Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Spring releases from Strictly Country

Strictly Country Records announce their spring releases: the new CD Rollin' along: live in Holland by Jonathan Edwards, with twenty tracks; and The storm by Liz Meyer, accompanied by Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Emmylou Harris, Stuart Duncan, Ron Block, Rob Ickes, Glen Duncan, Byron House, Kenny Malone, Mark Johnson, and Shad Cobb.

Both albums can be sampled on CD Baby. Please contact SCR by e-mail to buy direct from the label, or for DJ and press copies.

Strictly Country Records is a major supporter of the EWOB Festival.

Otis Gibbs in Europe, spring and summer 2009

Otis Gibbs (USA), singer, songwriter, photographer, and political activist, born in Wanamaker, Indiana, and now resident in Nashville, Tennessee, has played the first two nights of a tour in the Netherlands and Belgium (29 Mar.: Cultureel Podium Roepaen, Ottersum, Netherlands; 30 Mar. Mijnheer Frits, Eindhoven, Netherlands). The tour continues for the next two weeks:

1 Apr. Burgerweeshuis Café, Deventer, Netherlands
2 Apr. OBA Live, Amsterdam, Netherlands
3 Apr. Concert In The Woods, Lage Vuursche, Netherlands
4 Apr. Muziekpodium Bakkeveen, Slotplaats, Bakkeveen, Netherlands
5 Apr. Café de Amer, Amen, Netherlands
6 Apr. Crossroads Radio, Het Vestzaktheater, Bergen Op Zoom, Netherlands
10 Apr. Peticantus/Huis Verloren, Hoorn, Netherlands
11 Apr. 'Lezen in de lente' at ‘t Uilekot, Herzele, Belgium
12 Apr. Patronaat Café, Haarlem, Netherlands

On 1 May he begins a three-week tour of Britain and Ireland, where he will return in late June for a further three weeks. Full tour details are on his website and MySpace site.

EWOB Festival programme now online

The organising committee of the European World Of Bluegrass Festival announce:

The concert program and workshop schedule for the European World of Bluegrass Festival 2009 - the 12th annual EWOB Festival - are online now! We have a wonderful lineup of artists from the USA, Canada, and all over Europe that you won't want to miss. The EWOB Festival takes place as always in Voorthuizen, the Netherlands - this year on Thursday-Friday-Saturday, May 21-22-23.

If you haven't visited the new EWOB Festival website, drop in ASAP! You can hear audio clips from all 48 tracks of the 10 YEARS OF EWOB double CD, read all about our unique event, and fall in love with European bluegrass. Please sign our Guestbook!

European promoters: We have 42 great bands in Holland in late May, both American and European, many of whom are available and looking for any extra work in the dates around the EWOB Festival. If you can offer a job to a good bluegrass band, duo, etc., please contact us right away. It's an excellent opportunity for you to hire musicians who normally live too far away. Perhaps there are some folks who would like music for a private party or event - don't miss the chance to invite someone really special! If you are located far from Holland, you can look for bands that might be traveling near you on their way to or from the EWOB Festival. You can see where the artists are from and visit their websites by clicking their names in the EWOB Festival 2009 program.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Latest CD from Jussi Syren and the Groundbreakers

From Vyborg to L.A. (Goofin´ Records GRCD 6156), the latest album by Finland's hard-driving, uncompromising band Jussi Syren & the Groundbreakers is out now.

Jussi Syren & the Groundbreakers are among the hardest working bluegrass groups outside the US, with an impressive touring schedule (throughout Europe and nine US states) and a catalogue of recordings which have got airplay in over twenty countries. In Finland they have taken bluegrass into mainstream: prime-time TV shows, music charts, rock festivals, and night clubs.

From Vyborg to L.A. features the songwriting of Jussi Syren himself and of Thomas Blom from Sweden, whose material has been recorded by such prominent American artists as Kenny and Amanda Smith. For the album, the Groundbreakers invited special guests Kukka Lehto (fiddle) and Marko Vanhatalo (dobro). Jussi's daughter Veera sings harmonies on 'The ghost of Laura Wilkins'. The liner notes are written by Alan Bibey. Sound clips can be heard on the band's website and MySpace.

For more info read a full press release or contact:

Jussi Syren: e-mail, website, MySpace
Goofin´ Records: Pete Hakonen (e-mail)
Playground Music Finland (e-mail)

Kevin Lynch: alive & well in Holland

As recently announced on the EBB, Kevin Lynch of Connecticut, USA, has taken up residence in the Netherlands, bringing with him an encyclopedic knowledge of bluegrass music and over thirty years' experience in practically every field of bluegrass activity, including as a professional performing and recording artist on mandolin and guitar.

In the USA Kevin was a founding member of Traver Hollow, who recorded an album Live in Holland (SCR-16) for Strictly Country Records. He played at the first EWOB Festival in 1998 with Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters, and has since been mandolin player and harmony singer with TrueGrass. He also hosted a weekly radio show, 'U-H Radio Bluegrass', on WWUH 91.3 FM in West Hartford, CT; produced or co-produced music festivals and concerts; and has been a director of the Connecticut Bluegrass Music Association (CTBMA), and a charter member of the IBMA.

