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Funky Czech-In

An introduction to Czech and Slovak pop music from the sixties, seventies and eighties with a touch of funk, soul, disco and jazz.

In memoriam Dr. Gui, the funky drummer

2017-07-08

The Plookers – Back To The Egg (The Conclusion)

from CD “Das erste Mal”, 1997, Consou M’Teem Pelh Produkt CMTP9701

Plookers – Das erste Mal

left to right: Dr. Gui, Martina ThC, Felice, Anita Polverosa & yours truly

Sad news from the Funky Czech-In headquarters: on Friday, 30 June 2017, the Swiss drummer Guido Rath – also known as Dr. Gui – has died was found dead, aged 53. He was a member of three of my bands: “Felix” in 1994, then he was drumming with The Plookers from 1995 to 1997 as well as with their follow-up MØPP (Martina & Øgl Punk Project) in 1997 and 1998. Thanks to his solid backing, especially the Plookers were going pretty funky at times, even defining a new musical category called Schmuddelfunk. But not only that: Dr. Gui also happened to be the best man at my wedding! All these achievements are making Dr. Gui fully eligible for the induction ceremony into the newly created Memorial Czech-In category.

Dr. Gui of The Plooker, March 1996

Dr. Gui(do Rath) of The Plookers, March 1996

Guido Rath was born on 31 December 1964 in canton Lucerne where he lived until the 1980s. He studied pharmacology in Lausanne (yep, his doctor title was no joke!) but by the 1990s he eventually relocated to Berne where he performed with bands like The Frozen Popes. The latter also featured his fellow dr. pharm. Felix “Felice” Hasler on bass guitar who eventually was to provide his first name to the aforementioned “Felix” group (although actually led by Patrick Lerjen, d’oh) and to become another future funky Plooker. Fast forward into the 2000s when Dr. Gui continued to lend his drumming skills to several lokal groups from Berne, among others performing with the Madukas, and most recently in trio with Gold.

Back To The Egg (The Conclusion) was the closing track from the sole Plookers CD release “Das erste Mal” from 1997. The basic track was recorded in September 1996, actually at first being just a soundcheck jam-session while warming up for the upcoming CD recording session on the Wasserwerk stage in Berne. Felice improvised his bass line, with Dr. Gui spontaneously joining in on drums and Anita Polverosa hitting the cowbell while yours truly was busy attempting to capture the incoming sounds on a borrowed analog 16-track tape recorder. But this very take was then deemed too schmuddelfunky to be just ignored and ditched as an ordinary soundcheck. And thus during several overdub sessions in October and November 1996 at the Firma van Øgl headquarters, more instruments and voices were eventually added to the mix, featuring Martina ThC, Anita Polverosa, Barbara Zbinden and Hannes Meier on vocals and handclaps, yours truly on lead vocals, guitars and Farfisa Syntorchestra (an “antique” instrument owned by Dr. Gui, nota bene), also featuring special guest (and sadly another Memorial Czech-In member) Dänu “Sleepy Dan” Boemle with a couple of preliminary words to the world, and last but not least introducing Anita’s underage son Michi on additional random voice effects.

There are still a couple of CD copies available, so if you like what you hear, feel free to order one:
discogs.com/sell/release/1743303

And have a drink on Dr. Gui. He’s now back in his cozy egg until the end of The Universe As We Know It™. Cheers, doctor!

Day by day (in memoriam, the 3rd)

2007-05-25

Stano Táska & Strawberry Jam – Day By Day

from a demo recording 1997

This is simply unbelievable! The series of friends of mine passing away just doesn’t want to stop! Yesterday I’ve received an e-mail message that Stano Táska has tragically died last Saturday while kayaking in a creek near Adelboden, Switzerland. He was only 37 years old.

Stanislav “Stano” Táska was a goodhearted Slovak guy who came to Switzerland in the early 1990s. We met in March 1997 in Berne when I was looking for a new flatmate. Quickly we became good friends and so we were sharing the flat for more than a year. Stano used to live with Bobina, his Slovak girlfriend at that time, in one large room, while me and my cat were occupying the other two tiny rooms. He was originally an agronomist by profession, but also a very talented saxophonist. In Switzerland he began to play as a street musician busker, later he studied at the Swiss Jazz School Berne and gigged with various jazz, funk and party combos all over the country. In the recent years he concentrated on his other passion though, working as a co-leader and cook of the Bernese restaurant Im Juli. And last but not least, Stano was also a passionate sportsman in all available elements: on earth, in the air and in the water. (Yes, it’s both him in action on those images!)

stanotaska2004_200

Stano at his wedding party in 2004 (photo borrowed from www.imjuli.ch)

In my archives I have found several tracks featuring Stano on the tenor sax. My favorite one is the dynamic soul-jazz flavored tune Day By Day. It was recorded by the Strawberry Jam quartet in a rehearsal room in Solothurn on June 15th 1997 with my analogue 8 track mobile studio (yes, the one I once bought from Hannes Lange who passed away in April). Although I was the recording and mixing engineer of the session, I can only recall that the drummer’s name was Pascal Aeby.
Unfortunately, the guitarist and the bass player are unknown to me ten years later. And I’m not even sure if the tune was an original composition or a cover; to me it actually doesn’t sound like that known old standard as interpreted e.g. by Sinatra and many others.
A Swiss party group called Strawberry Jam seems to be active these days in the Solothurn area again. So it’s quite likely that there’s some kind of a connection to the above jazz quartet of the same name from 1997. (I can check it out later, although it’s quite beyond the scope of this blog.)
Update 26.9.2007:
Pascal Aeby, the drummer of the original Strawberry Jam jazz combo, has written in the comments yesterday, that he’s the composer of this tune and that the other two musicians were Sven Rieger on guitar and Cosimo Staffieri on bass. The band broke up after Rieger had to return to Germany. He also stated that the Strawberry Jam party group mentioned above obviously has nothing to do with Stano’s and Pascal’s original group whatsoever.

