Czech Republic - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 2 - 12/24/96
This month, I'd like to write about Druha Trava (Second Grass) as
a group rather than about any of their specific albums.
Robert Krestan started an all string five piece band back in 1991 as an
accompaniment for his Bob Dylan-esque singing and songwriting. He was
fortunate in picking excellent musicians with a unique sound. The mostly
guitar-and-banjo playing Malina brothers, teamed with Lubos Novotny on
steel and the bass player Jiri Meisner are capable of virtuoso
musicianship displays. Unfortunately, it goes largely unnoticed. While
Krestan's songwriting is passable, his lyrics
are often obscure, full of self-conscious humorless references often
delivered by mumbling. Listening to their self-titled first release, one
can be easily turned off by the sameness of Druha Trava's sound. Yet, there
are glimpses of what the group could become. The fretless
playing, a much-too-occasional saxophone and a rare harmony vocal show
the direction the group should be taking.
Yet there is hope. During their 1996 North American tour, out of
linguistic necessity Druha Trava had to feature playing more than Krestan's
singing. They ended up delivering a solid and a varied show during which
funky dance grooves alternated with intricate arrangements of classical
pieces and original compositions by every group member were followed by
fresh-sounding remakes of jazz standards.
By getting away from the 'Protest Song' style of the past and
concentrating on their Bela Fleck and the Flecktones-like
virtuosity, in 1997 Druha Trava could became a great commercial
success. But whether Krestan relinquishes some of the control still
remains to be seen.
Sounds intriguing? Then czech it out!
Copyright © 1996 Ivan Sever