The former political regime in Czechoslovakia deemed much of Western culture “damaging” and “ideologically subversive”, but authorities struggled in particular to control the flood of foreign rock ’n’ roll and pop music. State cultural agencies and censors rarely allowed Western bands to perform here or even play their music on the airwaves. But unofficial channels filled the demand – through illegal imports, home-copying networks and ‘magnetizdat’ – do-it-yourself music. At the same time, state authorities sanctioned Western music when sung by Czech
Michael Kocáb has been active in politics (he oversaw the withdrawal of Russian troops from Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s) and business. However, he is best known as the leader of the rock group Pražský výběr, who were banned by the Communists in the 1980s before becoming a major live draw the following decade. Kocáb was the band’s singer and songwriter and, following the departure of the other founding members, now heads Pražský výběr II. He turned 65 on Sunday.
This week one of the country’s most famous annual music festivals, Colours of Ostrava, took place in the largest city of Czech Silesia. This year the festival boasted some truly major artists, including the legendary rock band The Cure, as well as Florence + The Machine, Rag’n’Bone Man and Mogwai. While the festival’s international line-up made it attractive to wide audiences, many of the country’s leading musicians also performed at the event. In this week’s Sunday Music Show we introduce you to some of their most famous tracks.
The international multi-genre music festival Colours of Ostrava gets underway on Wednesday on the outskirts of the industrial Moravian city. The annual event has expanded exponentially since it launched in 2002 and now boasts 21 stages, and a wide range of discussions under the Meltingpot banner, plus film screenings and workshops. Radio Prague asked festival spokesman Jiří Sedlák about how it has changed and what visitors can look forward to.
Olomouc-based independent band Nylon Jail display their ability to rock out to the full on their latest LP, Irreversible Changes. On the record core members Jiřin Jirák and Roman Vičík (who split up a few years ago, only to reform) are joined musicians from the groups OTK, Priessnitz and Muff, as well as a girls’ choir. Nylon Jail were due to play on the Radio Wave stage at Prague’s Metronome music festival on Saturday as one of the contenders in this year’s edition of the Czeching competition.
The well-known Czech musician Ivan Hlas is celebrating his 65th birthday. The singer, songwriter and guitarist has been a fixture on the domestic music scene for over five decades. He started performing in the late 1960s with his friends from the Prague neighbourhood of Hanspaulka and enjoyed the biggest popularity in the 1990s, after receiving the Czech Lion for Best Original Score for Jan Hřebejk`s film The Big Beat or Šakalí Léta.
Czech folk-rock band Divokej Bill recently celebrated 20 years of existence with 18,000 fans cheering in a sold-out O2 arena. The band, which hails from the town of Úvaly near Prague, was founded by singer and guitarist Václav Bláha. Since 1998 it has released 13 studio records as well as a number of singles and music videos.
Houpací koně, who have been determinedly doing their own thing in the north Bohemian town of Ústí nad Labem for over a quarter of a century now, recently released their eighth LP of expansive guitar-based rock. Though title track Desolation Peak and other tracks have English titles, the record again features finely-honed Czech lyrics from group leader Jiří Imlauf.