Sunday, 31 July 2011

G2, Toy Hearts in IBMA second ballot for Emerging Artist 2011

Two European groups - the G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden; above) and the Toy Hearts (GB; below) - are among those being voted for in the IBMA's second ballot for this year's Emerging Artist award. Final nominations will be revealed on 17 August, and the award will be presented at the IBMA's International Bluegrass Music Awards show on 29 September at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2011

Rienk Janssen, International member of the IBMA's board of directors, sends this message:

Dear IBMA members and/or attendees of previous IBMA WoB events, from outside the USA,

Many of you already have registered for this year's World of Bluegrass, and as the 'international' representative on the IBMA board, I am looking forward to see you in two months.

If you have not yet decided, this may be the time to do so. Until the end of this month (only a few days left), you can still benefit from the $50 discount for 'early bird' registrations. At the same time you can renew your membership, if necessary.

We know it is not always easy for those who have to travel long distances to attend, but at the same time we believe it is vital for an organization like ours to be as international as possible. Many of you are actively involved in the music business, and this is the place and time to learn more and make new contacts to help you do what you do.

Some exciting things are in the works for this year's IBMA World of Bluegrass event to be held Sept. 26-Oct. 2. Prices are coming down, more music and jamming are planned, there will be special activities celebrating the 100th anniversary of Bill Monroe's birth, and, hey, ALISON KRAUSS AND UNION STATION will highlight a great line up for FanFest. We are looking for a reinvigorated and exciting event.

A small number of non-US bands are scheduled to perform on the main stages, and the EBMA (European Bluegrass Music Association), together with Nechville Instruments, will again present 'Foreign Affairs', the after-hours showcase program focusing on bluegrass from all over the world.

Here is an idea to help keep your costs down:
*Share a room with a roommate and cut your lodging costs in half! IBMA has a program that will match you with a roommate and keep you right in the action at half cost. Contact Jill Crabtree (e-mail) at IBMA to get started.

To learn more, or to register for WOB, or to renew your membership in IBMA, visit the IBMA website.

If you have ideas to enhance the international presence in Nashville, I will be happy to hear them.

Need more reasons to decide? Feel free to call (+31 599 312663) or write! Do you know others who may be interested? Please forward this message.

Looking forward to see many of you!

Rienk Janssen

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Water Tower Bucket Boys in Britain and Ireland, Aug.-Sept. 2011

The Water Tower Bucket Boys (USA) from the lively Portland, OR, scene will be touring Britain and Ireland from 25 August to 18 September.

The band's own tour schedule lists twenty-five shows in the tour, which begins in London with a concert at Bush Hall together with the Coal Porters (USA/UK). Seven of the 25 are in Ireland, one in Scotland, and the rest in England.

The band, who are also on Facebook, have a new five-track EP Where the crow don't fly, which is due for release on 29 August. A performance video can be seen on YouTube.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Donna Ulisse and Europe - 2011, 2012

The latest e-newsletter from Donna Ulisse (USA) reports on the journey to Russia by her and the Poor Mountain Boys: 'It was the most wonderful experience, one that I will not likely get over in my lifetime. Talk about your positive energy….whew! They love bluegrass in Russia….who knew?'

Donna's report includes links to all the instalments of her travel diary that appeared on the Bluegrass Blog, as well as to a previous article in Acousticana Journal and a photo album set up by the US Consulate in Yekaterinburg.

Donna is now represented in Europe by Peter van Zeijl's Music Adrift agency (NL), and a European tour is being planned for August 2012, taking in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and possibly Sweden. Promoters, venue owners, and event organisers can contact Peter by e-mail. Read the whole e-newsletter here.

Update 28 July: Donna will be playing songs from her new CD and talking about her Russian experiences on WSM radio on Friday morning, 29 July 2011. See her latest bulletin and listen in online.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Dick Brink

John Cline reports from Enschede (NL):

We have some rather bad news in Holland today as well - our dear friend and buddy Dick Brink died at his home on Saturday after a long struggle with cancer. Dutch bluegrass is in deep mourning today as we have just found this out. Any condolence cards to Dick's family may be sent to the following address:

Family Brink
Chopinlaan 2
3781HB Voorthuizen
The Netherlands

Sorry to have to be the bearer of this sad news, and we are going to miss Dick quite badly; he was sort of like a father to Dutch bluegrass.

