The Czech folk-rock group Cechomor have just brought out a new live album, simply called "Cechomor Live" and the release caps a very successful year for the group. Last week I saw them play a two-hour set at Prague's Akropolis theatre, and immoderately good it was too.
The core members of Cechomor have been together since the late 1980s and watching them perform you can see they are well used to playing together. The group is led by singer-guitarist Frantisek Cerny and singer-fiddle player Karel Holas. Other instruments played by the band include the accordion, the flute, the trumpet, electric cello and (Czech) bagpipes.
Cechomor also often feature guest singer Lenka Dusilova when they perform live, and her appearances during the Akropolis show were among the highlights of a long set.
The music Cechomor play is essentially folk-rock, though it is not folk-rock along the lines of the Byrds or other 60s groups. Rather they play Bohemian and Moravian (mostly Moravian) folk songs with amplification and (sometimes quite heavy) electric guitar. They do play some original songs but not many, and all the songs on their last studio lp Promeny were traditional folk songs. Indeed, the group used be known as Ceskomoravska hudebni spoleÄnost, which they translate as Bohemian and Moravian Musical Company.
By the way, while the beauty of their last CD Promeny was in large part due to the wonderful string arrangements by the British composer Jaz Coleman, the songs sound just as good live, with the fiddle and cello doing a good job of standing in for an orchestra.
In the fictional film Rok dabla (Year of the Devil) Cechomor appear as themselves, along with other Czech folk musicians Karel Plihal and the mighty Jaromir Nohavica (the "Czech Bob Dylan", as film director Petr Zelenka describes him). The film has been a big hit in the Czech Republic, and has helped the group increase in popularity to the point where they can now headline at big-ish summer festivals. After the concert at Akropolis, I spoke to Cechomor main-man Franta Cerny, and he said that the group had recently played in London, at the British launch of Rok dabla.
"Cechomor Live" is out now on Universal music here in the Czech Republic. For more about the group go to www.cechomor.cz which also carries information in English.
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