Thursday, 26 February 2009

Half a Turn: summer weekend workshop in Germany, 21-23 Aug.

A natural setting for bluegrass

After their successful bluegrass band workshop last summer (reported on the European Bluegrass Blog on 23 September 2008), Dutch band Half a Turn are repeating the event this year, on 21-23 August 2009. Bass player and lead singer Elly Beurskens reports:

Last year we only advertised among Dutch bluegrass musicians, but we thought it might be a good idea to spread the news a little wider, since the venue in Germany is within easy reach for musicians from Belgium, France, and Germany as well... We aim at gathering a small group of 10 to 20 people, so we can give each participant sufficient individual attention.

The weekend workshops - for guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro, vocals, and band coordination - will be held on the Weiherwiese organic farm in Malberg, Germany (Eifel, near Bitburg), with basic facilities and full catering. Pre-registration is necessary: use the 'inschrijfformulier' on the Half a Turn website, and choose 'Eifel weekend'.

Further details are here. Half a Turn are planning a similar event in the UK for the autumn of 2009; for more information, e-mail.

Many happy returns, Dr Stanley

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak (CZ/CH) for these photos, taken at Jerusalem Ridge in 2007, of Dr Ralph Stanley, who celebrated his 82nd birthday yesterday - 25 February 2009.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Bluegrass Lessons Online

Jon Meek, bluegrass performer and instructor in the USA, sends news of the services offered through his website, Bluegrass Lessons Online:

The site has lots of free tablature, music, and videos to facilitate learning, and I offer one-on-one instruction in banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and dobro using video-conferencing software such as Skype and iChat.

The system makes it possible for teaching to be tailored to the individual student. Samples from an interactive mandolin lesson on YouTube can be viewed on the site; the scale of charges is here.

Jon has been involved with several genres of music (including electric guitar, African drumming, and Irish fiddle): he studied banjo under Tony Trischka at high school; took his BA in music; started the Bozeman Bluegrass Camp at Bozeman, Montana, in 2006; and is a member of the Bridger Creek Boys four-piece bluegrass band, operating in the Rocky Mountain states of the USA.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

3rd Munich Banjo Camp nearly sold out!

Adiaha Bürkmiller reports that the 3rd Munich Banjo-Jam-Camp (to be held on 9-11 October 2009 near Lake Chiemsee) is already nearly sold out.

Over 30 enrolments have been received from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Denmark for instruction by Rüdiger Helbig (D), Ned Luberecki (USA), Charles Wood (USA), and John Dowling (UK). Classes will have 8-10 students each, so anyone wishing to attend should visit the website and sign on as soon as possible.

The camp offers two-and-a-half days of intensive learning, jamming and socialising with students from all over Europe and instructors from all over the world. This year the camp has been newly opened to flatpicking guitarists. The weekend will include a jamming night (Friday evening in the camp) and a bluegrass concert at the Theaterfabrik Traunreut with Rüdiger Helbig, his band Huckleberry 5, and all the other banjo instructors on one stage.

Contact Adiaha Bürkmiller
website; e-mail
cell-phone: +49-176-23640702

Adiaha's full press release, with photos, can be seen here.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Braille-friendly banjo tab

Tangier Sound is a blog run by Pat and Patrick Costello (USA), who also produce books including The how and the Tao of old time banjo and A book of five strings, and sell Somerset County banjos.

Patrick Costello has recently posted banjo tablature that can be used by visually-impaired players, at the request of Ruud from the Netherlands; other contributors include Ytske from Sweden. These developments have also been noted on BoingBoing, one of the most popular blogs.

Picnic Festival, Namur: 4, 5, 6 Sept. 2009

Laurent Eckhout and the Lovell Sisters (USA) at the 2008 Picnic Festival

Laurent Eckhout reports that the next Picnic Festival will be held in the Terra Nova section of the Citadel of Namur, Belgium, on the 4th, 5th, and 6th of September 2009.

As in previous years, the Bluegrass Day of the Festival will be Saturday (5 Sept.), but a bluegrass band may also be performing on the evening of Friday 4 Sept. The programme will be communicated within a few weeks. Videos and photos from the 2008 Festival can be seen on the Picnic MySpace site.

