By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Let's face it: The two countries that formerly composed Czechoslovakia barely register a blip on the South Florida radar. Asked to name a modern cultural export of the Czech Republic or Slovakia, the average educated adult might come up with author Milan Kundera and ... exactly.
No matter. Though their SoFla neighbors might need schooling on their homelands' intellectual and artistic history, local Czech and Slovak expats keep their shared cultural flame alive in a rustically painted hall in North Miami. Trust us when we say the David Koller concert they're hosting this Sunday is, y'know, kind of a big deal.
In a region where music was heavily censored during the years behind the Iron Curtain, Koller is probably the biggest pop-rock star to have emerged after Communism. The ruggedly handsome blond truly broke out in the Nineties as the leader of Lucie, purveyors of thoughtful rock ballads with a surprisingly supermodern sound and a touch of global flair. He continued with other groups like Kollerband, and finally as a solo artist. On his current U.S. tour, he is performing songs from his entire career. Listeners who don't speak Czech will be totally confounded by the lyrics -- none of Koller's songs is in English. Still, he's able to convey feeling by voice alone in a way that renders the exact words almost irrelevant.
For total cultural immersion, get to the club early (between noon and 5:00 p.m.) -- its restaurant is open to the public on Sundays. Try staples like beef and dill sauce with the ubiquitous doughy dumplings, washed down with Pilsner Urquell. Unbearable lightness of being? Hardly. But a full belly and a pint or three of pivo will get you in the mood to party, real Bohemian style. -- Arielle Castillo