In our never-ending quest to connecting travelers to Prague with the locals, we have decided to put a bit of a twist on our blogging routine. From now on, we will, from time to time, post a short interview with a local that we love and that has an insight into a specific field, market or niche that foreign visitors may find interesting. Because this is what our experiences are really all about: letting our guests get a peek "behind the scenes", behind the touristy things, into the real life of the locals.
A disclaimer first: we do not ask for or benefit from any backhand deals or promotions, and we are proud to be independent. The people we will interview are simply people whom we like and who run businesses or operations that we ourselves love to visit and recommend to the guests of our tours and, for that matter, any visitors to Prague.
Jan's most priced 2012 Christmas gift? Prince's Purple Rain and Marvin Gaye's Best Of LPs that he got from Zuzi. Where did she buy them? In our favorite records store in Prague, a small shop in the Lucerna Palace just a few steps off the Wenceslas Square, called Happyfeet. Open in the afternoons from Monday to Friday, Happyfeet sells new and second-hand records, with special emphasis on the old Suprafon and Panton-branded Czechoslovak pressings. In addition to the vinyls, Happyfeet also carries old Czechoslovak Prim wristwatches, mostly from the 1970s but all refurbished and in mint condition. (BTW, did you know that Czechoslovakia (and Prim) was only the 7th country in the world to successfully master the manufacture of an automatic wristwatch?)
We met with Happyfeet's enthusiastic owner, Magdalena, to see her take on what is a great souvenir from Prague and what she likes about Prague in general. If you need advice about Czech and Slovak LPs, Magdalena is definitely the person to go to. She will find anything, including true rarities and wacky singles. In addition to being a records store owner, she is a DJ and plays regular sets that focus on older Czech and Slovak tracks. She is also sought after as a DJ for corporate and private parties. She can even help you find a great, old, Czech-made turntable. And she's also a really nice, helpful and easy-going. Maybe that's why we love visiting her shop.
Q: Which Czech recording artist do you like and why? I love Hana Hegerová, Czech(oslovak) chanson singer. Ms Hegerova is a true lady, a beautiful person with incredible energy. The Czech Astrud Gilberto, Edith Piaf and Ella Fitzgerald all put together. You don't know whether to smile or cry at her concerts: she has the incredible gift of expressing a feeling and delivering it to you.
Q: Which 5 albums made in the Czech Republic or Slovakia would you recommed/do you like and why?Marta Kubišová - Songy a balady (Supraphon, 10 0587-1 311, released in 1990). Song: Modlitba pro Martu. The song of freedom. Marie Rottrová - Muž číslo 1 (Supraphon, 1113 2905, released in 1981). Song: Muž číslo jedna - an original cover of Blame it on the Boogie by The Jackson Five. Hana Hegerová - Recital 2 (Supraphon, 1 13 1310, released in 1973). Song: Rýmování o životě (It Hurts To Say Goodbye). A great version in Czech. Petr Novák - Kráska a zvíře (Panton – 11 0486, released in 1978). Progressive rock musical. A great listen as a whole. Hana a Petr Ulrychovi – 13HP (Supraphon – 1 13 0888 , rok 1971). Song: Ranvej. My favorite.
Q: The best album cover art of the Czech music history?Alojz Bouda: Synthetizer Sound - Perhaps the beginning of Apple Computers? Československý Beat Festival (various artists) - Psychedelic! Josef Kainar, Gustav Brom - The Detail. Petra Janů: Já, my - Pop art. And I am a sucker for Supraphon's Gramophone Club in general... (note: Supraphon is an old Czech publisher) Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger: TrinityBlood Sweat and TearsJacques BrelAretha FranklinBob DylanSimon and Garfunkel: Bridge over Troubled WaterHerbie Mann: Memphis UndergroundRay Charles
Q: Which clubs in Prague do you like?Jazz Dock. I love jazz, the atmosphere of that club, the service, the view. An ideal spot to meet "your star". Lucerna Music Bar. They organize awesome soul, funk and jazz events. A place filled with culture.
Q: Your ideal Sunday in Prague? Wake up early, visit the Kolbenka flea market, then brunch - Pho Bo in Pho Vietnam at the Jiriho z Podebrad square - walk from there to the Kaaba café for a nut cake and cappuccino, walk through the Riegrovy sady park and then just hang out at Mlíkárna. Visit the swing dance room at the Cross club in the evening.
Q: Are there any traditional places where musicians or DJs like yourself hang out in Prague or go for beer? Many musicians can be found enjoying good beer at the Lokal pub in the Old Town or at U Fleku in the New Town, or over a drink at Jazz Dock or Agharta. Others go to Blue Light in the Lesser Town. If a world-class musician has a concert in the Lucerna Music bar, you can probably see one half of the Czech and Slovak scene in there attending the event. DJs often visit each other's sets, so you can see several DJs at a party at once.
Q: The perfect souvenir or gift from Prague for a musician or DJ? An old Tesla turntable, a Supraphon, Panton, Opus vinyl pressing - I will be happy to help you out with the selection. The Botas sneakers, Prim wristwatches, Vulkan condoms...
Q: Yourt secret tip in Prague? I love the sight of the Prague Castle and the Zizkov TV tower from anywhere. That's Prague for me. And the Lucerna palace, the heart of Prague. I get high on that every day and I am thankful that I can live and work here.
Address: Lucerna Palace (entry from Vodickova 36street), next to the Lucerna Music Bar
Opening hours: Mon-Thu: 12-19, Fri 12-18
Photos taken from Happyfeet's website and from the Czech Press Agency.