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

Friday, 20 February 2009

Red Wine Bluegrass Party, 13-14 Feb. 2009

Red Wine reports:

On Friday 13th and Saturday 14th February Red Wine hosted its first Bluegrass Party at Teatro della Gioventù in Genova, Italy, with special guest Tim O'Brien. The two shows were a great success and drove to Genova people from all over Italy, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and even Slovenia.

Red Wine played a first set alone, with help on fiddle by Tim for few songs, then after the break Tim played a solo set with mostly songs from his latest CD, Chameleon, and at the end Red Wine joined him again for more O'Brien original tunes and a classic 'Blue night' as encore, Hot Rize style.

Also Tim O'Brien's mandolin workshop on Saturday 14th at Casa della Musica in Genova was a great success, with twenty-three students happily studying and learning the fundamentals of mandolin techniques, scales and chord construction, Bill Monroe style, ear training, playing up the neck, building up speed, Irish-style playing, and - most of all - getting the privilege to share a whole day with such an extraordinary and unique artist.

We're already looking forward to our 2nd Bluegrass Party for 2010! Pictures and clips will be soon posted on our website.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Celts, bluegrass, and the Czech connection

Peter O. Ruby with All Bells & Whistles at the 2008 European Bluegrass Festival at La Roche-sur-Foron, France

Peter O. Ruby, leader of the hard-driving Czech bluegrass band All Bells & Whistles, runs an excellent website which uses joomla! software to present information in several languages. It deals with many things besides his own band (for example, video footage of a very young Ricky Skaggs playing on TV with Flatt & Scruggs). One section is devoted to the Celts in central Europe - Peter says:

The Celts, a topic 'hiding' far right as a last top menu item, is dedicated to the topic of the amazing and obscure world of Central European Celtic population, and as the bluegrass has also sprung basically from the Irish music of the early American immigrants, I do not consider this topic to be so remote that it should not stay here.

Check out the Celtic links section of the website here.

Lilly of the West upcoming shows

Lilly Drumeva announces the forthcoming shows in 2009 for her band Lilly of the West:

22 Feb.: Tea House, Sofia, Bulgaria
12 Mar.: Bulgarian Cultural Center, Prague, Czech Republic
18 Mar.: SKAT TV studio, Sofia, Bulgaria
9 May: Willisau Bluegrass Festival, Switzerland
21 May: EWOB Festival, Voorthuizen, the Netherlands
13 June: Slovak Cultural Center, Budapest, Hungary
30 July-2 Aug.: La Roche International Bluegrass Festival, La Roche-sur-Foron, Haute Savoie, France
31 Aug.: St Julian's Centre, Sevenoaks, Kent, England

Concerts in Belgium, Mar.-Apr. 2009

Bluegrass in Belgium announces two forthcoming concerts:

13 March 2009: Rawhide (B) and the Blue Grass Boogiemen (NL) in de Kam, Wezembeek Oppem
30 April 2009: Former Blue Grass Boy Peter Rowan (USA) in Leopoldsburg

Full details, including locations, are shown on the links.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Bluegrass concert in Prague, 12 March 2009

Lilly Drumeva reports:

Dear Bluegrass friends,

My band Lilly of the West will have a concert in Prague on Thursday 12 March, starting 18:00. We’ll be joined by fantastic Czech musicians as special guests: Jarda & Zdenek Jahoda, Lubos Malina, Petr Hruby. After the show you are invited to taste a glass of Bulgarian wine. Please spread this message around, we hope to see more of you and have a nice party. The address is:

Bulharský Kulturní Institut
Klimentská 6
110 00 Praha 1
Česka Republika
Tel. +42 02 333 268 62
Tel./fax +42 02 333 345 02
location map

Hope to see you in Prague,

Lilly Drumeva
Lilly of the West
+359 (0) 888 660 990

Friday, 13 February 2009

Bluegrass from the West Country

Singer Charlie Boston, based in the West Country of England, reports:

Hi fellow European bluegrass fans!

Just thought I'd drop you a line to let you know that you can now buy individual downloads from my albums or order whole CDs through the Lara Music website. Even if you have no intention of buying anything, please do visit the site.