At recent EWOB Festivals at Voorthuizen (NL), Kevin has been a valued part of the sound and stage crew and Mandolin Workshop presenter (again in 2009 as well). His residence in Europe is a welcome addition to the scene here. He can be contacted at +32 172 411676 or by e-mail.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Rural TV - now available in Europe

Campbell 'Doc' Mercer (mandolin), of the Cumberland Highlanders, with Dr Ralph Stanley and former Blue Grass Boys Wayne Lewis and Clarence 'Tater' Tate

The Rural TV channel features bluegrass and classic country music among many other things likely to interest EBB readers. The station, which became available in Europe this month on Sky 279 and Freesat 403, is the international dimension of RFD-TV, which was founded to provide 24-hour TV for rural America. In extending coverage to the UK, Europe, and beyond, RFD-TV founder Patrick Gottsch says:

The love of horses, the joy of collecting and restoring old tractors, the desire to produce better crops and animals, the love for traditional country music, the excitement of competition, the commitment to leave this earth in better shape than when you arrived, are all international bonds. Rural people have more in common than they are different.

Regular features include the Kentucky-focused 'Bluegrass & backroads', showings of the classic 'Hee Haw' series and the Porter Wagoner and Wilburn Brothers Shows, guest appearances by such artists as Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, and the Cumberland Highlanders (above).

Friday, 27 March 2009

Matching Ties & Paul Stowe: tour schedules and newsletter

Paul Stowe of Matching Ties reports:

Dear friends and fans of Matching Ties & Paul Stowe,

It’s been, once again, a few months since you last received our newsletter, a sign that we have been busy with lots of tours and shows. Here you have it, the latest Matching Ties & Paul Stowe concert schedule with all our gigs concerts to date (below).* Thank you so much for your continued support. We have had some great highlights and covered many kilometres with shows all over Germany and neighboring countries Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. A special thanks to all the people who put us up, organized, and supported us. There are special entries on our blog (news page) about our recent activities. Please check it out and leave a comment...

All our dates, which I constantly update, can be viewed at this link on our website. Besides details such as addresses, phone numbers, and playing times, there are usually links on the individual dates (just click the underlined entries) to the stages or events. We hope to see you at a Matching Ties or Paul Stowe concert soon.

Promoters: please feel free to contact us anytime if you are interested in booking us, especially if we play in your area, as connector bookings are always desired.

*The full newsletter in German, English, and Italian, with concert dates for every configuration of Matching Ties - as well as Paul's solo dates in the US later in the year and a link for buying Matching Ties CDs (including their latest, Across the sea - can be read here.

The Wilders in Ireland and Britain, June-July 2009

The Wilders (USA), who were touring in Europe earlier this year, will be touring again this summer in Ireland and Britain, as follows:

Fri. 26 June 26 The Séamus Ennis Cultural Centre, Naul, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Sat. 27 June Cork Midsummer Festival, Ireland
Wed. 1 July Wexford Arts Centre, Ireland
Thurs. 2 July The Glens Centre, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim, Ireland
Fri. 3 July The Black Box, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Sat. 4 July Earagail Arts Festival, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland
Sun. 5 July Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland
Tues. 7 July Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Wed. 8 July The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland
Thurs. 9 July Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, Scotland
Fri. 10 July Howden Park Centre, Livingston, Scotland
Sat. 11 July The Tolbooth, Stirling, Scotland
Sun. 12 July The Bongo Club, 37 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, Scotland
Tues. 14 July Glasgow (venue tbc), Scotland
Wed. 15 July Universal Hall @ Eight Acres Hotel, Elgin, Scotland
Thurs. 16 July Hebridean Celtic Festival, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland
Fri. 17 July Jumpin Hot Club, The Cluny, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
Sat. 18 July Larmer Tree Festival, England
Sun. 19 July (late morning): Larmer Tree Festival, England
Sun. 19 July (evening): Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea, Wales
Mon. 20 July Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, Wales
Tues. 21 July Borough Theatre, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales

Further dates may be arranged. Thanks to the Friends Of American Old-Time Music And Dance (UK) for the news.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Bluegrass Newsletter online

Jim Moss's online Bluegrass Newsletter for March 2009 is now available, including film of a show by the Frank Wakefield Band (above) at the Freight & Salvage venue in California, with guest artist Marty Varner (above, left).

The newsletter also includes photos, interviews, and other material relating to Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin, Jesse McReynolds, and other great figures in bluegrass, not to mention many of the musicians and others who knew them; together with access to Jim Moss's own bluegrass fiddle website. This and further issues can be received FREE.

