Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year greetings

The European Bluegrass Blog thanks its friends for New Year's greetings, received from Lilly Pavlak (CZ/CH) with the above photo;

... from Danilo Cartia (left) in Rome, Italy, who writes: 'Buon anno a tutti i miei amici – Happy New Year to all my friends - Feliz Año Nuevo a todos mis amigos - С Новым годом всех своих друзей';

and from Olaf Gläsmer (right), the Grassroot Philosopher (D), who writes:

Zum Jahresende Euch allen einen guten Rutsch. Ich hoffe, Ihr hattet ein frohes Weihnachtsfest.

I wish you all a happy new year. I hope that you had a blessed Christmas.

... and sends this very seasonal YouTube link.

Finally, another photo from Lilly (below), which shows the kind of attitude we hope not to encounter in 2012:

Friday, 30 December 2011

Keith Colven

Ron Stevens, of the Heart of England Bluegrass Venue in the English midlands, reports:

I am sorry to bring sad news at this celebratory time of year, but our friend Keith Colven passed away on Boxing Day 26 December 2011. Keith made a significant contribution to our music and was key in the formation of the band Country Life, went on to play briefly with the Acme, and was a founder member of Grass Style.

Keith's funeral will be held at 3.00 p.m. on 9 January 2012 at the Heart Of England Crematorium, Heart of England Way, Nuneaton CV11 6WZ (telephone +44 (0)2476 350646). There will be a celebration of Keith's life after the funeral for all those who would like to attend at The Barn Bowling Club, Kirkby Road, Barwell, Leicester LE9 8FQ (+44 (0)1455 843067). Flowers are encouraged.

Bluegrass Europe #82 - due out soon!

We're happy to announce that we're confident our next issue should be sent out during the first week of the year. It was sent to the printers before Christmas and is in their hands now. 
If you are not on the mailing list yet, but the below sneak preview makes you want it, make sure to join NOW through or subscribe at

Here's what you'll find in there:  Editorial - EBMA NEWS - Cover Story: The Toy Hearts - BluegrassDuinen - News Europe - CD Releases - The Observer - Swiss-Icelandic Connection - Katzenjammer - Namur Festival report - Concert & Festival Calendar - Banjo Camp Munich - News US - IBMA Showcases - Bluegrass Today: Chris Pandolfi - Earl Scruggs - Pete Wernick Interview - The Bluegrass Bass - EBMA's European Bluegrass Guide

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

New bluegrass radio programme on Alive Radio from Dumfries

Thanks to Paul Lyttle, organiser of the Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, who reports:

Launching a new bluegrass radio programme tonight (28 December 2011) between 6.00 and 8.00 p.m. on Alive Radio from Dumfries, Scotland, UK! (You can get it on the internet.)

Starting in January 2012, Paul Lyttle from Moniaive will present a fortnightly bluegrass music programme on Sunday mornings between 10.00 a.m. and 12.00 noon. Bluegrass lovers: support this programme!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas from Portugal

Thanks to Andre Dal Lentilhas in Portugal, for his Christmas greetings:

Desejo-vos a todos um Bom Natal e um óptimo Ano Novo.

I wish you all a great Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

More Christmas greetings are on the 'Wall' page of the EBMA's Facebook.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas greetings from Lilly Pavlak

Lilly Pavlak (CH/CZ) wishes all her many friends a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Merry Christmas from Andy Glandt

Musician, songwriter, author, and former EBMA board member Andy Glandt (D) writes:

Me and my family wish you all a Merry Christmas and the best health for 2012.

Andy Glandt
Musician and Songwriter



Merry Christmas from the Western Rim

Lluís Gómez of the Barcelona Bluegrass Band sends Christmas greetings in the languages of western and southern Europe:

Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
Bon Nadal i feliç any nou!
Zorionak eta Urte Berri On
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année
Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ur
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

Friday, 23 December 2011

GrevenGrass announces 2012 lineup

Oh My Darling (shown on stage at GrevenGrass 2011), who will be back in 2012

The organising team of the GrevenGrass Festival in Germany sends Christmas greetings and news of the preparations for the 4th festival (26-7 May 2012).

