Even though Germany’s Christian Lamitschka lives more than 4,500 miles from Music Row and English is his second language, his first love is country music.
With more than 15 years of work writing for music magazines and Web sites in Europe and with his own new Country Music News International online magazine, Lamitschka has done remarkable work spreading the word and the joy of country music to European fans.
In an e-mail conversation from Germany, Christian tells us that in Germany, things are very different from here.
In Europe, he tells us, country “is independent. They don’t call it ‘country music.’ As an example, Keith Urban released his album in Germany, and EMI introduced him as a ‘Rock/Pop artist.’ ”
We asked him what country artists were the most popular in Europe.
“Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, ‘the BossHoss’ in Germany,” Lamitschka says.
He’s interviewed dozens of Nashville stars and legends over the years, from George Jones to Gretchen Wilson and many more. He said Little Big Town and Reba McEntire were among his favorites, and that the late, great Billy Walker (the Tall Texan) will always hold a very warm place in Christian’s heart as a journalist.
“Billy Walker was my first live interview,” Lamitschka says. “I spoke more Genglish (German English) at the time than English. Billy gave me a really good time. He tried to understand my Genglish and gave really good answers. Later we found out that he had spent some time at Bad Vilbel, the town where I live. Little Big Town and Reba McEntire gave really smart answers.”
His hometown of Bad Vilbel is a suburb of Frankfurt.
The 41-year-old Lamitschka says that his first big break as a country journalist came in 1995, when the German magazine CountryCircle began publishing his work. He has written for numerous print and Internet magazines since then, including Country Stars Online.
And in this month of the Country Radio Seminar, it’s fitting that Christian’s work with a pair of radio stations has helped “build [his] name and reputation step-by-step in America and Europe.”
Some of his favorite interviews have been with writers and producers, including songwriter Buzz Cason (“Everlasting Love,” “Emmylou” and “Bar Wars”) and producer Ray Baker (Merle Haggard, Connie Smith and Moe Bandy).
On March 1, Christian will celebrate the first anniversary of his own magazine Country Music News International (CountryMusicNewsInternational.Blogspot.com), in which he does Nashville and fans a huge service by publishing his interviews in both French and German. It’s a daily Web publication that Lamitschka proudly calls “my baby.”
He launched that Webzine March 1, 2011. One of its finest features is Lamitschka’s willingness to help promote artists at no charge.
“Christian wants to offer free space in his magazine to everybody who wants to be a part of it,” he writes. “He offers artists and publicists an outlet for their news, upcoming gigs and promotions at Country Music News International. Journalists can publish their interviews and reviews in Country Music News International too.”
He tells us that since he began publishing the Web magazine last March, his interviews have been “read by millions of people.”
European markets, festivals and venues have often proven to be tremendous opportunities and profitable gigs for Nashville artists, including countless Row and Opry legends who haven’t had hits at country radio for years or even decades.
The late Hank Locklin, the beloved country tenor and Opry star whose classics include “Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On” and “Please Help Me, I’m Falling,” was a huge star in Ireland. He loved their music so much that he even recorded Irish songs and albums, and in a country that for years was torn apart by civil war, both sides stopped shooting and started listening to music whenever the great Hank Locklin performed.
Another huge boost to the country scene in Europe is Trisha Walker-Cunningham of Nashville-based Trisha Walker International, the top producer for European country festivals. Her 30-plus years of work at country festivals in France, Poland, Switzerland, her native United Kingdom, and other European venues has been sensational.
“Country Music News International is my newest baby,” Christian Lamitschka says. “When you search for country music news in Germany, is now at Google Page No. 1.”
For countless European fans and American country artists, Christian has been one of their No. 1 friends in Europe for a long time.
By Phil Sweetland | firstname.lastname@example.org