Martin Žák / Foto: Kateřina Karbusická artin Žák has devoted a substantial part of his life to the music of American country-side which is nowadays known to wide public as country music; the more informed among you perhaps know it under the nice original name „old-time music“.

His songs and stories will take you to distant times; most times they bear authentic testimony about actual events in lives of pioneer settlers of that time and their brave wives, pirates and sailors, preachers, black slaves, cowboys and outlaws, civil war soldiers, lumber-jacks, common workers, railroaders and tenacious mountaineers...

Among Martin’s eternal musical companions are not only five-string banjos from various historical periods, guitar, autoharp, mountain dulcimer, harmonica, jaw harp, but also ancient instruments, such as bones or musical bow.

Since 1992 Martin Žák has been taking care of his specialised store with musical instruments and sheet music and has gathered much precious experience in this field. He has also published a series of books on music and also written some of them. His most memorable book so far is called „Banjo dávných horalů, farmářů, kovbojů, tuláků a jiných dobrodruhů“ (Banjo of Old Mountaineers, Farmers, Cowboys, Hobos and Other Adventurers)(Country Home 2002). This book (accompanied with a CD) includes, among many other things, Martin’s own findings from his trip through U.S. South-East where he went in 1999 to search for the roots of his beloved music.

Martin Žák / Foto: Jan Šroubek Martin’s stylish books and recordings receive warm welcome not only from hard-core followers of the genre, but also from wide public (regardless of age) and the most prominent representatives of traditional culture from behind the big pond (USA).

No matter how much work he has, Martin Žák never forgets about his youngest audience. Consider for instance his book and CD called „První krůčky s kytarou: Jednoduchá country kytara pro malé začátečníky“ (First Steps with Guitar: Easy Country Guitar for Little Beginners) (Country Home 1999). And after all, here’s the wide variety of children songs and musically-educational programs, including the educational concert called „Když osadník zpívá“ (When Settler Sings) that uses entertainment to introduce children to an interesting chapter of history. Kids have the opportunity to see and hear both familiar and long-forgotten musical instruments, visit far-off places and first of all, take an active part in the whole program.

Thanks to Martin’s uncommon drive, an old-time country band Stará Almara (Old Cupboard) has been established several years ago, bringing its listeners American folk music in its original form. Martin Žák’s zealous approach to music and fresh ideas come to life in Stará Almara in many shapes. Activities of the band have been documented with a series of stylish CDs and DVDs.

Among other Martin’s activities are musical-educational programs, including the one called „Střípky ze starobylé Ameriky“ (Scraps from the Old-Time America) integrating American traditions with contemporary scenic dance. We also shouldn’t forget the series of entertainment programs born from the common effort of Martin, popular actor Miloň Čepelka and impressive dancing group Dvorana Country Dancers (some of the programs have already seen a DVD issue). As musician, Martin Žák has taken part in a variety of interesting projects, including the unique tutorial video of dancer Jan Pumpr called „Cloggingem krok za krokem II.“ (Clogging Step by Step II.) You can also hear Martin’s banjo in animated movie „Emily's First 100 Days Of School“ (Weston Woods 2006)…

Martin Žák / Foto: Luděk Neužil
The distinctive universe of Martin Žák called Country Home is well-known among both musicians and lovers of good old country music and romantic way of life all around.

Enchanted by traditional music, simple life-style and nature, he has given up flourishing business and comfort of a city. Many memorable adventures have led him to the heart of the woods in Lužické hory (The Lusatian Mountains) which have become a home for his whole family.

We offer you original programs with traditional country music and period instruments targeted at clubs, schools, summer camps etc., as well as concerts, festival shows, music for museums and open-air living history museums, musical lessons and seminars. See more information with video click here.

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Dear traveller, you have just come to pages
devoted to old-time country music of Martin Žák and his band Stará Almara.

About Martin Zak | Martin Zak & His Old-Time Country Band | Traditional Instruments | Songs
Musical Programs | Recordings & Videos | Books | Contact

Martin Žák would like to thank everybody who showed him the way, first of all
Wayne Erbsen, David Holt, Mike Seeger, Pete Seeger, John Hartford, Janette and Joe Carter,
Laura Boosinger, Will Keys, Michael J. Miles and other old-time heroes,
including the ones whose names are now gone with the wind.
And also Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Gordon Lightfoot, Merle Haggard, John Denver…
© 2009 Martin Žák