Czech alternative rock band features non-Roma and Roma performers
The Tokaref band from Český Krumlov, Czech Republic has made the journey from being a wild rock band to more of an alternative ensemble over the last few years. I recently attended one of their rehearsals where a discussion of one of their songs was underway in a dimly lit room.
The debate was so passionate as to almost be a well-intentioned argument. Lead singer Jakub Tokár, his brother Jan, who plays guitar and also sings, their sister, pianist Anna Tokárová, bass player Jan Píša and drummer Adam Adamják are all anxious to contribute.
Anna is one of the founding members of the group and, as the only woman in the band, supplies it with elegance - her accompanying piano leads the predominantly male element to a calmer level. It is exactly the composition of the performers that gives their music a breath of fresh air blowing in a different direction entirely - the three Romani siblings and the non-Romani members complement each other brilliantly and say they mutually inspire each other.
The idea to found the band first saw the light of day 15 years ago, when a four-member ensemble whose first names happened all to be Jan (or in colloquial Czech, Honza - surnames Budil, Píša, Požár and Tokár) put together the instrumental group Samochod and played their first concert at Bouda, a club at a drop-in community facility for youth. Tokaref then formed as a successor to Samochod in 2011.
From the early days of playing in the family garage they have come a long way, performing today on the same bill as the band Květy or the musician Lenka Dusilová, playing abroad and at home in festivals and summertime events. The English-language lyrics of their songs capture the complexity of interpersonal relationships, mostly in a poetic vein.
Currently the band is undergoing a rebirth and is in the studio recording albums. Two EPs, "Later" ("Pozdě") and "But After All" ("Ale přece") should capture their work to date as a dignified farewell to Tokaref's older songs so they can begin work on new ones.
First published in ROMANO VOĎI magazine.
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