With the success of the 2011 festival, the capacity of the camp site reached its limits. The first 250 confirmed registrations for 2012 will have guaranteed spaces; arrangements are being made for more camp spaces nearby. The bands taking part represent a wide spectrum of bluegrass music. Those already booked include

Oh My Darling (CA)
G-Runs 'n Roses (CZ)
New Essex Bluegrass Band (UK)
Covered Grass (DE)
Looping Bros (DE)
(TBC) Grass Pistols (RU)

By the beginning of 2012 full details of all bands will appear on the GrevenGrass website. The team adds:

We look forward to seeing you again in 2012 on Pentecost or to welcome you as a new visitor in the GrevenGrass Family. Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all. Let's hope that the clock will turn a bit faster until Pentecost. See you at 4th GrevenGrass Festival!

Many photos from the first three festivals can be seen on the 'Bilder' pages of the website. The GrevenGrass Festival, as a non-profit organisation, needs the help of sponsors. Donations are welcome and can be made through contact data on the festival website.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

'American Bluegrass Music goes International'

Thanks to Cybergrass, the original online bluegrass magazine, for the news (under the above title) that a new HD-TV show, 'Bluegrass Road', is scheduled to begin in early 2012, with the aim of broadcasting bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music to over 40 TV networks and millions of viewers across America and the world. The list of artists taking part is headed by Marty Raybon. Full details can be read here.

Dan Hays to take up new position

Dan Hays, executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) for the past twenty-one years, has been appointed to be the new director of the Franklin Theatre in the centre of historic Franklin, TN, south-west of Nashville. The Theatre has been recently restored, and its objectives include being the best 200-seat music venue in the world. Full details of the Franklin Theatre announcement can be seen here.

Dan has announced that he will be leaving his IBMA post in February 2012. The IBMA has received more than 60 applications for the position. These are being considered by a committee, who will present a short list to the IBMA board in January as the basis for a final choice (see Bluegrass Today, 20 Dec.).

The ukulele rises tonight! - with Lynne Butler

Thanks to Lynne Butler (UK) for news and greetings; more details of Lynne's radio shows are on the separate 'Radio playlists' post:

Merry Xmas to you and a happy new year, and a big 'thank you' for tuning in over this last year. Listen and look out for the various programmes going on with UKCountry Radio and Bluegrass Planet Earth over the Christmas period (schedule below). Please also see attached information about the EBMA membership and don't forget to join the BBMA as well. Great advantages to doing so!

Tonight's programme is a two-hour documentary, 'The rise of the ukulele', featuring interviews, facts, fun, and brilliant tracks. I hope you enjoy. It is also being repeated tomorrow afternoon.

The schedule for the shows on UKCountry Radio is as follows:
22 Dec. 19:00 'The rise of the ukulele' (documentary)
23 Dec. 16:00 'The rise of the ukulele' (repeat)
24 Dec. 13:00 'Christmas in the Boudoir' (purely bluegrass Xmas songs/tunes)
25 Dec. 17:00 'Christmas in the Boudoir' (repeat)
27 Dec. 22:00 EWOB Festival highlights
28 Dec. 22:00 La Roche Festival highlights
29 Dec. 22:00 Didmarton Festival highlights
30 Dec. 22:00 Cornish Bluegrass Festival highlights

Some of these shows will be aired on Bluegrass Planet Earth; you will be notified of dates and times as and when I know them.

Bluegrass Jamboree 2011, Blog #7

Thanks to Celia Woodsmith, who just sent in her 7th and last post giving some background information on the 20-day touring festival:

Finally after a long day of travel we have landed safe and sound on American soil.  After 3 weeks of not really understanding what people are saying, I must admit no small amount of joy upon hearing and seeing English again. No slight to our German friends of course, we just need to get better at learning the language!!  The prize to "The Most German Spoken Onstage" goes to Courtney, who saved the day by learning several key phrases.
Safely back home! (source:
The tour was both wonderful and exhausting. We managed to make it through without any serious meltdowns or break ups, which might I add is impressive for a group so large.We even incorporated a few new songs into the set, and tightened our sound overall. We ended on a high-note playing to an enormous crowd at the Albert Einstein Forum in Kaarst, Germany. We sold out of our CD's and were able to come home knowing that almost 400 Germans have taken a piece of us home with them. Hey Hey!
We do hope to be back as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Traveling to Europe was incredibly eye opening - perhaps we'll have a few days to sightsee this time!
Della Mae would like to thank Rainer and Ille Zellner for working so hard to keep the tour rolling, Werner Schutte for making us sound good and Gerda and Dieter for driving us all over tarnation! We had a fantastic time, and look forward to seeing all of you again.
For you folks stateside, Della Mae has just announced that we will be appearing at Telluride this summer! See you there.


