Saturday, November 26, 2011

India/Pakistan -- Country Music Goes to Bollywood...

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Shahvaar Ali Khan, a  musician based in Lahore, Pakistan, has infused the score of his friend director Rohit Dhawan’s upcoming Bollywood movie Desi Boyz with some US style country music...

Unmistakable country twang sets the tone of Khan's song titled “Filmain Shilmain” -- which also has elements of Pakistani and Indian music.

States an article by Rafay Mahmood in the Pakistani newspaper the Express Tribune:
The song itself has captivated the audience with its reminiscent feel. It takes the listener to the good, old carefree days, when sipping tea at roadside stalls and jamming at college concerts defined life.
Here's the song:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Italy -- A Wild West Restaurant Chain in Italia

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

Just a note to highlight yet another chain of wild west restaurants, this one Old Wild West in Italy. The web site says there are 70 branches.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

UK -- The Best of British Country Music

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The Telegraph newspaper runs an article on the best of British country music.  "Britain is renowned for its folk music," writes Martin Chilton, "but there also UK country bands strutting their stuff in proud style."

He highlights new albums by several groups:

Red Sky July: Red Sky July (Proper Records)
The Good Intentions: Someone Else's Time (Boronda Records)
Ahab: KMTV (Navigator Records)
Jim Harbourne: Hills Of Home (Borrowed Time Productions) 

Read the full article HERE

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Czech/US/Music -- Druha Trava and Shuttle to Bethlehem on U.S. national NPR radio

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

More DT and Shuttle to Bethlehem -- the band's English-language CD that mainly features my translations of Robert Krestan's original Czech songs.

A story on the band and the CD, by NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea, ran on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" show today. Read a short version of it HERE or listen to the full story HERE.

The first time I heard Druha Trava play was April 2009. I was covering President Obama's trip to the Europe. There was a big outdoor speech in Prague, and the band was playing Czech versions of Bob Dylan songs.

I did a short radio postcard story back then, figuring it was the kind of experience that every music fan knows: You stumble upon a great band somewhere and never see them again.

Now it's the fall of 2011, and I'm chasing candidates around Iowa. Who should be doing a show at the Czech and Slovak Hall in Cedar Rapids? Druha Trava.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

England -- Wild West ranch vandalized and robbed

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

In the English town of Hartlepool, thieves ransacked and robbed a wild west enthusiast's private cowboy ranch of £3500 worth of items in his collection of Americana.

Ged Parker, who runs Hartlepool’s Wild West Legends Re-Enactment Society, turned up to his site on the outskirts of town yesterday morning to find it had been ransacked.

Thieves had gone through all of his belongings and stolen much-loved authentic pieces, including saddles, bridles and clothes that he had imported from the USA.

They also made off with expensive tools, tried and failed to use a trailer to steal a vintage tractor and made a mess of the field off Dalton Back Lane where the group keep their horses.

Ged, who founded the society three years ago, called the thieves “mindless idiots” as they also left gates open for three horses to roam free – despite it being just yards from the A19 dual-carriageway.

. . . .

The society has more than 40 members who regularly visit their very own prairie town on the outskirts of Hartlepool.

It was set up by Ged and his friends to recreate life on the range and he hoped to use it to educate people about American history.
 Read full story HERE

Friday, November 4, 2011

Belgium -- "Nudie Suits" exhibit/Bobbejaan Schoepen

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The Fashion Museum in Antwerp, Belgium is presenting the first exhibition in Europe of the flamboyant clothing designed, mainly for country music stars and other popular entertainers, by Nudie Cohn, the "Rodeo Tailor" (and king of sartorial rhinestone glitz).

The show, called "Dream Suits", opened Oct. 28 and runs til Feb. 12. It features clothing owned -- and worn -- by the popular Belgian entertainer Bobbejaan Schoepen, who died in 2010 at the age of 85.

Drawn from the personal collection of iconic Belgian entertainer Bobbejaan Schoepen and his wife Josée, this show — curated by fashion historian Mairi MacKenzie and designer R. Cerimagic — will be the first European exhibition to examine the work of the Ukrainian born tailor who revolutionized the clothing of Country & Western Music.

Originally a designer of highly embellished g-strings for New York strippers, Nudie Cohn moved to Hollywood in 1947 and originated the rhinestone cowboy look that has become visual shorthand for Country & Western style. His fantastical, intricately embroidered and heavily ornamented outfits adorned the backs of numerous music and film stars, including Elvis Presley, Gram Parsons, Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Elton John, Cher, John Lennon, Steve McQueen, Johnny Cash, and Bobbejaan Schoepen. Today his work is still sought after and admired. Contemporary musicians such as Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream, Mike Mills from R.E.M. and Beck, fashion photographers such as Craig McDean and fashion designers from Tommy Hilfiger to Ralph Lauren have been inspired by his incredible designs. Bobbejaan Schoepen was a lifelong client and collector of Nudie Cohn designs. This resulted in a close friendship between the two men, and an exceptionally large and well-preserved collection of Nudie designs. This exhibition will celebrate both Nudie’s very particular aesthetic as well as the relationship between these extraordinary men.

Schoepen was a singer, actor and comedian whose career and style included a hefty dose of old-style comic country music -- including virtuoso whistling and yodeling. He got his first breaks entertaining American troops in Europe after World War II. He was one of the first Europeans to appear at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, performing three times there in 1953 with Roy Acuff.

A short film made by Alice Hawkins to accompany the exhibit is very consciously retro -- but I find it fails to capture the joy, verve and dazzlingly ironic sense of fun that Nudie,  his often outrageous costumes and his over the top cars embodied.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Shuttle to Bethlehem"

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I just spent three days with Druha Trava in California (around the Bay Area) helping out with some of the PR for the new CD "Shuttle to Bethlehem" -- the CD showcases my English language translations of Robert Krestan's original Czech songs, and I also wrote the liner notes for the album.

It was fun. Three good and very well received concerts in three quite different venues as part of the band's current five-week U.S. tour (a sold-out gig at a coffee house in Santa Clara, a crowded concert in someone's house in Redwood City, and a lunchtime show at a Mexican Restaurant called Don Quixote's near Santa Cruz....see clip below

I also took part in a two-hour radio show on the local KRCB NPR affiliate in Sonoma country about the CD and the band, hosted by my friend Linda Seabright -- and ahead of the Don Quixote gig, I spoke on-air between songs during a live performance by the band on KPIG FM. (The studio is located in a former motel in Freedom, CA, and is decorated with layers of pictures and posters testifying to 40 years of rock...)

KPIG studio. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

The band's tour has been getting good write-ups: to me it's interesting how the sets  they sing are  different in the States from what they do in CZ. Here in the US, most is in English -- new songs from "Shuttle" and a range of covers -- and there's more bluegrass. But in CZ, Robert's songs make up the major part of the onstage repertoire, with only a very few songs in English.