Tuesday, 29 April 2008

New website for Sons of Navarone

It's well worth a visit to the website of the Sons of Navarone from Belgium, which has been completely redesigned with a more classical look. It retains all its power to surprise: underwear (although not the underwear of band members) is on display.

EWOB events, 29 April-6 May

Contact data and website links are on the EWOB Festival website, where a list of all EWOB events up to 21 June 2008 can be downloaded.

Tues. 29 April
.357 Stringband (USA), Alkmaar, Netherlands
Waterflow (NL/SK), Nijmegen, Netherlands

Wed. 30 April-Fri. 2 May
Music Festival, Bergen, Norway

Wed. 30 April
Waterflow (NL/SK), Nijmegen, Netherlands
.357 Stringband (USA), Venlo, Netherlands
Half a Turn (NL), Heerhugowaard, Netherlands

Thurs. 1 May-Sat. 3 May
EWOB Festival, Voorthuizen, Netherlands

Thurs. 1 May
New Prohibition Band (USA/D), Dortmund, Germany
Infamous Stringdusters (USA), Recklinghausen, Germany
Mideando String Quintet (I), Rome, Italy
.357 Stringband (USA), Terneuzen, Netherlands
Dick Smith-Mike O'Reilly Band (USA/CAN), Old Colwyn, N. Wales, UK
Chris Jones & 4 Wheel Drive (USA/NL), Nieuwkoop, Netherlands

Fri. 2 May
Don Rigsby & Midnight Call (USA), Laufen, Switzerland
Infamous Stringdusters (USA), Sachsenheim, Germany
Streichholz-Schachtel (D), Wippenhausen, Germany,
Mideando String Quintet (I), Padova, Italy
.357 Stringband (USA), Vlissingen, Netherlands
Dick Smith-Mike O'Reilly Band (USA/CAN), Kenilworth, England, UK
Matching Ties (USA/D), Sachsenheim, Germany

Fri. 2 May-Mon. 5 May
Rhythm & Roots Festival, Kilkenny, Ireland

Sat. 3 May
6th Int. Bluegrass Festival, Buehl, Germany
Four Potatoes, Freising, Germany
Matching Ties (USA/D), Diessen, Germany
Hackensaw Boys (USA), Ospel, Netherlands
.357 Stringband (USA), Tilburg, Netherlands
Petr Brandejs Band (CZ), Groningen, Netherlands
Dick Smith-Mike O'Reilly Band (USA/CAN), Greenock, Scotland, UK

Sat. 3-Sun. 4 May
Karl May Festival, Radebeul, Germany

Sun. 4 May
.357 Stringband (USA), Antwerp, Belgium
Hackensaw Boys (USA), Antwerp, Belgium
EWOB Minifestival, Jilove u Prahy, Czech Republic
Don Rigsby & Midnight Call (USA), Oldenburg, Germany
Matching Ties (USA/D), Scheyern, Germany
Infamous Stringdusters (USA), Untermeitingen, Germany

Sun. 4-Tues. 6 May
Boet'n Deure Festival, Odoorn, Netherlands

Mon. 5 May
Poutnici (CZ), Sedlcany, Czech Republic
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper (USA), Leipheim, Germany
Sally Jones & the Sidewinders (USA), Lengerich, Westfalen, Germany
Hackensaw Boys (USA), Hengelo, Netherlands
Alison Krauss & Robert Plant, Birmingham, England, UK
Chatham County Line (USA), Belfast, N. Ireland, UK

Tues. 6 May
Sally Jones & the Sidewinders (USA), Hoofddorp, Netherlands (Hoofddorp Bluegrass Festival)
.357 Stringband (USA), Cologne, Germany
Matching Ties (USA/D), Munich, Germany
Infamous Stringdusters (USA), Ingolstadt, Germany

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Seventh Al Ras Festival, 14 June 2008

The organisers of the Seventh Al Ras Festival at Mollet del Valles, Barcelona, Spain, report:

Here at Al Ras we would like to dedicate this year's festival, our seventh, to all the musicians who introduced us to bluegrass and old-time music here in our land by organising concerts and jam sessions and by teaching the rising generations to play such little-known instruments as the banjo, mandolin, and traditional fiddle – without them, Al Ras would not be possible. A number of those pioneers will be joining us at the festival this year: Gabe Ramirez, Sedo García, Javier Sanchez, Ricky Araiza, Toni Giménez, Agustin Zubiaga, Heribert Rodenas, Maria Ricart, & Angel Matesanz. Our thanks to you all, and keep on pickin´!

