Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Echoes of Dobrofest – a Tribute to John Dopyera (1893 - 1988)

While we're heading into the festival season, let's not forget about the past. Here's something flashing back, and maybe marks a new beginning... Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for her reviews about so many great concerts - this one really is a highlight to read so we post it full lenght. Enjoy!

Milan Benkovic
On Friday, 22nd March a special event took place in Trnava, Slovak Republic. The concert was held to honor the memory of festival Dobrofest. The International music festival Dobrofest Trnava used to be a unique event in the sphere of a popular music not only in the Slovak Republic, but throughout Europe. And the main organizer was the City of Trnava. From 1992 to 2008 the festival welcomed the most famous Dobro players from all over the world. Unfortunately the festival in this form is no more, too many changes happened. And the more recent festivals had nothing to do with Dobro any more.
Henrich Novak Trio / Natalia Mikuskova
This Festival however was dedicated to the memory of inventor John Dopyera – honorary citizen of Trnava, who was born near by in Sastin-Straze 120 years ago and died in Grantpass Oregon USA in 1988, exactly 25 years ago. In 1908, the Dopyera family immigrated to California with ten children. By the end of the 1920s John Dopyera and his brothers had invented and constructed the resophonic guitar – the DOBRO – in the USA. The resonator guitar's name stems from the name of the handicraft company DOpyera BROthers Co. The actual meaning of this word in Slovak also played a significant role in this name "dobro means good in any language" is the statement in the advertising slogan of the Dopyera Brothers Company.The resophonic guitar is undoubtedly one of the most significant artistic-craftsmanship – technical inventions by which the Slovak natives enriched the world of music culture and it has since been regarded as an American folk instrument, a part of the American cultural heritage and, in recent decades, it is also characteristic in unplugged music.
Peter Szabados and Michal Barok
Usually, the Dobro festival concerts featured the entire musical spectrum, all musical styles in which the Dobro and the resophonic instruments were traditionally used – country, bluegrass, blues, Hawaiian music, folk, swing, and even rock. That night, the best Slovak musicians performed a real tribute to John Dopyera. On the program were: Milan Benkovic Project – bluegrass to new acoustic music, Bluesmen Peter Bonzo Radvanyi and Lubos Bena, Henrich Novak Trio- for several songs with female singer Natalia Mikuskova, American charismatic country singer Willie Jones, who lives in Germany came on stage with his Slovak band. He told us several stories from the old festival and together with one of the former festival promoters Bonzo Radvanyi he sang the signature tune of Dobrofest – dobro, dobroo, dobrooo, dobrooo.
dobro, dobroo, dobrooo...!
He also brought a guest singer, the talented young Tania Matkovcikova, who performed some self penned songs with his band. The last act was Peter Szabados and Michal Barok. Peter Szabados is also the most famous Slovak soundman, and owner of a recording studio. He told us that after 30 years playing the Dobro he finally started to record his debut CD. And I for sure am not the only one looking forward to hear it!
For the grand finale all the remaining musicians gathered on the stage and a true firework of music followed. We all hope that this event will be repeated next year and will become a new tradition…

Lilly Pavlak in Brno, 10th April 2013