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Get down - with Downtown

THE ESTEEMED Slovak interpreter of blues-rock classics, René Lacko, takes his Downtown band through five Slovak towns in February.
The self-taught guitarist/vocalist from Handlová is by now a well-established presence on the Slovak music scene. He launched his career a decade ago playing Jimi Hendrix classics, travelling as far as North Carolina where he took second place at the 1996 Jimi Hendrix Memorial Festival


THE SLOVAK "Hendrix", René Lacko.
photo: Ivan Prokop

THE ESTEEMED Slovak interpreter of blues-rock classics, René Lacko, takes his Downtown band through five Slovak towns in February.

The self-taught guitarist/vocalist from Handlová is by now a well-established presence on the Slovak music scene. He launched his career a decade ago playing Jimi Hendrix classics, travelling as far as North Carolina where he took second place at the 1996 Jimi Hendrix Memorial Festival. Later, influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lacko favoured a blues-rock style, and the Slovak Blues Society responded in 1998 by naming him Blues Guitarist of the Year. His CDs include Freedom Is My Way, and most recently, Tribute to Hendrix and Ray Vaughan. Apart from featuring famous cover tunes, Freedom includes a few Lacko originals.

The popular song repertoire Lacko chooses for his concerts guarantees him attendance. On the other hand, he does manage to work in a few originals.

Juraj Turtev is a blues guitarist and activist who invited Lacko to play at Bratislava's Stoka Theatre January 17.

"Lacko is a talented guitarist and a great musician. Even though he copies Ray Vaughan and Hendrix, he has quite a big impact on the local scene. He is a leading example for many guitarists, who attempt to do similar things," Turtev said.

The last time Lacko was in town, he played songs from Tribute. Supported by Downtown band members - bassist Milan Golha, drummer Mário Nagy, and keyboardist Peter Dobrota - Lacko stunned the Bratislava audience with fast guitar solos and relaxed the mood with emotional ballads.

The musical community is waiting for Lacko to step on the path of his own invention. To a certain extent, he has.

"I have recorded my own things, in a more 'rocky' style than what I play [at concerts]," Lacko said.

The Slovak musician plans to insert a few originals into his standard repertoire: Bratislava's Aligátor (Feb 3), Sereď's Rock Club (Feb 4), Banská Bystrica's Červený rak (Feb 19), Handlová's Steiger Pub (Feb 20), and Zvolen's Victoria (Feb 26). www.renelacko.sk.

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