Tuesday, 21 October 2014

HIGH LONESOME BELOW SEA LEVEL: The Faces and Stories of Bluegrass Music in the Netherlands

A most worthy bluegrass music related project is now well underway in the Netherlands. The Dutch authors have a refreshing and unique concept for their endeavor scheduled for release in Spring 2015.

Cultural scholar and musician Loes van Schaijk and photographer Marieke Odekerken have joined forces in producing a publication that will portray a very specific genre of music. A music which came into being in the United States of America in the 1940’s, yet found its way to the Netherlands about ten years later: Bluegrass.

Over a period of four months, Loes and Marieke will visit people in Holland who have somehow been captivated by this style of acoustic music. A music style which distinguishes itself by using a combination of stringed instruments, breakneck speed, virtuoso solos, harmony vocals and “high lonesome” singing. 

The photographs and interviews will feature musicians, promoters and instrument builders; amateurs and professionals, pioneers and rookies; wallflowers, hillbillies and hard-rockers; traditionalists, purists and people interested in the cross-over aspect of mixing with other music styles. Apart from their shared love of bluegrass music, the only thing these people have in common is their opinion that they don’t need to have anything in common.

While this book indeed portrays some of the history of bluegrass music in the Netherlands, it is perhaps more symbolic as a presentation of human individuality. Supporting that theme will be 50 photographs of colorful characters in black and white.

The official website for the project will be online in the coming weeks. At that time it will be possible to pre-order the book (with a 10% discount).

Also -- for the altruistic people among us – there is an opportunity to help with the ‘crowd funding’ campaign. If crowd funding is successful, the book can go into production and will be officially released in May 2015.

The Faces and Stories of Bluegrass Music in the Netherlands
Authors: writer Loes van Schaijk; photographer Marieke Odekerken
Contents: Text, 50 New and Vintage Photographs
Hardcover - 128 pages
Language: English
Projected Release Date: May 2015
Marieke Oderkerken, Loes van Schaijk

Future websitebluegrassportraits.nl (the website will be operational November 7, 2014)

Website photographer:  mariekeodekerken.nl
Website writer:  kunstendenkwerk.nl

Telephone: Loes van Schaijk  0031-6-14362134

Friday, 10 October 2014

At Home in Huddersfield: Deering Banjos & The Kruger Brothers

Close your eyes for a few seconds and think of towns that you would associate with Bluegrass and banjos. So, who was on your list? Was it Galax, the home of the annual Fiddlers Convention in Virginia, or Union Grove which has held the Ole Time Fiddlers & Bluegrass Festival for over 75 years – or how about Rosine in Kentucky, the resting place of Bill Monroe? What about Huddersfield in West Yorkshire? If not, maybe it should.

Huddersfield is where you will find Eagle Music, Deering Banjos’ No. 1 dealership world-wide.

The Deering Banjo Company was the recipient of a Distinguished Achievement Award at IBMA 2014. The citation from the IBMA states: Greg and Janet Deering started the Deering Banjo Company as a family business in 1975. In its 39-year history, the company has created more than 100,000 banjos, all built by hand in Deering’s Spring Valley, California facility. The company’s mission statement is “to champion the banjo and inspire creativity around the globe by supplying the best quality, American-made banjos to players of all abilities.” Noted Deering players are many, and include Béla Fleck, Jens Kruger and Eric Gibson.

So, what’s the story behind the association between Deering Banjos and Eagle Music?