14:00 Lunch
15:00 Jams
16:00 Workshop: Mandolin with Tom Corbett
17:00 Workshop: Banjo Old-Time with Sedo García, Gabriel Ramirez, & David Prat

18:00 Concerts
Gabe & Kathy
Tin Horn Hank
Lluís Gómez Bluegrass Band (Ricky Araiza, Joan Pau Comellas, Tom Corbett, Oriol Saña & Maribel Sánchez)
Toni Giménez (Homenatge a John Denver)
Barcelona Ceilidh Band
Sedo & Adrià García
R.C Brothers

00:00 Final Jam

Bohemian Bluegrass Festival, 25-27 July

Dear Music Friends!

Be invited to be become part of the top event for bluegrass music - with outstanding bands and artists from Europe in a pleasant atmosphere!

The Czech town Pisek (south/west CZ) - becomes capital city of BLUEGRASS Music. On 25-27 July 2008 Bohemia's largest Bluegrass Music Festival takes place. This open-air event will be held in the 'Letni Kino' amphitheatre in downtown Pisek. There is place for more than 2000 people with excellent sight and acoustics.

Over twenty bands and artists from across central Europe will perform during the three days of the Bohemian Bluegrass Festival. Countries which will be present are: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary.

The full line-up is on the festival website. If you need more info about our festival, don't hesitate and contact us.

With best regards

George Simek
European Culture Group

EBMA General Membership Assembly

The EBMA Board of Directors invites you to the Seventh EBMA General Membership Assembly. As an active member of the EBMA, you have the right to attend the assembly as well as the right to vote, elect, and be elected. As a supporting member, you are welcome to attend the assembly.

EBMA's 7th General Membership Assembly
Thursday 1 May 2008, 18:00–19:00
't Trefpunt, Voorthuizen, the Netherlands


1. Welcome
2. Acceptance of last years’ AGM minutes
3. Reports of Activity by EBMA Board of Directors for 2007/2008
4. Acceptance of Financial Report 2007
5. Election of EBMA Board of Directors for 2008/2009
6. Election of Financial Auditors for 2008
7. Acceptance of Budget for 2009
8. Changes to Bylaws
a. Change in §1 'with headquarters in Pratteln, Switzerland' [old] to 'with headquarters at the treasurer's office' [new]
9. EBMA Goals for 2008/2009
10. How YOU can be an active part of EBMA!
11. Questions and Answers

Make sure to attend EBMA's European World of Bluegrass 2008 Festival in Voorthuizen, NL (1-3 May) and also the EBMA Open Meeting on Friday 2 May at 11:00. We look forward to meeting you there!

Paolo Dettwiler
Chair, EBMA Board of Directors

Saturday, 26 April 2008

'Country Music Round-up' on Radio Vrolek

Thanks to EBMA member Jan N. Evenhuis for news of his weekly radio program 'Country Music Round-up', which includes lots of bluegrass music.

The radio station - Radio Vrolek, in Nederlek (Lekkerkerk & Krimpen a.d. IJssel), the Netherlands - transmits on 107.7 MHz as well as on the local cable system 105.5 MHz, and as background music on the Information TV-channel 2. 'Country Music Round-up' is broadcast live from the studio on Tuesday night from 19.00 to 20.00, with a retransmission on Saturday from 12.00 to 13.00 LT.

Mostly on Thursday the playlist is published weekly, together with additional information, cover photos of used albums, and links to appropriate video-clips/websites of the musicians in Jan's weblog. Jan adds:

I sure hope the readers will like to go on a small bluegrass adventure / surprise every now and then, with unsuspected video-clips of sometimes 'Old Heroes of the Bluegrass' as well as stringbands, old timey, and acoustic country, sometimes with a taste of fine folk music. Hope they have lots of fun!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Kudos for Coastline Bluegrass Music Event

The Coastline Bluegrass Music Event has not only been nominated as 'Favourite Bluegrass Festival 2007' by UKBluegrass.com - it is now listed in The Guardian newspaper as being among their 'Top Ten Folk Festivals for 2008'! The Guardian article can be seen here.

The third Coastline Bluegrass Music Event takes place on 6-7-8 June 2008 at Plas Uchaf Farm, near Llandudno Junction, North Wales LL28 5PD, UK. This year's lineup has a strong international element with G2 (current #1 European Bluegrass Band) from Sweden, and the Sons of Navarone from Belgium. For further details, see the Event's MySpace site.

