Country Music - Made in Switzerland


Country made in Switzerland: how did this ever begin? The fascination with American lifestyle, with American music, with country and rock'nroll, took hold of Europe after World War II.

This content was published on January 17, 2008 - 13:57

Thereby one of Switzerland's most influential country pioneers was Charles "Chuck" Steiner from Basel. He founded its first country club in 1956. It was due to his efforts that Swiss Radio DRS began broadcasting country regularly from 1971 on.

During the 70ties a flood of folk festivals swept across Switzerland. Anglo-saxon music in general grew more and more popular. Irish and Scottish influences mingled with the traditional music of the European continent. Particularly important were influences from the other side of the Atlantic. The arrival of the first bluegrass groups was almost like a homecoming. A circle had been completed. Of course, European ingredients had been components of country music in the United States since its beginnings. The Swiss "contribution" to this form was yodeling, as demonstrated by the music of Jimmy Rodgers or Wilf Carter alias "Montana Slim".

The first large-scale Swiss country festivals took place toward the end of the 70ties. The annual Country Festival in Zurich's "Hallenstadion" was to become the biggest one. And the first star of the Swiss country scene was Suzanne Klee, who is included in this recording edition.

The Swiss country scene boomed phenomenally during the 80ties and well into the 90ties. Switzerland actually became one of Europe's leading organizers of country music festivals. The Singer-Songwriter Festival in Frutigen, the Country Night in Gstaad and other large-scale events in Zug, Grindelwald, Zurich or Locarno are now cornerstones of Swiss country music history.
The list of American stars who have performed at these events is overhelming. By the way these festivals and concerts have also offered Swiss musicians the opportunity to make themselves known to large audiences.

The current stagnation in American country music was mirrored in Switzerland.
The grat "boom years" are history. This edition "Country Music - Made in Switzerland" is a compilation of what remained from this fruitful period.

Production information

Country Music - Made In Switzerland (1999). Musica Helvetica MH CD 117.2. Produced by Patrick Linder and Philippe Nicolet for SRI and Radio DRS.

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