The Essential Clarence White Bluegrass Guitar Leads

BLUEGRASS EUROPE, EBMA's official magazine, is proud to announce that Kevin Lynch, well-known mandolin player and freelance writer who now resides in the Netherlands, will review the latest, major project on guitar giant Clarence White in the June/July issue. His in-depth article will feature very rare photos and references to European tours of the past. Contact Kevin at KLbgrass @ aol.com.

“The Essential Clarence White Bluegrass Guitar Leads”

(press release) Roland White & Diane Bouska have released an impressive 102-page book and 2-CD set presenting the legendary Clarence White’s flatpicking acoustic guitar style.

The book includes transcripts in notation and tab format to 14 tunes (a wonderful cooperative effort by Matt Flinner, Steve Pottier and Diane Bouska). You also get detailed and easy-to-follow instructional text by Bouska, a personal and extensive biography by brother Roland, a large collection of photos (some previously unpublished), a heartfelt ‘Foreword’ written for the book by Marty Stuart and much more.

CD-1 features Clarence playing all 14 tunes in the book on his Martin D-18 guitar. These are home recordings made in 1962 by Clarence for his guitar students. These cuts contain only Clarence’s lead playing and one rhythm guitar.

CD-2 features basic rhythm tracks of the 14 tunes in the book by Roland White (rhythm guitar) and Missy Raines (bass). This allows you to practice your playing as you work your way through the book. There are instructions for a free software tool to adjust the speed of the tracks to your comfort level. This disc also includes CD-ROM video of Clarence -- complete with close-up views of his hands in action as he plays two songs from the book/CD. Plus a lengthy slide-show of amazing photos (including The Country Boys and Kentucky Colonels bands).

A fine retrospective of Clarence’s life & career in bluegrass music and a great treasure for all Clarence White fans, listeners and musicians alike.

Information is available at www.rolandwhite.com.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Thomas Bailey in UK, Apr.-May 2009

Multi-instrumentalist Thomas Bailey, maker of '21st Century Old Time Music', will tour in the UK during April and May. The schedule at present stands as follows:

11-14 April Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Northern Ireland BT78 5QY
19 April Bournemouth Folk Club @ The Centre Stage, 14 Queens Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 6BE
23 April Burnetts Hill Chapel, Martletwy, Pembrokeshire, Wales SA68; tickets & info @ pembrokebooks.co.uk/burnettshill
25 April New Radnor Community Hall, Hall Lane, New Radnor, Presteigne, Wales LD8 2TF
26 April Wick Town Hall w/ the Buffalo Gals, Manor Road, Wick, Bristol, Southwest BS30 5RA
28 April Malt Cross, 16 St James’s St., Nottingham, NG1 6FG
29 April Traveller’s Rest w/ Downtrodden String Band, 24 Derby Road, Draycott, Derby, DE72 3NJ
2 May Ram Jam Club, 46 Richmond Road, Kingston, KT2 5EE
3 May Honky Tonkin’ Sunday @ The Golden Lion, 88 Royal College St, Camden, London, NW1 0TH
5 May The Luminaire, 311 High Road, Kilburn, London, NW6 7JR

Thomas Bailey: website; Facebook; MySpace

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Stormont concert in Northern Ireland, 14 March

The Great Hall, Stormont; the statue represents Sir James Craig, first prime minister of Northern Ireland

On Saturday 14 March 2009 Woodbine, a four-piece bluegrass band from Co. Kildare, Ireland, opened a special concert in the Great Hall at the Northern Ireland Parliament Buildings, Stormont, near Belfast, before an invited audience of some 250 people from Northern Ireland and abroad.

In August 2008 William Hay, Speaker of the NI Legislative Assembly, formed the idea of a St Patrick's Day concert to celebrate the rich diversity of music, song, and the bardic traditions in Ulster and the rest of Ireland. The show was organised by Frank Galligan, writer and radio/TV presenter, who also acts as bluegrass MC for the festivals at Omagh, Longford, and this year Athy.

Headlining the two-hour concert were the dynamic young west Ulster group Kintra, who combine Scottish and Irish piping, fiddling, and dance traditions with drums, keyboard, electric guitar, and bass. The bardic tradition was represented by Declan Forde, storyteller and reciter of 'poems with chords'. The audience responded with two standing ovations at the end of the concert, and Woodbine were not allowed to leave without playing for a further thirty or forty minutes in the Stormont bar.

The concert reaffirmed links between communities in Ulster, Ireland, and abroad, and Frank Galligan summed up the evening as 'a night to remember, and most definitely a great advert for bluegrass music and the traditions from which it stems'. A fuller report is here.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Lyle Lovett in Europe

The alt.country singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett is currently touring in Europe with his Acoustic Group; having played in the UK this week, they will be playing the following dates till the end of the month.

