Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) – July 10, 2015

Modern Czech Music Grows More Diverse

By Zhong Shan

PRAGUE —  “I made it all by my heart.” Petar Introvič says, with a firm facial expression, when talking about his blues career.

Petar Introvič is the front man of Bluesberry, a legendary Czech blues band who makes blues music for 44 years. On the evening of July 16, Bluesberry performs at Blues Sklep, a bar famous for live blues and jazz in central Prague.

Petar founded the band in 1971. It was a time when the communism didn’t have blues or even the name ‘Bluesberry’ was forbidden for them.

“It was against the law. You could go to jail.” Petar says. They had a problem named Bluesberry, for there was a liquor named that. And they started to have problems with the communist people, but they never change their style. For the first 10 years, they were just learning, even didn’t record it. They start to have influence against the communism. “That’s why I made it.”

In Czech Republic, Bluesberry is not the only band that founded in Czechoslovakia and are still on tour or doing regular performances. Local rock band Blue Effect tours around Czech and Slovakia every year. Another big name in Czech rock—Olympic—has already put up the concert poster along the streets.

Young local artists also perform actively among jazz bars. David Kraus & Band’s show at Jazz Republic on July 17 attracts tens of locals and tourists like Koreans, Americans and Chinese.

On the other side, in a restaurant right beside Blues Sklep, Communion, the latest album of a British electronica trio called Years & Years, is playing on and on.

“It’s like the hottest album here.” The waitress says.

While local artists compose and perform music with their own language, more and more music from Europe and the world floods in to share the market.

Earlier this year, Rock for People, one of the most popular summer open-air music festivals in Czech, takes place in Pilsen and Hradec Králové. Starting in 1995, the music festival welcomes its 10th anniversary this year. From 2007, Hradec Králové, an unused airport, became the place to hold the event. The festival has since witnessed much more chart hits and outstanding artists from all over the world.

In 2015, 4 local solo artists including a DJ and 31 local bands participates in the festival; while 8 solo performers including 2 DJs and 55 band performers are from Europe and the world.

Same situation occurs in music television. In a major music channel called Óčko, a program focusing on electronic music plays most music from British DJs and all the hits on UK Charts.

On the music chart of the channel called ‘Óčko Chart’, no.1 hit is from a local boy band United 5; no.2 is from a local pop-punk band Donaha; while the third place goes to Jack Ü and Justin Bieber. Among the other 17 hits, 11 songs are made by foreign artists from America, Britain, Sweden, Belgian, Germany and others.

The market also appeals to the music service giants. Apple opened its online music service iTunes Store in Czech Republic in 2011, along with other Eastern Europe countries. Spotify said “hello to our new friends in Hungary, Czech Republic, Malta, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Cyprus!” in 2013.

An article written in June 22, 2015 by PIAS, an international recording company for independent music, shows that the market in Czech Republic is “very exciting”. “Ticket sales are thriving in Czech, which shows the market is there. A lot of bands are going into Czech because it’s an easy hop from Germany.”

When talking about the current situation about Czech music, Petar Introvič says that there are a lot of bands nowadays, especially the new generation, and some really surprise him. In terms of blues bands, his highlights that he makes old-school blues, which distinguishes his music from the others. Just the way “from the melody of the Mississippi, but write about our things.” Because he likes the melody, and that’s the basic.

“If somebody is going to like our bands, please, of course, we want to make them known to other countries. Even we don’t have the achievement to go to China, we say to you ‘hi’ and ‘listen to our music’”, says Petar.