Celia Woodsmith of Della Mae

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Kruger Brothers in Zurich, 14 Dec. 2011

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak, who sends this report and photos from Switzerland:

The incredible Kruger Brothers, originally from Switzerland, now living in North Carolina, came to Europe for four concerts between 10 Dec. and 17 Dec. to present Jens’s newest composition 'Appalachian Concerto' - a work for banjo, bass, guitar, and string quartet, in three movements.

Jens Kruger introduces the ensemble and the composition

Jens told us he was asked to compose music on the theme of emigration by the Ashe County Arts Council for a new work based on the musical culture of the Appalachian region. This was his romantic idea of the Appalachian and in particular the discovery of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachians by settlers to the region. The piece celebrated Appalachia – the history, the landscape, and the culture influenced by German, Irish, Scots, Jewish, Cherokee, among many others…

The Kruger Brothers are Jens Kruger (banjo), Uwe Kruger (guitar), and Joel Landsberg (bass). The UNI String Quartet [above, with Lilly in centre] from the National Theatre in Prague are Andréa Burianova (1st violin), Alexandra Kacafirkova (2nd violin), Mikolas Cech (viola), and Karel Urban (cello). The first concert was in Prague, Czech Republic, where the Brothers met the string quartet. As Uwe said, the concert there was phenomenal.

Ensemble and audience

I attended the one in Zurich [in the Kammermusiksaal, Tonhalle, 14 Dec.], their hometown. It was such a experience to see two German bluegrass/country musicians, raised in Switzerland, talking in Swiss German, with a Jewish musician from New York and four Czech musicians playing self-composed American music - I have no words to describe it! It was just unforgettable, beautiful experience that night. It made me think about the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák and his New World Symphony (1893).

Standing ovation

I hope for you all, you will have the opportunity to see them live one day, or at least to listen to this wonderful CD.

... acknowledged by the musicians

Monday, 19 December 2011

Danilo Cartia Band in Rome, Dec. 2011

The Danilo Cartia Band (I) will be presenting bluegrass, blues, and ballads in the following venues in Rome during the last week of December 2011. All shows begin at 22:00.

27 Dec. 'Il Locale', Via Peralba 2/a
29 Dec. 'Ombre Rosse', Piazza S. Egidio
30 Dec. 'Cantine Blues', Via della Batteria Nomentana 66

Danilo Cartia Band website; MySpace
Facebook: Danilo Cartia; e-mail
ph. / fax +39 06 8273332; mob. +39 339 6908450

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Bluegrass Jamboree 2011, Blog #6

Thanks to Celia Woodsmith for Blog #6 about the 20 day long touring festival, the Bluegrass Jamboree 2011:

Prague in 1 hour at 6am? I’m not saying it was totally satisfactory, but it helped to scratch the itch. All five of the Della Mae women woke up at 5:30 and walked down to, and over the Charles Footbridge, which was built in 1359. People were walking to work in the pre-dawn chilly air and the spires and domes of the downtown historical area were backlit against the horizon. Now I know why so many people told me that I would absolutely love Prague- I have to go back when I have at least 5 days to spare.
Carl's bridge in Prague at 6 a.m.

The show in Prague was wonderful, probably the biggest crowd yet. It will never cease to amaze me that there is a devoted crowd of bluegrass lovers in the seemingly most random parts of the world. So many times I see people singing along to tunes like “Head over Heels” and “Columbus Stockade”. If only Mr. Monroe could know the ripples he created….
Last night in Dortmund Jenni Lyn was able to play a banjo built by Tom Nechville who coincidentally introduced us when we played the international suite at IBMA. It’s so cool to bump into familiar faces all over the world. Tom’s banjo had a wooden tone ring, which made the banjo much lighter and sounded awesome. Thanks Tom!

At this point in the tour we only have three shows left. I remember thinking on show 5 that we would never make it through. Now I am starting to feel nostalgic, everyone on the tour has been fun to travel with and we have formed more or less a family unit. Fortunately for us, and all you travel savvy folks, we will all re-unite again at Wintergrass this February! We’re excited to be on the roster.

