The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Czech banjos, mandolins win over US bluegrass stars
Cezh craftman and banjos and mandolins maker, Rosta Capek works on a mandolin on May 28, 2019 at his workshop in his house in the Czech village of Chouzava, 40km far from Prague. Star banjo player Ned Luberecki, who was named the 2018 Banjo Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), is one of several renowned artists of the country and western style music to play banjos and mandolins made by Rosta Capek. Michal CIZEK / AFP.

by Jan Flemr



PRAGUE (AFP).- Star banjo player Ned Luberecki sits back in an armchair at a Prague music hall, contemplates the instrument he's holding, then gently begins strumming.

"I'm still waiting on a name for it. I've just decided she's a 'she'. But it should be a Czech name," the American musician says of his six-month-old handmade banjo, crafted in a tiny village tucked away on a Czech mountain range.

Luberecki, who was named the 2018 Banjo Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), is one of several renowned artists of the country and western style music to play banjos and mandolins made by Rosta Capek.

The Czech craftsman supplies instruments to the likes of 15-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs and Grammy nominee Doyle Lawson, both American bluegrass stalwarts.

Chasing away Flatt and Scruggs, his dog and cat named after the famous bluegrass duo formed in its early days in the 1940s, the 51-year-old Capek says he is living his dream.

"When Ricky Skaggs, a star of stars and an absolutely fabulous musician for many people, buys an instrument from you, it's fantastic," Capek told AFP, at his workshop in Chouzava, a village about 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of Prague.

American and illicit
Bluegrass was everywhere as Capek was growing up in a small flat in Prague -- he would listen on tape to the sounds and songs of Bill Monroe, the originator of the musical style.

His father founded and managed ex-Czechoslovakia's first and only women's bluegrass group, in which Capek's mother played banjo.

"I was sure I wouldn't be a professional musician. I saw my parents rarely, they had 260 concerts a year.

"But my love for musical instruments led me to study at a violin making school," he said.

Capek made his first banjo in 1985 when the country was still under communist rule.

He copied his mother's Gibson, one of only two five-string banjos in the country, where all things American were strictly banned.

"Mum got the Gibson from a factory where she played a show with her band," Capek said.

"Someone brought it there as a sample from the States but they thought it was lousy and that they could make a better one themselves," Capek added with a chuckle.

Czech, please!
Communist rule played a major role in the development of the local bluegrass scene and the music's popularity.

Over time, Czechoslovak bluegrass evolved from the country's "tramp" movement that saw hundreds pack up and leave cities to roam the countryside at weekends between the two world wars.

Live music became the obvious pastime for long evenings by the campfire.

The slightly more liberal 1960s gave rise to full-blown bluegrass bands with names such as the Greenhorns or Rangers.

"The communists wouldn't allow them to sing in English so they wrote Czech lyrics for bluegrass and country standards," said Petr Brandejs, head of the Czech Bluegrass Association.

Sung in Czech, songs like "Jesse James", "Orange Blossom Special" or "Folsom Prison Blues" soon found their way into the improvised and spontaneous jam sessions still beloved of many Czechs.

After the 1968 crackdown on the Prague Spring movement by Soviet-led armies, authorities forced bands with English names to change them to Czech ones if they wanted to perform.

They did and the music lived on.

"People went to the woods to be free even during communism. And when they played this American music there, they were even more free and they also showed opposition to the regime," Brandejs told AFP.

Bluegrass wedding
Capek sold his first mandolin in the United States in 1995.

"The first one paid my air ticket so I was happy, but I still had a long way to go," said the man, who now makes about a dozen mandolins and up to 50 banjos a year.

He cites patience, accuracy and a willingness to study other makers' instruments as key to his craft.

"When we go to America now, we're confident. We know we have top-quality instruments that the stars like to play," he said.

Last year was special for Capek: he married his longtime assistant at a "bluegrass wedding," his best man being the dobro player Rob Ickes, a 15-time IBMA Award winner.

Then in September, Luberecki -- who has two custom-made Capek banjos -- won his award.

"He won it with my banjo. It's the biggest reward I ever got," said Capek, who also organises bluegrass concerts in Prague.


© Agence France-Presse










Today's News

June 17, 2019

'Color Riot! How Color Changed Navajo Textiles' on view at the Heard Museum

Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden presents Rembrandt's Mark

Italy's 'genius' film director Franco Zeffirelli dies

How UK museums and galleries can arrange to protect exhibits on loan from abroad from court-ordered seizure

Record set as Babe Ruth jersey sells for $5.6 million

Exhibition explores the art, architecture, design, and philosophy of the early years of the Bauhaus

Exhibition at Häusler Contemporary gives an exciting insight into the diversity of contemporary object art

Rare seventeenth century poetry manuscript at risk of export

Museum wins national award for exhibition label writing

Julien's Auctions two day :legends" auction results announced

'A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex' opens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Exhibition of Ann Aspinwall's recent work in silkscreen, etching, linocut, and collagraph opens in New York

Freeman's inaugural sale at new flagship location to be largest auction of American Flags

VALIE EXPORT receives the Roswitha Haftmann Prize

Exhibition at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein questions of the performativity of gender

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery opens a seven-decade-survey exploring the work of of Morris Graves

Czech banjos, mandolins win over US bluegrass stars

Film-maker Jonas Mekas laid to rest in native Lithuania

A Phillips X Private selling exhibition to showcase American women artists from 1945 to today

Diamonds and designers shine in Rago's June jewelry auctions

Group exhibition celebrates artists whose work explores and engages with gender identity

Chakshu Patel joins The Studio Museum in Harlem

Kalakriti Contemporary opens an exhibition of works by Ekta Singha

Japan's anime industry in crisis even as its popularity soars




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful