Debut by Hajcman Pays Homage to the Legend of Tramping Music, Kapitán Kid (Captain Kid)

7 April 2021, 2:00
Debut by Hajcman Pays Homage to the Legend of Tramping Music, Kapitán Kid (Captain Kid)

Hajcman, a tramp-swing group with its roots in Brno, released their expected debut album Jednou to bude (It Will Come to Pass). The band’s name, derived from the Czech word for a supporting steel frame in coal mining, is a reference to cave exploring, the hobby of the group’s leader Martin Škrobák, whose first band was called Stalaktit (Stalactite). While the album largely showcases the talents of the tramping legend, it does feature a sample of the band’s work in the form of two songs by Martin, hinting at the direction of the band’s future album of author's songs. It’s Jaroslav Velinský aka Kapitán Kid who is the author of the most of the debut’s collection of songs, the result of over a decade’s effort. An old friend of Martin’s, as well as a fellow musician and inspiration to him, the tramping music king Kapitán Kid had planned to record some “blasts from the past” in 2005 with his previous outfit the Banjo Gang, as described in the sleeve notes and associated songbook. Joint recording sessions with Martin and his friends took place subsequently, but Velinský’s best-known tramping songs from the CD Tempo di kůň (Tempo de Horse; released in 2007) were eventually preferred. This is how these tracks came to be short-listed, with the blessing of Kapitán Kid himself, and recorded just a few years after the songwriter’s death, making it essentially a tribute to him.

It is an unquestionable decision to set out with an album that pays homage to a friend and leading light of the genre by musicians devoted to the musical style, who also share a devotion to tramp swing and the unusual banjo ukulele. Even more so through the act of seeking out songs by Kid stashed away rather than cherry picking from his better-known material. And what a back catalogue there is, since many of Kid’s songs, some over fifty years old, are becoming part of the traditional folk canon: Slaboch Ben (Cowardly Ben, 1955), Krinolína (Lariat, 1959), No to se ví (Of course, 1974), Jenoféfa, Malá Jane (Lil’ Jane), Eldorado, Kdo mi zatlačí oči (Who Will Close My Eyes) and many others.

Jaroslav Velinský, better known as Kapitán Kid (1932–2012), boasted several talents and skills. A former apprentice turner and graduate from a vocational college, he worked as a coal miner, a night guard at a zoo, a repairer of sports tools and paraphernalia, and, after the Velvet revolution, as a sign writer, graphic designer of adverts, typographer, and as an employee of the Theatre of Music (Divadlo hudby) in Liberec. He was incredibly productive in literature as well, penning dozens of detective stories (featuring Ota Fink, a retired detective), science fiction novels, and historical and adventure books for kids. Together with Jiří Šosvald, Kid founded Porta, a musical festival, in Ústí and Labem and was active as its producer for several years. From the 1950s onwards, Kid was a composer of tramping songs. His first original album (No to se ví – Of course), however, was released as late as 1983 on Supraphon after numerous battles over the lyrics of the featured tracks. By 2009, though, he’d released another six albums and guested on a couple of others. In later life, he gave performances, whether by himself or with the Krakatit band, and enjoyed working with younger musicians playing in the tramping style – as was the case with Martin Škrobák and his friends.

The four-member group of Hajcman is quite unorthodox, compared to a normal tramping band; while still amateurs, they clearly have the desire to perform at the highest possible level. The band consists of singer, guitarist and banjo ukulele player Martin Škrobák, Tomáš Martiník on mandolin and guitar, Tomáš Juřena on dobro and Kamil Mazálek on double bass. Another trio of musicians guest on the album: Vlado Kali Hässler, drums; Michal Rolf Semerád, harmonica and Petra Thielemannová, who sings two songs devoted to Kid, Swing pro Jarmilku (Swing for Jarmilka) and Rokenrol pro Jarmilku (Rock’n’roll for Jarmilka).

hajcman_booklet_jednou_to_bude

The sub-heading says it all: Hledání ztracených písní Kapitána Kida (In Search for Kapitán Kid’s Lost Songs), highlighting the fact the album Jednou to bude (This Will Come to Pass) pays homage to the artist who inspired it. Martin Škrobák contributes two original tracks – O holce z vagónu (The Girl from the Wagon) and Vypilmetyl (The Methyl Alcohol Drinker), a humorous ballad that brings to mind Kid’s Hoří (Fire!), along with the well-known Fordka (Ford) by Petr Hošťálek, which Kapitán Kid used to play with the band Krakatit, and Bídnej džob (A Miserable Job), a slightly obscure song by Ryvola, all of which make up the album’s running time (nearly fifty minutes).

