Friday, 29 June 2007

German concept successful at Nashville Flugtag

The Bluegrass Blog reports on the annual Red Bull Flugtag ('flying day') at Nashville, TN, on 23 June: the competition for human-powered flight was won by the Rocky Top Rocket, which set a new North American record of 155 feet*. A link to a video recording of the flight is on the Bluegrass Blog.

For aviation buffs: the Rocket uses the Luftwaffe's Mistel (mistletoe) concept, in which a large unpiloted machine was controlled and released by a smaller aircraft mounted on its back. In the Rocket's case, the lower component took the form of an immense banjo, which did not travel as far as the launch vehicle. More research is clearly needed. Could the Rocket be booked for a flypast at the next Banjoree?

*The record at the Bognor Birdman competition in England is 89.2 metres (289.9 feet), set by a local man after a long series of German wins.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Open House Festival, Belfast, 26-30 September

The 9th Belfast Open House Festival will be held in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, Northern Ireland, from 26 to 30 September, packing over sixty events into the five days, with a wide and powerful range of Americana, Irish traditional, and good-time music generally.

The bluegrass, old-time, and related music section includes the Old Crow Medicine Show, Mozaik, Tim O’Brien and Arty McGlynn, the Earl Brothers, the Hackensaw Boys, Crooked Still, the Duhks, the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, the Mountain Firework Company, the Ragged 'n' Rough String Band, and Elvis – The Bluegrass Years. Full details on all acts are given on the Festival website.

The Crooked Jades in Europe - Update

Rainer Zellner of the Music Contact agency reports that the eclectic oldtime string band The Crooked Jades from San Francisco will be special guests at Tanz- und Folkfestival Rudolstadt/Germany, one of the major world music festivals in Europe. This year the festival will highlight North American ethnic cultures, oldtime music beeing one of them. The Jades have been invited to introduce the audience not only to their exciting musical concept but also to learn about history in lectures and talks. They will be performing all 4 days of the festival - the first time ever for an American folk band in the 15 years the festival existed.

New band members joining San Francisco-based founder, guitarist and lead vocalist Jeff Kazor and Kentucky banjo and slide-guitar player Seth Folsom include New Yorker Robin Aigner of Royal Pine on female vocals and ukulele, Boston bass player Charlie Rose of Asylum Street Spankers/South Austin Jug Band, and crazy young prodigy fiddler Josh Rabie from Portland, Oregon playing his original blues-infused old-time fiddle tunes.

Rainer Zellner
Roots Music Booking and Production

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Bluegrass where you would expect it to be

Thanks to Krister Johansson of Sweden, the website of Bluegrass AB, a company that 'mainly works with products like catheters for electrophysiology studies of the heart, non-invasive determination of hemodynamic parameters and implantable defibrillators and pacing products', also carries a link to the website of the EBMA.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Country Kitchen Revival are back!

The Country Kitchen Revival Jamgrass Band of Rome, Italy, are proud to announce that their website is online again, with:

new pictures in the news page, our old pictures, our story, something about our future, some pictures with some great ones, and we also put a page where you can entirely download for free our old CD Jamgrass plus the booklet, and also a page of Italian cooking recipes. We will update it monthly.

The first recipe is for the old Sicilian dish Fusilli coi Broccoli Arriminati (Pasta with Cauliflower Sauce). This gives Country Kitchen Revival (Edoardo Martinez, mandolin & vocal; Andrea Tarquini, guitar & vocal; Marco Pandolfi, banjo & vocal; Andrea Moneta, bass & stick bass; and Anchise Bolchi, fiddle & vocal) a strong claim to have one of the most tasteful bluegrass websites.

The original Country Kitchen formed in 1981, and their achievements include coming second in the 27th Rockygrass Band Contest in Colorado in 2001. You can also meet the band on MySpace and YouTube.