Only one more blog post for us on this tour! See you stateside folks J

Celia Woodsmith

Saturday, 17 December 2011

4 Wheel Drive to return to Ireland for Athy 2012 festival

Multi-award-winning band 4 Wheel Drive (NL/D/B) will top the bill at the 22nd Athy Bluegrass Festival, to be held at Athy, Co. Kildare, from 13 to 15 July 2012.

The Athy festival, founded in 1991, is the longest-running annual bluegrass event in the island of Ireland. Tony O'Brien, director of the festival since 1998, first booked 4 Wheel Drive in 2001, the first of many appearances the band has made in Ireland. More details are on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog.

Friday, 16 December 2011

BJG ensemble in Rome, 20 Dec. 2011

Danilo Cartia reports that the BJG (bluegrass, jazz, gospel) roots music ensemble will be performing in concert at the Tempio di Adriano Piazza di Pietra, Rome, Italy, on Tuesday 20 December at 20:00. Admission is free.

BJG members include Daniela Velli (vocals), Piera Pizzi (vocals), Silvia Manco (vocals, piano), Cristiana Polegri (vocals, sax), Danilo Cartia (vocals, 5-string banjo, guitar), Mario Caporilli (trumpet), Eric Daniel (sax), Michael Supnick (trombone), Gianluca Galvani (bass tuba), Leonardo Petrucci (acoustic guitar, mandolin), Alessandro Valle (dobro, pedal steel guitar), Marcello Sirignano (violin), Alberto Contri (guitar, dobro, mandolin, artistic direction), Enrico Cresci (guitar, musical direction), Francesco Puglisi (bass), and Andy Bartolucci (percussion). See also the EBB for 14 November. In the photo above Danilo can be seen (in coloured shirt and with banjo) standing to left of centre.

Danilo Cartia website; MySpace; Facebook: Danilo Cartia; e-mail
ph. / fax +39 06 8273332; mob. +39 339 6908450

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Toy Hearts in Germany and Switzerland, Jan.-Feb. 2012

Thanks to the Music Contact agency, we can now give full details of the forthcoming tour in Germany and Switzerland by the Toy Hearts (GB), mentioned in yesterday's post on the EBB.

Full details of the band (in German) appear on the Toy Hearts page of the Music Contact website, together with a selection of ten promo photos and a downloadable press release in German.

27 Jan. Beavers Museum, 63897 Miltenberg, 21:00
28 Jan. Der Bock, 68159 Mannheim, 21:00
29 Jan. Clubheim, 89269 Voehringen-Illerberg, 18:30
30 Jan. Neue Welt, 85049 Ingolstadt, 20:00
31 Jan. Kesselhaus, 83059 Kolbermoor, 20:00
1 Feb. Schloss-Cafe, 88471 Laupheim, 20:00
2 Feb. Haus International, 87435 Kempten, 20:00
3 Feb. Wodan Halle, 79098 Freiburg, 20:30
4 Feb. Restaurant Lerchenberg, CH-8046 Zürich, Switzerland, 20:00
5 Feb. Jufa, CH-4052 Basel, Switzerland, 16:00
6 Feb. Private concert, 50935 Cologne (Köln), 20:00
7 Feb. Bottich, 75175 Pforzheim, 20:00
8 Feb. franz k, 72762 Reutlingen, 20:00
9 Feb. Jubez, 76133 Karlsruhe, 20:30
10 Feb. Alte Mälzerei, 99817 Eisenach, 20:00
11 Feb. Pfarrjugendheim am Apostelplatz, 44805 Bochum, 20:00
12 Feb. Kreuzkirche, 34119 Kassel, 18:00

Rainer Zellner
Music Contact
Roots Music Booking and Production
Saarstrasse 8, D-72070 Tübingen, Germany
Tel. +49 (0) 7073 2250; fax +49 (0) 7073 2134; mobile +49 170 2134 999
UStID: DE146940684 (German Tax Number)
Media download; E-mail; YouTube

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Bluegrass Jamboree 2011, Blog #5

Celia just sent in the 5th installment of the festival's exciting 20 day long tour:

