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flag Czech Republic - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 2 - 12/24/96

Druha Trava
(Second Grass)

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 bass 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 e-mail address

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