Compact archive May 23, 2008

Czech Anti-smoking Law – new chapters

The anti-smoking law is one of the hot topics of this years lawmakers’ season. The laws are debated over and over, as they often return back because of their bad law enforceability and uncertainty. Last time, it was the problem of smoking ban at tram and bus stations, which nobody took seriously. The seriousness of passive smoking is the main topic of the another proposal of this year.

There may be of smoking ban in Restaurants, with one exception – when the owner accommodates smokers in a smoking room, which would be air-conditioned separately, with no service in the room, so the smokers would have to go for their drinks by themselves.

The smoking law varies from liberal to very strict rules. The definite final version may take longer than expected; e.g. last month the team came with a hard version, banning smoking almost everywhere, last week, there were ideas to unban smoking at some public places. We will see, which compromise will win.

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African Jimmi Hendrix Bassekou Kouyate concert in Prague

The African Jimmi Hendrix plays the ngoni. The ngoni is an ancient traditional lute found throughout West Africa and Kouyate introduces it to Western audiences, making it internationally popular.

Bassekou was born in a village in the remote countryside on the banks of the Niger river. He was raised in a traditional musical environment, his mother a praise singer and his father and brothers exceptional ngoni players.

Taj Mahal describes him as a genius, a living proof that the blues comes from the region of Segu. Bassekou Kouyate is one of Malis best-known Ngoniplayers. He has collaborated with many important traditional musicians of his country as well as international such as Carlos Santana, U2 among many many others.

Bassekou Kouyate approaches music making in a beautifully relaxed manner, letting notes drift out, one ngoni dancing across another, weaving subtle patterns of strings, while male and female voices echo one another and then merge at choruses.

Bassekou Kouyate form Mali, 1st June 2008, in Prague Palac Acropolis, Kubelikova 27

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Tom Waits – His First Prague Concert

Tom Waits comes to the Czech Republic for the first time, within his Glitter and Doom tour. The last album the owner of two Grammys published, is a three-volume called Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards.

In the album, each disc has it’s own distinctive feel. Brawlers sports fiery bar-fight songs in which Waits snarls as if he’s about to bite someone’s jugular, Bawlers is a collection of cry-your-eyes-out numbers in which he sounds like he’s going to do just that, and Bastards is an experimental collage of unused, avant-garde pieces where he sounds like he’s having a whole lot of fun. The whole album is solid, but Bawlers is the jewel in the crown, with some of the most beautiful and affecting songs to come out in quite some time. Of course, this is largely due to Waits’ gravelly old barfly voice, which was famously described by Gary Graff as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months and then taken outside and run over with a car.” While it’s certainly not conventional and definitely not pretty, there’s a world-weary charm to be heard in that raspy growl, which makes Tom Waits more than just a singer/songwriter. The pop stars can belt the ballads at the top of their beautifully smooth voices, and in that regard they will always seem alien to us, but Waits seems like he’s singing in a dingy bar just down the street. But his voice doesn’t stand on it’s own; rather it accentuates his evocative, sophisticated lyrics and lovely melodies. Indeed, there’s something quite hypnotic about such a harsh voice singing such pretty songs, and the result is delightful.

His concerts are on 21st and 22nd July in Prague Congress Centre. The prices of tickets will be known on Monday, they will be on sale from 30th May 2008

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Eurosong: Czechs Out

kerndlova before the competition The expected development of the evening was that Czech Martina Kerndlova won’t go on to the finals, and such was the conclusion. Those who heard her sing know it – her music might work as a dance background at a small disco, but she is not a real singer. Since the competition is based on life performance, and since Kerndlova is not able to sing the simplest melody clear, the outcome was known before the competition even started.

The thing, her manager and husband probably tries not to think about is that to show large part of one’s body on the stage is not value added, but a standard. To have a short skirt matching with underwear can be kinky, but all the pop singers do it, so nothing special. So we have an average disco song + really bad singing + go go dancing = loss in Eurosong. On the other hand, nobody probably minds, because the Eurosong was full of similar creatures, one like another singing karaoke.

The only one whom I pity is Kerndlova’s father – the famous jazz multi-instrumentalist and an owner of absolute pitch must have suffered hard when listening to her out-of-tune singing. I expect not many other musically educated people went through watching the contest – averages in music and style was the leitmotif or the evening, and most of contestants showed no talent and/or innovation.

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Serbia calls its embassador off Prague

Serbia decided to call their embassador back as a protest against recent recognition of Kosovo by the Czech government. The embassador Vladimir Veres announced he will leave on Sunday.

The Czech side have expressed a wish he would come back after consultations. The Czech foreign ministry speaker Zuzana Opletalova stated they are not planning to recall the Czech embassador from Serbia.

Serbia have called back their embassadors from all the countries, that have accepted Kosovo, the Czech government have decided to accept Kosovo during this wednesday meeting. There were dissaproving reactions from the opposite side immediately.

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