We have just crossed the boarder into the Czech Republic heading toward Prague. Everything is covered in a thick milky mist, and it’s hard to see the countryside. Last night we played in Lutherstown, which is in East Germany. The smaller towns we have played in have been almost like walking into a set of a movie, the cobblestones, massive churches and the Christmas decorations add a very magical feel to the tour. It’s hard to believe that we are lucky enough to be on this adventure.
The feel in East Germany is different than in the south or west. The wall fell only 20 years ago and life for all Germans changed drastically. I’m told that East Germans are still distinctive in certain ways, which I have not learned to identify (besides some interesting Hairstyles!). Werner spent the better part of the morning giving us a history lesson. He was 19 when the wall fell and remembers very well the happenings of that period.
We are on our 12th show tonight in Prague. The shows have continued to go well, fluctuating here and there but remaining steady overall. We have sold almost all of our CD’s and are having to potentially gamble on sending another box. It’s a good problem to have- but one that requires a lot of strategy as to when the box might arrive. We’re going to be on our third shipment of 1,000 units when we get back to the states! I Built This Heart has been doing better than ever imagined.
It seems that through all the repetition we are learning to be a tighter and more responsive band. We are honing in on rhythm and dynamics. Having a show every night is a good way of getting to know your band-mates. Remember, as this formation in Della Mae we aren’t even a year old!
Carl's bridge in Prague at night
After all this time with the Deadly Gentelmen and Cahalan & Eli I’m going to go through some serious music withdrawal. All the men have been wonderful to tour with and amazing to listen to. Be sure to check back for some pictures from Amanda, we’re staying out late tonight to explore Prague! Let the mischief begin….

Bluegrass Jamboree 2011, Blog #4

Thanks to Celia of Della Mae for the 4th instalment of her blog about the Bluegrass Jamboree 2011:

10th December 2011: After going on several 8-hour bus trips we have learned to love the bus.  Bus time is free time. Most people pick instruments, sleep, write or listen to music. Courtney, who is still a student at Berklee just wrote her final ten page paper! I don’t know how she does it amidst all the chaos. 
The audience in Schaffhausen, Switzerland (photo: Amanda)
 We are currently heading up from the south to the middle of Germany, passing prime Hop growing territory. Only a couple more days until we make the long journey to Prague! In other exciting news we are now guest bloggers on the EBMA (European Bluegrass Music Association) blog. What an honor! Thanks for inviting us to share our stories.
The show last night (Harmonie in Bonn) was amazing- I would even venture to say the best one yet. The crowd was rowdy and was the most age diverse audience we’ve had. We managed to sell a record 40 CD’s! In fact, everyone on tour has been selling far more CD’s than imagined. We came here with 240 and have had to ship another box to meet us in Bonn, which is close to Cologne. We can’t thank our fans enough for helping us to sell as many as we have. It is making Della Mae a more viable living for us, which is an enormous blessing.
Tonight is the 10th show! We have reached the halfway mark almost all in one piece. A couple instrument snafus here and there, but at least everyone is in good condition and spirits. We are all looking forward to traveling to Prague the day after tomorrow. At least a couple people are planning on pulling an all nighter just to see the city before we drive back into Germany. Yes, we’re crazy, but would you have it any other way?
In final news, today was Jenni Lyn’s birthday and as a surprise we stopped at the Haribo Gummi Bear factory in Bonn. You can practically inhale the sugar in that place! We plan on celebrating more when our sugar crash subsides.
Cheers to all you Bluegrass fans at home, can’t wait to see you in the New Year! We’ll bring home some Schnitzel for you.
Celia (of Della Mae)

European bands on Bluegrass Today

In the last two days, two prominent European bluegrass bands have received prominent coverage by American writers on Bluegrass Today.

On 12 Dec. a substantial review appeared of On the other side of the city, the latest CD by the Downtown Ramblers from Sweden. The reviewer, David Morris, wrote: 'the music is everything good bluegrass is supposed to be – precise, powerful, and packed with emotion.'

On 13 Dec. John Lawless published a feature on the Toy Hearts (GB), based on a major interview with guitarist Sophia Johnson, and focusing on how the band have recently developed their longtime affection for western swing, so that it now forms the second set in their live shows. Their fourth album, now in preparation, includes percussion and pedal steel guitar, with Sophia playing her 1958 Gibson ES 125 archtop.

The Toy Hearts will be touring in Germany and Switzerland from 27 Jan. to 12 Feb. 2012. Read more about their tour plans for 2012 here.

Ruth Moody in Britain and Ireland, Jan.-Feb. 2012

Ruth Moody, born in Australia and raised in Canada, was in Europe in May 2008 with the Wailin’ Jennys (see the EBB, 14 Mar. 2008), of which she is a founder member. She is also former lead singer of the Canadian roots band Scruj MacDuhk, which became the Duhks, and she has appeared many times on the radio show 'A Prairie Home Companion'.

