One of the highlights of the summer music festival season and one of the most eclectic concert series in Prague, United Islands, takes over Prague’s islands, Kampa and Střelecký, and several other venues for a weekend of international music June 21-23.
This year is perhaps the strongest installment of United Islands yet, with acts spanning the musical spectrum from jazz to electro and everything in between. David Gaydečka, the festival dramaturgist, says that the concerts at the festival each year “may serve as a brief guide about things that should not be missed.”
“We are one of the few festivals who manages not to recycle successful artists from previous years, and we keep discovering new bands from various countries and genres,” he says.
The festival begins Thursday, June 21, with a club night featuring a number of DJs in clubs throughout Prague, including Blues sklep, Cross Club and Archa Theater.
Truly one of the most diverse music festivals in Prague, United Islands offers something for everyone who loves live music. Here is a selection of some of the highlights of the festival. For a full program, see Unitedislands.cz.
Štěpán Markovič and Gypsy Groove One of the leading figures on the Czech jazz scene, saxophonist Štěpán Markovič has collaborated with such luminaries as the late Ray Charles and Liza Minnelli and has even played with Bill Clinton, when the former U.S. president visited Prague. Playing with Gypsy Groove at United Islands, Markovič will offer funky energetic originals as well as a few jazz standards and will light up the afternoon with his bopping groove. June 22 at 4:15; Kampa Park
Monika Načeva The lauded Czech singer, songwriter and pianist Monika Načeva is something of a musical chameleon, having begun her career as an actor at Studio Rubín before leaving the theater to pursue a career in music. She specializes in emotive, piano-based folk songs but has recently moved into more experimental territory, with electronic elements and found sounds that have made her one of the leading representatives of the Czech alternative music scene. Kampa Park, June 22 at 6:15
Sofa Surfers Certainly one of the grooviest bands to come out of Vienna, Sofa Surfers have been refining their unique sound, a blend of distorted guitar, trip-hop rap, soulful vocals and gritty grooves, since 1997. While they began as a down-tempo hip-hop group, Sofa Surfers have expanded their range dramatically to cover nearly all genres of contemporary popular music and are one of the most eclectic groups in this eclectic festival. They are sure to get the islands grooving. Střelecký Island, June 22 at 8
Jazzsteppa A German and British trio of dubstep DJs, Jazzsteppa has earned a wide audience over the past six years with fresh remixes and dubstep creations which they’ve unleashed on the electro scenes in Berlin and London. Each of the group’s recordings is a combination of live recording and studio mastery. Their performances are energetic and hypnotic. Střelecký Island, June 23 at 7:45
Jaak Lutsoja Trio A rising star of the young generation of Estonian jazz, accordionist Jaak Lutsoja is bringing his excellent trio to Prague to United Islands and is sure to receive a warm welcome. Tracks on the group’s latest recording, Contrarian Groovin, combine strands of Baltic folk music as well as French gypsy jazz and Indian music. This is ethno-jazz at its best. Jazz Dock, June 23 at 8
Hobex What summer music festival would be complete without some funk? For those looking to get their fix, Hobex, from North Carolina, is the answer. Singer and guitarist Greg Humphreys, drummer Steve Hill and bassist Andy Ware have been playing together since the mid-’90s, crafting a sharp funk sound over the course of four well-received albums. Kampa Park, June 23 at 4
Stephan Delbos, Prague Post