Thursday, 31 December 2009

Good wishes for 2010

Thanks to the Petr Brandejs Band for the above New Year's greeting. 'We'll concentrate on children' is a good New Year resolution for all bands.

Messages of goodwill also received during the holiday season include greetings from Christopher Howard-Williams and Didier Philippe of the La Roche Bluegrass Festival; Joel B. Espesset of Kehl, Germany; Lluís Gómez of Barcelona, Spain; Nugget and New West of Vienna, Austria; the Toy Hearts of Birmingham, England; Luca Bartolini of Genoa, Italy; and Monika and Eberhard Finke of Germany. In recognition of the support given by the International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) to bluegrass outside the USA, here's a photo of Monika and Eberhard with Gabrielle Gray, IBMM director.

British Bluegrass News #51

British Bluegrass News #51 (winter 2009/10) has been posted out to members of the British Bluegrass Music Association (BBMA).

The 44-page bumper winter edition (10% larger than the autumn issue) features the Belgian band Sons of Navarone on the cover; inside is a substantial interview with the Sons by Rick Townend, a full-page ad for the band, and a list of dates for their UK tour in mid February 2010.

The issue also includes features on bluegrass in Northern Ireland, songwriter David Rozzell, the late Terry Holland, and the Crocker Brothers band. Tom Adams (USA) contributes an article and a banjo tab, 'BBN blues'. Multi-instrumentalist and BBN production editor Pat Francis reveals his ‘Favourites’, and 'The story behind the song' looks at John Henry Newton‘s ‘Amazing grace’. All this plus the regular 'What’s on', tour details and 2010 festival dates, CD and book reviews, 'Light in the window', 'SmallTalk', and ten area reports.

This issue is the third to appear with Richard F. Thompson as editor-in-chief. British Bluegrass News is published by the BBMA, which was founded in 1990. To join the BBMA, contact the Membership Team, Clare and David Rozzell, by e-mail.

For further information about the BBMA and the e-newsletter, contact Richard F. Thompson, Press Relations, 14 Lime Grove, Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, WS13 6ER; 'phone +44 (0)1543 252683; e-mail.

New website for the Al Ras Festival, Barcelona

Thanks to Lluis Antonio Gomez Martinez for the news that the annual Al Ras Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival at Barcelona, Spain, now has a new website which carries information about the Festival and also about all bluegrass and old-time activity in the Barcelona area.

Readers can register to be informed of any new developments. The website is in Spanish, Catalan, and English. Its mission statement on the home page points out that the main purposes of the festival are to raise public awareness of the music, to bring people together to enjoy it, and to encourage and inform

groups and individuals who play these musical styles in our land, helping them to show their performances and music-making. Al Ras is a meeting place, even once a year, to enjoy all this and both the performer and listener are able to make friends. Guitars, banjos, fiddles, mandolins, dobro, bass, accordions, bagpipes...

Eight Al Ras festivals have been held so far; the ninth will be held on 6 November 2010.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Roots Experience

Thanks to Olaf Gläsmer, the Grassroot Philosopher, for his good wishes for the festive season and the new year. Olaf also reports:

I hope to see y'all at least when I'm on the road with my new project, Roots Experience [photo above], playing an exciting blend of traditional bluegrass music. As blatant as this self-advertisement may seem, I'd be pleased to answer all booking and related questions.

Contact Olaf by e-mail.

European musical competition in Italy, 2-9 May 2010

The Associazione Musicale Melody of Italy announce that the second edition of their Concorso Musicale Europeo will take place in the city of Filadelfia, in the 'toe' of southern Italy, on 2-9 May 2010.

This music competition is not specifically bluegrass - it is dedicated to the memory of the operatic composer Paolo Serrao (1830-1907), but extends over music in general. The Associazione Musicale Melody is linked to the EBMA's Facebook group, and some readers of the European Bluegrass Blog may benefit from checking out the AMM website.

