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Country Music Made In Switzerland

Country Music Made In CH (CD Musica Helvetica)

(swissmusic)

Country music in Switzerland has produced a surprisingly large number of bands and solo artists. We have attempted to offer a sampling of this scene in Switzerland, past and present. It can by no means claim to be fully comprehensive or representative.

John Brack

During extensive travelling troughout the US as a teenager in the 1970', John Brack was completely won over by the fascination of American music and show business.

Many years later, the full-time entertainer from Adliswil in canton Zurich can now look back on a long and successful career.

He is described by many of his fans as the epitome of Swiss country music and is often referred to as 'Mister Swiss Country'.

Krüger Brothers

The Krüger Brothers began their career in 1973. In 1982 Jens Krüger accompanied bluegrass-legend Bill Monroe on his US-Tour and was the first European to perform at the 'Grand Ole Opry' in Nashville.

Clover Leaf

One of the most impressive projects produced for the Swiss country market was launched by a pop musician and was called Clover Leaf.

The band was founded by Phil Carmen and Rolf Surber.

Clover Leaf existed only as a studio band and produced two albums: 'Clover Elixir' (1986) and 'Born A Rider' (1993).

The Bluegrass Blossoms

The time of the Blossoms (1970-1982) coincided with the golden age of folk music in Switzerland.

In 1970 the group 'Bernese Three' was founded, made up of banjo player Hans Holzherr, mandolin player Gérard Theiler and Heinz Kempa on the guitar.

Some two years after their first performance they renamed themselves the Blue Grass Blossoms, now with Matthias Baumann on the guitar and Bänz Hadorn on bass.

Albums: 'A Slice Of Bluegrass'(1977) and "Eat It Up" (1980).

Jeff Turner

The entertainer was born in Australia (1940).

Jeff Turner came to Switzerland in 1981 and, after marrying a Swiss girl, settled down in the heart of the country.

His first country album 'Cowboys, Truckers And Lovers' appeared in 1984.

Jennifer Weatherley

Jennifer Weatherly comes from California and has lived in Switzerland for many years.

Her entrance into the Swiss country music scene was preceded by recording studio experience in the United States.

Willie Nininger

Born in New York City in 1952, Willie Nininger is well-known for his extensive repertoire and stamina on stage.

He moved to Switzerland in 1983. In 1993 he received the 'Swiss Country Music Award'.

Rodeo Ranchers

The Rodeo Ranchers, founded in 1984, are from Belp (the town which is home to the airport that serves Berne).

The five instrumentalists who back the versatile voice of lead singer Ursula Hotz perform on all the classic country music instruments.

Straight Ahead

Straight Ahead was founded in 1995.

Hansjörg Zahnd (voc,guit), Karl Binggeli (voc, b) and Christian Gasser (dr) have been members since the beginning; Udo Brügger (voc, guit) joined the group shortly thereafter.

In 1996 Jürg Oswald (pedal steel guit) joined the ensemble.

Their first CD was released in the same year.

Doris Ackermann

Born in 1963, little Doris first appeared on stage in Buchs, Eastern Switzerland in 1967.

However, it was only after her apprenticeship and employment as a cook and receptionist that she began her truly brilliant career as a country singer in 1985 with the founding of her own band.

Paul Mac Bonvin

Paul Mac Bonvin is without a doubt the leading star from the French-speaking, Western part of Switzerland.

He began his career in 1969 as a rock musician. Around 1984 he also began to play country music.

The Country Pickers

The Country Pickers are another one of the bands in this collection which unfortunately no longer exist, but that have remained legendary in a number of respects.

While they were still active they earned the privilege of being able to refer themselves as Switzerland's oldest live band.

Their first performance (as the duo Bill Bohn and Peter Gisin) dates back to an appearance in Basel in October 1960.

These two were occasionally joined at the time by German musicians Armin Edgar Schaible (guit) and Heinz Hanke (steel guit).

