Kryl, Nohavica and the steel strings of 1989’s revolution

As memories of 1989 take their rightful place in the tracks to freedom, a startling and powerful mix of music, literature and revolution has been released to mark the 30th anniversary of the day that changed the world.

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As memories of 1989 take their rightful place in the tracks to freedom, a startling and powerful mix of music, literature and revolution has been released to mark the 30th anniversary of the day that changed the world.

Steel Strings and Iron Curtains is a project of Plamen Press, four years in the making and sponsored

by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in Washington DC.

Plamen Press’s mission to bring Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European culture to an English- speaking audience has recruited the songs of Karel Kryl and Jaromir Nohavica, both from the Czech Republic.

Kryl and Nohavica are famous for their politically existential lyrics and on Steel Strings and Iron Curtains, their music has new life breathed in to it, a life that in so many ways represents the Slovak take on Nov 17 1989 … Slovaks describe that date as the start of the Gentle Revolution.

And this is a gentle and powerful existential recording. Full of over-blown lyrics yes, but non-the-less an evocative expose of life under tyranny.

Kryl and Nohavica’s songs were translated into English and co-produced by Roman Kostovski from   Plamen Press.

The Yehla Collective, who performed the songs, is described as ‘a truly international and talented group of musicians from Baltimore’: they include Anna Connolly (USA), Tomáš Drgoň (Slovakia), Ian Jones (USA), David Keplinger (USA), Christine Kharazian (Armenia), Reggie Love (USA), and Bohuslav Rychlik (Czech Republic).

Songs include, The Angel, Morituri te Salutant, Salome, Habet, A Heart and a Cross (Karel Kryl) The Comet, Magdalene, Sarajevo, The Wastrel, Petersburg (Jaromír Nohavica)

Czech Singer-songwriter Karel Kryl was author of many protest songs in which he attacked the absurdity of the Communist regime after the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia.

His first album was recorded at home but after being forced into exile his albums were smuggled into his homeland, creating a nationwide underground following.

His songs are said to be a vital inspiration for the movement that triggered the Velvet Revolution

Jaromír Nohavica draws his craft from the likes of poet-bards Jacques Brel,  Bulat Okudzava and Vladimir Vysotsky.

He first emerged on the Czech folk scene in the mid-eighties. His album The Wastrel, which came out in 1988, was immediately sold out. Some describe him as the best living lyricist in the Czech Republic today. 

For more about the Project visit http://plamenpress.com/steel-strings-iron-curtains/

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