Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Happy birthday, Jana Dolakova Mougin!

Lilly Pavlak sends this tribute and photos; a feature in Czech by Lilly can be read here:

Yesterday (19 July 2011) Jana Dolakova Mougin, one of the best Czech & Slovak bluegrass singers, celebrated her birthday.

She started singing bluegrass with the Slovak band Grasshoppers. I met her for the first time in 1992 with the progressive Slovak/Czech band Fragment, formed around the banjo player Svata Kotas. At that time Jana was a student of journalism at Komensky University in Bratislava. She brought a fresh wind into the band.

Jana as a member of Fragment in the lineup that went to IBMA in 1995: Svata Kotas (founder and banjo-player), Jirka Karas Pola (bass), Emil Formanek (guitar), Henrich Novak (dobro)

In 1994 Fragment released its first album, Sunday afternoon, with English lyrics. Ten of the fourteen songs were originals written by band members. That album was an immediate success. A second album, Sny(Dreams), with Czech lyrics, soon followed, and the success was repeated. The third, a mini CD, was Little dreams, mainly in English. With this album Fragment was selected to showcase at IBMA in Owensboro, Kentucky. The band members at that time, next to Jana, were Svata Kotas (banjo), Emil Formanek (guitar), Jirka Karas Pola (bass), and Henrich Novak (dobro). Not only American audiences loved them. They played often at festivals and clubs around Europe, mainly in Switzerland and Germany.

In 1998 SPBGMA organised its first European festival in Vienna, Austria. A part of that was the European Bluegrass Band Championship. Among twenty bands, Fragment won, and that brought them another opportunity to tour the US for three weeks in 1999.

Fragment at IBMA 2000, Louisville, KY: Svata Kotas, Milan Maxla Trnka, Jana, Henrich Novak, Stanko Paluch, Misko Vavro

In 2000 they played again at the IBMA Fan Fest in Louisville. That year Jana was no more only the singer, but started to play bass guitar with the band. Fragment performed even at the Grand Ole Opry then.

Jana was voted Female Singer of the Year in Slovakia (1999, 2000), and as well in the Czech Republic (1995, 1997, 1998, 2000).

At the EWOB Festival in Holland Fragment was voted European Bluegrass Band of the Year 2004 and went again to tour the US. This tour changed her life. She fell in love with Stephen Mougin – the guitar player for the Sam Bush Band - and the following year she married him and moved to Nashville. In 2009 their son Sammy was born. [Left: the Mougins at the Station Inn in Nashville]

In 2010 Fragment finished recording of their last CD in a new formation. From the original members only the dobro player Henrich Novak is left, the old and new banjo player Richard Cifersky, and the youngest one is the guitar player Ondra Kozak. Recently Jana returned home to Nashville from her successful European trip. Happy birthday, Jana! We wish you all the best for your future!

Fragment on stage at the Strakonice Jamboree 2011