Sun. 22 Mar. Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
Mon. 23 Mar. Paradiso, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Tues. 24 Mar. KKL Mozartsaal, Stuttgart, Germany
Wed. 25 Mar. Passionskirche, Berlin, Germany
Thurs. 26 Mar. Kampnagel, Hamburg, Germany
Fri. 27 Mar. Vaerket Theater, Randers, Denmark
Sun. 29 Mar. Theater am Tanzbrunnen, Cologne, Germany
Tues. 31 Mar. Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Ireland

Source: Lyle Lovett website.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Lilly of the West with Radim Zenkl and Lubos Malina

Lilly Drumeva and her band Lilly of the West continued a busy spring schedule with shows at the Tea House, Sofia, Bulgaria on St Patrick’s day, 17 March 2009, and the following day on SKAT TV.

For both concerts they were joined by special guests from the Czech Republic: mandolin virtuoso Radim Zenkl, who has been living in California for twenty years, and a longtime friend, master banjoist Lubos Malina. Both have a passion for Bulgarian folk music and its instruments, such as the kaval flute.

The band - Lilly (guitar), Yasen Vassilev (guitar), Ivan Penchev (fiddle), Borislav Bojadjiev (percussion) - and their two guests presented a mixture of bluegrass, country, Irish, and Bulgarian folk music. Highlights included two Bulgarian songs in unusual rhythms (7/8 and 11/16). The musicians are planning a repertoire of bluegrass with Bulgarian rhythms. A fuller report with photos is here.

British Bluegrass News #48

The Spring 2009 edition of British Bluegrass News, published by the British Bluegrass Music Association (BBMA), will include a cover story on the Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys (left) from the West Country, and feature stories about the Home Counties band Papa Truck, the Midnight Ramblers, and Laurie Lewis, the last two of whom are scheduled to do separate tours of the UK. Greg Cahill, whose Special Consensus toured Ireland and the UK early this year, contributes a guest article.

Also in this issue: Rick Townend’s tribute to Bill Clifton; 'May is Worldwide Bluegrass Music Month'; ‘Favourites’ chosen by the Carrivick Sisters; and 'The story behind the song', about Carter Stanley’s ‘The white dove’. All this, plus the usual 'What’s on', tour details and 2009 festival dates, CD reviews, and area reports will be in this bumper edition. The BBMA website is being made more user-friendly and updated, a task which should be completed by Easter.

The full text of a press release by Richard F. Thompson is here. For further info, contact: Richard F. Thompson, Press Relations, 14 Lime Grove, Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, WS13 6ER. ‘Phone +44 (0)1543 252683; e-mail.

To join the BBMA, contact Trish Hockley, Membership Secretary, Freepost, BBMA. ‘Phone +44 (0)7889 607612; e-mail.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Eddie Adcock on Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The European Bluegrass Blog mentioned in September 2008 the surgery which banjo-player and 'Father of Newgrass' Eddie Adcock was then undergoing to enable him to continue playing.

Thanks to Richard Thompson on the original Bluegrass Blog for the news that an eight- or nine-minute interview with Eddie by Jonathan Groubert can be heard online on Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The interview focuses on the illness, which affected Eddie for fifteen years before surgery, and on the difference made by the treatment. Memories of his experiences with the Country Gentlemen are also shared.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Leadership Bluegrass 2009

The IBMA is pleased to announce the graduating class of Leadership Bluegrass 2009, pictured here at BMI in Nashville on 12 March (photo by Priscilla Warnock).
Row 1: Larry Cordle;
Row 2 (L-R): Brandi Hart, Becky Johnson, Hannah Johnson, Joe Weed, Pete Wernick, Tom Mueller, Leah Ross, Barry Mazor, Sammy Shelor;
Row 3: Gary Jolicoeur, Jim Van Cleve, John Abrams, Janet McGarry, Karl Kersey, Tom Thorpe, David Crow, Penni McDaniel, Lee Michael Demsey, Ronnie Reno;
Row 4: Alan Tompkins, Dwight Worden, Tommy Sivert, C. Roger Moss, Danny Clark, David Preston.

Leadership Bluegrass, now in its tenth year with more than 225 alumni, is an intensive three-day program of advanced-level, interactive learning experiences that invites participants to examine the challenges and opportunities facing our music along with related leadership issues.

Leadership Bluegrass 2009 was hosted 10-12 March at BMI in Nashville, TN, and was facilitated again by Fred Bartenstein, a noted bluegrass historian and professional meeting facilitator.

Update 20 March: Hannah Johnson, of the Toy Hearts (UK), the only LBG 2009 member from outside North America, is quoted at length in the Bluegrass Blog, ending with: 'I would highly recommend the course to anyone!'

EBMA Facebook group has 100 members

Angelika Torrie, treasurer and webmistress of the EBMA, reports:

The Facebook group of EBMA has as of today exactly 100 members. And this is the link. It's limited to Facebook users, but then again it's free worldwide.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Lilly of the West live in Prague, 12 March 2009

As announced on the European Bluegrass Blog on 18 February, Lilly of the West performed the first bluegrass concert at the Bulgarian Cultural Centre, in the heart of Prague (CZ). The many distinguished guests - including the EWOBA president, Dennis Schut (NL), and Ruth Gruber (US), journalist for the Herald Tribune - were greeted in fluent Czech by the director of the Bulgarian Cultural Centre, Boyan Panchev.