Fiddle Hangout

Eric Schlange, webmaster of the Banjo Hangout, sends this message

... to let everyone know about a new website I just opened last Friday - the FIDDLE Hangout! Yes, you heard right - we're spreading the Hangout love to the fiddle world! The same powerful features you've come to enjoy at the Banjo Hangout, including discussion forums and a free myHangout homepage, complete with blogging capabilities, photo albums, MP3 music archives, and events calendar!

My plan is to continue expanding the site's content and features as things progress. (We'll certainly be adding a tab/sheet music area in the near future, for one thing.)

But for now, the site's only been live since Friday, and it's already averaging over 2,000 visitors per day. The forums are hopping, and lots of new folks are signing up daily. So if you play fiddle, or know someone who does, be sure to check out the Fiddle Hangout! This is gonna be good!

Contact Eric by e-mail.

Monday, 25 June 2007

International Bluegrass Bands

The Bluegrass International Blog reports:

The World International Bluegrass Band, which will be performing in the USA later this year and which we featured in recent news, has a forerunner.

Erio Meili of the São Paulo Bluegrass Association has reminded us of the International Band that performed at the 1997 IBMA FanFest. The personnel included Claudio Vescovi (guitar; Milan, Italy), Erio Meili (banjo; São Paulo, Brazil), Helmut Mitteregger (mandolin; Vienna, Austria), Katarina Mitteregger (bass; Vienna, Austria), Katsyaki Miyasaki (mandolin; Kyoto, Japan), Marilyn Barclay (guitar; Munich, Germany), Markus Stadler (banjo; Munich, Germany), Monika Schwentner (mandolin; Zurich, Switzerland), Paul Graham (mandolin; Jerusalem, Israel), Richard Hawkins (banjo; Dublin, Ireland), and Thierry Schoysman (banjo; Brussels, Belgium).

An additional note: the group was assembled and organised for the performance by the late Eric Hoogstad of the Netherlands. The picture below shows Eric (right) and Erio holding the framed artwork for the 1997 World of Bluegrass.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

AEGC Bluegrass Association

The new president of the AEGC Bluegrass Association of Paris, France, is Jean-Louis Montagut. Jean-Louis takes the place of his best friend, Frederic Arsonneau, who died on 4 June at the Poissy hospital after six months of grave illness.

Contact: Jean-Louis Montagut
10 avenue Foch
92250 La Garenne Colombe
+33 (0)1 41 19 64 31

Contact the AEGC by e-mail.

EWOB 2008 festivals

Dates have now been confirmed for the following five festivals, among those that will take place during the European World of Bluegrass period next year:

Thurs. 1 - Sat. 3 May: 11th European World of Bluegrass Festival, Voorthuizen, the Netherlands

Sat. 3 May: 6th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival (Baden), Germany

Fri. 9 - Sat. 10 May: 6th Fredericia Bluegrass Festival, Det Bruunske Pakhus, Denmark

Mon. 12 May: 26th Big Bear Festival, Zuidlaren, the Netherlands

Sat. 17 May: 9th Spring Bluegrass Festival, Willisau, Switzerland

Friday, 22 June 2007

Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike in Germany, July

The European tour of Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike opens on 5 July with the Tanz- und Folk-Fest (TFF) in Rudolstadt. Karl Heinz Siber of Muff Musik-Management reports:

This is Germany's major folk festival, with an expected attendance of 20,000 or more over the four days (5-8 July). Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike will perform on the first day of the festival, Thursday 5 July, sharing the stage with the Crooked Jades and Hayseed Dixie, both from the US. The whole evening will be audio-recorded for later transmission over various German radio networks. I am personally sure that the band will get great audience response at the TFF, as they always do.

Even though the schedule shows nothing for Wednesday 11 July, there is some musical activity planned for that day. Valerie and the band will visit a school in Bühl on that morning and do an instructional session with several classes in attendance. This is part of an effort of the city of Bühl, and the makers of the Bühl International BG Festival to bring more local, and especially young, people into the orbit of bluegrass music, and to make the younger generation aware of this music. We hope that this will lead, in the longer term, to some more young people picking up a bluegrass instrument.

