons. But I do intend to compete when I feel a bit more confident. Particularly as the level of skill among the contestants was quite varied -- there were a couple of really good, smooth marksmen, but a couple of the others would never have come out of a High Noon shoot-out alive...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh no! A Wild West Theme Park in Thailand, Too!

The Thongsomboon Club in Thailand enables you to "Be a Cowboy or Red Indian Chief".

On his tourismthailand blog, Eugene Tang reports -- with great pictures:

I was there two months ago and it was hard to tell that you are in Thailand. A memorable cowboy-themed party organised by TAT to welcome travel agents and media who went on the Northeastern route during the Mega Fam trip. A night filled with good BBQ food, drink, games and a spectacular performance by the staffs of Thongsomboon and Chok Chai. If you are planning for a special event venue for BTMICE, you may consider Thongsomboon club.

It is also a popular film location for cowboy-themed movie and a battlefield for periodic drama and Pakchong is fast becoming the City of Cowboys and Indians and a Pakchong Cowboy Festival is held annually in Thongsomboon club.

I've read recent articles about other wild west theme parks and events (and country music) in Asia -- Japan and China. (Saw a Chinese country video a few years ago, too.)

And then there is the Indian-born country singer Rajah Khan -- sometimes referred to as the "Turban Cowboy" -- I have his album "Texan by Choice"....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Not Europe but Imagination -- Kareem Salama

I thought I had posted about Kareem Salama, the Oklahoma-born Arab-American country singer, the son of Egyptian immigrants, when he performed in Rome earlier this year, but maybe I didn't...

The New York Times profiled him last year, and Weekend America runs a piece on him this week:
In high school, Kareem Salama spent a lot of time at the rodeo and drove a Silverado pick-up truck. Ever since he was little, he knew exactly what he wanted to be.

"I always wore a black cowboy hat and I used to wear my boots and I used to wear a cowboy necktie. I was pretty much into that kind of thing," Kareem says.

His favorite music was Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Tanya Tucker, and Alabama. That might be in part because, he says, country music is like "crickets" in Oklahoma. "It's not really whether you like it or you don't, it's just part of the culture. I don't meet people in Oklahoma who don't like country music."

But listening to country music isn't enough for Kareem Salama: He wants to be a star. He's already recorded two albums and just got back from a European tour.

Kareem's parents are engineers from Egypt and they immigrated to Ponca City, Oklahoma to work in the oil business. At first, slow-talking Oklahomans drove his mom crazy, but Kareem was born in Oklahoma. No one could stop him from loving it.

Salama makes a good news story because as a Muslim American of Arab descent, he doesn't fit the stereotype of the typical country singer. (Similarly, I got good rides out of profiles I've written about Kinky Friedman and Asleep At The Wheel's Ray Benson, both of whom are Jewish.)

I like Salama's music, which is pretty straightforward country/Americana. I found it amusing that the newspaper listing I saw for him in Italy -- a country where country music is little-known and generally scorned -- tried to sell his music as a world music hybrid, claiming that he enriched the Americana with Arabic and Middle Eastern themes....

Also, the stories European performers tell me resonate a lot with what Kareem says in the biographical essay on his web site, particularly the way he talks about his immigrant parents and their embrace of their new culture and how they immersed him in it, too.
Oklahoma is a hybrid of Southern, Western and Native American culture and thanks to my mother’s insatiable desire to learn and experience new things she made sure that I and everyone in my family was immersed in all of it.

As a child, I went to Indian Tribal Powwows, heard country music artists at the county fair and watched my favorite cowboys at the rodeo every year. My mother would take us to nearby Western Arkansas just to watch an outdoor play in an amphitheater. My parents would take us to Branson, Missouri in the summertime where we’d watch live shows, listen to bluegrass music and make wax candles like it was done in the old times. They even took us to Opryland and the famous Grand Old Opry in Tennessee.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Czech Republic -- Bluegrass Article in Prague Post

I am quoted -- and this blog mentioned! -- in an article in the Prague Post on the Czech bluegrass scene, about which I have written extensively.