Bluegrass Jamboree! 2009 - and 2010

Rainer Zellner of the Music Contact agency reports:

The first tour of the annual 'Bluegrass Jamboree! - Festival of Bluegrass and Americana Music' is over!

December: 15 shows in 16 days: enthusiastic audiences applauded wildly and never let the musicians go before at least four encores were played. The theaters, concert halls, and art centers held between eighty and 450 people, mostly new to bluegrass. And they have been won over!

Everybody was thrilled by the program that featured the archaic old-time and early golden era of country music sounds presented by Beverly Smith & Carl Jones. Quite a few eyebrows were raised when the bluegrass girls [of the Toy Hearts] from Birmingham, England, entered the stage for their unique mix of grassy originals and a new hybrid called Gypsy Grass! Headlining were the Steep Canyon Rangers, who impressed not only the bluegrass novices with their tight and powerful appearance, great vocals, hot instrumental breaks and catchy songwriting. The festival finale session [photo above] brought all eleven musicians back with some mandolin licks added by promoter and MC Rainer Zellner.

The crowd had a great time and everybody joined in when the final song 'Will the circle be unbroken' rounded out the evenings. For all fluent in German there is a tour blog with some fotos, a flickr photo set will be up soon too, and there is already some footage on YouTube.

Radio WDR3 will broadcast two hours of the show, including interviews, on 17 January, 20:05-22:00. I am sure you can listen online.

The edition 2010 will be booked very soon and will tour in December again. We would definitely like to expand to other European countries.

A tour blog in English for 4-11 December is on the Toy Hearts website.

Monday, 28 December 2009

GrevenGrass #2 (22-23 May 2010): Christmas news

The GrevenGrass board: Uli Sokoll, Friedhelm Meyer, Thomas Drunkenmölle

The Planning Group of the GrevenGrass Festival sent this message on Christmas Eve. The European Bluegrass Blog team regret its late appearance:

Merry Christmas to all friends of bluegrass music, waiting impatiently for the next GrevenGrass Festival to come! But it is still five months waiting time left, until we meet again at Pentecost. We are 'right in the middle' of our preparations for the 2010 GrevenGrass Festival and are talking to notable musicians, we like to engage. You will find more information on our GrevenGrass homepage after the turn of the year. We all wish you a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year, and we hope the time will speed up a little until Pentecost!

Best regards and we hope to see you again,

Your GrevenGrass Planning Group

GrevenGrass Bluegrass Festival 2010
22-23 May 2010
48268 Greven
Emstrand, Germany

If you are on the GrevenGrass e-mailing list, you will have received as a special Christmas treat a link to a version of 'Silent night/Stille Nacht' sung by Pam Gleba in the Irish language.

'Randy Kohrs with G2': 2010 tour of Europe UPDATE

Randy Kohrs

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, record producer, and engineer Randy Kohrs (USA) and the G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden), #1 European Bluegrass Band 2007, will tour Europe together in May 2010, with Randy Kohrs as main lead vocalist and dobro player, and his regular fiddler Ashley Brown also part of the ensemble. In June, G2 will leave Europe to tour in the USA till October.

Jim Lauderdale and Randy Kohrs won a Grammy award for the album Bluegrass diaries in 2008, and are nominated for the 2010 Grammy awards. Untapped routes, the second album by G2, will be released worldwide in 2010.

The full press release on the tour can be seen here. Please note that the tour will be in May, and not in April as stated in the release. To book Randy Kohrs and G2, contact Tobias Strömberg by e-mail or 'phone +46 (0)7022 94505.