Lilly’s band featured Jasen Vassilev (BG) on guitar, Svoboda Bozduganova (BG) on upright bass, and special guests from the Czech Republic: Jarda Jahoda (banjo) and Zdenek Jahoda (mandolin). They performed two sets, with a mix of modern bluegrass, country, swing, and jazz standards.

During the interval Petr Hruby (CZ) and his band All Bells & Whistles took the stage for five songs, supported by Jiri Kralik (CZ) on fiddle.

For an encore Lilly of the West performed some famous Bulgarian folk songs for the Bulgarians in the audience. A full account with more photos can be seen here.

Bluegrass news from France

Christopher Howard-Williams of the France Bluegrass Musique Association (FBMA) announces the following events in France during the spring and summer:

The Bluegrass Masterclass Workshop on 11-12 April (see the EBB post of 31 January) with Jim Hurst (guitar), Byron Berline (fiddlle, mandoline) and Alan Munde (banjo), at La Grange Rouge, near Macon.

The FBMA Spring Weekend meeting (29 May-1 June) in the Leisure Centre at Mézière sur Couesnon (Ille et Vilaine), Britanny; for more info e-mail Philippe Chapuis.

The annual Grange Rouge Bluegrass and French Folk Weekend, held as usual on the second weekend in June (13-14 June 2009) for anyone who happens to be in the area; bands play 30-minute sets; sleeping in hostel conditions. For more info on both Grange Rouge events, e-mail.

The La Roche Bluegrass Festival (30 July-2 August), La Roche-sur-Foron, Haute Savoie, features the EWOBA Band Contest with twelve bands from six countries; a further sixteen bands from Europe will also perform, along with Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain (USA), Sally & Chris Jones (USA), Bob Jones (USA; ex Blue Grass Boy) & Bononia Grass (I), Monogram (CZ), Acousticure (H), and Philippe Naudot (F) & Vodopad (Sk). The full programme can be seen here or downloaded from the La Roche website.

France Bluegrass Musique Association
+33 450 03 42 04
(Mobile) +33 647 714 435
skype: christopherhw
145 rue de la Croix
F - 74800 La Roche sur Foron

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Barcelona Bluegrass Band

Barcelona Bluegrass Band

Lluís Gómez reports:

I just finished a new album with the band you saw in Longford: new tunes and some covers. Lluís Gómez & Joan Pau Cumellas: Barcelona Bluegrass Band will be available at the end of May. Tim Carter is going to mix and record a twin banjo, also J.P. and me are playing as a duet.

Joan Pau Cumellas and Lluís Gómez

Al Ras change date: 7 November 2009 Mollet del Valles, at the old theater called Mercat Vell - still working on the line-up.

Last Feb. I booked a gig for Tony Trischka in Santander, in a very nice theater; all the audience was excited listening to Tony's tunes. For some people their first time listening to bluegrass was that very night. He invited me to play two tunes; it was great!

No Dobrofest in 2009

The homepage of the Dobrofest resonator guitar festival in Trnava, Slovakia, announces: 'We are sorry to make public, that the town of Trnava decided to make no Dobrofest in the year 2009.'

The city authorities have decided to hold Dobrofest every other year; so resonator guitar enthusiasts can hope for the next event to take place in 2010.

Friday, 13 March 2009

European Bluegrass Summit report now on line

Angelika Torrie (front centre above), treasurer and webmistress of the EBMA, reports:

Dear attenders of the European Bluegrass Summit in Bühl
Dear non-attenders, who were not able to attend but are interested

The report on the Summit has been finalised and is now available online - along with all related documents - on the EBMA website at EBS 2009.

There, you will also find a button directing to a new externally hosted section, the EBS Google site. It's a nice tool to be able to save information and for designated people (with a Google account) to add documents and/or comments on various issues. This site is still being developed but it sure is a good start. Any comments are welcome.

Country Gentlemen in Europe, 2-9 May 2009

Randy Waller (in white) and the Country Gentlemen

This legendary band, whose dynamic and innovative role in bluegrass is being continued under Randy Waller, son of the founder-member Charlie Waller, will be touring Europe between 2 May and 9 May, and are scheduled to appear at several major events:

Sat. 2 May: 7th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival, Bühl/Baden, Germany

Sun. 3 May: Special concert at Théâtre Le Parc, Rue du Collège, Quartier du Plain Château, 74800 La Roche-sur-Foron, Haute Savoie, France, 5.00 p.m.; full details (including link for bookings) here

Thurs. 7 May: Jicin, Czech Republic, 8.00 p.m.