From a subtly different perspective it includes songs with lyrics tailored to female singers, Swing pro Jarmilku (Swing for Jarmilka) and Rokenrol pro Jarmilku (Rock’n’roll for Jarmilka), created to show off the striking vocals of Jarmila Jamajka Koblicová and her band VeRumKa from Kadaň. The other eleven pieces by Kapitán Kid are pure, quick tramping songs in the swing style. Although the quality of the lyrics varies, the music is adeptly handled by Hajcman, through its arrangements and very pleasant, even masterful performance, taking these songs beyond anything recorded by Kapitán Kid, with any accompaniment, in the past. Martin also attempted to discover exactly when the songs were penned. From what he was able to find out, the songs date from the period between 1954 (Když je život votrava – When Life Is a Vanguard) and 1974 (Návrat domů – Return Home). Some lyrics deride consumerism or criticize the environmental situations (Divnej sen (Strange Dream), Holubi (Pigeons), Jednou to bude (This Will Come to Pass), while others convey a sense of Kid’s characteristic nostalgia (Návrat – Return, Betonová hráz – A Dam of Concrete, Mary Celeste, and the ironic take on himself His Master’s Voice). Mariam z ranče (Mariam from the Ranch), a song chock-full of every possible tramping cliché, represents a parody of sweet-sorrow tramping songs from the period of the First Czechoslovak Republic. A similar kind of parody, now targeting “outlaw songs” from the same period firmly situated in the American mid-West, is the song entitled Special Blend of Buchanan. The album makes for pleasant listening as a whole. In addition to singing, it contains numerous musical stand-out moments on guitar and harmonica, some great cross-picking on mandolin and walking bass lines, solos on banjo ukulele and dobro, and adept percussion, sensitively integrated into the performace. Everything is above and beyond the standard of normal campfire songs, although I personally like those, too, and associate them with songs by Kapitán Kid. Simply put, Hajcman present a slightly different take on tramping music and I look forward to an album by them of original material.

The CD has a fetching three-piece cover, the front showing an original portrait of the band members by Marko Čermák, a banjo player in the Greenhorns and the well-known illustrator of the Rychlé šípy (The Rapid Arrows) comics. A related songbook is also available, containing chord charts and lyrics in full.

CD of Hajcman: Jednou to bude. Hledání ztracených písní Kapitána Kida. (It Will Come to Pass. In Search for Kapitán Kid’s Lost Songs) 2020, private pressing. (kapela.hajcman@gmail.com)

Photo by Eva Trnková

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

As part of the Ibérica Festival, Catalan singer-songwriter Magalí Sare performed with guitarist Sebastià Gris from Mallorca on 17 June 2022 in Brno. The following interview was conducted immediately after the concert.  more

Last year they were the stars of Brasil Fest Brno. This year they will be welcomed to Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, where they will perform on 25 July at the Folk Holidays as part of an evening called Poetry in Every Song. In the meantime, they have played at the WOMEX world music fair in Portugal and the sold-out spring festival Budapest Ritmo. Above all, they were awarded the prestigious prize of Songlines magazine, today’s most respected periodical in world music. They call themselves Ayom, and alongside Brazilian singer Jabu Morales, they are made up of musicians from Angola, Greece, and Italy. Our questions were answered by accordionist and composer Alberto Becucci, guitarist Pedro Bastos João, and of course the charismatic singer and drummer.  more

On Friday, 29 July, at the Folk Holidays in Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, the group L’Alba from Corsica will perform, combining traditional Mediterranean polyphony with the music of many nations, not only from southern Europe. Its album A Principiu, released last March, was voted by the World Music Charts Europe jury as the sixth best album from around the world in 2021. guitarist and vocalist Ghjuvanfrancescu Mattei answers our questions on behalf of L’Alba.  more

This year’s 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Festival is history after almost a month of music. The gala closing concert at the Zlín Congress Centre presented a program of songs by Ernest Chausson, Igor Stravinsky, Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss, Leoš Janáček and Antonín Dvořák. Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano and patron of the show, performed as a soloist. She was joined by pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle, flutist and this year’s Artist in Residence Kaspar Zehnder, violinist Giovanni Guzzo, violinist Rahel Maria Rilling, violist Amihai Grosz, cellist Dávid Adorján, and clarinettist Christopher Richards. Dvořák’s songs were specially arranged for this ensemble by the English composer and conductor Duncan Ward.  more

This year's 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Music Festival is slowly coming to a grand finale as a joint concert by flutist and artist in residence Kaspar Zehnder, mezzo-soprano and patron of the festival Magdalena Kožená, and her husband, pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle. On Friday 24 June, at one of the last concerts of the culminating festival, artist-in-residence Kaspar Zehnder, together with his friends Giovanni Guzzo (violin), Rahel Maria Rilling (violin), Amihai Grosz (viola), Dávid Adorján (cello), Wolfgang Klinser (clarinet), and Anaïs Gaudemard (harp), prepared the dramaturgy of Friday's chamber concert in the library of the Náměšť Castle.  more