Thurs. 5 July: Tanz- und Folkfest, Rudolstadt

Fri. 6 July, 8 p.m.: Altes Amtsgericht, Boeblingen

Sat. 7 July, 8 p.m. Pfleghofsaal, Langenau

Mon. 9 July, 7 p.m.: Stadtfest, Neudrossenfeld b. Bayreuth

Tues. 10 July, 8 p.m.: Schloss Fachsenfeld, Aalen

Wed. 11 July (see above)

Thurs. 12 July, 8.30 p.m.: Rattlesnake Saloon, Munich

Fri. 13 July, 7 p.m.: Burg Streichenberg, Gemmingen

For further information contact Muff Musik-Management.

Dates for the band's subsequent tour in the UK can be seen here. The UK tour is sponsored by Maverick, the UK magazine for country and roots music.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Lilly's New Recording Project

Lilly Drumeva of Lilly of the West announces her new CD project "Time After Time" (Polysound/Music Author). 11 tunes are played by her own band, mostly musicians from Bulgaria but also including Jesse Brock. No release date has been published; for further information you can contact Lilly directly.

A world of bluegrass at the World of Bluegrass

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Picnic Festival 2007, Namur

Laurent Eeckhout, organiser of the Third Picnic Festival at Namur, Belgium (1 and 2 September 2007), sends the programme for the bluegrass section of the Festival:

Saturday 1 September 2007

Blue Grass Boogiemen (NL)
Zip Code 2025 (F)
Louvat Brothers & Guests (B, F)
Quartier Français (F)
Jefferson Louvat & Thierry Massoubre (B, F)
Loes van Schaijk (NL) (lead singer of Water Flow) in the 'Irish Pub'
Jam sessions in the 'Irish Pub'

The Celtic section of the Festival, on Sunday 2 September, includes La Varda (F), Cécile Corbel (F), Alka Celtes Airs (B), Camping Sauvach (B), Tiny Moss (B) in the 'Irish Pub', Kiekebisch (B) in the 'Irish Pub', and jams in the 'Irish Pub'.

Banjo visionary and inventor Tom Nechville will also be attending. The main venue is the Terra Nova section of the Citadel in Namur. The IBIS Hotel at Namur offers special rates to festival attenders. For full details and complete schedule, see the festival website or contact:

Laurent Eeckhout
Rue de Soye 19
5190 Spy
+ 32 (0)472 22 03 26

Chris Jones in the Netherlands

Cor Sanne of CMS Productions in the Netherlands reports that singer, songwriter, guitarist, and bandleader Chris Jones (USA) will be playing in Turfschip in Nieuwkoop (Holland) on 11 July, along with Moot Davis & Band. Both artists are on Little Dog Records. For reservations for Chris Jones & the Nightdrivers, use CMS's new e-mail address.

Chris Jones's new website design is by Lisa Jacobi of Ducktown Station, the East Tennessee bluegrass band who have also joined the EBMA.

Monday, 18 June 2007

The World International Blue Grass Band

Banjo player, former Blue Grass Boy, and author Butch Robins is forming a World International Blue Grass Band as a statement of cooperation, goodwill, and peace.

The band consists of Kazuhiro Inaba from Japan (guitar); Arnold Lasseur from the Netherlands (mandolin); Jan Johansson from Sweden (fiddle); Hamish Davidson from Australia (fiddle); Sean McKerr from Ireland (acoustic bass); and Butch himself on banjo. His father, the late Calvin Robins, who was a close friend of Bill Monroe, was a major influence in introducing Butch to visitors from outside the US and encouraging him to make contact with different cultures.

The World International Blue Grass Band will be playing shows in autumn 2007, including appearances at the IBMA's World of Bluegrass Business Conference, Award Show, and Fan Fest in Nashville, TN.

Adam Steffey DVD on Acutab

Acutab Publications announce the release of My approach to bluegrass mandolin, a new 2-DVD instructional set by Adam Steffey, IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year for each of the last five years.

