Czech Bluegrass and Authenticity:
Since 1985 Rosta Capek has produced many forms of the banjo and mandolin in Prague of the Czech Republic. He originally studied as a violin-maker in his youth, but decided to focus on bluegrass and jazz instruments with his own company. He currently produces A and F style mandolins and mandolas, and he also makes 5-string old-time and bluegrass banjos, tenor banjos, and banjo ukuleles. I own one of his open-back models from the 1990s, and it was built for a collector/professor. It features the lion seal from the Czech coat of arms. Uses aged wood and top of the line accessories (pearl, heavy metals, maple, bronze bell tone rings, stc..). Capek also picks out the trees he uses for his instruments.
Originally in the Czech Republic, they used tenor banjos and banjo guitars in the 50s and 60s. Pete Seeger’s 1963 performance in Prague marked the first time people had seen a banjo. Marko Cermak created the first Czech banjos off of these pictures. American music has been present there since the radio stations of World War Two, and it is often associated with democracy and the old west. The music there is based off of trying to master traditional techniques with a uniquely Czech flare.
- 1. Authenticated, not pre-tense: may have in-authenticated qualities (first banjo based off of pictures and music often imitates English); however, it also has its own unique musical forms and ‘innovations’ that aren’t forged from pre-tenses of American bluegrass.
- 2. Original, not fake: while some music is copied from English styles, there are numerous originals in Czech. It is also the first generation or two of performers, so many are very original in a sense
- 3. Relic, not changed: Czech bluegrass is stemmed in being knowledgeable of traditional American styles before being innovative. This creates many groups who’s repertoires consist of early bluegrass (more per capita players than in US).
- 4. Authentic reproduction, not Kitsch: instrumental styles shine through, as coverers’ English is sometimes questionable. Not quite Kitsch, as some contemporary American bluegrass sounds can be more predictable.