Pickin' and grinnin'

Far from its home in the American South, a thriving bluegrass scene

By Darrell Jónsson
For The Prague Post
December 3rd, 2008

“These blues are so blue. They are the coal black blues/ For my place will cave in and my life I will lose” wrote American folk musician Alvin Pleasant Carter in 1938. In the years following World War II, the Carter family and musicians like Bill Monroe found plenty of true believers for their brand of tragic but high-spirited music on both sides of the Atlantic.

Musically, the multithreaded form Monroe would coin as “bluegrass” contained all the dynamism of the first African-American banjos, the postwar energy of jazz and the lyricism of Appalachian Anglo-Celt ballads. Filtering the spirit of the times through the use of acoustic instruments enabled bluegrass to travel from its Southern birthplace to anywhere a guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass (or, in a pinch, a washtub) could be found.

With most of these instruments available in Europe, it wasn’t surprising that this infectious music excited enthusiasts throughout the Continent. And, as writer Ruth Ellen Gruber, who chronicles Central Europe’s “virtual West” on her blog “Sauerkraut Cowboys,” notes, “Of all European countries, east or west, it is the Czech Republic where country and especially bluegrass have been most totally assimilated, or reinvented, as genuine local traditions.”
Read Full Story

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Edition of Karl May & Co. Magazine

Karl May Festival, Radebeul, May 2008. Photo (c) R. E. Gruber

The latest edition of the Karl May & Co. magazine arrived today. The magazine, which comes out four times a year, is a beautifully produced compendium of everything related to the world of Karl May, the German author who died in 1912 and created the most enduring of Europe's Wild West heroes -- the Apache chief Winnetou and his "blood brother", "Old Shatterhand," a young German immigrant/adventurer. Each issue is full of articles on all aspects of May's life, work and legacy -- the festivals that take place each year, the movies, the distinctive sound tracks, the actors, the landscapes, the cartoons and other spin-offs, the scholarly works....

Much has been written, in print and on line, about Karl May and his key role in helping shape the imaginary wild west among millions of Europeans over more than a century.

I have posted a number of entries and photographs related to May, his work and his legacy on this blog -- search in the labels, or click HERE to see the list. (You may view some of my published articles by clicking here or here or here.)

Karl May & Co. is celebrating 25 years of publication with a festival weekend next May; gala dinner, VIP guests, the works. Its editors are lively young people, and I enjoy spending time with them when we meet at festivals. I was happy to provide photographs for one of this year's issues -- pictures of Gojko Mitic, a legendary, Yugoslav-born actor who played Winnetou in German stage productions after making a career as a Native American in communist-era East German "Indianer" (or "red western") films.

Other Karl May-related anniversaries are also taking place. This year, for example, marks the 80th anniversary of the Karl May Museum, located in May's former home, the "Villa Shatterhand", in Radebeul near Dresden (scene of the annual Karl May Festival). It is also, I learned from the magazine, the 90th anniversary of the publication of the first "Karl May Jahrbuch," or yearbook.

This edition of the magazine provides information on a number of upcoming cultural events relating to the imaginary wild west. These include a big exhibition, "Sitting Bull und Seine Welt," to be held at the Ubersee Museum in Bremen, Germany, Dec. 13- May 3.

Each summer there are at least a dozen open-air Karl May theater festivals around Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic... the new edition of the magazine lists the dates for the 2009 season-- and the online version of the magazine provides links to many of them. Click HERE.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bluegrass: New EWOB web site

The European World of Bluegrass has launched a new web site with information and links pertaining to the 2009 EWOB Festival, to be held May 21-23, 2009 in the Netherlands.

On the site there will be updated information on festival arrangement. Also, you can hear clips from all 48 tracks on new the 10 years of European World of Bluegrass double CD. There's also a photo gallery from past festivals, with interactive space.