Rudolf 'Hank' Dettwiler joined the duo in 1962. He was the first Swiss to have mastered the five-string banjo on a professional level.

Nashville Rebels

The band was founded by Hillbilly Hämpi (a.k.a. Hanspeter Ruf) and Andy Billwiller in 1991.

Since 1993 the Rebels have performed with the pianist Christian 'Chrigel' Steiner. For bigger events they appear as a quintet, joined by Marco Benvegnu (dr) and Michael Ehrismann (b).

Their first CD, 'Nashville Rebels and Friends', was released in 1992.

Little Venus

Musicians from the pop and rock scene often produce hot cover versions in country style. The group Little Venus from Berne is a good example.

The beginnings of Little Venus go back to the year 1995; the ensemble is composed of Rusche Keusen (lead voc), Marc Rossier (guit, voc, dobro, coral sitar) and Nick Rechsteiner (cello, bass, voc).

Polo Hofer

With the release of his hit 'Kiosk' in 1976 Urs (Polo) Hofer earned the position as the father of rock music in Swiss dialect, the so-called 'Mundart-Rock'.

Polo Hofer was born in Interlaken on March 16, 1945. As early as the 1960's he was the lead for bands such as the Four Jets, the Jetmen, Polo's Pop Tales and (since 1984) the Schmetterband.

Suzanne Klee

Born and raised in Zurich, Suzanne Klee has long been a champion and pioneer of country music in her native Switzerland, as well as in neighbouring Germany.

The 'Country-Lady of Switzerland' began her career as a recording artist with pop and folk music in the early 1970's.

Suzanne Klee married singer-songwriter Harry Shannon in 1979, whereupon she settled in the USA. In 1989 she moved back to Europe.

Funny Hill

The group was founded by Ernst Eggenberger and Conny Kappeler in 1979.

Funny Hill's world headquarters is located in Chur, the capital of the canton of Graubünden in Southeastern Switzerland.

The Southcoasters

The history of the band from Italian-speaking canton of Ticino began in 1989 as a trio composed of Luca Clemenz (guit, banjo, voc), Bruno Clemenz (b), and John Lee Waber (guit, voc).

Waber was replaced by Mick J.Taylor. Silvano Cavadini then joined the band as a drummer, a position now filled by Stephan Klingler.

Marco Vassalli (keyboards, guit) and Singer Bianca Clemenz later also joined the Southcoasters. Vassalli died in a motorcycle accident in 1994; after a lenghty break the band made their comeback as a quintet in 1995.

Hank Shizzoe

Hank Shizzoe, born in 1966, grew up in Zurich's Oberland.

His real name is actually Thomas Erb, his pseudonym in part a hommage to the Shakespeare of country music, Hank Williams.

From 1990 to 1995 he was a songwriter and guitarist with a number of bands. Various solo and band projects.

Angy Burri

Born as Angelo in Cham in canton Zug in 1939, Angy showed great interest as a youth for everything related to Indians and their culture.

Burri has traveled frequently to the United States, particularly to Montana, Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming, to deepen and expand his knowledge and personal understanding of his 'brothers in spirit'.

He built his first guitar in 1958. He founded his first band, The Thunderbeats, in 1963; four years later The Real Apaches.

From 1975 to 1979 he produced films, including 'The Wolfer' - the very first Swiss Western.

Tony Lewis

Born as Anthony Edward Lewis in Long Beach (Califoria) in 1956, he settled down in Switzerland in 1991. He first performed, however, in Zermatt back in 1975.

First album: 'Wanted Man' (1993)

Amber

The band, which no longer exists, was founded in Worb (Berne) in 1992 by lead singer Thomas Küffer.

Other members: Daniel Küffer (sax), Roland Wiedmer (guit, pedal steel guit, voc), Jean-Pierre Berchier (6-&4-string bass, voc) and Cäsar Kaiser (dr, perc, voc).

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