Friday, 17 August 2007

La Roche-sur-Foron Festival and Band Contest, 2-5 August

Mountain music: the main stage at sunset

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for news and photos of the Festival Européen de Bluegrass Music, held for the second time in La Roche-sur-Foron, a medieval town in the French Alps, between Geneva (Switzerland) and Mont Blanc.

Organised by Christopher Howard-Williams, chairman of the FBMA, the festival is supported by the town's mayor, the Tourist Bureau, and a staff of no less than 120 volunteers. This year there were twenty-plus hours of free concerts, with thirty bands from eleven countries: France, the Czech Republic, Spain, Estonia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Russia, Slovakia, and US. Lilly reports:

A festival of superlatives!... After the rain last year, this time the weather was beautiful. The whole city beat to the rhythm of bluegrass music, with bars hosting bands for a 'fringe' festival on Thursday evening and the local movie theatre playing Deliverance. Friday was a gala concert with French bluegrass comedy act Zip Code 2025, Bluegrass Stuff from Italy – last year’s contest winner – and headliners from the US Hickory Project... On Saturday this year’s winners of the European Bluegrass Pioneer Awards were proclaimed. The beautiful handmade wooden awards went to Jaanus Vainu from Estonia, Loek Lamers from Holland, and Petr Kus from the Czech Republic.

Indrek Vainu (left) accepts the European Pioneer award on behalf of his older brother Jaanus from Christopher Howard-Williams of the FBMA

The winners of the band contest were:

#1 Kralik & his Rowdy Rascals, Czech Republic (shown above)
#2 Country Saloon, Russia (for the second year running)
#3 G-Runs & Roses, Czech Republic

The estimated 10,000 visitors during the festival period also enjoyed other attractions for all tastes and ages: the festival market, music market, pony rides, climbing wall, masterclass workshops, bluegrass gospel singing at Sunday mass, etc. Lilly concludes:

If you are planning to be in Europe for the first weekend of next August, don’t forget to stop by. For me it was the event of the year 2007!