Thanks to G Promo PR for the news that she will be in Britain and Ireland for a tour lasting from 13 January to 9 February 2012, fitting in with the release of her solo album The garden. She is also taking part in the 2012 Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow. Full details can be found on her online tour schedule.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Bluegrass and old-time music in Britain: on video

Banjo-player John Breese (UK) has compiled a 26½-minute video documentary 'Bluegrass & old-time: an exploration of the music in the UK' as part of work for his Master's degree at Southampton University. It is one of the videos on the Bath Bluegrass School's YouTube channel, and can be watched here and on the website.

The British Bluegrass Music Association supported the making of the documentary, and - in addition to plenty of picking and singing - major figures from bluegrass and old-time music in Britain can be seen and heard, giving their views on the scene, how they came to it, and where it is going. A prominent place is given to the Sore Fingers Summer Schools, one of Britain's main gifts to the bluegrass world.

Monday, 12 December 2011

New Acoustic Gallery products

Thanks to Oliver Waitze of the New Acoustic Gallery (NAG) in Solingen, Germany, for the latest NAG e-newsletter, listing instruments available for Christmas 2011. This can be downloaded as a pdf document. The list of banjos, mandolins, guitars, and related instruments includes a Gibson B15 and a Martin D-28 (shown left), both dated 1968. Details can also be seen on the NAG website, in English or German.

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

Saturday, 10 December 2011

BE #82: final deadline for gig and concert dates 15 Dec. 2011

Angelika Torrie, chief editor of the official EBMA magazine Bluegrass Europe, sends a renewed invitation to bluegrass bands and bluegrass event producers in Europe to send in all dates for public gigs and concerts between 15 January and 31 May 2012 not later than 15 December 2011 for inclusion in BE #82 (Jan.-Mar. 2012).

Bluegrass Europe regularly carries Europe's leading Bluegrass Concert and Festival Calendar and the European Bluegrass Guide. Dates can be added to the calendar by downloading a spreadsheet through a link on the advertisements page of the EBMA website. It can then be sent to the BE editorial office by e-mail. Angelika adds:

If you don't get Bluegrass Europe in your mail, but you would like to, please consider a subscription at only 25EUR/yr. Get it online here. We also have some space available for advertisements...

And please check out EBMA's website - we have many things bands could be interested in. For example, if you are an active member of EBMA, you are entitled to a free listing in every issue of
Bluegrass Europe in EBMA's Bluegrass Guide, and the same goes for the respective section on our homepage.

European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA)
Postal address: European Bluegrass Music Association
Holeerain 29, CH-4102 Binningen, Switzerland

Bluegrass past and to come in Switzerland

Kent Miller of the Swiss Bluegrass Music Association (SBMA) reports:

The Swiss bluegrass scene can look back on a very successful and pleasant last quarter of the year. The outdoor festivals were blessed with good to excellent weather, which is obviously the key to good attendance and wonderful long afternoons and evenings of music. The local jams and concerts continue to thrive in various places and with various concepts.

The SBMA is working on its second 'Beginners Jam Book' of songs that an aspiring bluegrass picker should know. The Krüger Brothers were in their homeland again in December to perform the 'Appalachian Concerto' with the UNI Quartet, members of the National Theatre Opera, Prague. The Jamboree came to Schaffhausen near the German border in early December. This year's concept of featuring young, positive groups with loads of talent impressed many of the more knowledgeable concertgoers.

The SBMA Fan Fest, better known as the smallest imitation of the Nashville event with the best door prizes this side of the Mississippi, provided a lot of fun and showcases of some of the newer bands that we will be hearing more from in the near future. The 17th General Meeting of the SBMA marked a changing of the guard in the officer corps with Toni Nötzli taking over as president. As is the case with many mature associations and clubs, the challenges and choices of the next couple of years will be formidable and many.

We are already looking forward to regional concerts with Swiss bands and the Toy Hearts [shown above at a US festival; note Swiss flag] in the early months of the year.

