The best Czech tramping songs

Tramping is a phenomenon that influenced the lives of tens of thousands of Czechs. Young people who dreamed of the freedom of the Wild West, spent time outdoors, engaging in sporting activities, building log cabins and settlements. The birth of tramping is in fact linked to the tramp settlement Lost Hope near Svatojánske proudy (one of the most picturesque stretches of the Vltava River) in 1918.

Photo: Barbora NěmcováPhoto: Barbora Němcová This year we are marking the 100th anniversary of tramping in the Czech lands. The first tramp songs had a simple melody and lyrics and were sung by a group of young people sitting around a campfire. One of the leading representatives of this style was Jarka Mottl.

Many tramping songs have become evergreens and the young generation likes to sing them around campfires to this day. Their popularity was heightened by Czechoslovak Radio even though some staunch pre-war proponents of tramping rejected tramping songs played on the radio. The 1960s gave tramp music a new modern twist. Its main representative in those days was tramp guru Wabi Ryvola. His song Zvlaštní znamení touha is considered an anthem of all Czech tramps to this day.

The 1960s also brought groups of amateur musicians playing and imitating American country music.

Like all genres, tramps have their own music festivals, the most famous of which is Porta, which was established in 1967 in the town of Usti nad Labem. The most famous Porta tramp festivals took place in 1988 and 1989, harbingers of freedom leading up to the fall of communism in 1989. They were attended by some 30,000 people. One of the leading representatives of tramp music who collected awards at Porta festivals was Wabi Danek, who last year. His debut album was Rosa na Kolejích – Dew on the tracks. It was released in 1984 and sold a quarter of a million albums. Other big names are Honza Nedvěd with his band Brontosauři, the bands Nezmaři, KTO and the Greenhorns.

Tramping get-togethers still take place, but they attract predominantly the older generation.