On the first disc, Adam deals with and demonstrates rhythm playing, right-hand attack, note spacing, tone/volume, practising, and building speed. He then devotes some 45 minutes, using three common jam-session tunes, to showing how to build a mandolin solo, starting with the basic melody - in several different keys.

On the second disc, Adam teaches seven of his most requested solos. Each in turn is played with a band, broken down lick by lick, and then played (fast and slow) in a split-screen orientation. An accompanying printed booklet contains transcriptions for all solos, in both tab and standard notation.

Full playing time is four hours and twenty minutes. Full details are on the Acutab website. Acutab are also offering, at no extra charge, an autographed copy of an 11 in. x 17 in. (28 cm x 43.2 cm) colour poster, showing Adam with his Daley mandolin, for the first 300 customers placing an order through AcuTab. The Gibson company launched an Adam Steffey signature model mandolin in 2002.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Forge Mountain Diggers: update

In April the European Bluegrass Blog posted news of the acclaimed Forge Mountain Diggers old-time string band (USA) and their scheduled tour in Sweden during September and October 2007. Confirmed dates for the tour are on the band's MySpace site.

Multi-instrumentalist Thomas Bailey, who plays guitar with the Diggers, will be using on the tour one of the new Gibson Legends Series guitars: the 1937 Historic L-00. Thomas says: 'It is handmade to '37 specifications and boasts that huge pre-war Gibson bark and round low end.' Further details on the new old L-00 are here.

After the Swedish tour, Thomas will play solo gigs and workshops in the UK from 8 October to 31 October. For information and bookings, contact him here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Bluegrass Pioneer Tatsuo Arita Passes

Saburo 'Sab Watanabe' Inoue of Japan sends via the IBMA-L list the sad news that Japanese bluegrass pioneer Tatsuo Arita passed away today while on a tour cruise in the Mediterranean. Although not a musician, he played a key part in creating the first bluegrass-like band in Japan, the East Mountain Boys, in October 1958. There was no tradition in Japan at the time of stringband music or even fiddle and banjo, but from his knowledge of how a bluegrass band should sound, Arita encouraged Don Sano to play banjo and the Ozaki Brothers to play bluegrass-style mandolin and guitar.

While staying in New York in 1961 he heard the loudspeaker of a car (it belonged to the Stanley Brothers) yelling: 'The bluegrass show is in town!' so he went there and met David Freeman, who later founded County Records. The two men quickly became friends and went to 'Bluegrass Day' on 4 July 1961 at Luray, Virginia, the first ever all-bluegrass all-day event, produced by Bill Clifton.

The contribution made by Mr Arita and the Ozaki Brothers is on record as part of the IBMM Video Oral History Project, thanks to Fred Bartenstein. Sab adds:

Personally, I fell in love with bluegrass when I heard a single EP record which Mr Arita loaned to my brother Toshio in the early '60s - Flatt and Scruggs's 'Old home town'. Since the day I heard it, my life changed forever.

Mr Arita was behind the Japanese bluegrass scene since its heyday of the '60s, so not many people know him. However, the people who were inspired by his love of music will never forget what he gave me and us... to Japanese people, the bluegrass music.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

The Krüger Brothers plus orchestra

On 2 June the Krüger Brothers, Switzerland's gift to North Carolina, presented in Bangor, Maine, a concert entitled 'Music from the spring: a romantic serenade for banjo, guitar, bass & orchestra', with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the oldest community orchestra in the US.

Problems of balance of volume between the band and the orchestra were successfully overcome, according to a frank and favourable review by Judy Harrison in the Bangor Daily News. The conductor, Xiao Lu-Li, is reported as saying: 'We could have peace in the world, if the world has more Krüger Brothers.'

Brance Gillihan of the Bluegrass Blog (to whom thanks for this news) says: 'It’s always exciting to see bluegrass taken to new audiences and see the genre's base widened without sacrificing the integrity of the music's core. I think the Krüger Brothers are successfully doing so. Keep up the good work guys!'

