Jazz guitarist Rudy Linka: Laughing with people is the best therapy

Last year, you wrote an autobiographical book On the Way Home… Always. It was later released as an audiobook that you read yourself. How was the job?

Writing a book is one thing, but reading it out loud is another. When I finished writing it, I read it quietly and everything was fine. But then, while filming the audiobook, I started reading it out loud into the microphone and realized how extremely personal and intimate it was. It was a huge surprise for me. Plus, the audiobook has seven and a half hours, which was quite a team.

But the combination of a classic book and an audiobook is good, among other things, in that even though the book is full of images, the audiobook gave me the opportunity to include excerpts from the music I wrote about. They complete each other.

What are the answers to the book?

The publisher told me that they had sold over six thousand copies, which would be a big hit in the Czech Republic and a bestseller. I am very happy because a lot of work has been invested in the preparation of the book. Not only from me, but also from the publishing house Euromedia, which took care of the visual side, the production, the promotion, the distribution, etc.

Then I realized that I would write something by hand for each photo. But you don’t write much by hand anymore, you use the keyboard. It happened to me several times that the publishing house told me to rewrite the label because it was illegible. There was a moment where I almost gave up, but ultimately it’s in the book and I’m very happy with it.

What is the book about?

Everyone thinks it’s my autobiography. Of course there are those elements, but I originally wanted to write a book about how my wife and I bought and repaired a cottage in southern Bohemia. Firstly, we have been doing it for eighteen years and secondly, it seems to me that this is perhaps the most interesting thing for the Czechs. We’re all still fixing something here.

I was a complete American when we purchased the cabin. I lived and still live in the middle of Mahattan, never fixed anything before and didn’t own any cabins. If I only flew for my mother a few times a year before her purchase in the United States after the revolution, I am here much more often. Thanks to this, I got to know the Czech mentality and culture.

I had to be forced to talk to the artisans, tell them how much it would cost, make sure things were done right, and pretend I would know if they weren’t. I found it extremely interesting and full of humor, and above all I decided to remodel the over three hundred year old building. And in the process, the building reshaped me.

That’s why I wanted to write a book about it, but while writing it, I often turned to memories or thoughts about music and life in general, and suddenly I realized how many people amazing and inspiring people I had met and how happy I was. This book is a kaleidoscope of things I find important, including family, friends, music, food, and red wine. If someone makes fun of her once in a while or feels that the world is basically full of good and honest people, I will be very happy.

Rudy Linka talks about everything to visitors to his one man show.

Photo: Tomas Droppa

What is your humor?

My wife Anna often tells me that a lot of people don’t even understand when I’m joking. But I like non-violent things and I’m happy when someone understands me. I do my humor above all for me, and if someone wants to laugh with me, I’ll be happy. Otherwise it does not matter. I like to laugh with someone, but I don’t want to laugh at anyone.

The book also talks about the people I have met in my life who have influenced me. Some are famous, others not at all. It also tells how I have changed since I left the republic.

You can also see it in the photos. I’m twenty at the very beginning, I’m in Sweden and I’m trying to be an intellectual. I play classical guitar, I have a suit, glasses. On the contrary, on one of my last photos, I’m in my sixties, I play electric gibson, I laugh at full speed and I’m completely open to life around. I feel like I’m not afraid to show who I really am today. I had to come to this and I’m probably still working on it.

It happened in America?

Certainly. New York is perhaps the most inspiring place in the world and I lived there for thirty-six years. This city will change everyone. Maybe sometimes not for the best, but that will change. I met the most open and modest people there. I love it.

Your one man show will take place at the Archa Theater on April 6th. How did you come to her?

It is closely related to my book. It’s basically a theatrical performance called Between the Lines. I travel with him across the country and I will also perform in Slovakia. At the end of the year, they will also start playing it in English in the United States and Europe. It’s a free sequel to my book, with the fact that there’s also a considerable amount of improvisation.

It starts when I go on stage and play a song or two on the guitar. To get four hundred and fifty people in the room, to get on the mic and start entertaining them, it takes courage to do that. So I start with what I know that always works. I play and calm down. It will set me free, and only then will I pick up the mic and start talking. It’s not a stand-up, more of a very honest monologue.

I used to go to a therapist. I was with him for an hour, confiding in him problems and observations, and he laughed at the full ball. I ended up paying and he told me we would meet again next Thursday. My one man show is actually a similar therapy. I tell him what I told him and people laugh like him. The difference is that in the end I get paid. Laughing with people is the best therapy.

Are you planning a Bohemia JazzFest, a series of concerts in Czech and Moravian towns this year?

Yes, Bohemia JazzFest will. In 2020, we aired concerts due to a pandemic. It was already played last year, but it was necessary to check if the incoming spectators were vaccinated or already had the covid. It was performed in venues that were closed. We will return to the place this year.

The theme of the festival is the European Union. European musicians will predominate there, and I believe that some Ukrainian musicians will also arrive. We will start with two concerts on July 11 and 12 in the Old Town Square in Prague. It will also be performed in Pilsen, Liberec, Hluboká nad Vltavou, Domažlice and the whole thing will culminate on July 18 and 19 with two concerts in Brno. I look forward to this.

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