Don Rigsby & Midnight Call in Europe, 2-4 May

Karl Heinz Siber of Muff Musik-Management sends a reminder of the shows by Don Rigsby & Midnight Call in their brief tour in Europe next week:

Fri. 2 May: Kulturzentrum Altes Schlachthuus, Laufen, Switzerland

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

Sun. 4 May: Oldenburgisches Staatstheater, Oldenburg, Germany

Thanks to Karl for the following bios of members of Midnight Call:

Patrick McAvinue (fiddle): Young, fresh, inspiring, talented, stubborn, spirited, and gifted are all adjectives that describe the bluegrass fiddler, Patrick McAvinue. Since he began his journey learning the fiddle, he has participated in many fiddling competitions. He has been honored with the title of Delaware State Fiddling Champion. The first band Patrick played with was the Salem Bottom Boys when he was at a very young age of twelve. Since then he has moved on to play with numerous bands from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Robert Maynard (acoustic bass): ... is also a recording engineer for River Track Studios. He has a great ear for arrangements and can always be called upon to assist with the recording process. Prior to joining Midnight Call, Maynard played bass for the celebrated gospel group 5 For the Gospel for two years. His timing is rock solid, but even more important, his character is impeccable.

Dale Vanderpool (banjo): ... has been playing banjo on the bluegrass circuit for years. His familiar face and picking style has graced the stages throughout the US and Canada with such artists as Melvin Goins, Larry Stephenson, Karl Shifflett, and Rock County. Though noted for his Osborne-Crowe-influenced banjo style, Dale is a fantastic part singer, which he demonstrates with Midnight Call every show. From time to time, he even picks the guitar too! A man of many talents indeed.

Clyde Marshall (guitar): ... has been playing music since he was seven years old. He was born into a deeply religious family with a preaching father and a mother who could play. In fact, nearly all of his siblings play and sing too! He formed his first groups with banjo-picking Brother Dennis and has rarely been absent from the stage since. Marshall plays guitar, mandolin, and banjo and sings all parts. His first playing job was with South Salyer and the Brown Mountain Boys. He played for many years with Don Stanley and Middle Creek, Clyde Bowling and the Southern Bluegrass Boys and most recently with Lost N’ Lonesome. His talents and easy manner are a most welcome addition to Midnight Call.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Take care of those hands

The Bluegrass Blog today carries a post entitled 'Why banjo and extreme sports don’t mix'. It's based on the hard experience of Jens Koch, banjo-player for the G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden). Jens broke his left wrist badly while snowboarding three years ago, and the process of recovery was long and painful. Read the details on the Bluegrass Blog.

G2, who won the title of #1 European Bluegrass Band at the EWOB Festival 2007, will represent Europe this year at the IBMA's World of Bluegrass.

Nechville News: the Spanish connection

Nechville Musical Products reports that the spring issue of Nechville News is now available for download. Banjo tablatures by Lluís Gómez (SP) have been a regular feature of Nechville News for some time now, and in this issue the tab is of the Russ Barenberg tune 'Magic foot'.

Nechville are present, as always, at MerleFest this year (24-27 April 2008). Lluís Gómez and his Quartet will be appearing at the EWOB Festival at Voorthuizen, the Netherlands (1-3 May). A full list of shows by the Quartet is on their MySpace site.

Bluegrass on the air and on CD in Ireland

Niall Toner reports that NTB 3, the new CD by the Niall Toner Band, will be launched on Sunday 25 May over the national broadcasting station, at Studio One, RTE Radio Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, Ireland, starting at 7.30 p.m. Niall says:

NTB3 is another collection of original material, and includes songs co-written with Barry and Holly Tashian and Peter Rowan. Ten songs and two instrumentals, as well as a video interview/documentary shot by Kate Bradbury at Athy 2007, with comprehensive sleeve notes explaining the background to all the tracks, and a beautiful sleeve design by bass-totin' graphic artist Kelvin Busher.

Sample tracks can be heard on the NTB MySpace page. At the launch, two programmes in Niall's 'Roots Freeway' series will be recorded in front of a live audience, with NTB as the house band, and special guests Prison Love, Bray Vista, and Carmel Sheerin & the Ravens (#1 European Bluegrass Band 2005). Admission on the night will be by ticket only; seats can be booked by e-mailing Roots Freeway or the show's producer, Aidan Butler. Niall adds:

RTE are also celebrating May as International Bluegrass Music Month by broadcasting a series of radio shows on Thursday nights during May, called 'The Bluegrass Sessions'. Among the artists featured will be Bela Fleck, Ricky Skaggs, the Punch Brothers, the Paperboys, Steve Kaufman, and Greg Cahill. These shows are hosted by Niall Toner and Sandy Harsch.