Nikol Bóková, a native of Ostrava, has long been considered a unique talent in the field of classical music. At the age of nine, she played as a solo pianist with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, and studying at the conservatory and then at the JAMU was a matter of course. But already during her studies of classical music, another of her talents, that of composition, took shape and gradually manifested itself. Together with her trio (Nikol Bóková-piano, Martin Kocián-contrabass, Michal Wierzgoń-drums), she recorded her debut album Inner Place in 2019 and immediately established herself among the Czech (and indeed European) jazz elite. Two more projects followed during the cover – Unravel (2020) for the same named line-up and last year’s Prometheus, recorded with extraordinary commitment by a remarkable studio line-up. Out of this and several subsequent concerts (among others during JazzFest Brno last autumn) crystallized also the quite logical expansion of her trio with the versatile and empathetic guitarist David Dorůžka, the Nikol Bóková Quartet. This line-up was also the birthplace of the latest album Elements, with which a new creative phase opens for Nikol and her partner and co-creator Jan Vala.  more

On 22 June, the Ensemble Opera Diversa visited the atrium of the Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University on Arne Novák Street with the program Dances in the Gardens, which continued the series of outdoor projects started last year. Bassoonist Pavel Horák and marimba player Martin Švec performed as soloists. The concert was conducted by conductor Patrik Červák, who stood in front of the Ensemble Opera Diversa string orchestra for the very first time.  more

The abbey in old Brno where Gregor Johann Mendel worked until his death hides several beautiful areas behind its walls. One of them is the Paradise Court, which is entered through an inconspicuous entrance next to the Basilica of the Assumption. On Thursday 16 June, the stone walls of this ancient space hosted the opening concert of the Brno and its churches project.  more

On Friday 17 June, Catalan singer-songwriter Magalí Sare will perform in Brno as part of the Ibérica festival. Her current album Eponja reached number six on the prestigious World Music Charts Europe in June 2022, compiled by 45 European radio publicists from albums around the world. As an invitation to the concert, we bring you a review of this album.  more

After the first successful concert of the Concentus Moraviae festival’s resident ensemble at the castle in Slavkov, the ensemble led by violinist Pavel Fischer expanded to include pianist Katya Apekisheva and on Sunday, 12 June, in the Great Hall of Mikulov Castle, presented an unknown face of the musical language of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók with his Piano Quintet in C Major. Along with Fischer and Apekisheva, the concert also featured violinist Markéta Janoušková, violist Diede Verpoest, and cellist Erich Oskar Hüttermore

Last year’s 100th anniversary of Gustav Brom’s birth still resonates on the domestic jazz scene. At the very end of 2021, a 4-CD set entitled “Gustav Brom – 100 Years” was released, offering a cross-section of the orchestra’s repertoire, from songwriting to jazz to intersections with contemporary classical music. Alongside this, an album charting the Brom Orchestra’s long-standing collaboration with Karel Velebný has also appeared on the same label (Indies Happy Trails). Radio editor, jazz musician, and teacher Jan Dalecký was one of the producers of both albums.  more

In its twenty-seven years of existence, the Concentus Moraviae International Music Festival has been held in a number of unusual and unique places. Sunday's program Homo Sapiens – The Story of Rhythm in Velké Meziříčí has the potential to be one of the most memorable concerts of the festival. On June 5, OK Percussion Duo musicians Martin Opršál and Martin Kleibl, together with guests and students Tomáš Javora and Kryštof Vašíček performed in the normally inaccessible premises of the New Synagogue, which has served as a center of affordable shopping for years. The concert was held in cooperation with the European Festival of Philosophy, the Jewish Community of Brno, and the town of Velké Meziříčí. At the same time, it was part of the project From the Shopping Center to the Cultural Communitymore

This year’s 27th edition of the international music festival Concentus Moraviae is still at the beginning of its almost month-long program, yet in terms of dramaturgy it is not holding back at all. After the opening featuring Argentinian and Uruguayan tango in Boskovice and Balkan music in Ivančice, the festival brought the Arcadia String Quartet to the atrium of the town hall in Kyjov on Thursday 2 June, where they performed the String Octet in C Major by Romanian composer George Enescu together with their friends from the Transylvanian Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to the members of the quartet (violinists Ana TörökRăsvan Dumitru, violist Traian Boală and cellist Zsolt Török), there were also violinists Vlad RăceuValentin Șerban, violist Mihai Oșvat and cellist Ștefan Cazacu. The concert was held under the auspices of the Ambassador of Romania to the Czech Republic, H.E. Antoaneta Barta.  more

