Sturm, Twang and the Imaginary Wild West in Europe
Monday, February 1, 2010
France -- a new video from Steve & Heather
Here's a new video of French country music from my friends Steve & Heather, a husband-and-wife duo (he's French, she's originally from the U.S.). I met them at the Country Music Rendez-vous in Craponne a few years ago. Heather was very helpful to me in discussing the French country scene, as she had prepared a survey and history of country music in France as a masters paper.
It was filmed at "Two River City" -- a Wild West village in the Alsace region -- the first I know of in France, though I am sure there must be others, given the widespread appeal of line-dancing and le musique country.
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.