Happy Trails,

Kent Miller (e-mail)
Swiss Bluegrass Music Association: SBMA
056 443 32 78
Bluegrass Radio Show 19:00 Sundays, 15:00 Mondays

Friday, 9 December 2011

Women of banjo 2012 calendar now available

Thanks to Pieter Groenveld of Strictly Country Records (NL) and the European World of Bluegrass (EWOB) Festival, for a reminder that US photographer Darwin K. Davidson, who specialises in photos of bluegrass musicians, has produced a 2012 calendar entitled Women of banjo. Full details are here.

Darwin Davidson, who attended the EWOB Festival 2010 and subsequently published an account of the Festival in the IBMA e-newsletter, International Bluegrass, writes:

Word has been getting around about my fun project for the year and I wanted to make sure you all know about it too. It's the 2012 'Women Of Banjo' calendar. It features twelve (yes... 12) of bluegrass's female banjo players.

You probably know most of them, but maybe not all. Well, here's your chance to have all of them keep you company all year long. Just follow this link to a special page on my website. That is where you will find all the information about the calendar, and how to order one (and hopefully more than one) for yourself and your loved ones. They will definitely make wonderful Christmas gifts.

'Hillbilly Gasthaus' opens its doors

As announced on the EBB a month ago, veteran country music radio presenter Walter Fuchs (above; photo by Klaus-Peter Maier) is back on radio. The first live three-hour show in his new weekly series, 'Hillbilly Gasthaus', was broadcast by the Ingolstadt station Coolradio 1 on Wednesday 7 December 2011 from 8.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. 'Hillbilly Gasthaus' presents lots of bluegrass, hillbilly, Americana, Tex-Mex, Cajun, and acoustic swing. Each Sunday evening, the Wednesday live programme will be repeated at the same times. Walter writes:

The first program was a big success. Many happy folks mailed me and I have now quite a lot to do to answer and play requests.

The playlist for 7 December can be seen here. Future lists will be accessible through the weekly EBB post of radio playlists.

Welcome to Celia Woodsmith of Della Mae as a temporary blogger

Photo by Paul Janovitz
Currently on a 20-day non-stop tour in mostly Germany with the Bluegrass Jamboree! touring festival, Celia has been posting on the Prescription Bluegrass Blog. As their adventures might be interesting to our readers, too, we invited her to join our team temporarily. Enjoy!

Angelika Torrie

Celia's first three posts on the Prescription Bluegrass Blog can be read here: 1 Dec.; 3 Dec.; 8 Dec..

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

German violin-making dynasty celebrated in Bluegrass Unlimited

In the December 2011 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, Dick Kimmel (above right) contributes an article on a nine-generation dynasty of German violin makers, with special reference to the last member, (Kurt) Lothar Meisel, born in 1929 in Klingenthal, near the Czech border.

Lothar Meisel qualified as an assistant violin maker before leaving Klingenthal in 1949, working subsequently in West Germany, in England, and finally in the USA, where he settled in Minnesota (Kimmel's home state). He made over 240 instruments, which are highly regarded; some are played by American old-time and bluegrass fiddlers. A collection of his instruments is in the National Music Museum, University of South Dakota, in Vermillion, SD. He also co-authored a history of the luthiers of his family (see photo above left).

Lothar Meisel made his last violin in 2005 and died on 22 September this year. Obituaries can be found on the internet. Dick Kimmel (who as chairman of the IBMA international committee encouraged the developments that led to the founding of the EBMA), has performed bluegrass and old-time music many times in Europe.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

All prepared for 10th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival

Walter Fuchs reports from Bühl, Germany, that journalists from newspapers and radio stations in France, Switzerland, and Germany attended the press conference on 22 November to launch the 10th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival, to be held on 4-5 May 2012. Full details of the lineup and the programme schedule are on the Festival website. Posters and flyers are printed, and advance ticket sales started on 28 November. (See also the EBB for 23 Nov.)

Press reports on the festival include the example below. The photo above shows (l-r) Wolfgang Jokerst (head of Bühl cultural office), Hans Striebel (mayor of Bühl), Angelika Torrie (EBMA chair), Friedrich Hog (GBMA chair), Walter Fuchs, and Petra Ewert (Bühl public relations office). Herr Striebel has been mayor of Bühl throughout the Festival's history, and this was the last Festival press conference in which he would take part. Walter writes: 'It was a moving moment.'

Walter resumes his broadcasting career tomorrow (Wednesday 7 Dec.), when his first 'Hillbilly Gasthaus' programme will be broadcast on Coolradio at 8.00-11.00 p.m. (see the EBB for 7 Nov. 2011).

