Friday, 29 August 2008

More on La Roche-sur-Foron

Jakub Racek of Monogram (CZ) with Ray Whiteway-Roberts (photo by Lilly Pavlak)

Two weeks ago the European Bluegrass Blog carried a brief report on the highly successful FBMA European Bluegrass Music Festival at La Roche-sur-Foron. Thanks to Ray Whiteway-Roberts (UK) for a major report on his own experiences at the festival as a compère:

And so it came to pass, that the bands of European bluegrass did converge on the French town of La Roche-sur-Foron, where they entertained the populace for three nights and three days. And the Lord looked down and saw that the people were pleased. And so he was pleased. So much so that he sent the best sunshine one could wish for. And It Was Gorrrrrrrrrgeous!

Read Ray's full report here.

Toy Hearts (photo by Lilly Pavlak)

Carmel Sheerin & the Ravens: new CD

Carmel Sheerin & the Ravens (Ireland), who won the title of #1 European Bluegrass Band at the EBMA's EWOB Festival 2005, will launch their second album, Here with you, in the Loft, Cooney’s Hotel, Ballymahon, Co. Longford, on Monday 1 September.

They will be joined by some of Ireland’s top musical acts, including Simon Casey and Declan Nerney, as well as Northern Exposure - a three-piece bluegrass band from Lurgan, Co. Armagh, of which the Ravens' fine banjo player, Jonathan Toman, is a member. The appearance of Simon Casey and Declan Nerney shows the high regard for the Sheerins on the Irish musical scene.

The new album includes seven songs by Dessie and Danny Sheerin, and a further song co-written by Danny & renowned American artist Tim O’Brien, who provides backing vocal on this song and has added it to his own latest album. The band have already been invited to perform in Nashville in 2009, and hope to promote their new album at festivals in Ireland, England, Scotland, and Holland next summer.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Emmylou Harris in Europe, 9-27 Sept. 2008

Emmylou Harris, a good friend to bluegrass music for decades and a headliner at last year's IBMA Fan Fest, will make a three-week tour of Europe next month. The tour schedule includes:

Tues. 9th Sept. Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Scotland
Wed. 10th: City Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Fri. 12th: National Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
Sat. 13th: Bridgwater Hall, Manchester, England
Sun. 14th: Hammersmith, London, England
Tues. 16th: Tempodrom, Berlin, Germany
Wed. 17th: Philharmonie, Munich, Germany
Thurs. 18th: KKL Beethoven, Stuttgart, Germany
Sun. 21st: Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway
Mon. 22nd: Cirkus, Stockholm, Sweden
Tues. 23rd: Falkoner Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Thurs. 25th: Beaux Arts, Brussels, Belgium
Fri. 26th: Cultureel Centrum de Oosterpoort, Groningen, the Netherlands
Sat. 27th: Carre Theatre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Links for booking tickets are on the tour schedule page of the Emmylou Harris website.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Beppe Gambetta in Acoustic Guitar

The September 2008 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine includes a major interview by Scott Nygaard with Beppe Gambetta. While the main emphasis is on crosspicking technique, there is also a good deal about the influences of traditional Italian, Celtic, and gypsy music that Gambetta has brought into his style, and the importance of playing with depth and passion instead of being a 'human jukebox'.

This article can be read online, with video examples.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Niall Toner Band videos: Live at Omagh

The Niall Toner Band: Dick Gladney, Niall Toner, Clem O'Brien

The Niall Toner Band, who appeared at the EBMA's EWOB Festival this year, have just added a new series of videos to their MySpace page. These were filmed during live performances at the 2004 Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Songs include 'Climbin'', 'The Master's resting place', 'The promise', 'The cheatin' side of town' and 'Chainsaw country blues'. Sound and visuals are both high-quality.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Greven Grass planning meeting: 13 Sept. 2008

The following message has been sent by Olaf Gläsmer (the 'Grassroots Philosopher') to people interested in setting up a bluegrass festival at Greven (between Münster, Osnabrück, and Rheine) in north Germany, to take the place of the former Neusüdende festival:

Liebe Bluegrass-Freunde,

es ist soweit: Es soll ein Bluegrass Festival in Greven aus der Taufe gehoben werden. DAZU BRAUCHEN WIR DICH!



