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Bluegrass From Abroad

Czech band will strum its version of the Kentucky-based music at CSUN show.

June 18, 1998|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bluegrass music comes to Cal State Northridge on Friday, but this band does not come from the bluegrass state of Kentucky or any place near there.

Druha Trava, which translates in English as "Second Grass," routinely plays to thousands at Eastern Europe concerts, but it's still trying to gain a foothold in America. The Northridge performance is part of the group's seventh U.S. tour.

The award-winning group's repertoire includes original instrumentals and vocals sung in Czech, plus classic American bluegrass tunes.

Local bluegrass guru Frank Javorsek, host of KCSN-FM's "Bluegrass Express" and owner of Canoga Park's Blue Ridge Pickin' Parlor, has not heard the band, but he has heard of them. And the reports are good. "They're a really hot band with really virtuoso players," Javorsek said, relating the buzz about the group. "They're very progressive, not really traditional. And they're hot."

The band consists of singer-writer Robert Krestan, banjo player Lubos Malina, Dobro player Lubos Novotny, guitarist Martin Ledvina and bass player Jiri Meisner. The band recently released its fifth CD, "Postcard."

"It's our kind of bluegrass music," Krestan told The Times in 1997. "We were raised in Central Europe, so no matter what we do, it's not going to sound Kentucky-style. Even when we sing American bluegrass standards, it's our unique interpretation."

Druha Trava performs Friday, 8 p.m., at CSUN's New Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St. (818) 677-3943. Free.

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Dance News: Shakespeare once mused, "What's in a name?"

The Memphis management team of B.B. King's Blues Club is probably thinking along those same lines. Steve Malvesta, vice president of marketing, said the Universal CityWalk "blues" club will initiate a Latin night featuring salsa, merengue, cumbia, rock, pop and disco in July on Thursdays.

"We're going to start it and see how it goes," said Malvesta. "It should be something good for the club; we want to open up to more varieties of music."

The promoter for Latin night will be Hitmen Entertainment. It is promising a deejay, plus live performances from the hottest local and international Latin artists and an upscale, star-studded atmosphere of celebrities from radio, television and film. Free salsa dance lessons will be offered 8:30-9:30 p.m. each Thursday. Also, casino roulette, craps and blackjack tables will be featured.

B. B. King's Blues (or salsa) Club, Universal CityWalk, 1000 Universal Center Drive, (818) 622-5464. Thursdays starting July 30; 21 and over; $10 cover.

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Literary Benefit: Six bands will perform Saturday in Burbank at Borderland Party III, a benefit dance that draws its name and theme from a sci-fi anthology of short stories. "It's kind of a literary warehouse party," said Reylynda, one of the organizers. "We're honoring these writers."

The bands are Russell Scott and His Red Hots, Soul Dogs, Highland Sun, Zehnder, Ganymede and Scary Rides Home.

Proceeds will benefit Children of the Night, an organization dedicated to helping runaway children. More than 800 people are expected.

Borderland Party III at 7 p.m. Saturday, 733 N. Victory Blvd., Burbank. (818) 782-4052. $20.

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