Also in the late nineties, Stano used to be a member of the acid jazz combo Da Groove Yard from Burgdorf near Berne. They have released an EP entitled Good Talk then. Low quality audio examples as well as old photos with Stano on saxophone are still available on their web site. Since the group would also qualify for my Half Czech-In series, I might return to them in a future post. Their sound was nothing really earth-shaking though and even Stano didn’t blow his solos with as much juice as usual. I remember that he wasn’t very happy about playing with Da Groove Yard in general and eventually he quitted by the end of the decade.

Although we were in sporadic e-mail contact lately, I didn’t see Stano for over five years. Last summer I went to visit him in his restaurant during one of my very rare trips to Berne, but unfortunately he wasn’t there on that afternoon…

Rest in peace, Stano. You will be sorely missed by way too many!

In memoriam, twice more…

2007-04-24

(Yet another almost off-topic post!)

Seriously, what’s going on lately?!
Remember: in February, Sleepy Dan, one of my closest friends and a former bandmate passed away, aged 46. In March I’ve stated that everybody seems to be dying lately after a friend of our family has left us as well, aged 59. But then only one week later a young friend of my wife also died, suffering from a heart disease. She was mere 26. At that time I thought: “Three persons have gone now, actually that’s been already enough people for this whole year.” Obviously I was wrong.

Last week I’ve been informed that yet another two former members of the Ugly Blues Connection/Ugly Bluz, our band in the mid eighties, have passed away recently. Roman Gondolán was one of our regular drummers in 1984 and 1985. As a big fan of acts like Earth Wind & Fire or George Benson he loved to play light and funky disco grooves. Although that didn’t really matched our style then – apart from playing blues rock we used to listen to more freaky stuff like Zappa, George Clinton, Slickaphonics or the very early and yet-to-become-famous Red Hot Chili Peppers – Roman was probably the funkiest drummer who joined our band in the eighties. Like me, Roman was a Czech emigrant in Switzerland. He became a close friend of my family and he even lived with us for more than a year. He originated from a famous Roma family of musicians: his father Antonín Gondolán (planned to be introduced here on Funky Czech-In very soon, by the way!) used to be a member of the Karel Gott Orchestra. After spending a couple of years in Germany, in the early 1990s Roman returned to the Czech Republic. As far as I know, he mostly gave up playing music actively. The last time we met, it was by coincidence in a street café in Prague about ten years ago. Roman died of cancer in November 2006, aged 42.

Johannes Lange, a.k.a. Hännu, was from Berne, Switzerland. He used to be my neighbor in the mid eighties, living in the same house where we lived with my mom, my brother and… with Roman. He was hanging around with our band and sometimes he acted as our road technician. With his 8-track mobile recording facility he was later the sound engineer of an Ugly Bluz session in 1987 which we originally planned to release as an LP; unfortunately that never happened, three songs from that session still appeared on local compilations though. Hännu also used to play bass guitar, around 1990 I joined his cover band named D.I.Y. as a drummer for a short time. (It needs to be said that I’m a horrible drummer though… :) In 1995 I’ve purchased his old analogue mobile recording equipment which I still have in my studio today – although I didn’t use it much in the past years. The last time I’ve seen Hännu, it was six years ago when he rode 100 km with his bicycle from Berne to Basel to visit me and Sleepy Dan. And just two weeks ago I’ve sent him an invitation to the farewell party for Sleepy Dan (who died on February 21st) which will take place in May here in Basel. I was too late though. On the 6th of April, Hännu has obviously decided to put an end to his life. It was his 41st birthday.

Ugly Blues Connection (The “Dead Men” Edition) – Crawling King Snake

live at Gurtenrockfescht Berne, Switzerland, on August 24th, 1985
2-track cassette recording from the mixing console
Sleepy Dan (1960-2007) – vocals, Roman Gondolán (1964-2006) – drums, Hännu Lange (1966-2007) – sound engineer. With Joel Kaiser on bass and myself on guitar. Either Sleepy Dan or our occasional special guest Boldi Debrunner was playing bluesharp on this track.

Hännu Lange at the Gurtenrockfescht on August 24, 1985 (photo © 1985 Lukáš Machata)

Hännu Lange at the Gurtenrockfescht on August 24, 1985 (photo © 1985 Lukáš Machata)

from an Ugly Blues Connection photo session on August 25, 1985: Sleepy Dan, Roman Gondolán, myself, Joel Kaiser (original photographer unknown)

from an Ugly Blues Connection photo session on August 25, 1985: Sleepy Dan, Roman Gondolán, myself, Joel Kaiser (original photographer unknown)

Rest in peace, Roman.
Rest in peace, Hännu.

Recent posts

2017-07-08: In memoriam Dr. Gui, the funky drummer
2017-02-12: In The Game Preserve
2016-02-17: Interlude: Vampi Czech-In, parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7
2009-09-19: Interlude: Vampi Czech-In, part 1
2008-08-31: Mercy Mercy Mercy

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Disclaimer

The audio samples are presented as a “specimen” to encourage readers to buy the artists’ albums. Many of the tracks presented herein are available for purchase in MP3 or FLAC format at supraphonline.cz.

Copyright

All written content is © 2006– by Lukáš Machata (Lou Kash). Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited. If you’d like to use portions of my articles, please contact me first.