Bluegrass in Slovakia

Stephen Mougin on stage in SlovakiaNot long ago we brought you a story about Stephen Mougin playing in Slovakia. The tour is done, Stephen is back in the states and on the road with Sam Bush again, but he sent us some reflections on the state of the bluegrass scene in Eastern Europe.

Stephen tells us the concerts, in which he performed with Slovakian pickers, were a blast. He shared some thoughts about the various bands he came in contact with while there.

The band ¬öSidlo played traditionaly oriented songs. They have a GREAT lead singer (apolgies for not remembering or knowing how to spell the names….) and a GREAT tenor vocalist. The young fiddle player is an extremely talented young man and he truly understands the bluegrass genre.

He also told us about a new, up and coming band, Grass Country Drive. They have only played three gigs at this point, but Stephen says they are sure to rise to the forefront of the European acoustic music scene.

They have a powerful vocal trio consisting of a Husband/Wife team on guitar and mandolin (respectively) and the Bass player and a very interesting choice of repertoire. They played classics like “Yellow River”, a modern pop song, and a 60’s rock and roll tune… all done VERY tastefully in a bluegrass/ new acoustic fashion.

For the last performance Stephen himself gave, he enlisted the help of some of the area’s top pickers.

Richard Cifersky – Banjo, Milan Benkovic – Resophonic, Roman Sykora – Acoustic Bass, Michal Barok – Mandolin. We had a particularly magical night. They understand how to groove, and they KNOW the music. No show-off licks or pyrotechnics, they just picked solid and MASHED! It was truly a blast to play with them and I’m sorry that US audiences don’t get the opportunity to see these guys more often!

Steven Mougin in SlovakiaIt seems the members of Druha Trava, with whom American audiences should be familiar, were in the audience that last evening. Stephen prevailed upon Emil to join them on stage for the grand finale, and the crowd loved it.

Hopefully some of these pickers Stephen mentioned can find their way over to the states for a tour at some point. I’m fascinated by the idea that there are bands all over the world participating in the continuing legacy of Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and all the other founding fathers.