Eagle Music was established in 2004 by Steve Noon and through their ethos of being run ‘by musicians for musicians’ they have built up an enviable reputation for first-class customer service and perfectly presented instruments to suit musicians of all abilities. Steve Noon explained that, from the outset, Deering Banjos would be a focal point of the Eagle Music’s business and, within a few years of opening, Eagle Music became Deering Banjos’ No. 1 dealership world-wide. In 2009 Steve was invited to speak at Deering’s ‘Banjo Summit Meeting’ and, in 2014, Eagle Music celebrates its No. 1 dealership status for the 8th consecutive year.
To celebrate this status, Eagle Music has annually held a Deering Banjo event and this year sees “Deering Banjo 8”. Steve Noon explained that “the event came about when Eagle Music became the number one banjo retailer in the entire world for the Deering Banjo Company. Each year Greg and Janet Deering have been guests of honour at the event, and as such have presented Eagle Music each year with a plaque in recognition of Eagle Music’s status and service to banjo customers. The world-acclaimed Kruger Brothers have played at the event on six occasions, and along with other world-class artists making the event the biggest on the banjo and bluegrass calendar. Eagle Music has [so far] arranged [for] the following artists to perform at the ‘Banjo 8’ Event … The Kruger Brothers, The Old Grey Dogs, The House Devils, Andre Dal (Portugal) and The Kentucky Cow Tippers. Special guests of honour will be Greg, Janet and Jamie Deering.

The Kruger Brothers

“Deering Banjo 8” will involve on-stage workshops and performances as well as the chance to have Greg Deering look at and adjust attendees’ banjos and a finale of a concert by The Kruger Brothers.

Joe McIlvenny of The Old Grey Dogs will be running the picking sessions that will take place between the afternoon and evening sessions. Joe said “It's [the] one day each year that the world’s greatest banjoist visits the UK, along with the other members of the Kruger Brothers. Their musicianship is wonderful to the ear and creates a lasting emotion and memory in the listener. Plus we have Greg Deering in attendance to demonstrate his wonderful banjos. Put this together with some of the UK's top players in support and the event becomes unmissable. Everyone appreciates the work that Steve Noon and his team puts into this day and, if you've not been, you’re missing the best day in the UK calendar.”

From the 2013 event - The Kruger Brothers with Joe McIlvenny of the Old Grey Dogs:

So.. to return to the original question about towns associated with Bluegrass and banjos; maybe Huddersfield with Eagle Music as the world’s No. 1 retailer of Deering Banjos (who are themselves recognised with a Distinguished Achievement Award from the IBMA) deserve a place alongside Galax, Union Grove and Rosine.

“Deering Banjo 8” will take place on Saturday November 8th 2014 at The North Light (behind Eagle Music Shop), Brooke’s Mill, Armitage Bridge, Huddersfield, HD4 7NR and more information can be found on the Eagle Music website.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ken Harris: one more loss in the British bluegrass scene

Ken Harris

We regretfully report the loss of another iconic figure in the British bluegrass scene: Ken Harris, born 1935, who died on September 4, 2014.

Coming from the Co. Down end of the Belfast area, Ken was one of the foremost pioneers of bluegrass in Britain. He was the founder member, the leader, and the moving spirit of the Down County Boys, the first professional and successful bluegrass group in the UK, and the Britain's longest-lived and most award-winning bluegrass band. This band is still going strong.

As well as his work with the band as lead singer, guitar player, and frontman on stage, Harris was the founder of the Swanswell Tavern country music club, where he and his band made their debut in January 1965. Also, he was the organiser of the well-known Heart of England Bluegrass Club, whose weekly sessions allowed the best of British and visiting American acts for over 13 years, thus helping to establish bluegrass music in the Midlands.

With Ken's passing away we lose an important link with the bluegrass pioneering early days. We owe a great debt to Ken's efforts and are deeply grateful for his life-long work and passion for bluegrass music. 

News from Spain's own Surrounders

News from Spain: 
Hello a todos,
Surrounders are playing the Monkey Week Festival 2014 which takes place in the city of El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Spain. It is a three day festival with many great bands from all over the planet. Its focus is on independent music. We have been invited to play at the Gibson Showcase stage presented by Happy Place Records and Gibson and also on one of their many stages throughout town. It is a great festival which each year reaches a wider audience. It brings together more than 400 professionals from the record industry and thousands of fans. We are stoked that the organization thought that traditional music, such as bluegrass, had a place  at Monkey Week! Please visit monkeyweek.org and www.facebook.com/monkeyweek for more details.
Un saludo de los SURROUNDERS!!

Sad News for British Bluegrass

The great British banjo player Phill Morley passed away in hospital on last August 27th, 2014 in Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, Essex.