Also during May, each edition of 'Roots Freeway', which is broadcast on Tuesdays at 9.00 p.m., will contain a twenty-minute segment telling the story of bluegrass music, from its beginnings with Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs and the Stanley Brothers, right up to today's modern masters like Chris Thile, Tony Trischa, Pete Wernick, and Peter Rowan. These mini-documentaries are intended as an introduction to bluegrass music.

The Niall Toner Band can be heard live at the EWOB Festival in Voorthuizen, the Netherlands, on 1 May, and elsewhere in the Netherlands on 2 and 3 May.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Songwriters at IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2008

Louisa Branscomb, chair of the IBMA's Bluegrass Songwriter Association, gives a preview of the BSA part of this year's IBMA World of Bluegrass:

We are planning a Songwriter Crash Course, an open 'Song Circle' (all welcome), a business meeting, and a 'Virtual Mentor' project this year. In addition our rooms in the hotel will be open for spontaneous meetings between songwriters and as a place for folks to co-write or network.

For the 'Virtual Mentor' project: if you are an established and recorded songwriter and would like to volunteer, we will pair you up with a younger or newer writer in IBMA, so that person can ask basic questions about songwriting. You would volunteer an hour of your time via internet or phone to answer questions or help with their songs (and hopefully meet at IBMA). After that, if you wish to keep up the relationship or charge for your consultation, that is up to you.

Attention all songwriters: Please email me if you would like to help with any of these, or if you would like to be on our songwriter email list!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Bluegrass Europe #61

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 April–May 2008 issue*

Bluegrass Europe #61: Bluegrass in Norway (cover feature); the story of Czech bluegrass; EWOB 2008: the next ten years; European news coverage; EBMA's European bluegrass guide; concert & festival calendar

Strictly Country #223: Country Gazette exit!; Big Bear Festival 2008; SCR; news, views, and reviews; Frankie 'Blackland Farmer' Miller; Infamous Stringdusters; Columbia Series #88: Eddie Zack & Family; Hippie Hootenanny (pt 2); Half a Turn; Boet'n Deure programme 2008; Gold Tone guitar for EWOB 2008; Bluegrass Unlimited national bluegrass survey

Bluegrass Buehne #164: Lee Morse & the Bluegrass Boys; Monroe Crossing; the Steeldrivers; tab 'Golden slippers' by Steve Kaufman; EWOB CD 1998-2007; Tony Trischka in the Czech Republic; concert and record reviews

*This issue, which begins the second decade of publication, has been posted to subscribers, together with the EWOB 2008 Guide.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Stringdusters tour in May-June: update

Rainer Zellner of the Music Contact Roots Music Booking and Production agency, reports that all dates on the tour schedule for the Infamous Stringdusters (USA) remain as shown in our post of 2 April, except for the unconfirmed show at Regensburg on 25 May, which will not take place.

Between 1 May and 1 June the Stringdusters (Andy Hall, dobro, vocals; Andy Falco, guitar, vocals; Chris Pandolfi, banjo, vocals; Jeremy Garrett, fiddle, vocals; Jesse Cobb, mandolin; and Travis Book, bass) will be playing twenty-four dates in five countries. The band, as Rainer says, has stood the bluegrass world on its head with one album.

Music Contact
Saarstrasse 8, D-72070 Tübingen, Germany
+49 (0) 7073 2250; fax +49 (0) 7073 2134

Punch Brothers in Ireland and Britain, 11-18 July

The Punch Brothers, led by mandolin wizard Chris Thile, will be playing in Europe for eight days in mid July 2008, beginning in Ireland at the Sugar Club, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2, on 11 July. This will be followed by six shows in England and Scotland: at Bristol, Birmingham, London, Gateshead, Glasgow, and Manchester. Full details are on the Punch Brothers tour schedule.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Gary Ferguson in Ireland, July

Singer and songwriter Gary Ferguson (USA) will be touring Ireland for the fourth time from 18 July to 29 July 2008, accompanied by the Belfast dobroist Colin Henry. They will be joined for some shows by singer Janet Holmes, whose CD Wonder why was released early in 2008. Full details of the tour are on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog calendar.