1. Begrüßung und Abstimmung der Tagesordnung
2. kurze Vorstellung der Idee Greven Grass/
3. kurze Darstellung des Sachstandes (in Greven)
4. Begehung des Festivalgeländes (Zeltplatz) und Konzertraums (Aula)
5. Mittagspause
6. Darstellung der Möglichkeiten der Festivalorganisation und Finanzierung
7. Diskussion der Festivalorganisation
8. Gründungsakt Festivalorganisation
9. allgemeine Aufgabenverteilung und Arbeitsgruppenbildung
10. Festlegung eines Organisationszeitstrahls
11. sonstiges

Für den Abend ist geplant, auf einer privaten Party und anschlließend in der Möbelbrücke zu jammen. Dort besteht auch die Möglichkeit der Übernachtung.

Ich denke, daß jeder von Euch entsprechend seiner Kompetenzen einen guten Beitrag dazu liefern kann, daß ein neues Festival entsteht.

Bekanntlich ist die Idee zu einem neuen Festival aus dem Ende von Neusüdende entstanden. Hier ein externer, lesenswerter Link.

Der bisherige Kreis der Initiatoren für das neue Festival ist nicht bereit es hinzunehmen, daß in Norddeutschland die langjährige Festivaltradition sang- und klanglos enden soll. Dazu haben wir viel zu gerne gejamt, Bluegrass im Konzert gehört, zwanglos gezeltet, neue Leute kennengelernt, alte Kontakte gepflegt und vieles mehr. Andere Festivals zeigen, daß das Konzept funktionieren kann. Hier das Festival in La Roche-sur-Foron (2008 im dritten Jahr mit mehr als 10.000 Besuchern) (auch hier, mit Links zu Bilderstrecken). Andere großartige Festivals sind das EWOB Festival in Voorthuizen NL, das Banjo Jamboree in Caslav CZ, das Appalachian Music Festival in Omagh Irl.


Viele Grüße


English translation:

Dear bluegrass friends,

The time has come: a bluegrass festival is to be implemented in Greven. THEREFORE WE NEED YOU! Come on SATURDAY 13 SEPT. AT 11:00 a.m. to the MÖBELBRÜCKE, MÜHLENSTRASSE 7, GREVEN.


1. reception and coordination of the agenda,
2. short summary of the Greven festival idea,
3. summary of the status quo,
4. visiting the festival grounds (camping) and the concert grounds (school hall),
5. noon break,
6. presentation of a festival organisation and financing,
7. discussion of the organisation,
8. founding act concerning the festival organisation,
9. general assignment of tasks, appointment of workgroups,
10. definition of a timeframe,
11. miscellaneous.

In the evening there will be the possibility to jam on a private party and later in the Möbelbrücke. There you will also have the option to spend the night.

I think that each of you is able to contribute to the formation of a new festival according to your competences. As you know, the idea for a new festival was born because of the end of Neusüdende. Here is an extern link that is quite informative.

The current circle of initiators is unwilling to accept the quiet demise of the year-long festival tradition in northern Germany. We liked the jamming too well for that, listened to the bluegrass concerts, camped out leisurely, met new people, nurtured old contacts, and did many things more. Other festivals showed that this kind of concept works. Here is the festival of La Roche-sur-Foron (in the 3rd year with more than 10,000 visitors) (see also here, with links to pictures). Other excellent festivals are the EWOB Festival at Voorthuizen, NL, the Banjo Jamboree at Caslav, CZ, and the Appalachian Music Festival at Omagh, NI.




