Bouncing Czechs

Tucson music fans are no strangers to bluegrass music. But this week bluegrass is coming to town this week not from the hollows of Appalachia but from the Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic.

The Czech bluegrass band Druhá Tráva, which also dabbles in country, rock, blues and European folk styles, plays Saturday night, Oct.5, in the courtyard at Old Town Artisans. The band was last in Tucson to perform about six years ago.

Druhá Tráva is one of just a few Czech artists with followings in the United States, along with '60s psychedelic-pop radicals Plastic People of the Universe and jazz bassist George Mraz.

Formed in 1991, the band has become one of the most awarded and internationally acclaimed bands in the Czech Republic. The group and its individual members have almost a dozen albums to their credit.

Druhá Tráva tours extensively throughout Europe and the United States; the current American tour is its 13th. The band has played with such familiar artists such as Ricky Skaggs, Tony Trischka, Leftover Salmon and Sam Bush.

Singer and songwriter Robert Krestan has won numerous awards for his vocals and is a music writer, poet and translator.

Strangely, Druhá Tráva no longer exists in the Czech Republic.

The band officially broke up last December, according to the group's Web site. It continues with several members intact under the name of Robert Krestan and Malinaband. To avoid confusing or alienating stateside audiences, however, the band continues to tour under the original name in the United States.

The core of the band still consists of original members Krestan, Lubos Malina, Martin Ledvina and Lubos Novotny.

Among its American releases are New Freedom Bell, an acclaimed collaboration with bluegrass stalwart Peter Rowan; and 1999's Czechmate, on which the band plays original and traditional material, as well as engaging covers of material by Chick Corea, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

For more about the band, surf over to the following Web site:

Czech out Druhá Tráva in concert Saturday, Oct. 5, at Old Town Artisans, 201 N. Court Ave. Tucson band Out of the Blue will open the show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 and will be available at the door. Knock $2 off that price if you're a member of the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association, Tucson Friends of Traditional Music, the Desert Bluegrass Association, In Concert or community radio station KXCI-FM. Information: 319-8599.

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