In late October I spent an afternoon at a country western festival in Bologna, Italy. It was the very last day of the two weekends that the festival took place, and I was eager to see what it was like: though I have been to wild west and country festivals in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and the Czech Republic, I have only been to a couple of them in Italy.
This one, called “Festival Country,” took place at the Bologna Fairgrounds, and it shared space in a cavernous hall with a sort of “October Fest” beer festival (featuring what was presented as German food). In a separate cavernous hall there was a so-called “Irish Festival:” vaguely Celtic music, and stalls that mainly seemed to sell “Lord of the Rings” type clothing…..
The path to all three led through the grim industrial landscape of the Fair buildings…..
Once there, what did I find?
The scene — at least on the day I was there — was a sort of distillation of all the most common stereotypes associated with “the west,” “the frontier,” “country-western,” and, in a certain way, “America.”
Me outside the ruined synagogue in Kalvarija, Lithuania, the town from which by great-grandparents emigrated to the US around 1880
A long article on Jewish roots travel by Hilary Danailova in New York Jewish Week quotes me at length about changes in the Jewish heritage and Jewish heritage travel scene over the past quarter century.
Czech Radio’s English language service recently interview me, along with banjoist-multi-instrumentalist Lubos Malina, about the great “Czechgrass” band Druha Trava’s new double live CD.
You can access the interview by CLICKING HERE — and you can either stream the half hour interview or download it as an mp3.
We talk about the new CD set — one CD was recorded during the annual summer festival in the beautiful town of Telc, and the other is a compilation of performances last year with guests Peter Rowan, Charlie McCoy and Katia Garcia.
We also spoke about my role in DT’s previous CD, Shuttle to Bethlehem, which mainly features my English language translations of DT singer-songwriter-frontman Robert Krestan’s songs.
After the interview, Lubos and I stopped to visit the new museum devoted to pioneering Czech animator Karel Zeman, en route to a concert by Kris Kristofferson.
I’m delighted to announce the publication of “Preserving Jewish Heritage in Poland,” an illustrated book marking the 10th anniversary of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland — in which I have a sort of introductory essay.