Update 14 Dec.: The following message has been received from Jerry Samples, a member of the board of directors of the Wenatchee River Bluegrass Festival at Cashmere, in the state of Washington, USA. Jerry (whose festival will take place in 2012 a month after the festival in Bühl) writes:

I will be attending the Buhl festival in May 2012. I'm looking forward to having a great time.

In the opinion of the EBB editor, this is a pretty safe bet.

Danilo in Mexico

Banjo- and guitar-player, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia from Rome, Italy, was a featured artist at the 2nd Countryfest Internacional Mexico, held on 2-3 December 2011 in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico. Videos of performances at the festival can be seen on YouTube.

Danilo Cartia website; MySpace
Facebook: Danilo Cartia
e-mail; ph. / fax +39 06 8273332; mob. +39 339 6908450

Friday, 2 December 2011

Munich Bluegrass Friends to receive a Bluegrass Foundation grant in 2012

Two members of the Girlie Band performing in 2009,
photo courtesy of Thomas Betz

The Foundation for Bluegrass Music has just announced the grant recipients for 2012 which honor the legacies of Carlton Haney and Hazel Dickens. Congratulations to EBMA member Munich Bluegrass Friends, who will receive $2,500 as recipients of one share of the Hazel Dickens Artistic Development Awards. Based in Germany, the association will use their grant to establish a Bluegrass Youth Fund which will provide instruction for young people interested in learning to play bluegrass instruments in a band format. The Munich Friends organization formed in 2009, with the goal of building the bluegrass community in their region by teaching children and teens to play and improvise, how to arrange a song, how to put a set together for a band, how to book and advertise a concert, emcee and presentation skills, and more. Grants up to $400 Euros per person will pay for individual and group lessons for a year.

[read entire article at IBMA]

Angelika Torrie, chairperson of EBMA is very happy to see this committed organisation in Europe receive funds to develop their programme, which is vital to the future of bluegrass music in the nearer and farther environment. It is an acknowledgement of the work done outside of the US. In addition, Angelika encourages any similar initiatives and projects and is interested to learn about them in order that EBMA may support them with the means available.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Jana Mougin on new Rural Rhythm Christian single

Jana Mougin, best known in Europe as bass player and lead singer with the fine Slovak band Fragment, is the featured lead singer on the new Christmas song 'Little did they know', written by Rick Lang and released as a single on the Rural Rhythm Christian label (USA).

Also on the recording are Melonie Cannon (harmony vocals), Randy Kohrs (resonator guitar), Todd Parks (bass), and Chris Brown (drums), while Jana's husband Stephen Mougin played guitar, sang harmony, and arranged and produced the recording.

Radio programmers can download the song free at AirPlay Direct.

Monday, 28 November 2011

BJG in Milan, 29 Nov. 2011

Danilo Cartia reports that the BJG (bluegrass, jazz, gospel) roots music ensemble will be performing in concert at the Blue Note, Via Pietro Borsieri 37, Milan, Italy, on Tuesday 29 November at 21:00.

BJG members include Daniela Velli (vocals), Piera Pizzi (vocals), Silvia Manco (vocals, piano), Danilo Cartia (vocals, 5-string banjo, guitar), Mario Caporilli (trumpet), Franco Consaga (sax), Michael Supnick (trombone), Gianluca Galvani (bass tuba), Leonardo Petrucci (acoustic guitar, mandolin), Alessandro Valle (dobro, pedal steel guitar), Marcello Sirignano (violin), Alberto Contri (guitar, dobro, mandolin, artistic direction), Enrico Cresci (guitar, musical direction), Francesco Puglisi (bass), and Andy Bartolucci (percussion). See also the EBB for 14 November.

Danilo Cartia website; MySpace; Facebook: Danilo Cartia; e-mail
ph. / fax +39 06 8273332; mob. +39 339 6908450

New demo by Acoustic Processing Unit

Thanks to Tölgyesi Péter of the Hungarian Bluegrass Music Association (HuBMA) for the news that the Hungarian band Acoustic Processing Unit (left) has released a new demo. The four songs include 'Ez a világ…', based on Hungarian traditional music.

They will use the new recording in their applications to take part in the next EWOB and La Roche Bluegrass Festival. The demo can be heard at the band’s web page. Front and back covers are shown above.