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Mar 27 2013

Amerikana

One of the great things about living in the Twin Cities is the music scene. No, I don’t just mean Prince, The Replacements, and Brother Ali either. There is a vibrant folk and folk fusion musical community here that produces music that makes the classification parts of your brain hurt even as your ears are happy.

One of the projects from this community is currently seeking funding for mixing and mastering an album. I’ll let Natalie Nowytski explain, because I couldn’t do it justice.

It’s a little known fact that Czechs and Slovaks dig bluegrass. So do I. I also happen to really like Czech and Slovak folk songs. But interestingly, most bluegrass and “newgrass” out of those countries are original compositions; there is no tradition of taking old Czech, Slovak, and Rusyn folk songs and infusing them with a bluegrass sensibility. After years of study and performance of Eastern European music—including a tour many years ago in the Czech Republic, where I was first introduced to Czech bluegrass—and a 3-song demo I recorded shortly thereafter with like-minded musicians, I’m finally working on my first solo album, called Amerikana: traditional folk songs from Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Rusyns of Eastern Slovakia set to American bluegrass, old time, country, and Americana arrangements, centered around the Prague-based Amistar resophonic guitar. Thanks to the Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, I’ve been able to research, collect, transcribe, arrange, and record this new body of work with some of my favorite local folk musicians, like Peter Ostroushko, Steve Kaul (The Brass Kings), Adam Kiesling (Pert’ Near Sandstone), Jim Parker (Pig’s Eye Landing), Scott Keever (Orkestar Bez Ime), and Gabriela Sweet (Bayou Hazard). I’m now at the post-production stage and need to raise enough money to finish the project before the grant year is over in April.

Full disclosure: One of the musicians on the album is an old roommate of mine. I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with how much I like the idea of the project, though.

If this is your sort of thing, or if you now need to listen to figure out what sort of thing it is, consider helping fund the project.

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