Also if you happen to be around Dorset or Somerset, please come along to one of the gigs. I was recently invited to join the well established bluegrass band Three Tuns O' Grass, and you can check out their gig schedule on their own website.

Keep music live!

Charlie Boston
Lara Natural Music
22A Ives Street
London: +44 (0)20 7584 3399
Dorset: +44 (0)1935 815 872

Keeping up with Greven Grass

Olaf Gläsmer reports that the first annual Greven Grass Festival will be held on 30-31 May 2009 at Greven, north Germany. Headlining the Festival will be White Mountain Bluegrass (USA), JB's Band (USA/NL/F/CH), and the Grassroot Philosopher (D) in person, with other acts TBC.

Details on the progress of the Festival, including program, workshops, location, accommodation, and tickets, will be posted on the Greven Grass website.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

European Bluegrass Summit in Germany, 7-8 February

The Summit opens: at left Hans Striebel, mayor of Bühl, welcomes all present; in the foreground Fred Bartenstein (USA), facilitator (photo by Lilly Pavlak)

As a direct result of the success of IBMA's International Summit at World of Bluegrass 2008, a group of those who had attended decided to organise a similar event in Europe, with the following objectives:

* To provide an opportunity for a wide audience of up to forty participants to meet face to face, bond, and get to know each other;
* To highlight issues affecting the promotion of bluegrass music in Europe;
* To explore issues facing different countries and different cultures; and
* To encourage closer cooperation and more effective communication.

The organising group included British Bluegrass Music Association chair John Wirtz, Scottish Bluegrass Association secretary John Sheldon, IBMA International Board representative Rienk Janssen, and IBMA International Committee chair Richard Hawkins.

Bühl/Baden, in southern Germany, was chosen as the location. Bühl city council gives generous support every year to the Bühl International Bluegrass Festival, and through the invaluable help of Walter Fuchs, the festival organiser, the city placed first-rate facilities, free of charge, at the disposal of the Summit. Further support was received from IBMA, making it possible to bring in Fred Bartenstein as a professional facilitator.

Despite unexpected emergencies including severe weather across Europe, twenty-eight people from thirteen countries, ranging from Russia to Ireland, came at their own expense to take active part in the Summit, which the mayor of Bühl opened with an address of welcome. In two days of intense discussion (7–8 February 2009), participants identified issues of chief concern:

* The involvement of young people in bluegrass;
* The development of effective contacts through internet-based networking, a booking network, and an annual trade conference;
* Fund-raising, lobbying, and marketing on a continental scale;
* The use and significance of the term 'European World of Bluegrass';
* The organisation of regions without effective local bluegrass associations; and
* The value of coordinating pan-European bluegrass efforts within a single organisation.

Volunteer working groups were set up under conveners for further study of the first four of these issues. At 4.00 p.m. on Sunday 8 February, proceedings ended with the listing of consequential tasks, including the completion of comprehensive minutes.

As had happened at the Nashville Summit, contacts outside the formal proceedings were equally important in fostering a spirit of friendship and common purpose – aided by the excellent food, drink, and ambiance of Bühl. There was full agreement that the European Summit had been successful in laying foundations for further constructive cooperation.

An account of the Summit by Walter Fuchs (in German) can be read here, and reports in the local German press can be read here.

International Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Festival, Hungary, 31 July-2 Aug. 2009

Péter Tölgyesi, EBMA member from Hungary, reports that the 7th International Bluegrass and Acoustic Music Festival will be held at Abaliget, Hungary, from 31 July to 2 August 2009.

Details of previous years' festivals can be found on the Hungarian Bluegrass Music Association (HUBMA) website. This year's complete lineup is not known yet; bands from the Czech and Slovak Republics are still being organised. Details will be published as soon as they become available.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Roberto dalla Vecchia: future gigs

Roberto dalla Vecchia ('Flatpicking guitar with Italian gusto') announces two of his major forthcoming gigs:

Sat. 28 Mar. 2009: vicenzAcustica 5: Roberto Dalla Vecchia and guests Jacques Stotzem (Belgium) and Massimo Varini (Rome, Italy); Teatro Comunale Città di Vicenza, Italy, 9.00 p.m. Online info; tel. +39 (0)444 505183

Mon. 6 Apr.-Sat. 11 Apr. 2009: 24th Acoustic Music International Workshop, Virton, Belgium

Check Roberto's website and MySpace site

Monday, 9 February 2009

European Bluegrass Summit

These people (plus some more) from all over Europe actively took part in the European Bluegrass Summit in Bühl at the Bühl Civic Centre. Watch out for some findings of this promising conference soon!