Friday, 8 June 2007

A new treasury of old-time banjo

Thanks to FOAOTMAD for the news that a unique double-CD set, Banjo gathering, with fifty tracks of unaccompanied old-time banjo playing has been released.

The soloists are Bruce Molsky, Mike Seeger, Cathy Fink, Brad Leftwich, John Cohen, John Herrmann, John McCutcheon, Alice Gerrard, Rafe Stefanini, David Winston, Paul Brown, Terri McMurray, Tom Sauber, Gordy Hinners, Phil Jamison, Bob Thornburg, Gail Gillespie, Brett Riggs, Dan Gellert, Joe Newberry, Scott Ainslie, Steve Baughman, and Pete Sutherland. A twenty-page booklet is included, with information about the players, their styles, their instruments, and their stories.

Banjo gathering costs $20.00. 100% of artist royalties go to the Swannanoa Gathering Scholarship Fund to provide opportunities for economically challenged musicians to spend a week every summer at the Swannanoa Gathering music camp in the hills of North Carolina. It can be bought through CDBaby, where full details are available and each of the fifty tunes can be heard.

Al Ras Festival, Spain, 9 June

The sixth Festival of Bluegrass and Old-Time Music takes place at the Parc Can Mula, Mollet de Valles, Barcelona, on Saturday 9 June. Artists taking part include Tom Corbett (USA), the RC Brothers, Autopista 6, La West, Five Points, Sedo & Adria Garcia, Artur Nadal, and Bernard Molloy. The festival opens at 15.00 and concerts begin at 18.00. For further information, contact Lluis Antonio Gomez Martinez.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike in Germany and UK, July

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike will be touring Germany and the UK from 5 July to 29 July 2007. The confirmed schedule as shown on the band's website is:


5 July: Tanz- und Folkfest, Rudolstadt
6 July: Altes Amtsgericht, Boeblingen
7 July: Pfleghofsaal, Langenau
9 July: Neudrossenfeld, Stadtfest
10 July: Schloss Fachsenfeld, Aalen
12 July: Rattlesnake Saloon, Munich
13 July: Burg Steichenberg, Genningen


15 July: Larmer Tree Festival, Ludwell, Wiltshire
16 July: The Secombe Theatre, Sutton, London
18 July: Freshwater Memorial Hall, Isle of Wight
19 July: St Bonavenure's, Bristol
20 July: The Rum Store, St Neots, Cornwall
24 July: US Bands Promotion Concert, George Street, Nottingham
26 July: High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex
27 July: The Heart of England Bluegrass Venue, Kenilworth
28 July: The South Will Rise Again Festival, Wimborne, Dorset
29 July: The Acoustic Music Festival of Great Britain, Nantwich, Cheshire (12.30 p.m.)
29 July: The Jumpin' Hot Club Presents' Festival, Newcastle, UK (6.15 p.m.)

Monday, 4 June 2007

Frederic Arsonneau

The following sad news has been received from Christopher Howard-Williams, president of the France Bluegrass Musique Association:

'Frederic Arsonneau, the president of the AEGC Bluegrass Association in Paris, died last night. He had a brain tumour that was discovered in November. French bluegrass is in mourning.'

The above photo shows Frederic on stage (front centre, with banjo) with Blue Railroad Train (France) and Monogram (Czech Republic) at a special concert on 24 May 2003 to mark twenty years of the AEGC Bluegrass Association.

New member of IBMA staff

The International Bluegrass Music Association announces that Katy Leonard joins the IBMA staff today, Monday 4 June, as administrative assistant. Her responsibilities will include helping to manage information systems, member services, event planning, and operations.

Katy Leonard, as well as being a devoted bluegrass fan, has previous experience in the legal, education, business, music, and customer service fields. She has a Bachelor of Music in Performance degree from Birmingham-Southern, Alabama, and a Master of Arts degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Limerick, Ireland, where her work included research into the Irish bluegrass scene.

Katy recently completed coursework for her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Brown University. She is now the first member of the IBMA staff to have an international background.