Monday, 21 December 2009

News of La Roche Bluegrass Festival 2010

Christopher Howard-Williams and Didier Philippe of the La Roche Bluegrass Festival report:

La Roche Bluegrass Festival (French Alps, July 29 - August 1 2010) is now taking applications to play (in the contest or not). Applications should be sent by January 31, 2010.
To download the application form go to and click on the page "Info for Bands". Information can be found there on the festival, the location and on conditions for playing.
Bradley, Gulley and Fox is so far booked as a headline act. This is Dale Ann Bradley (3 times female vocalist of the year), Steve Gulley of Mountain Heart and Kim Fox of 3 Fox Drive. They are scheduled to be accompanied by Alan Bibey (Mdn) and Joel Fox (Bjo).
Kreni, contest winners in 2009, is also booked.
We are currently in discussions with two more US bands and 2 more European bands.
Christopher Howard-Williams and
Didier Philippe of
La Roche Bluegrass Festival

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Holiday greetings

Lilly Pavlak of Switzerland and the Czech Republic sends these handsome Christmas greetings by e-mail; the one above is perhaps more closely related to bluegrass, though with the second we hear echoes of 'Footprints in the snow'...

We should have liked to reproduce the animation accompanying greetings from Andy Glandt. Andy writes:

Me and my family wish you all a Merry Christmas and that at least a few of your dreams for 2010 will come true.

News for the European Bluegrass Blog

From the European Bluegrass Blog editorial team:

Anyone who normally sends news to Richard Hawkins for posting on the European Bluegrass Blog should please send it instead to the blog's own e-mail address between 21 and 27 December, when he will be unavailable for posting news.

We recommend that the blog address should be used at all times. When Richard is available, he can deal with news received there; and when he is not, it can be handled by another member of the EBB team.

Updates 31 Jan./3 Feb 2010: If you use this link, everything you want to transmit should be in the main text of the e-mail, including full URLs and e-mail addresses. Although the blog's address will receive e-mails, it will not receive any attachments.

Bluegrass Jamboree! in Basle, 13 Dec. 2009

Steep Canyon Rangers

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for news and photos of Rainer Zellner's Bluegrass Jamboree! Festival of Bluegrass & Americana Music 2009 at Basle (the standard English spelling), Switzerland, on 13 December, presented by Bluegrass in Basel (the standard German spelling).

Rainer's Music Contact agency created the first travelling festival in central Europe: three bands, a tour bus with driver, and a soundman, on a sixteen-day tour. The Basle concert, at 5.00 p.m. in the Halle QuerFeld, was the only one outside Germany. The old-time duo Beverly Smith & Carl Jones (USA),

with fiddle, banjo, guitars, and mandolin, opened the first set, followed by the British bluegrass/swing band Toy Hearts,

Toy Hearts: Sophia Johnson, Hannah Johnson, Steve Amadeo, Stewart Johnson

and finally by the award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers (USA), who took the audience by storm.

The final onstage jam: promoter Rainer Zellner (centre, at back of stage) joins in on mandolin

Guitar player Luca Bartolini (right), formerly with Red Wine and now with Bononia Grass, who came all the way from Genoa for the show, was invited to take part in the finale.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The next European Bluegrass Directory

The EBMA's European Bluegrass Directory is at present in its seventh edition (2008/2009), with over 770 entries. There have been many developments in European bluegrass since it was compiled two years ago, and the EBMA board of directors has decided that an eighth edition (2010/2011) shall be produced in print, using the same format as for previous editions.

Thierry Schoysman of Bluegrass in Belgium is in charge of compiling the new edition. While the EBMA national representatives will have an important role in gathering and forwarding information, the board welcomes contributions from bands, event organisers, luthiers, media people, and everyone else who is active in bluegrass in Europe. All material should be delivered to Thierry Schoysman not later than February 2010.

The format for a European Bluegrass Directory after 2011 will be considered in the context of other European bluegrass publications.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Sore Fingers Week (5-9 April 2010): Tutor lineup almost finalised!

Thanks to the organisers of Sore Fingers Week (UK), Europe's premier bluegrass 'camp', who report:

We are now getting close to a final lineup of musicians to provide another brilliant Sore Fingers Week next Easter!