Colin takes the place of David Miner, who accompanied Gary on two previous tours in Ireland, and who died in mid February this year. The Bluegrass Unlimited review of Gary's latest CD, Live at Podunk, can be read here.

Gibson and Danish audio group: NO merger

The business deal discussed earlier this year, under which the Gibson Guitar Corp. (incorporating Epiphone, Dobro, Flatiron, and many other brand names) would have merged with the Danish TC Group, which manufactures audio equipment, will not now take place. The latest developments are reported on the Bluegrass Blog today.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Fastest banjo player moves to the US

On Thursday 27 March Johnny Butten, current holder of the World's Fastest Banjo Player title from the Guinness Book of Records, moved with his family and household from England to Hawley, Minneapolis, USA, with a visa that enables him to perform in the US for the next three years.

Signed with the Bitzer Agency in Minneapolis, Johnny is assembling a country band and a bluegrass band around his own multi-instrumental talents, and will be available as a sideman and session man, as well as songwriting and recording instructional DVDs. His move to the US, where Sim Daley is already established as a mandolin-maker and banjo-picker, gives south-west England a strong presence in the home of Bluegrass.

Johnny Butten won the World’s Fastest Banjo Player title by playing 'Duelling banjos' at 260 bpm at the Cornish Bluegrass Association Festival, Newquay, Cornwall, UK, on 15 September 2007. This year's CBA Festival is on 19-21 September.

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike in Europe, July-Aug.: update

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike at Schloss Fachsenfeld, Germany: photo by Hans Graef

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, featuring Becky Buller, will tour in Europe in the summer of 2008, beginning in July in the UK. Confirmed dates at present are:

July 20th: Freshwater Memorial Hall, Isle of Wight, England
21st: Maverick @ Zebra Bar, Maidstone, Kent, England
23rd: St Bonaventure’s, Bristol, Avon, England
24th: High Barn, Great Bardfield, Essex, England
25th: Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, England
26th-27th: 17th Phil Murphy Weekend Festival, Carrig on Bannow, Co. Wexford, Ireland
29th: Comfort Hotel, Nottingham, England
31st: (to Germany)

August 2nd: Kulturufer Festival, Friedrichshafen
3rd: Bardentreffen Festival, Nuremberg (Nürnberg)
4th: Altes Kaufhaus, Landau

Thanks to Dee Hallett of the BBMA for the news.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

New look for the EWOB Festival website

On 1 April the European World of Bluegrass (EWOB) Festival relaunched its website, with a splendid new design by Fresh Pixel of the Netherlands. The home page header appears above.

But it's not just a pretty face. The website has more features and more information - including a complete list of EWOB events all over Europe - and does a better job than ever of presenting European bluegrass to the world. Visit it, and sign the guest book!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Chris Jones and Four Wheel Drive at the Turfschip, 1 May

Cor and Greet Sanne of CMS Productions announce that Chris Jones (USA) will perform in concert on 1 May at 20:30 in Turfschip, Zuideinde 15, in Nieuwkoop, Holland. Tickets (€12.50 each) can be reserved via the CMS e-mail address.

As well as being a fine singer and guitarist, Chris won the IBMA Song of the Year Award last October with his song 'Fork in the road'. On the programme with him at the Turfschip will be the Netherlands' own Four Wheel Drive, featuring master fiddler Joost van Es, whose set will include material from their new CD, Another town.

Chris is also scheduled to play at Zugenhaus 562, Teufen, Switzerland, on 15 and 16 May at 19:00.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

International lineup at Orwell Bluegrass Festival, 25-7 April

Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain

Will Burchnall reports from eastern England:

The Orwell Bluegrass Festival at Hallow Trees, Ipswich, Suffolk, opens on Friday 25 April and runs until Sunday 27 April. This year's festival has a truly international lineup with G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden; current #1 European Bluegrass Band), the Dick Smith and Mike O'Reilly Band (USA/Canada), and Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain (USA) headlining over the weekend, with a further 10 British bands on the Main Stage, plus special guests and impromptu performances on the Open Mic Stage.

For more information go to the Festival website. A copy of the Festival flyer is here.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Al Ras Festival: 14 June 2008

The Al Ras Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival at Mollet del Vàlles, Barcelona, Spain, will be held this year on 14 June (not 7 June as originally stated in our post of 9 February, which has now been corrected). Thanks to Angel Matesanz for sending the correct date.