Carmel Sheerin & the Ravens in the US

Press release

NASHVILLE, TN (5.29.07) Irish bluegrass band, Carmel Sheerin & the Ravens will head back to Nashville for an upcoming performance at the Station Inn on 6 June 2007. The band's last US appearance was in September, where they represented the European Bluegrass Music Association as the #1 European Bluegrass Band at the annual IBMA World of Bluegrass conference in Nashville.

The next stop for the group will be kicking off the Kentucky Lake Bluegrass Festival in Aurora, Kentucky. The band's performance is sponsored by the legendary and world famous string manufacturer, GHS Strings. Carmel Sheerin & the Ravens will make numerous other appearances in Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin, and West Virginia before heading back to Ireland later in June.

For a complete tour schedule and more information on Carmel Sheerin & the Ravens, please visit their MySpace site.

Terry Lease +1-217-243-3159

Hope River Entertainment

Auld Shebeen Music 2005, Moate, Co. Westmeath, Ireland.
phone: +353 (0)90 6485007
e-mail here or here
Info: +353 (0)90 6478935 / 0878747477

Saturday, 2 June 2007

British accounts of the EWOB Festival

The Carrivick Sisters, Charlotte and Laura (UK), performed at the 10th EWOB Festival in Voorthuizen, the Netherlands, and received a warm welcome. The sisters - who between them play guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and lap steel - have recorded their impressions of the Festival in an illustrated article on Some quotes:

One main difference we noticed between festivals in England and EWOB was that the average age of players at EWOB appeared to be significantly lower, which shows that the bluegrass scene in Europe is definitely getting bigger.

The sound for the entire festival was absolutely fantastic, both from the performer’s point of view and for the audience.

All together, it was a great festival and we would highly recommend it to anyone...

The New Essex Bluegrass Band, on their fourth visit to the EWOB Festival, also recounted their very positive experiences to; read them here. One quote:

Let it be said loud and clear, 'Europe’s finest bluegrass bands are as tight and driving - with soaring, high-lonesome harmonies - as the finest acts from America.'

Tom Travis in Bluegrass Unlimited

The June issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine includes an article by Richard Thompson on Tom Travis, whose career of performing bluegrass and country music in Britain began in 1959.

Tom has made his mark as singer, bandleader, recording artist, broadcaster, organiser for eleven years of the UK's pioneering Edale Bluegrass Festival, and chairman for six years of the British Bluegrass Music Association. The article pays special attention to his development as a songwriter.

Big Hillbilly Bluegrass in Eastern Europe

The original Bluegrass Blog reports that Bob Perilla’s Big Hillbilly Bluegrass - Bob Perilla (guitar), Mike Munford (banjo), Tad Marks (fiddle), Elizabeth Day (vocals), and Pete Kelly (bass) - has embarked on a goodwill European tour, sponsored by the US State Department, and will perform in June in Moldova, Croatia, Georgia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

From today, 2 June, to Friday 15 June will be featuring a Katy Daly interview with Perilla and Day about their tours in Eastern Europe and Asia in 2005 and 2006. The show debuts today with daily rebroadcasts over the next two weeks.

Bid on eBay for a Rawhide concert

Bluegrass in Belgium reports:

A bluegrass concert by Rawhide in your own living room on 23 September? That's possible now for almost nothing ['an apple and an egg' is the Flemish equivalent]. You can bid now on eBay for this unique bluegrass experience via this link.

Rawhide won the #3 Audience Popularity Award at the European World of Bluegrass Festival in the Netherlands in 2006 and 2007, and also won a special award this year as the only band to appear at all ten EWOB Festivals.

Friday, 1 June 2007

European World of Bluegrass 2007

A list of all events that form part of the EBMA's European World of Bluegrass (EWOB) 2007 is available through a link on the main page of the EBMA website. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read the list, which can be downloaded as pdf files.

A list of EWOB events from 21 May to 30 June is posted below.

A report on the awards at the 10th EWOB Festival at Voorthuizen, the Netherlands, can be seen here. For other information on the Festival, see its website and/or the EWOB pages on the EBMA website.