Sturm, Twang and the Imaginary Wild West in Europe
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Willie and The Wheel -- on VOA
Asleep at the Wheel fans in France, 2008. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber
Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel (led by my old friend Ray Benson) have come out with a new CD, "Willie and the Wheel," which has been receiving excellent reviews.
Here's a link to a report on it on Voice of America -- a government radio station aimed specifically at the international market. You can read to the report by clicking HERE or listen to it by clicking HERE.
I've known Ray since we were teenagers in suburban Philadelphia -- and I profiled him last summer after seeing The Wheel perform at the Country Rendez-vous festival in Craponne, France.
For several years I've been exploring the imaginary wild west in contemporary Europe -- observing and experiencing the many ways that Europeans embrace the mythology of the American Frontier to enhance, imbue or create their own identities. (Or, indeed, just have fun.) On this blog I will post pictures, stories and links relating to this multi-faceted subculture, from European country music to rodeos, theme parks, round-ups and saloons....
I'm an American writer, photographer, and public speaker long based in Europe. I've chronicled Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European Jewish issues for more than 20 years and currently coordinate the web site www.jewish-heritage-europe.eu. My latest books are "National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe," published in 2007, and "Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere)," published in 2008.
I also am working on "Sturm, Twang and Sauerkraut Cowboys: Imaginary Wild Wests in Contemporary Europe," an exploration of the American West in the European imagination for which I won a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEH summer stipend grant. In 2015 I was the Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston, SC.