Sat. 9 May: 10th Spring Bluegrass Festival, Willisau, Switzerland

Intervening dates are available: contact A.R.T. Promotions. This is the last European tour of a bluegrass band which A.R.T. will be coordinating.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Rachel Harrington in Europe, Apr.-June 2009

Rachel Harrington and Zak Borden

Rachel Harrington (USA), singer and songwriter from a Pentecostal small-town Oregon background, has won glowing reviews for her debut album The bootlegger's daughter (2007) and her latest, City of refuge, which features Tim O'Brien (fiddle), Mike Grigoni (dobro), Zak Borden (mandolin), and Jon Hamar (upright bass), with Holly O'Reilly and Pieta Brown on backing vocals.

She is now due to begin a three-month tour, sponsored by Maverick magazine, of the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium, with multi-instrumentalist Zak Borden accompanying her. The first appearance will be on air with Bob Harris on 7 April, after which the duo will be playing sixteen dates in England and eight in Scotland before crossing to play four shows in the Netherlands and two in Belgium (28 May-2 June), finishing with a further sixteen dates in England and one in Wales. Full details are on the 'Shows' page of her website.

New Acoustic Gallery: first 2009 concert

Ana Vidovic performing at the NAG

Oliver Waitze reports that the New Acoustic Gallery's 2009 concert season began on 8 March with a sensational classical guitar recital by Ana Vidovic. The artist enjoyed the special atmosphere at the Gallery and is eager to return - she is reported as saying: 'The sound of the guitar is so wonderful in this room, I could have played all night.'

The rest of the NAG season includes concerts by the Krüger Brothers later this month (already sold out), by the Joscho Stephan Trio with Richard Smith in June, and the Gallery's First Mandolin Festival in late August. For more detail, see the New Acoustic Gallery website, or contact:

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

Oliver Waitze and Ana Vidovic after the concert (right)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

An appeal from Johnny Butten

Johnny Butten, the English banjo-player now resident in the USA who holds the Guinness Book of Records title of Fastest Banjo Player in the World, has launched an appeal on Banjo Hangout.

Johnny approached Don Bryant of North Carolina to build a banjo neck for him, and found that Don's son Josh Bryant had suffered grave injuries in a car crash, and was hospitalised with major complications. In consequence, Johnny and his wife Sammy are heading a campaign to rally support for Josh and the Bryant family, including sending cards, letters, and other tangible support such as CDs and promo material.

Johnny will also be raising funds by means of a sponsored 'endurance pick', and is planning a benefit concert. Full details can be seen here. Johnny and Sammy Butten can be contacted by 'phone (+1-218-962-3229) or e-mail.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Barcelona Bluegrass & Old-Time

Thanks to Lluís Gómez for news of the Barcelona Bluegrass & Old-Time website, a valuable service to anyone living in the area or visiting the city.
Two years ago a group of devotees began a bluegrass jam session at the Celtic Cross pub in Barcelona. Sessions are now held every two weeks in the Limerick Irish Pub, C/Bruc 55, 19:30-22:00; the Bristol Blue, C/Torrent de L’Olla 39-41, 19:30-22:00; and L’Astrolabi, C/Martinez de la Rosa 14, 20:00-22:00. The next jam session will be in L’Astrolabi on 15 March. The introduction states:

Our aims have not changed and we still endeavor to promote Bluegrass by putting on events & sessions throughout the year & hope that this website will be used by Bluegrass/ Americana lovers all over the world.

The website also gives information on Guitarland (C/Diluvi 6, +34 93 2188677), the only shop for bluegrass instruments in Barcelona, and on the 8th Al Ras Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival, which will be held on 7 November 2009 at Mollet del Valles, Mercat Vell. Details of the lineup are on the Festival's MySpace site.

Banjo chords on iPhone

Thanks to Charles Dumont for news of a new application that is available for the iPhone: a collection of 700 banjo chords in open G tuning, for only $1.99. Chords in other tunings are said to be in preparation.

The news is also posted on the Banjo Hangout forum by a contributor who says: 'Just search for BanjoChords in the App Store.'

Sunday, 8 March 2009

O brother, Norwegian style

Dagfinn Pedersen reports that the celebrated audition scene from O brother, where art thou? has been reinvented by the Norwegian band Ila Auto. It can be viewed either at the first video link on the Norwegian Bluegrass Music Association website, or here.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

IBMM's Mando Camp 09

The International Bluegrass Music Museum at Owensboro, Kentucky, will hold its Fourth Annual Monroe-style Mandolin Camp on 11-13 September 2009. A maximum of fifty students will be able to take part.

The teachers (who will give a combined concert on the Saturday night) will be Mike Compton, camp & curriculum director; Dr Richard Brown, associate director; Skip Gorman; Tim O'Brien; Jody Stecher; and Butch Waller. Special guests: Tom Ewing, Monroe historian and concert performer, and Will Kimble, luthier. One-to-one master classes will be part of the programme.

For full details, including video footage from previous Camps, see the IBMM's Mando Camp 09 website. Gabrielle Gray, IBMM's executive director, says:

The Monroe-Style Mandolin Camp is the ultimate gathering spot for Monroe enthusiasts. Satisfy your desire to 'Know Monroe' by spending the anniversary of his birth and passing at the museum and the camp dedicated to preserving his legacy.