And Ronald Groot, on behalf of the EWOB Festival Committee, reports:

Dear All,

With great regret I hereby have to inform you all that Mr Dick Brink, board-member of the EWOB-festival Voorthuizen, has lost his battle with cancer and has passed away last Saturday (23rd July 2011).

Dick did a great job at our festival with local affairs and with the transportation. He was fighting to get better, but he sadly lost the fight. Dick became 69 years of age.

On the card that his family sent, you can read:

Shores, distant shores
There's where I'm headed for
I got the stars to guide my way
To sail into the light of day.

Dick will be missed, not only for his work as a volunteer, but most of all because of the person he was.

With sadness in our hearts,
the board of the EWOB-festival Voorthuizen
Ronald Groot

The Broken Circle Breakdown

Thanks to Guido Bos of the Sons of Navarone (B) for this startling piece of cultural news:

The Sons of Navarone are participating in the latest movie of Felix van Groeningen, The Broken Circle Breakdown.

It tells the love story of Elise (Veerle Baetens) and Didier (Johan Heldenbergh). She has her own tattoo shop; he is a Flemish cowboy playing the banjo in a bluegrass band. It is love at first sight... Water and fire, they are totally different but nevertheless perfect in harmony. The birth of their daughter Maybelle completes their happiness.

Without giving away too much of the story, we can reveal that this is not the end of their troubles. As Guido says, this is

... a story carried by bluegrass and sorrow. It is all about love that conquers all, and sometimes not.

The movie will be expected in the theatres in Belgium during the fall 2012.

We can only comment that bluegrass music seems ideally suited to the theme, and the Sons of Navarone are ideally suited to the project.

Happy 20th birthday, Druha Trava!

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for this account of the remarkable career of Druha Trava (CZ), illustrated with photos from Lilly's personal archives (above, an early promo picture of the band). Lilly writes:

The extraordinary Czech band Druha Trava is celebrating its 20th birthday this summer. How did it all come about?

The last picture of Poutnici with Robert Krestan and Lubos Malina as members

Two members of the legendary Czech band Poutnici (who won twice the SPBGMA Best Non-American Recording of the Year, in 1990 and 1991 for 'Wayfaring stranger' and 'Chromi Kone'), decided to leave the band. Both largely contributed to the band's success. The multi-instrumentalist Lubos Malina and award-winning singer and composer Robert Krestan formed in 1991 a new band called Druha Trava, which means 'Second Grass'. They added the Dobro player Lubos Novotny, the only one who has remained in the band till today.

First rehearsal, May 1991

The guitar and bass players changed during the years. The original guitar player was Lubos Malina's brother Pavel Malina, and Jiri Meisner used to play bass guitar. Robert Krestan, who used to play banjo with the former band, concentrated mostly on singing lead in Druha Trava, eventually playing guitar or mandolin.

I am sure some of you who were born earlier still can remember the band, named 'Second Grass', which was a frequent and welcome guest at many European festivals and clubs, especially in the first five years of its existence. On its first brief tour to the US in 1993 the band captured such attention at the IBMA Trade Show, that it was added as an unscheduled act to the event’s Fan Fest. They also played at the Station Inn in Nashville and in Bell Cove Inn, where they met Bill Monroe.

He liked their music so much, that he invited them to visit his farm [above, the band at Bill Monroe's house, 1993]. He told them, next to their name 'Second Grass', they should be called the 'First Class of Czech Republic'…

Anyway, that was the start of their American career. Stephanie Ledgin booked for them the first six-week US tour the next year (1994) [above, a promo picture for their 1994 US tour].

Owensboro, 1995: the 'foreign bluegrass' set includes Druha Trava, Fragment, and a band from Japan

Since them they have been visiting the US regularly almost every year. After the great success in the States they are only seldom seen as guests in Europe. But they have a very busy schedule in the Czech Republic.