Born on March 13, 1952, his passion for the banjo began at the age of 16, and in the mid-1970s he started busking in his hometown of Romford. Even if he was still learning to play his instrument, these public displays led to teaching assignments. In fact, Phill was also a teacher, and it was his teaching to over a 100 people that sustained him for the past 20 years. He featured in bluegrass bands but also played country music, swing, country rock, folk music and jazz, the latter mostly to help with his teaching.

Phill was a cornerstone of the British bluegrass and old-time music scene during the last 40 years, having set up the first magazine, British Bluegrass & Old Time Music Newsletter, first published in the 1970s, that turned later into British Bluegrass News. He seemed to have a constant yearning to publish; only ill health caused him to leave a little quarterly journal, The Banjo Gazette, which he started not long after the publication of British Bluegrass News was taken over by the British Bluegrass Music Association in November 1990.

Phill's many contributions to the British bluegrass scene show him as a tireless promoter of bluegrass, and a  friend to so many. He will be missed by the whole bluegrass community.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

EBMA's European Bluegrass Blog has crossed the half million page view border....

... join us in celebrating over 500'000 page views!

Thank you to all our editors for doing a wonderful job.

Thank you to all the bands, promoters, organisers etc. who provide us with relevant information and news.

Thank you to you, our readers, for following up on what's going on in Europe.
We'll keep you up to date on IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2014 next week - stay tuned!

Angelika Torrie

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

International Affairs: The first letter in 'IBMA' is ours


To all non-US IBMA members:

The 2014 World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC, USA, is approaching VERY fast!
At the IBMA's International Committee booth in the Convention Center, under the “Foreign Affairs” label, we hope again to present as much and diverse information as possible about what is going on in other countries than the US as possible.
For that we need your materials, old and current – posters of last year’s festival for instance or old editions of your newletters, magazines.
And if you happen to have a video of your event or band online, send us the file and we'll include it in our portable show of "Foreign Affair." Send your files to angelika@ebma.org before 20th September 2014.
So, bands, festival promoters, others who work in bluegrass...
If you are planning to attend, BRING YOUR STUFF WITH YOU, and take it to booth # 608 ASAP on Wednesday, 1st October, if you are a registered attendee of the Business Converence (exhibition opens 2:00pm), or on Thursday 2nd October (9:00 am). And if you are able to help staff the booth, which is also an additional opportunity to connect with people and present yourself, please contact us at angelika@ebma.org or rienk@ebma.org asap.
If you are not able to be in Raleigh physically, please send a packet of stuff, and we will make sure that those who are interested, can look at it and/or take it with them.
Until September 20, shipments will be accepted at:

IBMA International Committee, booth # 608 for 2014 IBMA
c/o Hollins Exposition Services
121 North Chimney Rock Road
Greensboro, NC 27401

If your shipment will not be there by September 20, use this address:

Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
IBMA Conference
Booth 608, IBMA Intl. Committee
c/o Lindsay Clapp

Please send your display things only if you do not need them back! We are unable to send them back after the event.
Hope to see you or hear from you!

Angelika Torrie and Rienk Janssen
IBMA International Committee

If you are still thinking about coming to World of Bluegrass, maybe watching this video will convince you! Tickets and info can be found here.

Sierra Hull in Prague on 4th December 2014

Iva Louková sends hot news from Prague:
Dear friends,
Rosta Capek presents another great show for you - this time we want to invite you to Sierra Hull concert!
She will perform in Europe for the very first time, and only in Prague, Czech Republic! Sierra Hull will play and sing accompanied by the complete band (Justin Moses, Cory Walker, Jake Stargel and Jacob Eller) in Hotel Pyramida, Prague 6, Czech Republic on December 4th, two shows, one at 5pm and one at 8:30pm.
You can find all the info at www.capek.us or write directly to iva@capek.us, where you can also book your tickets.
Come to see the higlight of the bluegrass season in the most beautiful city of Prague!
Iva Loukova and Rosta Capek

Čapek Bluegrass & Jazz Instruments 
Phone +420 603907416 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Cup O'Joe (N. Ireland) invited to play at IBMA

It is unlikely that anyone who has more than a passing interest in Bluegrass will have missed that the IBMA World of Bluegrass will be taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina from September 29th to October 4th. 

