Friday, September 28, 2012

Death of Herbert Lom - Karl May movie villain

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

I read a lot of obituaries yesterday of the Czech-born actor Herbert Lom, who has died at the age of 95. Almost none of the obits I saw in the English and American media mentioned the fact that Lom -- famed as the hapless  Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther films and known for many other roles -- had a starring role as the villain in the first Karl May film, Der Schatz im Silbersee, or The Treasure of Silver Lake.

In that movie, released in 1962, Lom played the evil Cornel Brinkley -- who murdered for a treasure map and led a band of outlaws against Winnetou and Old Shatterhand....the role enshrined Lom in the canon of Karl May movie villains.

Here's the trailer for the film:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Country Music Awards in France coming up

Didier Cere and the Bootleggers at Equiblues festival, St. Agreve. August 2012

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

The Fourth French Highways country music awards will be announced on Nov. 7 in Paris, and I have friends in the running.

Voting takes place until Oct. 7 -- there are awards for best foreign artists and best French artists.

My friends Steve & Heather -- the France-based French-American duo -- and the Bootleggers, fronted by my friend Didier Cere -- are both up for best French group.

Hmm... you can only vote once.....

In the French solo artist category, the rockabilly-country singer Eddy Ray Cooper, whom I interviewed a few years ago, is up for best male singer.

Good luck, guys!

British Country Music Festival -- heads up

Here's a heads up for next year's British Country Music Festival.....It's not til March, and there are a lot of other festivals in the meantime.... I think I'll be posting more and more notices of upcoming events.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Germany -- Country Music Messe in Bayreuth this weekend

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

OK. I lost track of things. The annual Country Music Messe in southern Germany, this year in Bayreuth, snuck up on me -- it's this weekend. That is, today and tomorrow.

My friend Willie Jones, who's based near Munich, and his German band are playing both days. And  Michael Lonstar, from Poland is also on the program, along with several other folks I've met, photographed, interviewed and video'd over the years, like Daniel T. Coates, who has long been based in Germany but hails from my own home state, Pennsylvania.

Dan's band won the German Country Prize this year.

I've never been to the Country Music Messe in southern Germany -- it's a spin-off of the event that is held every winter in Berlin, which I've attended several times.

Lots of artists go and perform on three (simultaneous) stages, both for the public and for booking agents, festival organizers, et. al. who come to size up acts for the coming year.

Meanwhile, dozens -- scores? hundreds? -- of stands sell country music and wild west stuff, ranging from CDs and DVDs to clothing, housewares, hobbyist supplies, and lots of kitschy tschachkas. Many people who attend are hobbyists of various stripes who dress up to fit the mood and theme. Lots of line-dancing.

Here's some video I shot at the Country Music Messe in Berlin, in 2010

And of course in 2008 -- Don Jensen sang his iconic "Sauerkraut Cowboy" onstage at the Berlin Messe...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Three Inducted into British Country Music Hall of Fame

The British Country Music Hall of Fame has announced three new inductees:  the BBC broadcaster Bob Harris, the late band leader Jon Derek, and British music journalist and promoter Tony Byworth.

Here is the information from the BCMHF web site:

2012 Inductees to the British Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Jon Derek  (1941- 2011) 
Jon Derek
Jon Derek won a talent show on Radio Luxemburg at the age of 17 and formed his first band, Black Stetson, this metamorphed into Johnny & The Hayriders.
He attracted the attention of the BBC with appearances on shows like Easy Beat, Country Time and eventually playing on Brian Mathews Saturday Club. This made him an obvious choice to open for Jim Reeves when he toured the UK.
In 1964 he turned professional and changed the name again to The Flintlocks. Jon joined Jamie Gunn and Jerry Hogan picking up another identity change to Jamie, Jon & Jerry, touring with Clodagh Rodgers, Carl Perkins and Hank Locklin.
At this time a young Albert Lee, who is also a Hall of Fame member, joined the band. This evolved into the Jon Derek Band backing Clodagh Rodgers on her television shows. By 1958 this had become the renowned Jon Derek & Country Fever, still with Albert Lee on lead guitar. They toured with nearly every American star who toured the UK and Europe from Bobby Bare and Charley Pride to a massive 32 date tour with Slim Whitman.
With almost Hollywood good looks and a brilliant voice, during the 70s Jon Derek dominated the British Country scene. A regular at the now increasingly popular Wembley festivals including the European shows, in 1977 he had a double single released on Decca. One side was a cover of the then rising star, Don Williams, ‘Til All The Rivers Run Dry which had Don’s approval when they toured together.
Bob Harris 
Bob Harris
The history of Country music on BBC national broadcasting goes back to the 1940s when all the bandleaders had their photographs up the main staircase at Bush House when it was referred to as hillbilly music.
The BBC turned to their top specialist presenter, Bob Harris after his days on Radio One presenting very listenable late night music. He carried the iconic music through onto television with the Old Grey Whistle Test where he was introducing the nation to the Country rock sounds of Poco, The Eagles, The Byrd’s and Pure Prairie League, highlighting their lead singer, Vince Gill, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, the legendary Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris to name a few. Whispering Bob Harris was still carrying the nickname from the early days and he became the voice of Country music in the UK where stars and newcomers alike all accepted invitations to guest on his Thursday night show.
Voted International Broadcaster for 2004 by the CMA, he also appeared on the panel of the Americana Music Awards in 2008 and he gained a Fellowship at the University of Northampton.
Bob Harris describes Nashville as his spiritual home and, with visits to Austin and the clubs of North Carolina, a close run second.
Tony Byworth
Tony Byworth
In 1969 Tony bought a ticket to go on the first BCMA trip to Nashville as a founding member. Wanting to help, he suggested he would try and get some media attention. It resolved in him getting a spot with Wally Whyton on Country Meets Folk which led to him becoming the UK correspondent for Billboard Magazine.
By 1970 he had quit his sales job and became a fully fledged journalist. As well as Billboard he wrote for Record Mirror, CMP, Sounds and various other publications. In 1977 he became the editor of Country Music People, a job he held until 1983 when he teamed with Richard Wootton and launched the most successful PR company in the UK dealing with Country music.
Tony Byworth’s journalistic skills were put to full use in his contributions to many books on Country music including writing five in his own right.
As PR manager for Ritz Records he was responsible for Hall of Fame member, Sarah Jory’s first recording visit to Nashville, as well as promoting Daniel O’ Donnell in the USA.
Tony has also been honoured by the CMA for services to Country music. It was on one such trip last year he discovered Will Banister and started his career in the UK.
In honour of his 70th birthday, the Texas Flag was flown over the State Capitol building in Austin for his work in promoting Texas music.
With many American awards to his credit, it’s been many years since the journalistic awards of the 70s to being inducted into the British Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012 and he is still working in the industry.

Read more at:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Allan Mikusek and Michal Tucny

Gotta post this video....Slovak country singer Allan Mikusek sings a duet with Michal Tucny, the late, great Czech country singer who was a real star of the genre in Czechoslovakia.

Mikusek, who is still very active, looks very young in this clip -- and he was. Tucny died in 1995 at the age of 48.

One of Tucny's best known songs was "The Last Cowboy," recorded in, I think, 1980.

I love the video: it says so much about the way the Imaginary Wild West was lived out in people's minds -- here, in the dreary dark days of Communism: