Thursday, 28 December 2006

Terry Holland

Dave Bresnen, chairman of the BBMA, sends the sad news that one of the central figures of the UK bluegrass scene, Terry Holland, banjo picker and organiser of the annual Tel-Fest, died in hospital early on the morning of Christmas Day.

Terry's marriage to Janet Churchill featured on the cover of British Bluegrass News #37 (spring 2006) with a two-page article by Gill Harrison, 'Bluegrass wedding of the year'. Terry's website remains a rich source of instrument history and information.

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Bluegrass au Châtelet

Jean-Marie Redon, Gilles Apap, Thierry Lecoq, Sharon Lombardi, and Denis Gasser, leading the Pas-de-Loup Philharmonic Orchestra on 'Old Dangerfield'

Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet has been the scene of many an historic concert, but the evening of 26 October 2006 witnessed a landmark event.

Gilles Apap, universally recognized as one of the leading contemporary violinists, performed with the Pas-de-Loup Philharmonic Orchestra. Beyond his virtuosity, M. Apap is known for the breadth of his musical interests, and foremost among these is the uniquely American genre called bluegrass.

So for the finale to his concert, Apap invited to the stage four fine French bluegrass musicians: Denis Gasser on guitar, Thierry Lecocq on mandolin, Sharon Lombardi on bass, and Jean-Marie Redon on banjo, to finish the evening bluegrass-style. (Lecocq, Lombardi, and Redon are members of the French band Blue Railroad Train.)

The quintet launched into several instrumentals by the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, before a hushed audience more accustomed to the formalities of classical music. But the highlight came during the encore, when Gille Apap's bluegrass ensemble was joined by the full eighty-piece Pas-de-Loup Philharmonic in an original arrangement for bluegrass band and orchestra of the Monroe classic 'Old Dangerfield'.

Everyone, audience and musicians alike, was elated by this unique event - the Parisian equivalent of bringing bluegrass to Carnegie Hall. It marked the first time this ever-popular American music has been brought to the classical stage in France, but it will surely not be the last.

The Abrams Brothers

Thanks to IBMA member Howard Bonner for the news that the Abrams Brothers from Canada, who were among the transatlantic stars of the 2006 EWOB Festival, are confirmed for an unprecedented fourth appearance in a row at the North Platte, Nebraska, festival in April. They'll be visiting the Czech Republic at the end of August, and returning to Europe in November.

Their CD Iron sharpens iron on the Mastershield label will be available next month, and the Arlo Guthrie/Bob Dylan tribute should be on the market by July. Their first DVD, The Abrams Brothers live at the Sydenham United, went on sale early in December on the local market and has exceeded all expectations with sales to date. Canada's major bookstore chain reports that the DVD has broken all records for a regional(local) act in a matter of two weekends!

Cousin Elijah at 16 has joined the band on acoustic bass and guitar. Grandpa Wayne has effectively retired to his leisure activities and guitar-building. Photos from the Abrams Brothers' tour in Europe during EWOB 2006 can be seen on their website.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

New German mandolin website

Since 22 September 2006 a new German-language mandolin website has been operated by Rupert Paulik, a bluegrass musician from Munich in the German Federal Republic (BRD). This is not only a means of presenting Paulik's very individual teaching programme; it is an opportunity for all friends of bluegrass music and fans of mandolin music to find a lot of useful information.

An extensively researched bibliography shows at a glance the important literature from mandolin schools, tune collections, and instructional DVDs. You can also find information about the history of the mandolin, various construction methods, and developments of the use of the mandolin in music.

One feature of special interest is the free workshop offered, which enables the website visitor to study four extensively commentated steps through the internet, and to finally play a mandolin tune composed by Rupert Paulik himself. Being able to play great licks on the mandolin, without forgetting that the power of music comes from the heart - that is the dream of each bluegrass musician. To mark this, this tune's name is 'Big Lick'.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Low Country Boys: new CD

Ireland's only bluegrass gospel band, the Low Country Boys of Co. Down, have released their new CD, Sangs o' bairns an' hame (an' a wheen aboot drink forbye), which became available in the shops and on eBay on 27 November.

It can also be bought direct from the band at live shows or by sending a cheque for £12.00 sterling, payable to Low Country Boys, to LCB CD Order, 55 Ravenhill Lane, Newtownards, Co. Down BT23 4PH, Northern Ireland. Much of the Low Country Boys' material is in the Ulster Scots language.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Special Consensus brings it all back home

Ethan Burkhardt of Pinecastle Records reports:

American bluegrass band Special Consensus are embarking on their nth tour through Ireland after beginning bi-annual tours of the country in the early 1990s. Bandleader Greg Cahill was exposed to traditional Irish music at a young age from his grandfather, whose family came to America from the region between Killarney and Cork.

Cahill believes that they are so well received because of the close similarities in instrumentation between traditional Irish music and bluegrass. These similarities have led to Cahill lending his talents on the American banjo to many Irish music recording sessions throughout the years. Through this interaction with Irish musicians, the band has been able to add Irish songs to their repertoire. The Special Consensus have included several Irish songs on their recordings, including a medley of two songs written by Mel Corry from Lurgan, Co. Armagh, and 'Josie's Reel', written by Niall Toner, which will be included on their new release, Trail of aching hearts, that will be commercially available on 17 April.

Ireland's exposure to bluegrass music isn't limited to touring American bands. IBMA members Richard and Carol Hawkins, who reside in the Dublin area, run the Bluegrass Ireland newsletter and have created the Bluegrass Ireland Blog. In Cork, Kevin and Geraldine Gill run a fine family band and the Bluegrass in Ireland website. These websites help keep the people of Ireland informed about bluegrass news and events in Ireland as well as in Europe and the USA.

Special Consensus's tour schedule includes appearances on the Alan Simpson Show on BBC Northern Ireland at 3.00 p.m. on 10 January, and the Frank Mitchell Show on U105FM at 11.00 a.m. on 11 January.

Wed. 10th Jan. 2007: The Allen Simpson Show, BBCNI 3.00 p.m. Belfast
Thurs. 11th: The Frank Mitchell Show, U105 FM 11.00 a.m.
Thurs. 11th: Black Box, Belfast, N. Ireland
Fri. 12th: Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre, Naul, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Sat. 13th: Winter Music Weekend, Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, Ireland
Sun. 14th: St John's Art Centre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Mon. 15th: Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, Ireland
Tues. 16th: Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, Ireland
Wed. 17th: Mount Zion House, Lurgan, Co. Armagh, N. Ireland
Thurs. 18th: Regal Community Theatre, Bathgate, Edinburgh, Scotland
Fri. 19th: Kenilworth Sports & Social Club, Warwickshire, England
Sat. 20th: East Anglian Bluegrass Day, Steeple Morden, Herts., England
Sun. 21st: Comfort Motel, George Street, Nottingham, England
Mon. 22nd: St Bonaventure's Club, Bishopston, Bristol, England
Tues. 23rd: Junction Hotel, Rainford Junction, England
Wed. 24th: Bronte Centre, Rathfriland, Co. Down, N. Ireland
Thurs. 25th: Barry's Pub, Grange, Co. Sligo, Ireland
Fri. 26th: Marketplace Arts Centre, Armagh, N. Ireland
Sat. 27th: Carlton Abbey Hotel, Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Sun. 28th: Colfer's, Carrig-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford, Ireland

To schedule an interview or for more information, contact Ethan Burkhardt by e-mail.

This release has been edited and supplemented from local knowledge and the Special C. tour schedule on the Old Flattop website.

International Bluegrass Music Museum becomes truly international

In keeping with the International Bluegrass Music Museum's mission to make bluegrass accessible to a global fan base and to be more hospitable to its international visitors, the IBMM decided earlier this year to put up signs in seven major languages. The front door welcomes visitors in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Czech, and Japanese. Other signs throughout the museum translate information for foreign guests, and the Museum's Self-Guided Tour has been translated into Japanese and Czech in its entirety. Translation of these and the IBMM website into all seven languages is in progress.

At ROMP, the museum's annual mega-bluegrass celebration on Memorial Day Weekend, five international bands were among 42 featured acts: Hermanek (Czech Republic), Bluegrass 45 (Japan), the Abrams Brothers (Ontario), the Kruger Brothers (natives of Switzerland), and John Reischman & the Jaybirds (British Columbia).

Also during ROMP, the museum opened a new exhibit: 'The History of Bluegrass in Europe and Japan'. Part I showcases bluegrass publications, posters, and other paper memorabilia from all over the world in many languages; visitors follow a narrative that describes how bluegrass music reached all corners of the globe. In this cumulative three-year exhibit, Part #II will focus on international bluegrass festivals, and Part #III will feature bluegrass instruments from around the world. Each new addition to the exhibit will open at ROMP.


Elizabeth Fuhrman Bragg, IBMM curator, says:

Get involved in the fun! Sign up to win free tickets to 'Night at the Museum' by visiting and clicking on the link on the left, and learn how you can earn donations for our organization at no extra cost each time you shop online through!

Please take a moment to forward this news to your friends and family, and ask them to do the same. Be sure to tell them to register for the contest and to help out our organization when they shop. Thanks and Merry Christmas from everyone at the International Bluegrass Music Museum!

Saturday, 16 December 2006

8th Spring Bluegrass Festival in Willisau, Switzerland

On May 12, 2007 the Spring Bluegrass Festival in Willisau, Switzerland, will take place for the eighth time. Artists scheduled to appear include Dan Paisley & The Southern Grass, The Wilders, Andy Owens & Druha Trava and Jussi Syren & The Groundbreakers. All of the bands will be playing exclusive concerts in Switzerland. Swiss bluegrass will be represented by the Bluegrass Family, who will celebrate their 30th anniversary as a band by presenting their new CD As tears go by. The festival usually draws a crowd of over 300 people; tickets are now available.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Gainsborough Old Time Festival, 16-18 Feb. 2007

The FOAOTMAD (Friends Of American Old Time Music And Dance) annual Old Time Festival in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, UK, will take place on 16-18 February. Headline guests are the Orpheus Supertones, comprising the legendary Walt Koken (Highwoods String Band), Clare Milliner, Kellie Allen, and Pete Peterson. (After the festival they have two performances in their own right and will then join Debbie McClatchy as the latest incarnation of The Gathering, with a succession of shows between 23 February and 11 March.)

The members weekend ticket price is £25. If you're not a member, it could be worth while joining before coming to the festival. Membership forms may be downloaded from the FOAOTMAD website.

Half-price tickets are available in return for about 4 hours stewarding duty over the weekend. Gate keepers and ticket issuers required. For more information contact Paul or Clare Sheridan.

The FOAOTMAD Annual General Meeting will be held at the festival on Sunday morning, 18 February. The Committee has vacancies for dance representatives and newsletter editor. Please forward any items for discussion to the Secretary.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

All Bells and Whistles in Holland, Jan. 2007

Peter O. Ruby with all Bells and Whistles, from the Czech Republic, are going to have a little weekend tour in Limburg and mid-Holland.

Friday 19 January: Cafe Classic, Cauberg 22, Valkenburg. Starting at 21:00. Phone 043-6090382. Online info here.

Saturday 20 January: Annual picking party at Buurthuis Mors, Wijk Mors, Leiden. Approx. 15 bands will pick that day, and there will be a big jam session during the whole day, starting at 12:00... till 00:00. For further details e-mail Hans Wolters here.

Sunday 21 January: Country bar Jan van Cep, Hoofdstraat 11, Amstenrade. Starting at 15:00. Phone: 046-4421408. Online info here.

The band consists of Peter O Ruby (lead guitar, lead and tenor vocals), Hans Wolters (banjo, lead vocals), Zuzka K. (mandolin), Martin Anderle (bass), and Martin Kralik (fiddle... if available). For further details visit the website.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Roberto Dalla Vecchia: gigs 2007

Roberto Dalla Vecchia ('Flatpicking guitar with Italian gusto') of Vicenza, Italy, sends the following information about his gigs during the next six months.

Saturday 20 January: Roberto Dalla Vecchia, Stefano Bonato, and Pietro Nobile in concert. 9.00 p.m. Rassegna di Chitarre, Patronato Costantini, Vittorio Veneto, Italy. Online info here; tel. 0438 402549; 347 9355723

Saturday 17 February: Workshop, unplugged. 3.00 p.m. Milan, Italy. Online info here.

Saturday 24 March: Roberto Dalla Vecchia and guests: Peppino D'Agostino and Clive Carroll. 9.00 p.m. VicenzAcustica, Astra Theatre, Vicenza, Italy. Online info here.

Monday 2 - Saturday 7 April: 22nd International Workshop of Acoustic Music, Virton, Belgium. Online info here.

Friday 13 April: Roberto Dalla Vecchia & Franco Morone in concert. 8.00 p.m. Soldiers' Theatre, Vicenza, Italy. Info 0444 717281.

Saturday 28 April: Roberto Dalla Vecchia & Luca Francioso in concert. 9.00 p.m. Urakose, Teatro Comunale, Vigonza (PD), Italy. Info 049 8079421.

Saturday 5 May: Roberto Dalla Vecchia in concert. 9.00 p.m. Sala Polifunzionale, Campoformido (UD), Italy.

Thursday 31 May - Sunday 3 June: 3rd Acoustic Guitar Workshop, Trissino (VI), Italy. Online info here.

Roberto Dalla Vecchia also has a MySpace site.

Sunday, 10 December 2006

Songwriter's third tour of Ireland

Gary Ferguson (guitar, vocals) will make his third consecutive tour of Ireland in July 2007, together with David Miner (dobro, vocals) who accompanied him in 2006. The tour will begin at the Athy Bluegrass Festival on 13 and 14 July in Athy, Co. Kildare, and end at the Phil Murphy Weekend in Carrig-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford, on 27, 28, and 29 July. It will include concerts and workshops on Dobro playing and songwriting. Promoters looking for performance or workshop dates can reach Gary here or here.

Gary hopes to have two new CDs available for the tour; he has just recorded for a Bill Emerson project, The Sweet Dixie Band, with Tony Rice, Jimmy Gaudreau, Mark Newton, Paul Williams, Pete Goble, Dudley Connell, Tony Trischka, etc. The second project is Live at Podunk, recorded at the Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival in East Hartford, CT, with Mike Auldridge, Ron Stewart, Emory Lester, and Gail Wade.

Bands coming to Europe, 2007

Angelika Torrie reports:

I'd like to update you on some projects in 2007 of A.R.T. Promotions:

The Jeanette Williams Band will be touring March 2 - 14 (new dates). Gigs confirmed include VHS Ehingen, Illertal Cowboys Vöhringen, Dany's Club in Neu-Ulm (all Germany); Bluegrass Music Denmark in Copenhagen, MJC Saint Saulve (France: TBC), and Bluegrass in Basel (Switzerland). Dates are still available.

The Dan Paisley & Southern Grass European tour (May 12 - 28) is organised in cooperation with SCR's Pieter Groenveld, begins with Willisau (Switzerland), and includes Stockholm (Sweden), Le Puy en Velay (France), several dates in the Netherlands, and the Fredericia Bluegrass Festival (Denmark). A few dates are still open and available.

Special Consensus time again: for a very short stint Special C will honour mainland Europe once more with their great music. July 1 - 8 are in discussion; confirmed dates are in Germany, Switzerland, and France, and will be shown on my homepage as soon as possible. Some dates are still available!

Please e-mail me for more details or look at the A.R.T. website.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Bluegrass writer in rural Wales

MaryE Yeomans, bluegrass writer and photographer, is on an extended stay in rural Wales and keeping a blog of her experiences, which can be read here. Her writings on bluegrass include 'Tears fell on Rosine', an account of the funeral of Bill Monroe, which originally appeared in Bluegrass Unlimited magazine and has been republished in Tom Ewing (ed.), The Bill Monroe reader (Illinois University Press, 2000).

MaryE supports Sore Fingers, the UK's first-class bluegrass/old-time instruction workshops, and her photos taken at past Sore Fingers Weeks can be seen here and on the Sore Fingers website.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

3rd Edition of Picnic Festival, Namur, 1-2 Sept. 2007

Laurent Eckhout announces the 3rd Edition of the Picnic Festival at Namur, Belgium. As always, it takes place on the first weekend of September, with a programme of bluegrass on Saturday 1 September, and Celtic music on Sunday 2 September.

The festival will be held in the Terra Nova section of the Citadel; there will be a lot of bands for a huge audience, plus three stages, indoor and outdoor.

For further details contact Laurent Eeckhout, Rue de Soye 19, 5190 Spy, Belgique; 'phone + 32 (0)472 22 03 26; e-mail; website.

Monday, 4 December 2006

Heart Of England Bluegrass Venue: sad news

Ron Stevens of the Heart Of England Bluegrass Venue reports:

There is no easy way to say it, and I am sorry to inform you that Sandy Benson has passed away today in hospital after some serious post-operative complications.

Sandy and Mike have been part of the music scene for a lifetime, and were mainstays in helping and providing the sound team for the HOEBV for many years. We shall miss Sandy, and our thoughts and sympathy go out to Mike and his family at this tragic time.

Mike's address is
22 Kenpas Highway
Green Lane

Sandy's funeral date is Tuesday 19 December, 2.00 p.m. at St Peter's church, Wellesbourne. Mike says all are welcome and Sandy's request was for flowers. Flowers should be sent to the undertaker, R. Locke & Son, Southam Street, Kineton CV35 0JN. Mike has not laid on any refreshments afterwards, but there is an adjacent inn which folks can retire to.

Bands touring in Europe

The new year opens with a bang for the British Isles (or 'These Islands', as they're known in the Republic of Ireland), with tours by the Special Consensus in Ireland and Britain (10-28 January) and by the neo-old-time all-girl band Uncle Earl in Scotland and England (20-27 January).

The Special C. have toured in Europe many times, but this is their first time with a chairman of the IBMA on banjo. They have recently finished recording a new CD, which should be available on the tour.

Uncle Earl's new CD, Waterloo, Tennessee, is due for release on 13 February in the USA but may also be available during their tour.

Europe in Bluegrass Now

The December 2006 issue of Bluegrass Now magazine carries a three-quarter-page feature by Petra Jones, one of BN's European editors, with news on European bands including Blue Railroad Train, Blueland, Meantime, Blue Mountain, Matching Ties, and the Blue Grass Boogiemen, and guitarist Roberto Dalla Vecchia, together with the 15th Annual Charlie Gaisford Charity Bluegrass Concert which was held last weekend in the UK.

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Jer Boon in the UK has launched the site, which aims to provide all the information bluegrass musicians and fans in the UK might need - news about gig and festival dates, local jam sessions, reviews, and jamming/performing tips. The site also features a forum intended to build community and help pickers in the UK stay in touch with one another. aims to act as a web portal to link all the existing online information together and help those who wish to find out more about the British bluegrass scene, as well as helping to publicise shows by any US bluegrass acts that are planning a tour in the UK.

This is an attractive and well designed site with many good features, which will also be useful outside the UK. One of the recent posts is on Sore Fingers Week, the premier bluegrass instruction course in Europe.

Kruger Brothers

The Kruger Brothers, of Switzerland and North Carolina, performed last night in concert at the Walt Whitman Arts Center, Rutgers University, New Jersey, as part of a busy schedule of concert appearances. They have been appearing regularly since 1997 at the main bluegrass and acoustic music events in the US, winning enthusiastic acclaim, and have made their home in North Carolina since 2003.

Three of their albums from 1995-7 are due for rerelease on the Double Time Music label, with retail distribution in the USA through County Sales and Elderly Instruments, and in Switzerland through George Tanner Records of Letzigraben.

Saturday, 2 December 2006

A pick with Tom Wolf: 5 December

Rick Townend reports:

On 5 December 2006 Grassroots are holding a special picking session to welcome back Tom Wolf to the UK. Tom is remembered affectionately by many in the British bluegrass world from the time in the 1970s and '80s when he was studying at Sussex University, and came along to bluegrass events all over the country; he even put on some concerts and ran his own band (the Wolf-Pack) for a short time. Now he spends most of his time between his home in the USA and his work in Kenya; however, he'll be spending a week here at the beginning of December, and hopefully visiting some of our regular bluegrass venues. Tom plays guitar, banjo, and mandolin.

Players and audience are all welcome to the 5 December session, which is at Grassroots' regular venue - the Eight Bells pub, at Hawkhurst in south-west Kent (near the A21 London-Hastings road); the pub is just a mile south of the town centre. Details are on the Grassroots website.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Flatpicking at the New Acoustic Gallery

Oliver Waitze held a Flatpicking Guitar Workshop at the New Acoustic Gallery in Solingen, Germany, from 10.00 to 17.00 on 25 November 2006.

Subjects covered in the workshop included bluegrass, fiddle tunes, rhythm, melody, right-hand exercises, 'fingerbusters', Lester Flatt G-runs, endings, crosspicking in the styles of Clarence White and Tony Rice, lead picking, gourmet licks a la Tony Rice, scales...

Oliver's new book, Flatpicking: master technique / Flatpicking Gitarre: Übungen & Spielstücke / studies & tunes, was also on display.

New Acoustic Gallery: Fachgeschäft für Saiteninstrumente
Oliver Waitze
Neuenhofer Str. 122 (B229)
42657 Solingen
Tel. +49 (0)212/2474007

Rawhide: 15 years after

Bluegrass in Belgium reports:

Next Friday (8th December) Rawhide will play at Toogenblik in Haren (Brussels). This is exactly fifteen years after their first concert, also at Toogenblik, with this lineup.

How they've been able to stand each other and keep on playing together all these years remains a mystery. Be there in time (20h30) - the number of seats is limited. Or see you in another fifteen years.

Also, don't miss the concerts of the Sons of Navarone in Deurne (9th), Kazoo in Kozen (29th), and Rawhide near Vlissingen (30th). All details of these concerts are on the Bluegrass in Belgium website, on the 'What's going on?' page.

Bluegrass in Belgium
contact here

Rough Deal String Band: 4th CD

'If you wanna get your fill!' (CD 2006) is the new CD by the Rough Deal String Band of Dublin, Ireland - Tim Rogers (fiddle, mandolin, vocals), Ben Keogh (guitar, vocals), and Bill Whelan (banjo). Fifteen tracks (53.36 minutes) of high-quality old-time music, produced by Jim Rooney, who writes that the band 'absolutely captures the great ranging spirit of this music'.

The CD is now available through all good record suppliers or direct from the band at their website or in personal appearances.

Bluegrass Europe Magazine

Bluegrass Europe is a bi-monthly magazine provided to members of the EBMA in Europe and abroad. It is the first and only magazine dedicated to bluegrass music in Europe. Written in English, Bluegrass Europe is printed and bound with the German Bluegrass Bühne and the Dutch Strictly Country. The three journals appear together under one cover. For a free sample, contact Paolo Dettwiler or visit the EBMA website.

Features in the December 2006–January 2007 issue*

Bluegrass Europe #53: Blue Railroad Train (cover feature); European and international news; concert & festival calendar; EBMA's European bluegrass guide

Strictly Country #215: Bluegrass Christmas CDs; New releases; Folksong revival, part 3; Relaxation; Potomac Valley Boys; 14th Annual Picking Party; Hollewaai & Huys ter Duyn; Columbia Series # 80: Country music after WWII, part 1; the 10th EWOB

Bluegrass Buehne #156: 20 years Matching Ties; Annual band list; Farewell to Neusuedende; Czech festival at Caslav; Christmas market; tablature for 'Lost Indian'; IBMA convention; concert and record reviews

*This issue is now on its way to subscribers