As well as the many established artists performing at Wide Open Bluegrass and the Bluegrass Ramble, ten bands of young musicians have been invited to play on the Wide Open Bluegrass Youth Stage; the full list can be found on the IBMA website. Amongst the bands invited to play on the Youth Stage is just one non-US band – Cup O’Joe from County Armagh in Northern Ireland.

Cup O’Joe is a family band comprising Reuben Agnew on guitar and mandolin, Tabitha Agnew on banjo and fiddle and Benjamin Agnew on upright bass with all three sharing vocal duties. The band plays a mix of Bluegrass and Gypsy Jazz and their debut album ‘Rough Terrain’ is an eclectic mix of familiar songs such as ‘Darlin’ Corey’ and ‘Wild Bill Jones’ to ‘Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier’ and ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen’ (once recorded by the Andrews Sisters).

Tabitha explained how the IBMA invitation came about: “I was scrolling through my news feed and came upon a post by the International Bluegrass Music Association. It announced that youth bands could apply to appear on the Youth Stage as part of IBMA in Raleigh. I eagerly submitted an application. In the meantime I was also looking at a request (on the European Bluegrass Music Association website) for European bands to represent the international side of IBMA. We wanted to represent Europe but had to wait on a reply concerning the Youth Stage  So when I received the news from the Youth Council to say we had been accepted, we were obviously surprised and excited [particularly] being the only youth band from outside the States.”

The band said: “We are really looking forward to getting out there, meeting musicians from all over and seeing our friends that we have made within the past few years”. They have plans to record new material in the near future but are concentrating on balancing their education along with seeking to play music to as many audiences as possible and wherever possible.
Cup O’Joe are scheduled to appear on the Youth Stage on Friday October 3rd

•    Cup O’Joe website
•    Cup O’Joe Facebook

Saturday, 6 September 2014

4th Annual Castle Picking Party in Holland

On Sunday, September 28th, the 4th Annual Castle Picking Party gathering will be held at "Het Kasteel" in Groningen. The event starts at 13.00 until 21:00. The building must be cleared out before 21:30.

In addition to participating in jam sessions in various rooms throughout the castle, you can also enjoy a number of band performances throught the day.

Concert Schedule in the "Grote Zaal" (Great Hall):

15:00  Luurtsema and Klein 
15.35  Stringtime 
16.15  Red Herring 

17:00  Pause

18.15  Mrs. Robinson 
19.05  Lefty and the Right One 
19.40  Whiskey Rose 

Admission is FREE: There is no admission fee, but donations in the little guitar are welcomed to help cover minimal costs for the event.

Parking: on the streets around Het Kasteel is free. 

Food: Please bring something to place on the Buffet Table. This can be anything -- fruit / desserts / salads / home-made breads / hot or cold dishes, and so on. It is always great eating at the Picking Party!

Beverages are not allowed into the castle. All drinks (alcohol / milk / juice / soft drinks) are available from Het Kasteel. This is the arrangement for the use of the building for the day.

Instrument Storage: You may leave your instruments in a secure "checking room" beginning at 13:00. There will be volunteers to register your items and they will be controlling this room at all times.

The Castle Picking Party is made possible by management and staff of the meeting center Het Kasteel; and by efforts of volunteers and organizers Ben Wiltjer and Hans Kelderhuis.

"Het Kasteel"
  Melkweg 1
  Groningen, Netherlands

Friday, 5 September 2014

EBMA board re-appoints Angelika Torrie to Chairperson of EBMA's board of directors

Angelika Torrie
At yesterday's board meeting (via Skype), the EBMA's board accepted Rienk Janssen’s resignation from the position of Chairman at the end of his twelve-month term and unanimously approved Angelika’s appointment to Chairman for a period of two years from this date.

The prospect of several board members stepping down or having less time available to devote to the EBMA meant that a lot of thinking needed to be done. The announcement of the European Bluegrass Music Association receiving the honour of an IBMA Distiguished Achievement Award gave Angelika renewed motivation and, as her personal situation has become more settled, she made this a conscious decision to step back into the leadership position for EBMA.

