Sturm, Twang and the Imaginary Wild West in Europe
Monday, May 21, 2012
American Journeys -- First big festival of the season in France
By Ruth Ellen Gruber
There must be 40 country western festivals in France each year.... the season is about to kick off with American Journeys -- the first big festival of the summer season, June 1-2 in Cambrai, near the Belgian border.
The line-up includes a variety of types, from rockabilly to country to bluegrass rock, and there are stands and other atractions. Oh, and line-dancing of course; this is France after all.
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.