Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wild West Millonaire? More Cowboy News from India!

There's a new Indian Cowboy movie in the works....directed by Simbudevan, who -- the article states -- "shot to fame via Vadivel’s Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi, a mega blockbuster produced by director Shankar."

Now Simbudevan is doing a new film for Kalpathi S Agoram under the banner of AGS film Entertainment. The director known for his comedy films is now going to do a cowboy film with Lawrence as hero!

The film has been titled as Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam! The lead artistes are Ragava Lawrence, Padmapriya, Lakshmi Rai, and Nasser Says Simbudevan: “It is in the cowboy genre, a western adventure comedy set in the 17th century”.

After Jai Shankar’s Ganga in 1970, this would be the first full-length cowboy film in Tamil. Shooting starts end of March and would be shot in Madhya Pradesh and various spots in North India and is estimated to cost Rs 15 crore.

Read the full story

For more details on Indian Westerns, see my earlier blog post on the subject.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Big Screen Cowboy Love

Me at 4 years old, dressed as a cowboy, in a portrait painted by my mother, Shirley Moskowitz

When I was a kid, I dressed up as a cowboy -- and so did friends of mine in Hungary, England, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic.... you name it.

The myth of the American Frontier and Wild West is universal -- everyone feels at home in it.

I came across this column in a North Carolina newspaper describing the allure of movie cowboys.

I loved cowboys. Roy Rogers. Gene Autry. Tom Mix. Lash LaRue. They were all heroes, but Roy Rogers was my favorite. You could always count on Roy when the going got tough. I couldn't wait to see my First Cowboy Movie.
I wanted to warn the rider, to scream, "Watch out!" No words would come out. I thought he was a goner for sure. But out of nowhere, here comes Roy, guns blazing, Trigger pounding the earth, nostrils flaring, sweat glistening on his neck. The Indians scattered before Roy's fists and bullets. When the movie ended, I was a cowboy, too, and Roy had his arm across my shoulders, thanking me for all my help.

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I remember feeling much the same way -- but about cowboys on TV. I can't remember going to see cowboy films at the movies. My favorite, that that of the writer of this column, was also Roy Rogers. But the "Jingles" character played by Andy Devine in Wild Bill Hickock was also a fave -- I recall carrying a cut-out of him from the picture on the box of Sugar Corn Pops cereal with me, en route to kindergarten. Ah, and then there was Hopalong Cassidy, with his picture stuck on the end of Wonder Bread wrappers....and the Cisco Kid, and Sky King, and the Range Rider, and Cheyenne, and all the rest.

Several years ago, I had a visiting scholar fellowship at the Autry National Center/Institute for the Study of the American West. Specifically, I was looking at the creation and marketing of the Western Myth. The Autry has a terrific collection of memorabilia from cowboy movies and TV shows, many of which also were popular in Europe. Gene Autry himself, of course, was tremendously popular -- when he toured the UK and Ireland in 1939 he drew enormous crowds and staged high-profile stunts, such as riding his horse, Champion, into the Savoy Hotel in London. Still, I did find it a little disconcerting when I visited a Czech Wild West theme park not long ago, and, in the lobby of its "Colorado" hotel, the theme song from Bonanza way playing -- sung in Czech.

Karl May Festival, Radebeul, Germany, May 2008. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Berlin versus Buehl... country music and bluegrass in Germany

Roland Heinrich at the Country Music Messe, Berlin, 2008. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

I had a hard choice for this weekend -- whether to attend the annual Country Music Messe (Fair) in Berlin, a noisy extravaganza of scores of bands, which I have attended I think four times in the past, or to try something new -- the European Bluegrass Summit in Buehl, Germany, a meeting gathering about 30 promoters, entrepreneurs and musicians from a variety of countries to discuss the state of bluegrass music in Europe.

It's really too bad that these events take place on the same weekend.... this year I opted for bluegrass, just to see something new. (More on the "summit" later.)

But I'll be thinking of Berlin, and in particular some of my friends who will be playing, like Roland Heinrich, Daniel T. Coates, and Lonstar....

Craponne -- Country Rendez-vous program now online

Country Rendez-vous Craponne, 2008. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

The program for this year's Country Rendez-vous festival in Craponne, France -- the 22nd edition of the festival -- is now online. the Festival, regarded as the top country music festival in France, takes place July 24-26 and features mainly American groups. It draws as many as 25,000-30,000 fans each year. Click HERE for more information on the program.

Friday 24 July 2009
7.00PM-1.30AM (5 BANDS)
7.00PM-8.00PM: TAHIANA (F)
9.30PM-10.35PM: W. C. EDGAR (USA)
10.50PM-00.00AM: OWEN TEMPLE (USA)
Saturday 25 July 2009
6.00PM-1.00AM (6 BANDS)
6.00PM-7.00PM: DAZZLER & LAYNE (F)
7.15PM-8.15PM: THE FIGS (USA)
Sunday 26 July 2009
3.00PM-10.00PM (5 BANDS)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

China -- upcoming international country music festival in China

According to an article in an Alabama news site, there's going to be an international country music festival in China this coming May. Not too many details on it yet, though...

the “2009 Zhang Jia Jie International Country Music Week,” will kick off in May with the first of the series in the Province of Hunan.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Australia Again -- country music as a local idiom

Here's an article from the Canberra Times illustrating how country music has been transformed -- or grew -- into a local Australian idiom, with its own cast of characters, events, landmarks, legends and music. The article deals with the Bush Ballad -- something like American cowboy songs but in an Australian context -- and an annual Bush Ballad festival and award.

Perhaps it's more accurate to look at this form of Australian country/folk music as a parallel track to that in the U.S., an independent local idiom with similar roots in European folk song? I don't know enough about it to determine the dynamics...

The song that won Anne Kirkpatrick best female vocalist at the Bungendore Muster Bush Ballad awards was so emotional, it stayed unsung in her family for years.

Even her father, country music legend Slim Dusty, wouldn't attempt it. ''It was too close for him to sing,'' Kirkpatrick said.

The song, Took His Saddle Home, tells the story of Dusty's songwriter, Mack Cormack, entrusting his prized saddle to Dusty when he was unwell.

Dusty had flown from Western Australia to be at his bedside.

''So dad took his saddle home,'' she said.

''It is a really special song because Mack was like a grandfather to me and a father to my dad, so it was a really emotional song.

''I had to sing it through a few times to get the emotion out of it because I would choke up.''

Kirkpatrick was one of the favourite performers at the muster yesterday, taking to the stage alongside other country music heavyweights Reg Poole, Glenn Jones and Terry Gordon.

The muster is in its 24th year, and while overall crowd numbers were down on previous years which was partially attributed to the heat there was a strong audience soaking up the music.

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