Druha Trava in 1991/2 at Mahagony Hall, Berne, Switzerland, formerly the most famous bluegrass club in Switzerland

Druha Trava's distinctive sound is based on exceptional musicianship combined with Krestan’s gritty vocals and original songs. The present guitar player is Emil Formanek, with Tomas Liska on the bass. The band have received countless awards and have thousands of fans around the world. They put out almost thirty CDs; the last two were recently recorded in Nashville. The one with Czech lyrics is named Marcipan z Toleda, the English one will follow soon. Both are dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the band.

Druha Trava have toured and recorded with several Czech music stars and many top American artists, for example Peter Rowan and Tony Trischka. At the moment they are on tour with world star Charlie McCoy. We wish Druha Trava lots of creative ideas and lots of other successes in the coming years.

The very first concert by Druha Trava (July 1991) - at the Festival Folkové Prázdniny, Náměšť nad Oslavou, which will be the venue for the last concert in their present tour with Charlie McCoy

Druha Trava on tour with Charlie McCoy, July 2011

Sat. 23rd Moravská Třebová, Zámek, Festival (20.00)
Sun. 24th Olomouc, Nádvoří radnice (19:30)
Mon. 25th Praha, Kulturní Centrum Vltavská (20:00)
Tues. 26th Brno, nádvoří Staré radnice (19:30)
Thurs. 28th Bratislava, SK, Nadvori Nepomuckeho (Primacialny palac) (19:00)
Fri. 29th Děhylov, Loděnice (19:00)
Sat. 30th Povážská Bystrica, SK, Festival Country pod hviezdami (17:30)
Sat. 30th Zlín, Malenovice, Festival Zlínský Woodstock (22:00)
Sun. 31st Náměšť nad Oslavou, Festival Folkové prázdniny (20:00)

Druha Trava in 2011, from their website

Friday, 22 July 2011

Bluegrass Europe #80: now out

The 80th edition of Bluegrass Europe, the official EBMA magazine, has been posted out to subscribers. The cover story is on Lazy Tater (NL); the many other items in this issue include news, reviews, band and festival reports and previews, tributes to departed members of the bluegrass community, the EBMA Concert & Festival Calendar and European Bluegrass Guide, and other new and regular features. The editor announces:

Formal deadlines for the next issue (#81) are:

Sept. 1st for the news summaries and event notifications
Sept. 10th for feature articles
Sept. 15th for advertisements

Also, check out the EFN section on our website. If you have any festivals in your area that qualify for the EFN membership criteria, please report those festival names, with e-mail addresses, so we can invite them to join the EBMA Festival Network. That would be a great help in pushing that network forward.

Thank you to all our contributors and helpers on and behind the scenes!

You can also join Bluegrass Europe on Facebook.

Record-breaking banjo player can stay in USA

English multi-instrumentalist Johnny Butten (who in 2007 broke the Guinness world speed record for banjo previously held by Todd Taylor (USA)) has had his visa for living and working in the USA renewed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services after several months of anxiety that threatened to disrupt his established musical career in the States.

In March his petition for renewal was refused by USCIS. He contested the decision, engaged a new immigration lawyer, and determined to fulfil his summer bookings in the USA. The decision to renew the visa reached him earlier this week. Read a detailed account by Bob Cherry on Cybergrass - especially if you are thinking of playing in the USA.

Founder of Europe's #1 country radio station joins AirPlay Direct

The US-based company AirPlay Direct, as noted earlier on the European Bluegrass Blog, gives a global digital music-delivery system supplying radio and other entertainment media with downloadable content both from well-established musicians and from emerging artists.

AirPlay Direct has now appointed Lee Williams (left) as manager of international development. Williams is the founder and sole owner of Europe’s #1 country music radio station CMR, which is in its seventh year of broadcasting and reaches each month nearly 500,000 listeners around the world. With AirPlay Direct, he will be responsible for day-to-day development of strategic partnerships. Robert Weingartz, chairman and CEO of AirPlay Direct, says: 'From inception, AirPlay Direct was designed to be a resource that could be utilized around the globe. Lee is just the person to help us grab a firmer hold in the European market.'

