Folk & Country
For the fifth time already, the centre of Brno will be transformed into one big music stage. From Thursday to Sunday, the multi-genre Brno Music Marathon festival will take place here. The programme will surely please fans of rock, pop, groove, dance music, opera, folk, ethno, world music, classics or musicals. Brno is the only UNESCO City of Music to welcome 300 musicians in our country, among others, for example, Magdalena Kožená, Katarína Knechtová or Jan Bendig. You also should not miss Pianoštafeta, The Endless Organ and concerts in street rooms of Kateřina Šedá.
The world celebration of music, known as Fête de la Musique, will be held on this particular day of 21 June. The current situation does not allow for mass celebrations in the form of concerts, happenings and performances in the streets of UNESCO Music Cities. That is why this year's celebrations of music will take place in the form of an online concert. Today's virtual music festival, which starts at 12:00, is jointly held by more than 20 cities from all around the world. You can watch the concert on the Facebook page UNESCO Cities of Music and on YouTube.
The multi-genre Brno Music Marathon festival is about to enter its fourth season. In August, Brno will have four days full of music that will sound in the city squares, in the festival rooms of Kateřina Šedá, and traditionally in the Alfa pasáž shopping mall. The genre representation in the programme ranges from groove, dance and Romani music through opera, folklore, world music, classics and musicals. Performers will include Pavel Fischer & Jakub Jedlinský, VUS Ondráš with a project by Jiří Slavík, the Indigo Quartet, Monika Načeva, the Epoque Quartet and many others.
TIC Brno responds to the current state of society and culture by launching an online project entitled (ni)KAM v Brně [(no)WHERE TO in Brno], which follows on the printed KAM (WHERE TO) magazine. The portal will gather and promote cultural activities in Brno so that supporters of culture can stay together even during this quarantine period.
A summer walk around Brno's downtown where music sounds at every step? That was and will be the Marathon of Music Festival in Brno. The centre of Brno will resound with the festival already for the fifth time this August. The programme promises a great variety of genres, reputed names of artists, but also space for young talent. Once again, music will be played at unconventional venues and in rooms by Kateřina Šedá; concerts will newly be staged, for example, in a kitchen storage room or a in a children's room.
Summer courses of the Guitar Institute are coming up soon – a five-day series of lessons, workshops and outdoor concerts in Brno cafés and clubs. This year's lecturers include Klára Hemplová, David Pšenčík and Gabriel Červeňák. During the courses, participants can choose among genres such as rock & heavy, jazz-blues, pop-folk (acoustic guitar), flamenco or classical music.
For four days, the centre of Brno turned into a vibrant metropolis full of music of many genres that were heard virtually everywhere. Brno reaffirmed during this extended weekend that it deserves to be a UNESCO City of Music. Most of the productions were free of charge, the paid ones were sold out and even the shows were added. The attendance estimated by the organizer is 35 thousand people. It was played in the squares, in the streets, on the balconies, but also in the underground, in the town hall, in the arcade or in the churches. This year's specials were concerts in four street rooms by the artist Kateřina Šedá.
Oldřich Veselý, a Brno-based singer, composer and keyboard player, died in January 2018. In February 2019, the 10th Brno Beatfest, dedicated to his memory, took place in the Semilasso music hall. And a year later, a CD recording of this concert was released under the title Malý princ [The Little Prince], complemented by several bonus items.
When pronouncing the name Jiří ‘moravský’ Brabec (1955-2018) (the name is partly a pun referring to a typical Moravian dish called "moravský vrabec", which is pork roast with braised cabbage and dumplings – translator's note), anyone, who until recently had any business concerning the Czech-Moravian folk and country scene, is reminded of the unmistakeable figure of a mighty man wearing a beard, with a strong voice and an inexhaustible source of information, and an enviable general knowledge of not only the above-mentioned music genre. We are speaking here about a complicated but deservedly respected personality who was able to surprise us with his knowledge in a number of disciplines, but also with his self-deprecating humour and unexpected physical dexterity. Unfortunately, for the last time he surprised people around him with his sudden departure, only a few days before his sixty-third birthday in June 2018, almost unnoticed by the public media, for which he had worked for so many years.
”It’s a long journey to the West, / Pointless, fruitless is the longing,” began the first cowboy song recording issued by R. A. Dvorský’s publishing house in 1939. The theme and tone reflect the “tramping” movement, with its idealized vision of “America” and its unspoiled “nature”, which led Czechs to take to the woods, where they hiked, met round campfires and sang songs modelled on American folk songs and country music. So widespread was the tramping phenomenon that it made its way into popular music, where it long remained. Over time, the romance of the cowboy and the idea of a free life on the Great Plains found their way not only into songs sung by such late twenti- eth-century stars as Karel Gott, Helena Vondráčková and Waldemar Matuška but into social life itself: very few countries in Europe have such liberal laws when it comes to sleeping overnight, or even setting up camp, in the woods. In the past young people in Brno could choose whether to be “city slickers” hooked on discotheques or “wander- ers”, who would head for the main train station every Friday afternoon or Saturday and from there set out on the first train for wherever in the countryside it was heading to.
