Documentary to highlight American, Czech bluegrass


JOHNSON CITY (September 16, 2013) – A sneak peak of the documentary “Banjo Romantika: American Bluegrass Music and The Czech Imagination” will be presented on Monday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. at the Down Home in Johnson City. 

The evening will also include a concert by Druha Trava, a Czech band featured in the film.

The documentary, which is the work of ETSU faculty members Dr. Lee Bidgood and Shara Lange, spotlights musicians who play this unique bluegrass hybrid.  According to the documentary, Czechs first heard bluegrass during World War II when the Armed Forces Network broadcast American music for soldiers. The music represented freedom to Czechs living in a communist state. The Czechs’ love for the music was solidified when Pete Seeger visited and performed in 1964.

Inspired by classic American bluegrass sounds, an assortment of musicians from across the formerly communist Czech Republic have melded the past, the political and the present into a lively musical tradition entirely its own.

Trava is a premier Czech band whose members have also worked in top level American bluegrass circles, performing and recording with artists like Peter Rowan, Tony Trischka and Charlie McCoy.  

“This event is an opportunity to showcase both the documentary and the music behind the film and is also our way of thanking local and international stakeholders who have supported the project,” said Lange, who oversees ETSU’s radio, television, and film program.  Bidgood is an assistant professor in the Department of Appalachian Studies.

The event is supported by the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program, Department of Communication, and the Honors College.  Doors will open at 6 p.m.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. More information about the documentary is available at

To request additional information or accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact Lange at or (423) 439-7572.

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