Goran Bregović pops a cork
The Balkan superstar brings 'Champagne for Gypsies'
Posted: October 23, 2013
Goran Bregović will play some romantic drinking music in Prague with nine musicians.
The last time Goran Bregović had a concert in Prague, he was on a barge in the middle of the Vltava with a huge orchestra, He'll be back for a more conventional show on land - more specifically Nov. 3 at the Prague Congress Center.
This time he will have just the nine musicians of his brass band and no guests. Compared to his other Prague appearances it will be a stripped-down show. "I like to do different kinds of things. Life is too short to be always doing the same thing," Goran Bregović told The Prague Post in a telephone interview.
He is touring with the Wedding and Funerals Band to promote Champagne for Gypsies, which he claims is a continuation of a previous work. "It's the second part of a two album project, together with Alkohol [from 2009]. It's drinking and dancing music. The first part was more intense and this part is meant to be more romantic," he said. "We will play almost all the new record and some old stuff. Mostly happy music," he said.
The new album has been called a protest in favor of Roma, and several Romany musicians play on its tracks. "I invited Gypsies I respect to play on the record because the Gypsies are facing problems. Countries are trying to throw them out," Bregović said. "You should pay attention before you throw Gypsies out," he said, adding that Roma make an important contribution to culture. "That is part of my message."
When: Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.
Where: Prague Congress Center
Tickets: 590-1,490 Kč
He also says that every musician is in debt to that culture. "I have always been influenced by Gypsies. If you are a musician you are influenced by Gypsies," he said. "It is difficult to find a musician who hasn't been impressed by Gypsies."
Champagne for Gypsies was a long time in the making in part because so many people were working on it. "It started to be too long. We had to stop," he said, adding that the album is a snapshot of his work with the various guest artists. "We had a moment and we put it in a record," he said.
While many people see brass bands as outdated, Bregović disagrees. "I'm always impressed with brass bands. Punk died when people tuned up well. Brass bands are punk. Brass bands always a bit out of tune, and this makes a little madness - madness that we need in our lives," he said. Bregović will have his small band this time, but for other shows he uses an orchestra. Over time, he has changed the configuration to get rid of elements he didn't like and replace them with more dissonant instruments.
Bregović is no stranger to Prague. "I played in Prague in communist times. Prague had a washed out beauty," he said. In the mid-1990s he also lived here for six months during the filming of the Emir Kusturica movie Underground. "I have lots of friends in Prague. It's one of the favorite destinations for Balkan immigrants," he said.
While he says he has been writing a lot, he has not done music specifically for film in a while, event though many recent soundtrack albums turn up on the lists of his work you can find on the Internet. "I haven't been working in movies for a long time. My music just winds up in soundtracks," he said.
But he hasn't given up on the idea. "I am writing soundtracks not for movies, but music that follows our lives," he said. "I make soundtracks for people to have in their own private movies, their daily lives. Private soundtracks," he said.
Bregović has changed his style over the years. Before his soundtrack work and more recent efforts with a brass band, he was heavily influenced by Eric Clapton's band Cream and played with a rock band called Bijelo Dugme in then-Yugoslavia. "You may not know this but I was rock star before the war," he said. But even then he was influenced by Roma culture. "I played old-time songs with Gypsies." He gave up his rock career in the late 1980s, having grown tired of it.
His film work began in the early 1990s, and he took some of the ideas from that music into his current live act with a brass band and orchestra of varying sizes. Currently, he is working on an opera as well.
Raymond Johnston can be reached at