First with the bad news, though. Mat Flinner, who we were really looking forward to having back for a second time, has had to pull out as he and his wife are expecting a new baby which is due right in the middle of Sore Fingers Week. Naturally, Matt wanted to be around for the new arrival and will now not be teaching next year. But we will follow up him up for 2011. Sorry if anyone is disappointed, but we do have a brilliant alternative tutor, John Reischman, and are negotiating with another great chap, Sam Bush. I’m expecting news from Sam shortly so sit tight and keep logging on for news.

As usual the 'recession-proof' banjo players have been booking en masse again, and though we are not yet close to beating last year’s record number of 118 banjo students, we are on the way. So Tony Furtado’s class is now over-subscribed. But we have the fantastic Alan Munde booked to teach a second class. Anyone already registered wishing to change from Tony’s class to Alan’s, should let us know without delay.

Both Tony and Alan have been innovators in their time but are contrasting in styles, and that should make it an easy choice for students.

It is usual to have to give a few classes the hard sell at this time of year, and an early commitment helps us make sure we will have enough students to justify the cost of the flights which we will be booking early next year. So if you are planning to book, it helps us to know sooner rather than later; so get your booking form out to us, please.

The full lineup as it stands is:

Autoharp – Cathy Britell
Banjo - Tony Furtado
Banjo – Alan Munde
Bass - Eric Thorin
Dobro - Jimmy Heffernan
Fiddle - Brian Wicklund
Guitar – Dan Crary
Mandolin – John Reischman
Mandolin – T.B.C.
Old Time Fiddle - Stephanie Coleman
Old Time Banjo - Adam Hurt
Singing - Janet Beazley & Chris Stuart
Songwriting - Ben Demerath
Beginners – Stewart Williams

All that remains is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2010 and we look forward to seeing you at Kingham at Easter!

Best wishes

John, Moira and the team
Sore Fingers Week website

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) Europe, 8-9 April 2010, in Amsterdam

Thanks to Mary Burdette, member of the IBMA and of the organising team of the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival (USA), for forwarding this announcement by the International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) of its next meeting, to be held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 8-9 April 2010:

The International Music Festival Summit is inviting the most accomplished music festival executives and directors to share their expertise with a high-level audience of executives eager to launch or expand their own music festival initiatives. Speaker titles include: Executive Director, Festival Director, Managing Director, Artistic Director, Program Director, VP of Programming, President and CEO, Director of Marketing, and Project Manager.

The professionals that are best suited are those individuals who can share real-world experience, discuss trends and issues in depth, and outline best practices. The conference curriculum includes topics addressing funding and sponsorship, programming, operations and management, publicity and public relations, digital technology, and acquisition and distribution. The deadline for submissions is 15 February 2010. For any questions or comments please contact:

Wyatt Royce
Conference Program Manager
International Music Festival Conference

Mary Burdette comments:

A Grey Fox colleague and I attended the 2009 IMFCON in Las Vegas last week. We were very happy with the topics and speakers and even happier with the contacts we developed. I would encourage colleagues (especially European festival people) to attend the next conference coming up in April in Amsterdam! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I'll be writing an article for the next IBMA newsletter. We really did learn new and exciting things. It was great to think outside the box with other event producers.

Grey Fox was the only bluegrass festival per se at this conference. We made some great connections to the 'outside world' of music festivals. It was a small gathering (about 70 people including speakers) of jazz, jam, eclectic, world and other music festivals. So it was really easy to have access to the speakers and to other participants. Some of the other events included Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Summerfest, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Newport Jazz, etc. I would think that the Amsterdam conference would be a great mix as well.

Contact Mary Burdette by e-mail.

Mike Marshall workshop at the NAG: now 17 Jan. 2010

Please note the new DATE for the workshop - one day later than originally announced. The times and cost remain as shown in the update of 3 December.

