Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Thanks to Henrich Novak for this report:
Concerts, workshops, sessions... a week at the bluegrass festival in Risør, Norway (8-14 July), was full of intense and unforgettable musical experiences for bluegrass band Rough and Rocky Road from the Czech and Slovak Republics.
The group, which consists of prominent Czech and Slovak musicians, had three members in the workshop teachers lineup. Resonator guitar (aka Dobro) instructor was Henrich Novák from Bratislava (SK), acclaimed instrumentalist and teacher well known in European and American bluegrass circles. Zdenek Roh, who lives in Cerekvička near Jihlava (CZ), was teaching the 5-string banjo. Zdenek is not only an extremely skilled banjo player but he’s also a builder of respected Roll's banjos and other instruments. Young talented guitarist and singer Martin Vitásek from Opava (CZ) took the challenging task to teach children and teenagers how to play guitar. Other teachers at the workshop were Chris Jones and Ned Luberecki (USA), harmony singing; Radim Zenkl (USA), mandolin; Ralph Schut (CZ), guitar; Oystein Fosshagen (NO), fiddle; and Davide Bertolini (I), bass.
For live performances that were held in the second half of the festival week, another talented guitarist, Vladimir Križan (originally from Galanta, SK), and energetic bass player from Prague (CZ) Svatka Štěpánková joined the RRR band. Svatka substituted for the band’s original bass player, Erik Banič.
The high artistic level of this band members was also demonstrated by the fact that Henrich Novák, Zdeněk Roh, and Svatka Štěpánková accompanied the American stars of the festival - great singer, guitarist and composer Chris Jones and banjo player Ned Luberecki. Henrich Novák with Martin Vitásek also played with mandolin virtuoso Radim Zenkl from USA.
Rough and Rocky Road performed at the festival three times - first in the beautiful port dock in Moen and at the festival itself in the town of Gjerstad. They addressed the Norwegian audience not only with interesting arrangements of well known bluegrass and country songs, but mainly with their own original compositions, written by Martin Vitásek or Zdeněk Roh.
After returning from Norway, the group has a four-day break and then continues with a performance in the birthplace of Martin Vitásek - Opava (CZ). Next day they will be flying to Scotland to spend a few days there and perform at the Guildtown Bluegrass Festival (20-23 July).