Taking cues from the legendary Earl Scruggs, the Czech Republic's Druhá Tráva (which means "Second Grass") has transformed a quintessentially American idiom into a unique synthesis of jazz, pop, folk, classical and Eastern European music.
"Bluegrass has a long tradition in our country and became extremely popular in the early '70s," says Robert Krestan, mandolinist and frontman for the string-fueled five-piece. "We were fascinated by it, but it was really difficult to get."
Even so, Druh´ Tr´va's acoustic world music has garnered international acclaim, including stateside exposure on A Prairie Home Companion and NPR's Weekend Edition. The band's current lineup boasts claw-hammer virtuoso Lubos Malina, dobroist Lubos Novotny, double-bassist Petr Sury and guitarist Emil Formanek. Still, Krestan -- a Brno-bred opera singer's son who writes poetry and short stories and once translated Jim Harrison's Legends of the Fall in its entirety for his daughter's fifteenth birthday (she digs Brad Pitt) -- understands that Druh´ Tr´va's exotic sound might take some getting used to. "Bluegrass purists don't really appreciate what we do," he admits. "We bring to the genre our musical roots. We are proud to be Czechs."
Druh´ graces the stage at Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue, tonight; the pickin' and occasional grinnin' starts at 7 p.m. For information and tickets, $12, call 303-777-1003 or visit www.swallowhill.com. -- John La Briola
On the Fringe
Organizers proclaimed the first Boulder International Fringe Festival -- a twelve-day extravaganza of theatrical performances and workshops held in August -- a great success. No surprise there: After all, if Fringe can't flourish in the shadow of the Flatirons, where can it thrive? In tribute to the eclectic event, Helix Entertainment presents Boulder's Pick of the Fringe 2005 tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, with encore shows being staged at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut Street, and the Performing Arts Center at Naropa University, 21st Street and Arapahoe Avenue. Tickets, $10 to $15 ($75 for an all-access pass), will help build a foundation for Fringe Festival 2006. For details, go to www.helixentertainment.com. -- Ernie Tucker
Rocker Dan Zanes leads a youth movement.
Most veteran rockers have seen their audiences age along with them, but not Dan Zanes. His fans are getting younger and younger.
Once upon a time, Zanes led the Del Fuegos, a group Rolling Stone named 1984's best new band. Although the players released several well-received discs, they had a tough time maintaining momentum, and by the following decade, they'd split. Zanes went on to a solo career that took an unexpected turn when he and some neighborhood dads started playing and recording music for their children. What began as a lark is now a multimedia business. Under the auspices of Zanes's label, Festival Five Records, he's issued six albums. Additionally, he and illustrator Donald Saaf collaborated on a picture book, Jump Up!, and his latest ensemble, Dan Zanes & Friends, stars in All Around the Kitchen!, a live DVD crammed with ditties sure to get tots rocking. Parents, too.
Zanes and company visit the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, today at 1 p.m. Kidlings two years and younger will be admitted free; tickets for everyone else are $20. Call the theater at 303-786-7030 to learn more. -- Michael Roberts
Buntport gets serious.
What's so funny about screams, God and isolation? Honestly, not a lot. But Buntport -- the innovative Denver theater company known for its hysterical stage sitcom Magnets on the Fridge -- isn't playing it just for laughs with Realism: the Mythical Brontosaurus and Horror: the Transformation.
"We're trying out styles that we haven't experimented with much," says company member Brian Colonna of the new productions. "Some of our pieces have been really absurd, but we wanted to do something that dealt more with heavier themes."
No Buntport show, however, would be complete without a few grins, grim though they may be. Realism is a black comedy about a man named Jack who locks himself in his room and throws his family into turmoil, while Horror -- gasp! -- is a bone-chilling psychodrama based on Charles Brockden Brown's Weiland, a novel that subtly satirizes Jeffersonian America.
"They're both about leaps of faith and the foundations of democracy, religion and society," Colonna explains. "We may make people laugh sometimes, but our goal is always to do challenging work that excites people."
Realism opens tonight at 8 p.m., and the curtain rises on Horror at the same time tomorrow. The plays will run separately through December 9 and 10, respectively. Admission is $15, $12 for students and seniors. Buntport is at 717 Lipan Street; call 720-946-1388 or visit www.buntport.com for tickets and info. -- Jason Heller