For more information about AirPlay Direct visit the company's website, follow it on Twitter, or contact PLA Media at +1 615 327-0100.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

25th Guildtown Bluegrass Music Festival, 29 July-1 Aug. 2011

The Scottish Bluegrass Association announces that the lineup at its 25th Guildtown Bluegrass Music Festival (29 July-1 Aug. 2011) in Guildtown, Perthshire, Scotland, will be headed by Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa (USA), who have had two recent sell-out European tours. G-Runs 'n Roses (CZ/SK) won #1 European Bluegrass Band awards at two major European festivals in 2010; having already played in the UK this year at the 23rd North Wales Bluegrass Festival, they will be playing at the La Roche Bluegrass Festival in France next month. Scottish-born Innes Campbell is the current Australian flat-picking guitar champion, returning to Scotland with his band Present Company.

Also performing will be the Scots bands Gold Rush, Dapper McDans, Home Made Jam, the Moonshiners, and Grass Routes. Guildtown 2011 will feature Bill Monroe centennial celebrations. A full programme for the festival can be downloaded in pdf format, and ticketing details are on the SBA website, where you can also find the schedule for other dates to be played by Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa in Scotland and England, during their tour (28 July-8 August).

Bands are invited to submit applications to play at Guildtown 2012.

Sacred Harp singing workshops in Germany, 29-30 Oct. 2011

Thanks to FOAOTMAD, the UK's association for old-time music and dance, for the news that two Sacred Harp singing workshops will be held in Germany in the coming autumn:

Würzburg, Saturday 29 October

Frankfurt am Main, Sunday 30 October

The workshops, which will be conducted in German and English, are aimed at beginners, to stimulate interest in Sacred Harp and shape-note singing in Germany. Singers from outside Germany will be very welcome.

More information, in German and English, is here. Contact Keith Macdonald by e-mail.

IBMM's 'Finish the Film' campaign

The International Bluegrass Music Museum at Owensboro, KY, is in the final stages of completing a full-length documentary video about Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass Music, in commemoration of the centenary of his birth on 13 September 1911. The Museum raised over $7,500 at its annual outdoor music festival, ROMP (23-25 June 2011), to kick-start the documentary campaign. The goal is to raise $50,000 to complete the documentary in time for the Museum's once-in-a-century Bill Monroe Centennial Celebration (12-14 Sept. 2011).

The Museum hopes for the support of bluegrass fans and music lovers everywhere. Donations to the campaign can be made in the next six weeks, either by (1) donating on the Museum's secure home page, or by (2) posting a bank draft to IBMM, 207 E. 2nd Street, Owensboro, KY 42303. Donors may choose from several premium 'thank you' gifts from the Museum. Full details are here.

Since 2003 the IBMM has recorded over 250 in-depth video interviews with bluegrass music's legendary first- and early second-generation performers. This collection represents the only comprehensive video archive of bluegrass music. Those interviewed include all the surviving members of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys.

The IBMM's press release can be read in full here. Contact Gabrielle Gray, IBMM Executive Director, by e-mail for further information, or visit the Museum's website.

Red Wine, Sunny Side join Dailey & Vincent on main Omagh concert

Thanks to Dangem Quality Instruments of Craigavon, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland, for forwarding a copy of the flyer for this year's Appalachian & Bluegrass Music Festival (2-4 Sept. 2011) at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

On the Saturday night concert, this year's headline act, Dailey & Vincent (USA), will be joined by the award-winning European bands Red Wine (I) and Sunny Side (CZ), both of whom are firm favourites with Omagh audiences.

The flyer (which you can see in full, with a Dangem heading, here) gives full details of the schedules for the evening concerts, the 'Bluegrass in the Park' performances, the 'Spirit of Bluegrass' gospel concert on Sunday evening, instrument workshops, Bluegrass Camp for Kids, the McAuley lectures, and full ticketing information.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Happy birthday, Jana Dolakova Mougin!

Lilly Pavlak sends this tribute and photos; a feature in Czech by Lilly can be read here:

Yesterday (19 July 2011) Jana Dolakova Mougin, one of the best Czech & Slovak bluegrass singers, celebrated her birthday.