European bluegrass on Bulgarian radio

Lilly Drumeva writes:

Dear friends,

Last night I dedicated the first hour of my show to European bluegrass. After the Summit meeting in Bühl, I had some CDs from you which I meant to play since then (see playlist attached).

I received also others in the post recently. Thank you for sending them. If you'd like a CD copy of the show, let me know. I'll gladly send it to you.

If you'd like to send me your CD for airplay on Bulgarian radio, please do. My address is:

Lilly Drumeva
Marin Drinov 25/3
Sofia 1504

If you know of bands in your area who would like to be played on Bulgarian radio, please let them know. All the best,

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

The 'Country with Lilly' playlist for 6 March 2009 can be seen here.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Old-time music at Sore Fingers Week

John Wirtz announces in the latest newsletter from Sore Fingers Week, the premier bluegrass and old-time instruction workshop in Europe:

Despite many appeals in this news letter and around the Old Time scene in general, we have only managed to secure 10 students on Old Time Banjo and 9 on Old Time fiddle for Sore Fingers Week 2009. We have had difficulty selling places on Old Time now for about three years, and we can only conclude the demand for what we are offering is not there. Bluegrass courses have booked well even in these difficult economic times (we have three full bluegrass banjo courses this year!)

We will take a loss on both O.T. courses this year and we cannot continue to do that. So the plan for 2010 is as follows:

We believe Old Time should have a presence at Sore Fingers Week as it is inherently linked to the music we seek to promote, so we are not discontinuing the availability of Old Time courses.

We will make contact with a fiddle and banjo tutor from the US for 2010, but these will only be confirmed if we get a minimum of fifteen booking by the end of August 2009. If we don’t achieve those numbers, we will replace the US tutor with one based in the UK to keep the costs down.

US people being considered are Bob Carlin, Dirk Powell (if we can get him), Bruce Molsky, etc. More news on this later. UK tutors under consideration are Dave Marshall, Bill Whelan, Jock Tildesley, Dave Proctor, Kate Lissauer, etc. Please note Jock will be teaching the Old Time course next October.

If anyone has any comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us at the Sore Fingers Week office.

'Going Across the Sea' tour in Scotland, Apr.-May 2009

Anyone interested in old-time music and its roots in the British Isles will welcome 'Going Across the Sea', which brings together seven fine musicians from both sides of the Atlantic to celebrate and explore their common ground.

Kris Drever and Sarah McFadyen from Orkney, Eamonn Coyne from Ireland, Tim Matthew from Scotland, and from the USA Betse Ellis of the Wilders and Caleb Klauder and Sammy Lind of the Foghorn String Band will be playing thirteen dates together in Scotland and the Islands from 22 April to 6 May. More details are here and on the Folk Radio UK website.

Old-time music camps in Spain: updates

Thanks to the UK organisation FOAOTMAD for updates on old-time music camps in Andalucia this year:

May 2-9: Old-Time Music Week with Dave and Tim Bing is now fully booked.

May 10-17: Old-Time Music Week with Dave and Tim Bing has space for a few more participants. Focus on banjo, fiddle and guitar technique, repertoire and ensemble playing. Other instruments welcome.

Oct. 3-10: Old-Time Music Week with Beverly Smith and Carl Jones has space for several more participants. Focus on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, singing, and writing tunes and songs. All instruments welcome.

For more information on all camps, see Kate Lissauer's website.

4th Winter Bluegrass Workshop in Moravia

Petr Brandejs reports:

The 4th Winter Bluegrass Workshop took place from 27 February to 1 March 2009 with the Petr Brandejs Band and other top Czech and Slovak instrumentalists. Sixty-seven students and eight teachers spent the pleasant weekend in northern Moravia (Novy Jicin). The Saturday show included all the instructors plus Martin and Zuzanka Brandejs joining their forces with PBB (above).

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Planning a European tour?

Following Tuesday's announcement of the European Booking Network's On Line Notice Board:

Dear Bluegrass Band,

Planning a European tour? Do you have a European festival booking and are you looking for some more follow on gigs? Do you have a gig offer in Europe and are you looking to build up a tour?

If you are acting as your own agent and organising your own tour you can put your dates forward to me with a request for enquiries to be routed to your e-mail / telephone number etc. This will be placed on the On Line Notice Board. This can be accessed from a button on the EBMA site, and more links are being established with bluegrass promoters, European Music Festivals, and European National Bluegrass Associations.

What I am looking for is a fairly concise notice about your tour with links to your own site. You can put this notice forward to me as your own representation, or if you have an agent/manager I'm happy to accept information from your representative.

Best wishes,
John Sheldon
Convener, EBMA European Booking Network

Lilly of the West schedule: update

Adding to the schedule shown on the European Bluegrass Blog on 19 February, Lilly Drumeva announces two new dates for her band Lilly of the West, both in Sofia, Bulgaria:

17 Mar. Tea House, Sofia, 20:00, featuring Lubos Malina (CZ) and Radim Zinkel (CZ)

30 Mar. Fans Rock Club, Sofia, 21:00

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Orwell Bluegrass Festival, 24-26 April

The Orwell Bluegrass Festival will be held from Friday 24 April to Sunday 26 April at Hallow Tree Camp Site, Ipswich, Suffolk, England.