The festival lineup includes Sedo & Adrià García, Autopista-6, Montnegres, NATT, Toni Giménez, Tin Horn Hank, the Lluís Gómez Bluegrass Quartet, and the R.C. Brothers. Pictures, samples, slideshows, and more information can be found on the Al Ras MySpace site.

Bluegrass stars at the Club Mlejn, Prague

Jens Kruger and Joel Lansberg on the Prucha stand after the concert in Prague on 15 March

Lilly Pavlak reports that the Club Mlejn Stodulky (the Mill) in Prague, Czech Republic, is building a big reputation for bluegrass concerts. On 1 March Hickory Project from Pennsylvania played there for a packed house, supported by the Czech band Monogram, who joined them for a finale that featured four fiddles on stage, including Jirka Kralik and his American friend Lee Bidfood.

The four-fiddle jam on 1 March

On 15 March, at the invitation of Jaroslav Prucha, the Kruger Brothers played to another packed house at the Mlejn, performing music from their latest CD, The suite, as well as older material, for hundreds of enthusiastic fans. Prucha Instruments have just celebrated thirty years in production.

Lilly also reports that Tony Trischka & Druha Trava will be playing together at the Mlejn in May as part of a tour. Full dates are:

23rd: Dehylov, Lodenice, 19:30
24th: Plzen, Festival Lochotin 2008, 18:30
25th: Teplice, Otevirani lazenske sezony, 19:30
27th: Praha, KD Mlejn, 20:00
28th Brno, KD Musilka, 19:30
29th Strakonice, Festival Jamboree, 22:00

Read Lilly's full report here.

EWOB CDs get warm welcome

Liz Meyer of Stricly Country Records reports that Bob Mitchell, respected music critic and radio presenter in Louisville, KY, has given the new 2-CD set 10 years of European World of Bluegrass (SCR-66) a warm welcome: '... it is fabulous! You should feel very proud - you can be sure it will get a lot of air play.'

The CD European World of Bluegrass 2007 (SCR-65) has been reviewed in the new issue of Bluegrass Now magazine by David Dees, who concludes:

When someone begins to worry about the future of bluegrass, they should play this CD. And there are two very good reasons for American bluegrass bands to listen to this disc: 1) to discover some very good new songs, and 2) to hear how good their competition has become!

Read the full review here. Info on all the EWOB CDs is here. Liz sums up with reference to 10 years:

We finally have the perfect vehicle to show the world that European bands can play really great bluegrass!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Free Gibson Brothers tracks on the Bluegrass Blog

John Lawless of the Bluegrass Blog reports:

Thanks to the folks at Sugar Hill Records, the Bluegrass Blog is offering free downloads of two tracks from the Gibson Brothers' new CD, Iron & diamonds.

The title track is offered today (7 April) and 'Picker’s blues' will be offered tomorrow. There is no charge for the MP3 download to any registered user of the Bluegrass Blog. Registration is quick and free online.

Each free download will only be available for 24 hours. Just visit the Bluegrass Blog to get the free tunes from Sugar Hill and the Gibson Brothers.

Rootsinpyhtää Old-Time & Bluegrass Festival, 6-8 June

Images from previous Rootsinpyhtää festivals

Thanks to Matti Lehtola for the news that the 21st Rootsinpyhtää Old-Time & Bluegrass Festival will be held from Friday 6 June to Sunday 8 June at Ruotsinpyhtää, Finland, as part of this year's European World of Bluegrass schedule of events.

Ruotsinpyhtää is about 100 km from Helsinki, near the E18 highway. Location details in English are here. Programme details will be on the festival website; or contact Matti by e-mail.

10 years of EWOB on internet radio

Peter Thompson, who hosts the 'Bluegrass Signal' show for KALW radio in San Francisco, has prepared a tribute to European bluegrass for Bluegrass Country on WAMU 88.5, the station that has broadcast bluegrass in the Washington, DC, area for over forty years.

Peter has recorded a show made up of seventeen cuts from the new double-CD compilation on Strictly Country Records, 10 years of European World of Bluegrass (SCR-66).

His choice includes seven winners of the #1 European Bluegrass Band award, and comprises (in playing order) the Petr Brandejs Band, Monogram, Kreni, Relief, Fragment, Meantime, Four Wheel Drive, Nugget, Liz Meyer, Fifty Fingers, Red Wine, the Mideando String Quartet, Bononia Grass, Carmel Sheerin & the Ravens, the Stroatkliners, Footprints, and the Looping Brothers.