Bands that have been present on the scene for several decades have two options: Either they make a living from their own substance, and therefore from hits of the past. Or they are still trying to come up with something new, sometimes with the wishes of conservative fans in spite of it. The "Brno-based" group Poutníci (meaning Pilgrims in Czech), who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, are somewhere halfway in between. They still play Panenka [The Doll], which the audience demands, but fortunately they didn't get stuck and – maybe after a long time, but still – they come up with a new serial album, which should not pass unbeknown to the fans of Czech country and bluegrass.
To write a guide to music in Brno in the past and present means digging deep into one’s own recollections and those of others as well as into sources with varying degrees of reliability, and as far as possible not believing anything automatically but always asking “Did this really happen just like that?” And in doing so, to be very, very suspicious of one’s own memory. Two basic questions that cropped up in connection with almost every sentence were “What is it about this band or that event that makes them special? Would someone who’s never been to Brno and has no ties with the city find it interesting?”
Due to the impact of extraordinary measures taken because of the Covid-19 pandemic on stakeholders of the cultural and creative industries in Brno, Brno leaders and the Department of Culture of the Brno City Municipality are working intensively on a set of precautions for minimizing the damages. At the same time, communication is conducted on all levels of public administration, predominantly in collaboration with the Institut umění – Divadelní ústav [Arts and Theatre Institute], which is mapping the situation on the nationwide level. Until 22 March 2020 you can help assess the current situation by means of an online survey (the link is provided below). Further steps will be taken according to the results of the survey.
We know several singing cello players from the domestic music scene: Olin Nejezchleba, who recorded his first solo album at the age of fifty; Tara Fuki, which even consists of two singing cellists; and Natálie Velšmídová, who shone out bright with her folk song remakes at the end of the millennium. However, Pavel Čadek is the only true singer-songwriter in the sense that he writes his own songs and uses cello as his main (or even the only) accompanying instrument. Moreover, thanks to his classical music training and his past with The Eclipse, a harder cello group, he is able to work with the cello freshly and, above all, in a non-folk manner, and that is why his instrument sometimes plays more than just an accompanying role. Although his debut album would be sufficiently varied even with cello only, Pavel decided to work with more sophisticated arrangements and invited accordionist Ondřej Zámečník, cajon player Jakub Špiřík and some other guests in episode roles to the studio.
On Friday 14 February, the Sono Centre in Brno hosted a genre-diversified festival, which was also a celebration of three decades of activity of three publishing branches, which we associate with the original simple name Indies Records. Over the years, Indies Records has divided itself into three separate labels with three distinct edition catalogues – Indies MG, Indies Scope and Indies Happy Trails, which are operated by the personalities of Miloš Gruber, Milan Páleš and Jaromír Kratochvíl.
If a band releases a new album after ten years and calls it Dej si čas [Take Your Time], it sounds like a pleasant self-irony. But what is ten years against delays of other bands, whose fans had to wait for new albums for eighteen (AG Flek) or even thirty years (Progres 2). For Mošny, it was said that the new album started to emerge a few years ago, but the group wanted to include some brand new songs, which they needed to rehearse and finish.
As a UNESCO-listed city of music, Brno has had four festival days full of music and dance. Tens of concerts and performances with hundreds of performers took place at twenty-two music venues. Music in the streets sounded on every corner, but most attention this year was attracted by four rooms by the artist Kateřina Šedá, in which artists of different genres and nationalities took turns. Another attraction was the performances of the British Motionhouse and No Fit State Circus, who repeatedly enchanted the Náměstí Svobody Square with their acrobatic pieces and breathtaking performances. Two large stages were also set up – Dominik Stage on Dominikánské Square and Django Stage on Malinovského Square, on which appeared artists such as Jana Kirschner, Monika Bagárová, minus123minutes or Jan P. Muchow & The Antagonists. Traditionally, the festival was accompanied by the sound of barrel organs whose players met in Brno as part of their 10th international meeting. This year, singer and multi-instrumentalist Tinatin Tsereteli (Hannover) and violinist Nicola Manzan (Bologna) as artists from UNESCO partner cities of music also premiered at the Brno Music Marathon. The atmosphere of the festival is captured in the video below.