Angelika will work hard on maintaining and extending networks and strategic cooperations to strengthen the European bluegrass scene once again and bring ends back together. However, success will heavily depend on new forces joining the team. If you are willing to dedicate about one hour per week to help EBMA promote and establish bluegrass music, please send a message to Angelika and let her know how you might help.

European Bluegrass Music Association
EBMA: Working together to support Bluegrass Music across borders.

IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina - will you be there?

 IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina
Tuesday, September 30th - Saturday, October 4th, 2014

The city of Raleigh, North Carolina and the Bluegrass world are preparing for the IBMA World of Bluegrass event - the second year that this has been held in Raleigh.
Over the five days of the World of Bluegrass so much takes place from the Bluegrass Music Awards, Wide Open Bluegrass, the Bluegrass Ramble and the StreetFest; as Donna Ulisse says in this video 'the opportunities are endless'.

The Bluegrass Music Awards are always an exciting time for all of the nominees and fans but this year, this is especially exciting for the EBMA as the EBMA will be receiving a Distinguished Achievement Award which will be collected by  EBMA Chairperson Angelika Torrie along with Rienk Janssen, Christopher Howard-Williams and Chris Keenan.
Taking place on Friday, October 3rd and Saturday October 4th, Wide Open Bluegrass brings together some of the biggest names in Bluegrass with shows at the Raleigh Convention Center and Red Hat Amphitheater.
The Bluegrass Ramble is held over five night and seven stages - more information about the Ramble and how to buy tickets can be found here.
The StreetFest is a free event and features 80 bands on multiple stages, a dance tent, concessions...a Bluegrass jamboree. From a European perspective, and of particular interest, is that Irish bands I Draw Slow and Cup O'Joe will be appearing. I Draw Slow have been appearing in the US at festivals such as MerleFest and Pickathon. Cup O'Joe are the only non-US band that have been invited to appear on the Youth Stage.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

BlueGrass Beeg 2014, Saturday, 25 October 2014, in Grevenbicht, Limburg (NL)

The second edition of this acoustic and autism-friendly bluegrass festival in Grevenbicht in Limburg, one of the Dutch provinces, will be held on Saturday, 25 October 2014. 

Where and when? 
Limburg is in the far southeast of NL, very close to parts of Germany and Belgium. The festival will be held in Oos Hoes, Schoolstraat 2 in 6127 BG Grevenbicht, from noon until approximately midnight. Admission is € 10 per person at the box office, or € 7.50 in advance. You may order your tickets at that price at stautivriendelijklimburg@gmail.com.

Red Herring

What will be going on?
Besides the main attraction, the musical program with ten bands, there will be workshops and a trade show (booths with instruments, CD's and LP's, information). There are also possibilities for jam sessions, in the hall during the breaks, and in the cafe-part of the building. So, don't be shy, bring your instrument and see what will happen.

What's unique?
The festival will be organised in a way that it will be easy for people with various degrees of autism to attend, or to function as volunteer. For this there will be some assistance from healthcare professionals.

Want to be a Volunteer?
We still need some volunteers. You can either go to www.stichtingautivriendelijklimburg.nl or write to Rob Guffens, guffens@home.nl

What's the lineup?

What keeps you from going?
We don't know, but we would sure be happy to meet and greet YOU!

Rob Guffens, guffens@home.nl

Monday, 1 September 2014

Danilo Cartia (I): upcoming performances

Banjoist, guitarist, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia (I) announces that he will be performing bluegrass, blues, and other acoustic music with guitarist, singer Letizia Sampaolo and the Acoustix band in two shows in Czech Republic, one at the 34th Bluegrass Marathon in Borovany, and another one in Pilsen on this coming weekend:

Saturday 6 Sep., 12:00, Borovany U Tachova
Monday 8 Sep., from 6 pm to 8 pm, Pilsen

Danilo Cartia
Phone/fax: +39 068273332
Mobile: +39 3396908450
E-mail: banjoman@fastwebnet.it
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/danilo.cartia