[by Ken Hunt, London] It is a warm, sunny afternoon in September 2004. I am sitting on the steps outside Brno’s railway station scrutinising each tram because one will bring my interpreter, Irena Přibylová. Trams come and trams go. As always, I am writing and observing. I scribble “The drunks hang round the station/Each begs his ‘daily bread’.”
[by Ken Hunt, London] A good deal of music this month came out following up new musical experiences gained over the summer. There was also prepping interviews and anticipating 2014’s annual Darbar Festival, then about to take place between 18 and 21 September. (Before that festival there is generally a good measure of music to listen to by way of preparation or homework to be done. Much of this month’s selections sprang from attending Colours of Ostrava. This month Jackson Browne, The Pogues, June Tabor & Oysterband, the Velvet Underground, Ganesh-Kumaresh, Shirley Collins and Steve Ashley, Lo Còr De La Plana, Jackson Browne & Graham Nash, Alla Rakha and Aruna Sairam are in attendance. But there are many more discoveries waiting in the wings.
[By Ken Hunt, London] The Summer of 2013 saw the 30th Anniversary Edition of Billy Bragg’s Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy. It counts as a landmark release in the history of British political song, even though its most enduring morsel in the wider popular consciousness is A New England – a song that Kirsty MacColl covered so well and took into the UK Top Ten in 1985. At the time of its release Margaret Thatcher was at the helm of her ship but hell-bent on stormy weather ahead. In 1984 the seismic Miners’ Strike would forever reshape Britain’s political contours.
[by Ken Hunt, Ostrava, Vienna and London] A fortnight before the festival happened, The Prague Post informed readers that Colours of Ostrava is “the Czech Republic’s top summer music event”. Impressions from attending the festival serve to confirm that indisputably it is. Ostrava is in the top right of the country. Poland is 15 km away and the Slovak Republic 55 km distant. Inevitably therefore it is a festival that attracts an international audience. Ten years after the festival’s founding, in 2012 it switched locations in Ostrava and since then has taken place in Ostrava’s Vítkovice district. Its new setting is one of preserved industrial ‘dereliction’ – aka a UNESCO heritage site. And to mangle the Four Seasons’ comeback hit, ‘Oh, what a site!’
[by Ken Hunt, London] Several of these listening selections came about thanks to travelling in the Czech Republic and Austria and meeting an extraordinary bunch of people, some of whom became new friends. The gathering here comprises Nishtiman, John Barry (featuring John Leach as soloist), Grateful Dead, Tommy McCarthy, Bonnie Dobson & Her Boys, Geirr Tveitt, Ado Abdelmasih, Aziz Günel and Ibrahim Aksim, Iva Bittová & Vladimír Václavek and CSNY.
[by Ken Hunt, London] Bob Dylan, Bonnie Dobson, Paula Milcová, Salamakannel, SANS, Kronos Quartet, Ray Fisher, Zakir Hussain with Adnan Sami, Jenna And Bethany Reid and the Incredible String Band.
[by Ken Hunt, London] One of Europe’s foremost jazz critics, of a status comparable to Nat Henhoff in the States, died on 16 December 2013 in Prague. Lubomír Dorůžka rose to become the preeminent Czech-language jazz historian in Czechoslovakia and, after the separation in 1993, the Czech Republic. He was a Czech musicologist, music historian and critic (not just jazz), author, literary translator (including, naturally, the Jazz Age writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner, amongst others) and much more. Lubo Dorůžka had the ill-starred fortune to be a jazz aficionado under two totalitarian regimes, during periods when to call jazz dangerous was an understatement.
Updated 3 September 2016.
[by Ken Hunt, London] A long strange time with much written, little posted, too much heartache, death and separation. In other words: the usual. The backfill will appear. Work influences are, no apologies, rampant in these choices. It begins with Neil Young solo. It includes Mary Ann Carolan, Five Hand Reel, Paul Brady, Sakar Khan, Sam Lee & Friends, June Tabor, Barkatullah Khan, It’s A Beautiful Day and Wilson & Swarbrick.
[by Ken Hunt, London] In person Pete Seeger was, much like you’d imagine, physically pretty spindly, pretty lanky but with a muscularity. Born on 3 May 1919 in Manhattan, he had an air of another era about him. He had a personable gentlemanliness quality, if it doesn’t sound too foolish, a real Pete Seeger-ness to him.
31. 12. 2013 | Categories: Articles
[by Ken Hunt, London] 2013 in all its glory from the personal perspective of a herbert on the music critic’s treadmill. The selections are built up over the course of the year from the first day of January to the last day of December in order to avoid what all too frequently happens with end-of-year polls. Meaning, great stuff from the beginning of the year gets squeezed out of people’s memories.