Fragment, one of the most popular central European bluegrass bands ever, is celebrating their 30th anniversary by doing a reunion tour. Bass player and vocalist Jana Mougin is chronicling their tour for us at Bluegrass Today.
DAY 1 – November 23. Vlckovice, Czech Republic
The idea for our 30th Anniversary tour came in March, when we got an offer to play a concert in Slovakia. Everyone in the band was excited about touring again. We haven’t seen each other for two years, since our last tour in the USA in 2011. It’s not easy to work with the band consisting of four members, living in three different countries (Slovakia, Czech Republic, USA) on two different continents. After several months of communicating, booking and planning, we successfully kicked of our 10 day-long tour with a rehearsal at Henrich’s cabin in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains.
It was great to see everybody. The first night we stayed up late talking, catching up on the news in our lives, families, careers… While enjoying a few glasses of Slovakian red wine and Iveta’s (Henrich’s wife’s) delicious culinary creations, we remembered the ‘good old days,’ our tours in the USA and Europe, recording sessions, and various appearances in radio and TV shows. Years and years of memories, that, surprisingly, lingered in our minds to the last detail.
Maybe I should mention a few facts about the current line-up. The only original member is Henrich Novak (resonator guitar, vocals). He’s been with the band for 30 years (with a couple of short breaks). I joined the band 20 years ago, and Richard Cifersky (banjo) started to play with us 10 years ago. Our youngest member, Ondra Kozak (guitar, mandolin, fiddle, vocals), has been with us since 2007.
We rehearsed all day, and on Saturday morning we drove back to Bratislava, where our soundman/driver Jirka Elger patiently waited for us with a comfortable SUV and a full sound system in a trailer. After an uneventful four–hour drive we arrived in the small town of Vlckovice in the Northeast of Czech Republic. The Festival Malinkej was held in the town concert hall. It was nice to see many musicians I remembered from years ago. We even met two former Fragment band members Petr Brandejs (banjo) and Honza Maca (mandolin)! Since we were the last act of the night, we had a chance to enjoy three (out of five) other Czech bands – traditional Bluegrass Cwrkot, folkier Druha Miza Vojty Zichy, and contemporary Abalone.
The audience was amazing, applauding after each solo, truly enjoying every moment of the show despite the late night hour. We played for about fifty minutes, and finished with two encores way past midnight. It was a great night, and it would have been nice to spend more time in the bar talking with fans and friends, but we all were ready to get some sleep before our trip to Germany on the next day.