She started singing bluegrass with the Slovak band Grasshoppers. I met her for the first time in 1992 with the progressive Slovak/Czech band Fragment, formed around the banjo player Svata Kotas. At that time Jana was a student of journalism at Komensky University in Bratislava. She brought a fresh wind into the band.

Jana as a member of Fragment in the lineup that went to IBMA in 1995: Svata Kotas (founder and banjo-player), Jirka Karas Pola (bass), Emil Formanek (guitar), Henrich Novak (dobro)

In 1994 Fragment released its first album, Sunday afternoon, with English lyrics. Ten of the fourteen songs were originals written by band members. That album was an immediate success. A second album, Sny(Dreams), with Czech lyrics, soon followed, and the success was repeated. The third, a mini CD, was Little dreams, mainly in English. With this album Fragment was selected to showcase at IBMA in Owensboro, Kentucky. The band members at that time, next to Jana, were Svata Kotas (banjo), Emil Formanek (guitar), Jirka Karas Pola (bass), and Henrich Novak (dobro). Not only American audiences loved them. They played often at festivals and clubs around Europe, mainly in Switzerland and Germany.

In 1998 SPBGMA organised its first European festival in Vienna, Austria. A part of that was the European Bluegrass Band Championship. Among twenty bands, Fragment won, and that brought them another opportunity to tour the US for three weeks in 1999.

Fragment at IBMA 2000, Louisville, KY: Svata Kotas, Milan Maxla Trnka, Jana, Henrich Novak, Stanko Paluch, Misko Vavro

In 2000 they played again at the IBMA Fan Fest in Louisville. That year Jana was no more only the singer, but started to play bass guitar with the band. Fragment performed even at the Grand Ole Opry then.

Jana was voted Female Singer of the Year in Slovakia (1999, 2000), and as well in the Czech Republic (1995, 1997, 1998, 2000).

At the EWOB Festival in Holland Fragment was voted European Bluegrass Band of the Year 2004 and went again to tour the US. This tour changed her life. She fell in love with Stephen Mougin – the guitar player for the Sam Bush Band - and the following year she married him and moved to Nashville. In 2009 their son Sammy was born. [Left: the Mougins at the Station Inn in Nashville]

In 2010 Fragment finished recording of their last CD in a new formation. From the original members only the dobro player Henrich Novak is left, the old and new banjo player Richard Cifersky, and the youngest one is the guitar player Ondra Kozak. Recently Jana returned home to Nashville from her successful European trip. Happy birthday, Jana! We wish you all the best for your future!

Fragment on stage at the Strakonice Jamboree 2011

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Donna Ulisse in Russia - on the Bluegrass Blog

Bluegrass singer/songwriter Donna Ulisse (USA) and her band, the Poor Mountain Boys, are recording their experiences in Russia on a day-by-day travelogue on the original Bluegrass Blog - and the trip is clearly becoming a moving experience for them. Donna writes from Vologda:

... We [American and Russian musicians] played in solidarity as friends …weaving all of our styles of bluegrass like a fine quilt and making us all smile like Christmas morning. There is not a warmer feeling anywhere…

Update 19 July 2011: Donna's subsequent accounts of her experiences are equally positive. Read all the instalments of her travelogue from the Bluegrass Blog:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

Friday, 15 July 2011

Mando Nuevo and Tim Connell at the NAG

Thanks to Oliver Waitze of the New Acoustic Gallery (NAG) in Solingen, Germany, who reports on the successful concert at the Gallery on 13 July, featuring Mando Nuevo (Oliver Waitze, guitar, mandocello, mandolin; Marijke Wiesenekker, mandolin, bass; Michiel Wiesenekker, guitar, bass, vocals) with special guest Tim Connell (USA), mandolin. Oliver writes:

WOW, what a wonderful evening with great musicians and a wild audience!