Friday, 22 August 2008

Palomino at TarasCountry, 30 August

Thanks to the Country France newsletter for the news that the Palomino bluegrass band, from the Arles-Nîmes-Avignon-Montpellier area of southern France, are on the bill in the sixth TarasCountry festival at 8.00 p.m. on 30 August in central Tarascon, together with the 'new country' group Hat Trick, and Rebecca Venture (guitar, harmonica, vocals) from California. The festival features free concert admission, and DJ Denys will be in charge of line dancing.

Palomino consists of Claude (banjo, vocals), Mr Seams (bass, vocals), 'Blazing' Nico (mandolin), Christian Marius (guitare), and Christian Fromentin (fiddle). The band also has a Zikinf site.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Cadillac Sky CD release parties

Cadillac Sky (USA), who appeared recently at the Craponne festival in France, will launch their new CD Gravity's our enemy on Skaggs Family Records today (Tuesday 19 August) with a release party in Nashville, TN, and another party tomorrow (Wednesday 20 August) in their home town, Fort Worth, TX. You can catch the release live on the web by logging on to the Skaggs Family Records website on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. (Central).

Cadillac Sky, which also has a ReverbNation site, will be back in Europe to play at the Didmarton Bluegrass Festival in England on 29-31 August.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Festival reports: Písek, 25-27 July...

Lilly Drumeva (Bulgaria) on stage at Písek (photo: Lilly Pavlak)

Thanks to George Simek and his team, the first Bohemian Bluegrass Festival was held in the city of Písek on 25-27 July 2008, with over twenty bands from nine European countries taking part - the Czech and Slovak Republics, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

Lusatian Grass (CZ) (photo: Lilly Pavlak)

Lilly Pavlak writes: 'The weather was beautiful, the music, sound, and acoustics were excellent, everything seemed to be just perfect for a great festival.' A full report by Lilly, with more pictures, is scheduled for the next issue of Bluegrass Europe.

... and La Roche-sur-Foron, 30 July-3 August

The audience at twilight (photo: Lilly Pavlak)

The European Bluegrass Music Festival and Band Contest was held for the third time at La Roche-sur-Foron, Haute-Savoie, France on 30 July-3 August. An estimated 8,000–10,000 people attended the festival this year.

Organised by Christopher Howard-Williams, chairman of the FBMA, and supported by the town’s mayor, the Tourist Bureau, and as many as 150 volunteers, the festival presented thirty bands from eleven different countries, including 3 Fox Drive from the US, in twenty-four hours of free concerts over the five days.

The winners of the title of European Band of the Year 2008 were

#1: Monogram (CZ)
#2: Toy Hearts (GB)
#3 (shared): G-Runs & Roses (CZ), Wyrton (CZ)

Members of the winning bands after the awards (photo: Lilly Pavlak)

A full report by Lilly Pavlak, with more photos, is also scheduled to appear in Bluegrass Europe.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

New CD from the Toy Hearts

The Toy Hearts (UK) launched their second album, When I cut loose (Woodville Records) on Wednesday 6 August, with a release party at the Roadhouse, their regular venue in their home city, Birmingham. The eleven tracks are all original material. A full report is on the Bluegrass Blog.

The band have been increasingly active on the European scene, with appearances at two successive EWOB Festivals at Voorthuizen, the Netherlands, and most recently at the FBMA festival at La Roche-sur-Foron, France, where they came second to Monogram (CZ) in the European Band of the Year 2008 competition.

Toy Hearts - Stewart Johnson (banjo, Dobro®), Sophia Johnson (guitar, vocals) Hannah Johnson (mandolin, vocals), Howard Gregory (fiddle), and Lauren Rogers (double bass, vocals) - will also be attending the IBMA's World of Bluegrass in Nashville this year (29 September-5 October).

Monday, 11 August 2008

2nd Munich Banjo-Camp, 7-9 November 2008

John Dowling sees a way ahead for the banjo

Adiaha Bürkmiller reports:

The 1st Munich Banjo-Camp took place in November 2007 with Rüdiger Helbig (D) and Ross Nickerson (USA). It was a great success and all students loved to find such a camp in Europe.