The show will be broadcast by Bluegrass Country on the five consecutive days ending on 1 May, the first day of the EWOB Festival. Times shown are US Eastern Standard Time; the 30 April broadcast is likely to be easiest for European listeners to hear:

Sun. 27 Apr. 10.00 p.m.
Mon. 28 Apr. 7.00 p.m.
Tues. 29 Apr. 1.00 a.m.
Wed. 30 Apr. 6.00 a.m.
Thurs. 1 May 8.00 p.m.

Peter will broadcast more cuts from 10 years of EWOB on KALW radio.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Scottish Bluegrass Association UK tours

Roll's Boys

Tours in Britain during the next month, arranged by the Scottish Bluegrass Association, include three dates in Scotland (Thurs. 17 April, Fri. 18 April, Sat. 19 Apr.) by Roll's Boys from the Czech Republic, returning to Scotland by popular demand. The band also have a MySpace site, which carries tracks from their new CD.

The Scottish Bluegrass Association has also arranged eleven dates in England, Wales, and Scotland (25 Apr.-5 May) for the Smith O’Reilly Band (USA/Canada), comprising Dick Smith (banjo), Mike O'Reilly (guitar), Doug Bartlett (fiddle, mandolin), and Randy Graham (bass).

Full tour details and other info are on the Scottish Bluegrass Association website.

Banjo workshop in Belgium

Sharon Lombardi of Blue Railroad Train reports:

This year, between 24 and 29 March 2008, the Acoustic Music International Workshop was held in Virton, Belgium, for the 23rd year.

As usual, this workshop was entirely devoted to acoustic instruments, such as guitar, fiddle, double-bass and harmonica. As far as the bluegrass part was concerned, we came close to a full bluegrass band. Not only could you attend Roberto Dalla Vecchia’s guitar workshop, Jean-Marie Redon’s banjo workshop, or Jesper Rübner-Petersen’s mandolin workshop, but also the brand-new resophonic guitar workshop, taught by Henrich Novak.

Almost one hundred and thirty students came from all over Europe and even the United States and spent a week attending workshops, concerts and even jamming. It was the seventh year that Jean-Marie Redon led the banjo workshop. It was so popular that it was full only a few days after registration had started.

The next workshop is scheduled for the first week of April 2009 and you can register from January 2009. Follow this link.

In the top photo, Jean-Marie Redon is to the right of centre, in light jacket. The lower photo is included for those who prefer banjo players to remain anonymous.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Carolina Chocolate Drops concert on video

For anyone who missed the Carolina Chocolate Drops on their recent tour in Europe, or who can't wait till their next tour -- their concert at the Paradiso in Amsterdam was recorded on video and can now be seen on FabChannel.

Picture quality is excellent, and eighteen numbers are performed. View it here. Thanks to FOAOTMAD for the news.

Leadership Bluegrass 2008 Class

Leadership Bluegrass 2008 graduates: front row 1, L-R: Marty Raybon, Dana Thorin, Lucy Weberling, April Verch, Lorraine Short, Debbie Durant, Cindy Gray, Ron Cox, Tim Graves, Roger Siminoff; middle row 2, L-R: Katy Daley, Rebekah Weiler, Roger Ryan, Katy E. Leonard, Bill Hartley, Mike Marceau; back row 3, L-R: Serge Bernard, Matt Lindsey, Tim McFadden, Richard Hurst, Carl Jackson, Diane King, Wayne Taylor, Ethan Burkhardt, Arnie Fleischer (photo by Priscilla Warnock)

Leadership Bluegrass (LBG), now in its ninth year with more than 200 alumni, is an intensive three-day program of advanced-level, interactive learning experiences, designed to build commitment, motivate talents and instill enthusiasm for addressing the future of the bluegrass music industry. Each year approximately 25 individuals are selected to take part. LBG 2008 was hosted 25-7 March at BMI in Nashville, TN, and the course was facilitated for the ninth consecutive year by Fred Bartenstein, a noted bluegrass historian and broadcaster as well as a professional meeting facilitator.

The above photo includes Richard Hurst and Roger Ryan from Ireland, the only European class members this year. The full IBMA press release is here. For information on LBG 2009, contact Nancy Cardwell at (615) 256-3222, 888-GET-IBMA or e-mail.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Join the IBMA now!

If you're seriously involved in bluegrass and not already a member of the IBMA, there's never been a better time to join.

The IBMA is offering, for a limited period, a 35 per cent reduction on the subscription for new members in the professional category - $45 instead of $70. At the present currency exchange rates, it's an even better bargain for people in Europe. Full details are here.