Bands playing include Chill Until Blue, Chris Moreton, Home Territory, the Hope Mountain Band, Kitty Hawks, Longway, Monroe's Revenge, the New Essex Bluegrass Band (veterans of many appearances at the EWOB Festival at Voorthuizen, NL), and the Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys.

Full details, including links to band websites, location, booking tickets, and updates, can be found on the festival website. Chris of the organising committee says:

Hello EBMA. We are 40 minutes from Stansted airport. With the current exchange rate, it makes it worth the trip. A great line up of bands - we would love to see you there.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Ireland's first Banjo Camp: a great success

Camp attenders on Sunday 1 March (John Dowling with black-headed banjo)

Thanks to Derek Lockhart of Dangem Bluegrass, who reports on Ireland's first banjo camp, held last weekend at Corrs Corner Hotel, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland:

The Camp was attended by twenty-two keen banjo devotees in the end; we only should have had twenty, but bad math on my part... We also had a waiting list of seventeen people waiting in the wings.

The Camp itself was a outstanding success. John Dowling is not only a master of playing the banjo but the master of teaching the banjo; I think everyone involved benefited from his patience and skill as a tutor. The Broken String Band entertained us - the students plus invited guests made up of friends and family and those who unfortunately we could not accommodate this time round. It is safe to say that - all things being equal - we will be running Dangem Banjo Camp 2010.

For a taste of the atmosphere at the Camp, see 'Duelling Banjo' played by John Dowling and the Broken String Band on YouTube.

European Booking Network: online Notice Board

John Sheldon, secretary of the Scottish Bluegrass Association and convener of the Booking Network group set up at the recent European Bluegrass Summit, reports:

Dear European bluegrass promoters,

I have established an online Notice Board of forthcoming European tours, as a follow-up from the European Summit. The ad hoc group working within EBMA to advance Continent-wide booking issues consists of John Sheldon (convener), Christopher Howard-Williams, Chris Keenan, Dagfinn Pedersen, and Rienk Janssen.

Please feel free to publicise the existence of this Notice Board and send me details and notices for inclusion on this board. I will paste your notices online for you and keep this updated according to the information you supply me.

This is a simple means to publicise to other promoters and interested parties the tours you are planning within Europe. The Notice Board will allow other interested promoters to network with you and follow up any requests you make or information you place on the board. I will include any information you send me on this notice board relating to forthcoming European tours.

Contact John Sheldon by e-mail.
Bands now listed on the Notice Board (with links to band websites where available) include White Mountain Bluegrass, Randy Waller & the Country Gentlemen, the Midnight Ramblers, Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa, the Chapmans, Remington Ryde, the Smith-O'Reilly Bluegrass Band, and Craig Duncan & Friends.

Roberto Dalla Vecchia's Acoustic Guitar Workshop, 30 May-2 June

Following on the European Bluegrass Blog's post of 10 February, which listed his gigs for March and April, Italian guitarist Roberto dalla Vecchia reports that his Acoustic Guitar Workshop will take place from 30 May to 2 June 2009 at Recoaro Mille, in Vicenza, Italy, beginning at 11:00 on 30 May. Full details are on Roberto's website.

New Acoustic Gallery concert season begins

The New Acoustic Gallery's 2009 concert season begins with a recital by the classical guitar virtuoso Ana Vidovic in the Gallery at 19:00 on Sunday 8 March - a great opportunity to see this world-class artist in live performance.

Now living in New York, Ana Vidovic was at 13 the youngest female student in the Zagreb Musical Academy, where she studied with Prof. Istvan Romer. Her excellent record in Europe earned her an invitation to study at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore (USA) with Manuel Barrueco. Videos can be seen on YouTube. Tickets (VV: 30/AK: €35) can be booked by telephone at +49 0212/2474007.

The next concert in the series - on 30 March by the Krüger Brothers - is unfortunately already sold out. A brochure for the full series, with information on all the artists taking part, is on the NAG website. For further info contact

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

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Happy anniversary, Blue Highway!

Blue Highway (USA) are celebrating their fifteenth year together: the band originally formed on 31 December 1994, with the same personnel as they have now.

Congratulations to them and to Lilly Pavlak (CH/CZ), who won Blue Highway's February photo contest with the above picture, taken in 1998 at the Albisgütli Country Festival near Zurich, Switzerland. Tim Stafford recalls: 'Looks like the band is probably doing "Some day"... Our host was an unforgettable guy named Albi Matter.'

Many other photos by Lilly - including the one on the right, taken in 1998 at the Dobrofest, Trnava, Slovakia - appear in Blue Highways' 15th anniversary photo album on their website, to which they will be adding all through 2009.