Photos can be seen here or on the 'News' page of the NAG website. The whole concert was also filmed, and video clips will be posted in the near future. The compositions played were:

Shalom Aleichem (trad.)
Jewgrass (Mando Nuevo)
Old Dangerfield (B. Monroe)
Naquele Tempo (Pixinguinha & Lacerda)
Heavy Artillerie (Django Reinhardt)
Nuages (Django Reinhardt)
Hunterdon Bolero (Beppe Gambetta)
Mandocello Intro - Big Country (Bela Fleck)
Borealis (Mike Marshall)
Fla Flu (De Abreu)
Nao me toques/La Aboleda Medley
Concerto in D (Vivaldi)
Aria from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 (Villa-Lobos)
Floreaux (Nazareth)
Odeon (Nazareth)
Suite Venezolana (Zambrano)
Gator Strut (Mike Marshall)
Lullaby for lonesome heartbreakers (Michiel Wiesenekker)
Catfish (trad.)
All of me (Johnny Marles)
Flatbush Waltz (Andy Statman)

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

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

WieśBand Bielany Akustik - Poland's rising stars

Thanks to Miroslaw 'Mirko' Parejko for news of the WieśBand Bielany Akustik from Bielany, a suburb of Wroclaw (Breslau), Poland. The WBBA (formerly known as 'A Melancholic Country Band' and also known as 'The Only Official Glinolood Band', from their association with a local ceramic centre) are a new band playing bluegrass and acoustic country music, together with original material and covers - in bluegrass style - of pop, rock, and blues hits.

They formed as an acoustic band in 2010 after their country-band configuration won a national country music contest for emerging artists, Przepustka Do Mragowa. Their lead singer, Zofia Jastrzebska, won a special prize in the same contest in 2009. In May 2011 they were the first Polish country band to perform at the Wroclaw Philharmonia - their lineup includes two nationally recognised classical guitarists and a member of the Wroclaw opera orchestra. They have recently been invited to enter for the Country Music Meeting 2012 in Berlin, and for the main Polish country music festival, Mragowo Country Piknik.

The band are also on Facebook, and many performance videos of them can be found on YouTube (search for 'WieśBand Bielany Akustik'). Video links, music samples, reviews, and much more can be found on their website.

The WBBA are available for bookings, and can supply their own mobile stage (750 x 400 cm), mobile billboards, and promo materials. The full pool of talent on which they can draw (not all are shown below) is:

Zofia Jastrzebska (upcoming country singing star), Kamil Bartnik (5-string banjo, guitar, lead vocal), Henryk Koziol (fiddle, harmony vocal), Bartlomiej Helwing (mandolin, guitar, banjo-mandolin, harmony vocal), Radoslaw Wisniewski (slide & acoustic guitar, harmony vocal), Tomasz Kaczmarczyk (acoustic guitar), Źeljko Drobac (bass and... Sarajevo!), Slavko Osuch (percussion, flute, harmonica, harmony vocal), Miroslaw Parejko (drum & cymbal + washboard), and Przemyslaw Wicha (soundman).

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Bluegrass opens folk festival in Northern Ireland

Broken Strings at the Ulster American Folk Park

The Cairncastle Ulster Scots Folk Festival in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, has been celebrating the traditional culture and music of Ulster for the past ten years. This year, the eleventh festival will have a special opening evening (Wednesday 27 July) dedicated to bluegrass music, played by leading bluegrass bands from Ireland.

Immigrants from the north of Ireland and Scotland played an important role in settling the southern states of what is now the USA, and especially the Appalachian region. This strong link contributes to the success of the annual Appalachian & Bluegrass Music Festival at Omagh, Co. Tyrone. The lineup at Cairncastle on 27 July is headed by the five-piece Broken Strings from Co. Down (see photo above), who regularly play at Omagh. Also performing at Cairncastle are Juke Joint from Co. Armagh, the Barnstormers from Co. Londonderry, and Bending the Strings from Mullingar in the Irish midlands.

The evening will be compered by Alistair McReynolds, a well-known writer on Scots-Irish history and culture who is also a bluegrass enthusiast. In the intervals bagpiper Ross Hume will play many tunes. The evening begins at 7.30 p.m. and admittance is £6.00.