The above photo, taken at lunchtime on Saturday 7 February, shows:

Front row: Lilly Pavlak (Czech Republic/Switzerland), Lili Drumeva (Bulgaria), Angelika Torrie (Switzerland), Hannah Johnson (GB/England), Hannie Lamers (Netherlands)
Second row: Richard Hawkins (Ireland), Fred Bartenstein (US), Ruth-Ellen Gruber (US/Italy), Christopher Howard-Williams (France), Loek Lamers (Netherlands)
Third row: Olaf Glaesmer (Germany), Regine Maier (Germany), Moira Wirtz (GB/England), Joel Espesset (France)
Fourth row: Peter Wroblewski (Germany), Alexander Gubanov (Russia), Peter O. Ruby (Czech Republic), Rosi Miller (Switzerland), Michael Zumstein (Germany), Kent Miller (Switzerland), Harald Harland (Germany)
Back row: Rienk Janssen (Netherlands), Chris Keenan (Republic of Ireland), Richard Hurst (Northern Ireland), John Wirtz (GB/England), John Sheldon (Scotland), Dagfinn Pedersen (Norway)

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Bluegrass Europe #67

A message from the editor:

The deadline for the next issue of Bluegrass Europe (#67/ April-May 2009) is a month away. If you have any news items, reviews, concert dates, etc., etc., please make sure to send them to me by 5 March 2009.

For up-to-date European bluegrass news, check out EBMA’s European Bluegrass Blog regularly. Thanks and see you soon!

Paolo Dettwiler

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Banjoree #3, 1-3 May 2009

The Banjoree venue: 'ESW' (Jugendbildungsstätte Berchum)

5-string banjo players have a community all over Europe, a central meeting point for them being the Banjoree in Hagen, Germany, which was first held in 2005. The third will take place from 1 May to 3 May this year. The organisers (Veit Doehler, Andreas Benkhofer, and Mark Hatlie) report:

* Again there are many tutors with many exciting topics. There will be clawhammer tutors ranging from avant-garde to traditional, 3-finger styles from minstrel to progressive. Rank beginners will feel at home as well as the advanced.
* There will be a flatpicking guitar tutor from the US who is well known for his artistic '3-finger flatpicking', as well as for the guitars he builds.
* There will be banjo tutors from the land of 5-string banjos - namely America.
* NEW! There will be a mandolin workshop.
* Also NEW! The attendance fee will not be raised for individual workshops but for the whole event. This means that you can choose as many workshops as you want and learn many new things on whichever instrument you choose!

You can watch the progress of our planning on this site. Keep coming by!

... and do not forget. Every 5-string banjo player wants to go to BANJOREE 2009. Even those who do not know yet. Therefore go out and tell them!

Kruger Brothers in Europe, Mar.-Apr. 2009

The Kruger Brothers return to Europe for a two-week tour in spring 2009. The full schedule, as it currently appears on their website, is as follows. All events are concerts unless otherwise stated.

Sat. 21 Mar. Kasinosaal, Erstfeld, Switzerland (buy ticket online)
Tues. 24 Mar. The Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, Ireland. TBA
Wed. 25 Mar. St John's Theatre and Arts Centre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, Ireland. TBA
Thurs. 26 Mar. Ireland. TBA
Sat. 28 Mar. Eagle Music Shop, West Yorkshire, UK: all-day event, workshops, evening concert with the Kruger Brothers (Eagle Music Shop, +44 (0)1484 661460)
Sat. 29 Mar. Carnglaze Caverns & the Rum Store, Liskeard, Cornwall, UK. TBA
Mon. 30 Mar. New Acoustic Gallery, Solingen, Germany (Oliver Waitze, +49(0) 212/2474007)
Wed. 1 Apr. Konservatorium, Bern, Switzerland (buy ticket online)
Thurs. 2 Apr. Short demos at Deering Banjos booth, Musikmesse, Frankfurt, Germany
Fri. 3 Apr. Short demos at Deering Banjos booth, Musikmesse, Frankfurt, Germany
Sat. 4 Apr. Short demos at Deering Banjos booth, Musikmesse, Frankfurt, Germany
Sun. 5 Apr. Kammermusiksaal, Tonhalle, Zürich, Switzerland (buy ticket online)
Tues. 7 Apr. Prague, Czech Republic