This year's 2nd Munich Banjo-Camp will take place from 7 to 9 November 2008 (it's already a three-day-camp). As we already have twenty-four sign-ups and think to get over thirty-five banjo-students for this year's camp, we have recruited Rüdiger Helbig again, John Dowling (GB), and Charles Wood (USA). For next year we are in contact with Alan Munde, Jens Kruger, and Bill Keith! The feedback that I've got during the last month tell me that the people are very thankful for this kind of offer in the bluegrass scene of Europe.

To register for the Münchner Banjo-Camp, or for more info, contact:

Adiaha Bürkmiller
Steinbach 29
D-84567 Perach am Inn
Tel: 0176-23 64 07 02

Sunday, 10 August 2008

10 years of EWOB on air in US: latest!

Liz Meyer reports that Peter Thompson's 'Bluegrass Signal' radio show went out as a special last night (Saturday 9 August) from 6.30-8.00 p.m. on KALW in San Francisco (Pacific Daylight Time; 9:30-11 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time).

The special show was entitled 'A decade of Eurograss', and all selections were taken from the double album 10 years of European World of Bluegrass (Strictly Country Records, SCR-66), with the first hour being devoted to the European bands on the project, and the final half-hour to the Americans.

10 years of European World of Bluegrass continues to earn high praise from reviewers in the US. Dave Higgs of Bluegrass Breakdown on Nashville Public Radio writes:

Strictly Country's killer new compilation strikes a nice balance between European and North American acts and showcases some truly brilliant performances. It also serves as a wonderful introduction for many of us to some truly incredible European-based musicians. I, for one, am in awe of such groups as Blue Cartel, Jussi Syren, 4-Wheel Drive, and Monogram.

See also the European Bluegrass Blog post of 30 July.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

New Howard Burton CD

Howard Burton, a British bluegrass banjo player and singer residing in the UK, has played in bands in the UK for many years, and has also had mini-tours of the USA and Europe.

Howard's first solo CD release, Britain by bluegrass, includes some of the best bluegrass musicians and singers in the UK: Bob Winquist (fiddle), Beth Holland (bass), Lucy Holland (rhythm mandolin), Paul Hill (guitar), Dan Norton (lead mandolin), and Ross Mitson (lead and harmony vocals). The twelve tracks include a mix of traditional and progressive bluegrass as well as a couple of originals. MP3s, a review, and more info are on the website. The CD can be bought online for £8.00 sterling with free postage in the UK.

Craponne Festival, 24-26 July

Cadillac Sky (USA)

3 Fox Drive (USA)

Thanks to Friedrich Hog of Radio Free Ulm for these photos from the 22nd Festival Country Rendez-Vous at Craponne-sur-Arzon, in the Auvergne region of France, on 24-26 July.

Jiri Kralik & the Rowdy Rascals (CZ)

A full report (in German) by Friedrich can be read here.

Friedrich (left) and George Ducas

Bononia Grass all-acoustic in Bologna

From Gian Luca Naldi of Bononia Grass:

Hi guys, here is Luca from Italy, how are you?

Past July we have played at a Street Art Festival edition, near Bologna, my city. The cool thing is we played in front of people without mics! So, without typical amplification problems we have played relaxed, with a lot of fun, and sound was so natural!

I'll be happy if you could post two short videos of that performance: 'Big Mon' and 'Bononia Grass live on the road'

See also this story on the Bluegrass Blog, where Luca says more about playing bluegrass in Europe.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Lovell Sisters play in Europe in September 2008

Joen Moen from Edvins Records and Consertevents in Norway kindly reports:

CD When forever rolls around out in Europe 18 AUGUST 2008, produced by Brent Truitt (Dolly Parton/Union Station).

The Lovell Sisters (US) are the three sisters Jessica (22), Rebecca (19), and Megan (16). They play the perfect mixture of folk, country and pop music.

