Swiss in Appalachia: the Kruger Brothers

Today’s interview with the Kruger Brothers made me feel nostalgic and it didn’t occur why to me until after listening to the audio several times over.  That’s silly because Jens (pronounced yens) Kruger explains the touching part of their experience twice – once in the first segment and once at the end.  The first time the Swiss brothers played in the United States was at Merlefest in 1997 and Kruger says “It felt like I was finally touching the ground…  I felt like we were coming home.”  He explains that all their lives they’ve been playing American music, and finally they had played for an American crowd – and they were appreciated.  The crowd “got them.”


The second time Kruger explains his affinity for the United States is after Bob asks him about being inducted into the Blue Ridge Hall of Fame alongside Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and other music legends.  The Kruger brothers, Jens and Uwe (pronounced OO-vay) have never lived in a country where they were actual citizens.  Their parents were Prussian refugees who landed in Germany but were always foreigners.  Because they and their music has been so well embraced in Appalachia, Kruger says that Wilkesboro, North Carolina has finally given them the feeling, “Yes, you are home.”



For anyone who has lived life feeling like the outsider, that’s an incredible sentiment.  Not to mention, it’s heartwarming to realize that somehow when they were young boys, they developed a love for American folk and bluegrass music, which would lead them to their newfound home decades later and a continent away.



Lucky for us, since their music (18 CDs and counting) is rich and moving. 



Likewise, the New Yorker, Joel Landsberg, in some odd, roundabout way, is the perfect mesh in this trio, playing the bass.  Uwe says that when they play in New York, they’re called “Oy Vey and the Red Neck Rabbis.”  See them here in this bonus video, of them performing “Dueling Banjos,.”  They don’t stick to the melody we all know so well.   It’s 9 minutes, 54 seconds of transatlantic, intercontinental dueling (tripling?) fun (especially for you Dr. Zhivago-slash-bluegrass fans out there). 


Enjoy!  I sure did.