We met violinist Pavel Fischer at the Budějovická metro station in Prague, and on the way to the Dobeška Theater we managed to discuss his holiday in Italy. At the time, we were already working out the subtitle of this year's Concentus Moraviae festival “From Roots to the Future”. Next to Dobeška, where the Sklep Theater plays, is what we call the “woodshed”, where the Škampa Quartet has been rehearsing for thirty-five years. Pavel Fischer was a founding member of the ensemble which he left at a time when it was enjoying one international success after another. As he says, he was attracted by greater musical freedom and a quieter life. At Dobeška, after our interview, he had a concert with cellist Olin Nejezchleba and guitarist Norbi Kovács. We started with him, although our main topic was Fischer's residency at this year's Concentus Moraviae.  more

Another in a series of themed “anniversary” orchestral concepts by Jiří Kotača for his big band, this one commemorates the centenary of the birth of Canadian-American jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, and above all, genius arranger Gil Evans and his successful collaboration with legendary trumpeter Miles Davis in the late 1950s.  more

Editorial

As part of the bicentenary celebrations of Gregor Mendel’s birth in July, the Brno Contemporary Orchestra will also join in the congratulations. On Wednesday at St. Augustine’s Church, the orchestra will play several pieces by composers whose initials of their names have been transformed into a secret cipher. The concert will be conducted by Pavel Šnajdr.  more

The Olomouc Baroque Festival will offer a program full of music from the Baroque to early Romantic. It includes 11 unique projects that will take place throughout Olomouc. The festival will also visit the pilgrimage church in Dub nad Moravou. The festival’s resident ensemble this year is the Volantes Orchestra. Musica Figuralis, Societas Incognitorum, Musica Florea, Arte dei Suonatori, and others will also perform.  more

Tomorrow, the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra is already looking forward to an extraordinary concert – both in terms of its program and the many ways it can reach the audience. As part of the Mendel 2022 festival, the orchestra will play Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass and, in a world premiere, present a piece that Armenian composer Tigran Mansuryan composed on commission for the Philharmonic and the festival. Mansurjan will be present in person for the first performance of his work entitled Orhnerg – Navapet Bari (Hymn – The Good Captain).  more

The Brno Ensemble Opera Diversa will perform two chamber operas by Miloš Štědron this afternoon. Magnum mysterium will be performed in its world premiere, and Palackého truchlivý konec will be performed in a revival (it was premiered in 2013). The ensemble will perform both works in the Old Brno Monastery on Mendel Square as part of the Mendel 2022 Festival. The performance will be directed by Gabriela Tardonová.  more

The Brno part of the international art workshop festival will take place in the Vice-Governor’s Palace and Villa Löw-Beer. The motto of this year’s edition is “Coming closer to yourself and others through the art of perception”.  more

The Vaňkovka Fest is a multi-genre festival that traditionally takes place in the former crane track between the Vaňkovka Gallery and Fait Gallery. The summer festival this year attracts concerts by artists such as Lenka Dusilová featuring Květy, Mucha, Budoár staré dámy, and Dan Bárta and Illustratosphere. There will also be an evening of stand-up comedy.  more

The Mendel22 Festival will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Gregor Mendel’s birth. And since music was important for Abbot Mendel himself, and for the entire Augustinian Order, it will also play a crucial role in the festival program. Music will be performed in several places that are inextricably linked to Mendel and the Augustinians in Brno. The Brno Contemporary Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Choir under the direction of chief conductor Dennis Russell Davies, Ensemble Opera Diversa and Musica Figuralis will all perform. The festival will also include the premiere of Mendel’s opera Magnum Mystérium by Miloš Štědroň.  more

The I. V. Psota Ballet School is opening registration for children’s courses for the school year 2022/2023. Talent tests will cover all the ballet school’s courses for children and will take place in early September 2022.  more

Guitarist David Dorůžka, Polish pianist Piotr Wyleżoł, and American drummer Jeff Ballard have known each other for years, but it wasn’t until last spring that they came together for the first time to record a new album. The band’s sound relies primarily on analogue electronic instruments, simple melodies, and complex grooves. The album launch, entitled Andromeda’s Mystery, will take place at the Husa na provázku Theater in Brno at the Syncopation Festival.  more

The Znojmo Music Festival has more than thirty concerts and accompanying events on its program, and this year it takes place for the eighteenth time. This year’s edition, subtitled Guardian Angels and Homecomings, will take place at various locations in Znojmo and in its surroundings – in the countryside and in castles and churches. The festival will present the premiere of a stage production of Joseph Haydn’s oratorio The Return of Tobias in its own production. Adam Plachetka will perform the title role.  more