Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Report on the Czech Banjo Jamboree

Caslav massed banjos. Photo © Lilly Pawlak

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The annual Banjo Jamboree in the Czech Republic, held now in the town of Caslav, is the oldest bluegrass festival in Europe. It's one of the first festivals I went to when I started following the country and bluegrass festival circuit in Europe.  This year's festival, June 21-22, was the 41st edition of the event. It included concerts, workshops, jam sessions, etc. The line-up was almost all Czech bands, with acouple of Americans and others. And there was the tradition jam session -- and photo -- of as many banjo players as possible performing Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

I didn't attend this year. But Lee Bidgood -- whom I met at the Banjo Jamboree in 2004 -- was there, presenting a sneak preview of Banjo Romantika, the documentary about Czech bluegrass that I helped on -- and in which I am featured as a "talking head" expert.

He gave a lengthy and thoughtful two-part write-up of the festival on his blog, with links and photos:

The oldest Bluegrass festival in Europe takes place in a suitably historic spot. The part of its history that you can see in this post is a bit more recent – the Republic of Czechoslovakia (founded in 1918 out of the still-warm ashes of the Hapsburg empire and the rubble of the first World War). The First Republic, as it is termed by Czechs (“Prvni Republika”) is a golden age, during which the country was the 10th larges economy in the world (think about who the major players were and weren’t in that period…don’t think folks in Europe were counting Indonesian or Chinese cottage industries in their tallies…). The traces of the first republic in Caslav include the site for the Banjo Republic festival, an outdoor letni kino (summer movie theater) and swimming pool. The building has the modernist flair of the first republic, including the elegantly minimalist metal railings that characterize villas and office buildings from the period. There is something slightly nautical mixed in with this style: an occasional round, porthole-like window, the railings that look like the top deck of the Titanic, etc. ...

Lilly Pawlak, bluegrass fan and expert extraordinaire, also covers this year's festival on the Czech music web site Music Open.

Her report is in Czech -- but google translate does a fair enough job of giving you the gist, and Lilly includes quite a few pictures.


Friday 21.6.2013 

1. Album
2. Taverna
3. Handl
4. Fámy
5. Poutníci
6. Sunny Side
7. East-West (CZ-SK)
8. Jimmy Bozeman & Lazy Pigs (USA/CZ)

Saturday 22.6.2013
1. Malina Brothers
2. Modrotisk
3. Twisted Timber
4. Abalone
5. Benefit
6. Blue Gate
7. Dessert
break + banjo players photo shooting
8. St.Johnny & The Sinners
9. Wyrton
10. BG Cwrkot
11. Goodwill
12. Black Jack
13. Vabank Unit
14. Louvat Brothers (Belgium)
15. G-Runs & Roses
16. COP 

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