The girls are rumoured to be America's new Dixie Chicks, as well as being compared to Alison Krauss and Nickel Creek. Playing fiddle, dobro and mandolin while singing 3 part harmonies in world class, simply amazing for their age. The debut album When forever rolls around produced by Dolly Parton's long-time friend and guitarist, Brent Truitt, gave the girls great reviews and the girls were recognised with great talent.

A talent which brought them all the way to the office of Lyric Street Records who could offer them a big contract and lots of opportunities.

They said no.

They did not want to be dictated here and there, be told which clothes to wear or be pushed into the more streamlined country music. Rather they wanted to keep their own style and keep developing. A style which has left countless of those have seen them in concert speechless. Among those Chris Martin, head of one of the world's best guitar makers, who proclaim after seeing them:

'I knew as I sat there in that hotel room "venue" with only 12 other people, that I was witnessing musical history. They are born stars and very gifted musicians.'

Based on the good response the sisters got last year when they visited Ireland and Norway, it was decided they had to come back. What was originally meant to be just a small visit to Europe now has developed into a full European tour, and the release of the sisters' debut album in Europe.

When forever rolls around is released in Europe through Edvins Records / Musikkoperatørene 18 August 2008.

31 aug - Lundetangen pub, Skien, Norway
02 sep - Dokkhuset, Trondheim, Norway
03 sep - Hydranten, Hamar, Norway
04 sep - Sandnes Kulturhus, Sandnes, Norway
05 sep - Lila Eule, Bremen, Germany
06 sep - Picnic Festival, Namur, Belgium
07 sep - Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
10 sep - Bluegrass in Basel, Basel, Switzerland
11 sep - Nachtasyl (Thalia Theater), Hamburg, Germany
12 sep - Global, Copenhagen, Denmark
13 sep - Malmö, Sweden
14 sep - Kick Scene, Protestfestivalen, Kristiansand, Norway
15 sep - Logen Teater, Bergen, Norway
16 sep - Nøtterøy Kulturhus, Nøtterøy, Norway
17 sep - Rockefeller with/ILA AUTO, G2 Bluegrass, Elwood Caine, THUBB og Lucky Lips.), Oslo, Norway

Links: (feature film) (Video-opptredener) (European fanpage for Lovells) (Lovell Sisters homepage)

Edvins Records and Consertevents
Skogfaret 17, S-2020 Skedsmokorset
Tlf: 0047 98437956 /

Thursday, 7 August 2008

'Chotěbořský džem' Festival, 22-24 August

As mentioned in Lilly Pavlak's report (see the European Bluegrass Blog, 15 July), the last tour by Tony Trischka in the Czech Republic was so successful that he planned to return this month.

Thanks to Marie Vaskova for the news that Tony Trischka will be reunited with Druha Trava at the top of the bill for the new country & bluegrass festival 'Chotěbořský džem', to be held in Chotebor (CZ) from Friday 22 August to Sunday 24 August. Fourteen other acts will be taking part. Full programme details are on the festival website.

Marie adds: 'Invite also your friends and join us!' Tickets are available at Ticket Art or at the address below.

Krale Jana 511
CZ-583 01 Chotebor
mob: +420 774 311 206
website (English version)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Keishi Shikata

Vassar Clements, Buddy Spicher, and Keishi Shikata

Saburo Watanabe Inoue writes:

I have to report a sad news. My friend Keishi Shikata, who made the bridge between Japan and Nashville, passed away last night [3 August] while jogging near his home in Hermitage, TN.

He worked for Gruhn Guitars in the '70s and made friends in the bluegrass community in both Japan and Nashville. He organised the Japan tours for the late Vassar Clements, the Cluster Pluckers, and others, the Japanese TV-CM for Nissan by using the Blue Sky Boys' song 'Sunny side of life' with Chris Sharp, Ronnie Bowman, and others, and he wrote 'Keishi's Nashville report' every month for my Moonshiner magazine to let Japanese bluegrass fans know what's going on in the Nashville bluegrass scene.

I don't have words to express this sad news in English. I just want you to know that we lost a great person who loved people, music, and bluegrass.