a bit o’ bluegrass

giant mountains band, prague
giant mountains band

it seems no matter where i go in this world, i always need some good americana music to keep my soul in shape. perhaps it has something to do with being lugged around to bars as a baby, falling asleep on the floor while my mom and dad were sound checking with their various bands or maybe it was my mother playing the mandolin over her tummy when i was still in the womb. whichever combination of these things it is, i don’t know, but i need bluegrass.

interestingly, the czechs are really into bluegrass. in fact, they are into all sorts of americana, and there is even a subculture of czechs who actually go out into the woods with cowboy hats and boots and spurs and pretend to be in the wild west. i am not kidding.

cowboy czech
this man takes his cowboy persona very seriously

well, i am glad the czechs like bluegrass, because bill and i have managed to take in some really great music since we’ve been here, much to my surprise. the first bit o’ bluegrass we discovered was the open bluegrassovy jam praha, which is basically an impromptu session where a bunch of pickers – professionals and hobbyists, it would seem – get together in a pub and play tunes. a lot of them are traditional bluegrass songs that someone has translated into czech, which admittedly disturbs me a little bit, but all the riffs are the same and there were some half-decent pickers around the group the two nights we went.

on our second night at the bluegrassovy jam, we met one, lucien holmes, a mandolinist hailing originally from seattle. after a casual mention that he played regularly with a band, the giant mountains band, i immediately found and “liked” them on facebook. for those keeping track, the giant mountains (krkonoše) are a range in northeast bohemia, along the czech/polish border.

anyway, the giant mountains band was playing last night in prague, which is pretty cool, since they are actually based in the southern town of české budějovice. the venue was a place called u vodárny (“the waterworks”), and like most czech restaurant/pubs, it is a smoky, cavernous place filled with overly hard, upright chairs, slot machines and western paraphernalia. the downstairs bar, which has absolutely no windows whatsoever, attempts a horse theme, so there were some harnesses hanging on the walls and framed pictures of what i could only assume were famous czech racehorses. and there was a nice little stage area and a decent sound system, too.

western-themed u vodárny
notice the wagon-wheel chandeliers

we ate dinner here and drank all night for next to nothing. really, it was practically free, though in the end that only went so far to countering the amount of smoke that was heaving off of our persons when we left, but i digress…

the band is really good, i have to say! i took a couple of videos, but it would seem that the microphone on my fancy camera is far less fancy than the lens, so i have to apologize for the sound quality, as it really doesn’t do the band justice.

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