News flash from Oliver Waitze's New Acoustic Gallery (NAG) in Solingen, Germany:

Mike Marshall (USA) will give a mandolin workshop at the NAG on Sunday 17 January 2010, beginning at 13:00 and ending at 17:00. Entry: €60. The workshop will include:

*Chords & arpeggios (advanced) — A simple approach to understanding and applying chord theory for the mandolin.
*Finger busters — Right- and left-hand exercises to develop articulation, strength, and agility.
*Mike’s Simple Gifts (beginner) — The art of creating a mandolin part to complement and enhance a song in duo playing.
*Swingin’ the mandolin — Putting it all together with that elusive rhythmic propulsion.

For info and reservations, contact Oliver Waitze
New Acoustic Gallery
Neuehofer Str. 122
42657 Solingen
Tel. +49 0212/2474007

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

26th Annual 'Celebration in Blue', Jablonec (CZ), 14 Nov. 2009

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for photos and a report on a long-established Czech festival, 'Posviceni v Modrem' (Celebration in Blue), which she had never had a chance to visit till a month ago, when the 26th Posviceni v Modrem was held at Jablonec in the Czech republic. Seven fine bands competed for the traditional prize of a roast goose, and the results were:

#1 Sunnyside

#2 Blackjack

#3 Kreni

The other bands taking part were Handl, Bluegate, G-Runs 'n' Roses, and Funny Grass - and as the three winning bands had to leave early for other gigs, the roast goose was shared between these four remaining bands. Read Lilly's full report here. Thanks to Lilly for the corrected caption to the photo below.

Radim Duda (left) and Jaroslav Handlir, festival organiser for the last twenty years, enjoy the remains of the roast goose

More photos from the festival can be seen here.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Roberto Dalla Vecchia: December e-newsletter

Guitarist Roberto Dalla Vecchia reports:

I've been really blessed this year, and my travels have taken me to some wonderful new places here in Europe and also to US. I performed to large crowds and intimate audiences; familiar faces and new friends. Highlights of the year are my tour with guitar wizard Mark Cosgrove, sharing the stage with guitar greats David Bromberg, Frank Vignola, Muriel Anderson, Jacques Stotzem, saying goodbye to Stefano's bibs ... wow what a year!

Roberto's latest album, Unknown legends, is being well received; another favourable review has appeared on Minor 7th online magazine. This month's issue of the German magazine Akustik Gitarre includes an interview with Roberto, and his tune 'Surprised' is included on the companion CD.

In a special Christmas sale, all Roberto Dalla Vecchia CDs can be bought on CD Baby at $9.95 during the month of December. The offer is good until 31 December while supplies last. As a free seasonal gift, a simple arrangement of the classic Christmas carol 'Silent night', arranged for solo acoustic guitar, can be downloaded as an mp3 and with tablature from here. Non-players who like listening to Christmas music should download the mp3 file labelled 'long version'. Most of Roberto's music is available at iTunes, or as downloadable mp3s at Amazon.

In January active booking will begin for dates in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland for Roberto's June 2010 tour with Mark Cosgrove. Anyone in these countries who would like priority consideration for a concert in home, school, or venue, or who just has questions about the process, should contact Roberto by e-mail. Video footage from a house concert in the USA by the Cosgrove/dalla Vecchia combination can be seen on YouTube.

Roberto (who can be followed on Facebook) concludes:

I wish each and every one of you the best of holiday seasons, and here's to a wonderfully happiness-filled 2010. Thank you for being there, and for supporting music and the arts.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

IBMM - an Italian translator needed

The International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) in Owensboro, KY, takes its international responsibilities seriously and is a good friend to bluegrass from outside the USA - as shown in the EBB report of 6 October. Now Gabrielle Gray, director of the IBMM, announces:

A website improvement we're excited to announce is our addition of international language translations of all the permanent features on our site, such as our Hall of Fame Bios and historical sections. They will be presented in French, Spanish, Russian, German, Czech, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, and Japanese.