Links for buying tickets online can be found on the Kruger Brothers website.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Bar humour of note

At the request of Angelika Torrie, EBMA board member, we publish the following, which was sent today to the IBMA-L list by Lisa Jacobi of the US band Steel String Session, who have EBMA membership:

C, E-flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says: 'I'm sorry, but we don't serve minors.' So E-flat leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished, and G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

D comes in and heads for the bathroom, saying: 'Excuse me. I'll just be a second.' Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and says: 'Get out! You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight.'

E-flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says: 'You're looking sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major development.' Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, and is au natural.

Eventually, C sobers up and realises in horror that he's under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility. On appeal, however, C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental. The judge rules that all contrary motions are bassless.

Bluegrass and old-time music in novels

There is already a small, but good and growing, body of novels about people whose lives are involved with bluegrass music. Peter McGinn's novel Dobro dreamer, published in 2008, is a murder mystery, with an original structural twist, in which the setting is a bluegrass festival run by a family band. Full details appeared on the original Bluegrass Blog in December.

Now Scroll and curl, a mystery novel set in the world of old-time music, has been written by John Pedersen, leader of the Roadoilers old-time band from Marin county, CA, and owner of Amazing Grace Music in San Anselmo. It's about an old-time band on tour, who become involved in a mysterious plot after one of them finds a cheap fiddle at a yard sale.

Scroll and curl will be published early in February. John Pedersen will be doing a book signing on 3 February at 7.00 p.m. at Books Inc. (formerly A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books) in the Opera Plaza complex in San Francisco. It can also be bought through Amazing Grace or Amazon.

New Acoustic Gallery: Mandolin Festival poster

Oliver Waitze of the New Acoustic Gallery writes:

Hello, bluegrass lovers,

Here is the Mandolin Festival poster. Please use it to advertise wherever you can. Any help is welcome and appreciated! Kind regards & liebe Grüße aus Solingen,

Oliver Waitze
New Acoustic Gallery
Neuenhofer Str. 122
42657 Solingen
Tel.: +49 0212/2474007

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Tribute to Butch Baldassari, 1 Feb. 2009

Butch Baldassari (photo by Lilly Pavlak, 2005)

Thanks to Sharon Cort for details of the 'Butch Baldassari: music & memories' memorial service to be held at 1.00 p.m. today at the Station Inn, Nashville, TN. After a welcome to those attending, the programme will be:

Barbara Lamb, 'Little rabbit' (solo)
Lee Rowe & Sandy Conatser, 'Sheebeg & Sheemore', 'Sandy River Belle'
Janne Hennshaw (1 song)
Chris Jones, Ron Block, Mike Compton, Ward Stout, Mike Bub, 'I know the way to you by heart', 'Uphill climb'
Roland White & Dianne Bouska (2 songs)
Sharon Cort (1 song)
Kathy Chiavola, Barbara Lamb, Brent Truitt, Mike Bub, 'Azalea waltz', 'We are pilgrims on the way'
Tarryn Smith (1 song)
Matt Combs & the Vanderbilt Fiddle Ensemble (2 songs)
Larry Cordle, Ricky Skaggs, Larry Perkins, Matt Combs, Mike Bub, 'Fields of home', 'Bigger the fool'
Ricky Skaggs (song(s) of choice)
The Monroe Medley (all pickers), 'Twist, Stomp & Swing'


Two more photos: Jeff Wisor, Ernie Sykes, Butch, and Sharon Cort in Lilly Pavlak's kitchen in Bülach after dinner (above), and Butch in Louisville with his Nashville trio