Second Münchner Banjo Camp, 7-9 Nov.

After the success of the first Camp last year, the Second Münchner Banjo Camp will be presented in November 2008 at Carl-Duisberg-Straße 2a, 82208 Unterhaching b. München. The teachers will be Rüdiger Helbig (D) and John Dowling (GB).

Students can take a three-day course (€270), beginning on Friday 7 November with an intensive afternoon class with Rüdiger Helbig, or a two-day course (€180) on Saturday and Sunday, 8-9 November. The camp includes a concert on Saturday night by Rüdiger Helbig & Huckleberry 5 in the Weyhalla near Munich. For further details see the Camp website or contact Adiaha Bürkmiller, tel. 0176-23 64 07 02; e-mail.

Music Contact news

More dates have been added to the 2008 European tour by the multi-award-winning Infamous Stringdusters (USA). Rainer Zellner, of Music Contact Roots Music Booking and Production, announces the present schedule:

1 May: Stadtgarten, 45657 Recklinghausen, 18:00
2 May: Schlosshof Großsachenheim od. Kulturhaus, 74343 Sachsenheim, 20:00
3 May: Bürgerhaus, 77815 Bühl, Bühl Bluegrass Festival, 14:00
4 May: Four Corners Music Hall, 86836 Untermeitingen, 20:00
6 May: 19th Bluesfest, Neue Welt 85049 Ingolstadt, 21:30
7 May: Dehnberger-Hoftheater, 91207 Lauf 20:00
8 May: Stadtkirche, 98617 Meiningen, 20:00
9 May: Theater, 06295 Lutherstadt-Eisleben, 19:30
10 May: Fredericia International Bluegrass Festival, Fredericia, Denmark, 21:00
11 May: Herberg-Museum-Bouwerij, Lievelde, NL, 20:00
12 May: Big Bear Festival, Zuidlaren, NL
14 May: Haus Opherdicke, 59439 Holzwickede, 20:00
15 May: Buurthuis, B-3850 Nieuwerkerken, 20:00
16 May: Club Bastion, 73230 Kirchheim/T., 20:00
17 May: Schweizer Landwirtschaftsmuseum Burgrain; CH-6248 Alberswil, Spring Bluegrass Festival
18 May: Altes Kaufhaus, 76829 Landau, 20:00/19:00
21 May: 78462 Konstanz, Zeltfestival, 20:00
22 May: 89032 Ulm, Zeltfestival, 20.00
23 May: Sudhaus, 72072 Tübingen, 20:30
24 May: Günter Eich Haus, SWR Mitschnitt, 76530 Baden-Baden, 20:00
25 May: Music Academy (tbc), 93053 Regensburg, 20:00
28 May: Kulturforum, 90762 Fürth, 20:00
29 May: Bürgerhaus, 63303 Dreieich, 20:00
31 May: Strakonice Bluegrass & Country Festival, CZ-386 01 Strakonice, 14:00
1 June: Culture house, Zrkadlovy Haj, SK-Bratislava, 19:00

For further info, contact Rainer Zellner at the Music Contact roots music booking and production agency, Saarstrasse 8, D-72070 Tübingen, Germany; +49 (0) 7073 2250; fax +49 (0) 7073 2134; UStID: DE146940684; e-mail; download media data.

Other events on Music Contact's calendar include South Mountain (honky-tonk and western swing), who will be playing on 3 and 4 July 2008 at the Historischer Marktplatz, 74307 Bietigheim-Bissingen (20:30 both days); the Shellac Brothers (western swing), who will also be playing there on 5 July; and tours by the Crooked Jades (October 2008) and Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike (December 2008).

Roland Heinrich and his band, who appeared at the last Bühl Bluegrass Festival, will be playing at the Karl May Festival at Radebeul on 3 and 4 May. The Shellac Brothers will also be there on both days.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

IBMM's ROMP, 26-8 June

The International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) holds its annual River Of Music Party (ROMP) by the Ohio River in Owensboro, KY, on the last weekend in June. ROMP 08 begins at 11 a.m. on Thursday 26 June at the Riverpark Center, Owensboro, which also hosts the Legends Concert at 7.00-10.00 that evening, featuring the Sullivans, the Lewis Family, and the Isaacs.

The shows at Yellow Creek Park on Friday 27 June and Saturday 28 June feature twenty-one top-notch bands, including Red Wine (Italy) and G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden), the current #1 European Bluegrass Band. Full details of the programme can be seen here or here.