We are excited to be able to help make bluegrass history and culture even more accessible to more fans around the world. Since our announcement, we've lined up translators for all languages except Italian, but we're confident that we'll locate someone soon!

The Italian bluegrass scene should be well equipped to help out the IBMM in this latest of its welcome initiatives in support of bluegrass music worldwide.

The IBMM's annual River Of Music Party (ROMP) festival in 2010 will include - in addition to Acousticure (Hungary), the G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden), and the Mideando String Quintet (Italy) - a reunion of all living Blue Grass Boys who played with Bill Monroe, and the annual Pioneers of Bluegrass Reunion.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Transatlantic Sessions tour, February 2010

Following the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Scotland, early in the new year, artists from the Transatlantic Sessions part of the festival will make a short tour in England and Ireland. The package consists of Shetland fiddle maestro Aly Bain and dobro legend Jerry Douglas, Nickel Creek vocalist/fiddler Sara Watkins, O brother where art thou? soundtrack star Dan Tyminski (aka the voice of George Clooney), Eddi Reader, Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Karen Matheson (Capercaillie), Bruce Molsky, and Cara Dillon.

The dates in the Transatlantic Sessions tour are:

Tues. 2 Feb. Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, England
Wed. 3 Feb. The Sage, Gateshead, England
Thurs. 4 Feb. Belfast Waterfront, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Fri. 5 Feb. Birmingham Symphony Hall, Birmingham, England
Sat. 6 Feb. Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre, London, England

Bruce Molsky is scheduled to play in Norway later in February: at the Rauland Music Festival (17-21 Feb.), and TBA dates with Ånon Egeland (22-3 Feb.) and with Annbjørg Lien (25-8 Feb.).

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Peter Radványi resigns from Dobrofest committee

Peter Radványi (left), co-founder and formerly executive director of Dobrofest, announced on the festival website on 3 December that he is no longer a member of the Festival Committee Dobrofest-Trnava.

Dobrofest, which was held annually at Trnava, Slovakia, from 1992 to 2008, is the only music festival in the world dedicated to the resophonic guitar and to the memory of its inventor John Dopyera (1893-1988).

The city administration of Trnava decided that the festival would not be held in 2009. Peter Radványi bases his resignation on this and other decisions and input by administrators on the location, date, and artist selection for the festival, which affect the basic concept of Dobrofest and make it impossible for him to take part in preparations for a festival in 2010. Peter adds:

I am very proud to work for Dobrofest from the beginning until the last year and very grateful that I could learn all the amazing good dobro people from around the world.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Mismountain Boys December newsletter

In the latest newsletter from the Mismountain Boys of Bergamo, Italy, you can read a review of their latest CD, Spaghetti Western Cafe, by Fabrizio Poggi from Folk Bulletin magazine; buy the mp3 of their single 'Jingle Bells (Suna Campanèll)' with a donation to the Red Cross; see photos from their Eurobrasserie live concert on 14 November; and check on their upcoming shows.

The Mismountain Boys are Roberto 'The Hook' Braiato (mandolin, guitar, background vocals), Remo 'Mr Cadillac' Ceriotti (5-string banjo, dobro), Franco 'The Captain' Fanizzi (guitar, lead vocals), Fabio 'Cowboy Smile' Bestetti (upright bass, background vocals), Italo 'Babayou' Gualandris (accordion, vocals), Isabella 'Belle Starr' Saradini (vocals, guitar, and Tista 'West Point Records' Rota (drums and percussion).

The band are also on Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Betse Ellis at Virton, 5-10 Apr. 2010

Betse Ellis (left), fiddler for the Wilders (USA), will be returning to Belgium in April 2010 to teach the old-time fiddle course at Musique Acoustique at Virton. The Wilders' schedule says:

Class size is very limited - check out the website for all the classes offered. This is a fantastic music gathering.