Danilo Cartia in St Petersburg

Banjoist, guitarist, and bandleader Danilo Cartia (I) reports that he is now playing an expanded schedule of dates in St Petersburg, Russia:

Fri. 8 July Tower Pub
Sat. 9 July special guest at Red Fox
Sun. 10 July Jimi Hendrix Blues Club
Wed. 13 July Red Fox
Thurs. 14 July The Other Side, 1 Bolshaya Konushennaya

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Kenny Baker and Bill Monroe - forty years ago?

Jan Michielsen of 4 Wheel Drive (NL/D/B) sends from Belgium this rare and delightful photo of Kenny Baker with Bill Monroe and other Blue Grass Boys. The venue appears to be that of the Festival of American Folklife in Montreal, Canada, where the band played in summer 1971 with a lineup of Monroe (mandolin), Baker and Joe Stuart (fiddles), Jack Hicks (banjo), Dan Jones (guitar), and Doug Hutchens (bass) (see Tony Russell's report 'Big ball in Montreal' in Old Time Music, #2 (autumn 1971), p. 6).

Friday, 8 July 2011

Kenny Baker, supreme bluegrass fiddler, passes

Kenny Baker as a Blue Grass Boy (photo by Jim Peva)

Kenny Baker, regarded by many - including the Father of Bluegrass Music himself - as the supreme bluegrass fiddler, died a few hours ago in Nashville, TN, after suffering a stroke earlier this week. He was about two weeks past his 85th birthday - less than a month older than Bill Monroe had been at the time of his death.

The first of what are expected to be many commemorative posts can be seen on the original Bluegrass Blog.

Bluegrass 43: new video from new CD

The cover of The witch: (l-r) Philippe Ochin, Jean-Marc Delon, Alain Audras, Jean-Paul Delon

Bluegrass 43, France's oldest working bluegrass band, were the subjects of the 'cover story' (written by Christopher Howard-Williams with Philippe Ochin) in Bluegrass Europe #79 (April-June 2011). Since then, the band have released their latest CD, The witch, on 21 June. The six tracks show their broad musical minds: 'I've just seen a face', 'The witch', 'Mr Jones', 'Never again', 'Carolina Star', and 'With a memory like mine'. It can be bought online here for €7.00 (France), €7.50 (rest of Europe), or €8.00 (rest of world).

Bluegrass 43 have also made a new video to accompany the CD release. 'Never again' can be seen on YouTube (where there are many other performance videos of the band). The verdict of the EBMA's chairperson is: 'Awesome!'

You can also find the band on Facebook. Thanks to Jean-Marc Delon, Bluegrass 43's banjo-player, for the news.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Donna Ulisse prepares to leave for Russia

Following the EBB report of 23 May 2011, bluegrass singer/songwriter Donna Ulisse (USA) and her band, the Poor Mountain Boys, will begin their first international trip on Sunday 10 July 2011, when they leave for four festival dates in Russia.

They will play at the Second Annual Russian Bluegrass Festival at the Kremlin in the city and cultural centre of Vologda on 12 July, and in the folk village of Semenkovo on 13 July. On 15-16 July they will play two festival dates in the industrial city of Yekaterinburg, in what is believed to be the first bluegrass performance in the Urals region. The trip is organised by the US consulates general in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, and several Russian bluegrass bands will also be performing.

Ulisse released her fourth album, An easy climb, last month; it is currently #12 on the Euro-Americana chart which reflects airplay in several European countries. A tour in Europe for 2012 is being planned. A video of a song from her new release can be seen here.

Lynne Butler broadcasts more EWOB Festival highlights TONIGHT

Lynne Butler (UK) sends the playlist for tonight's programme in her 'Butler's Boudoir Bluegrass' series (see the EBB's separate 'Radio playlists' post), which like last week's is all about the EWOB (European World of Bluegrass) Festival, held in the Netherlands at the beginning of June. Lynne reports:

You will hear various interviews followed by tracks of the artists interviewed, interspersed also with tracks from those bands that performed but that I didn’t get to interview.

Part 2 of the EWOB highlights is this evening and tomorrow, as part 1 was aired last week. Also, you can hear part 2 all over again from Monday night on 'Lynne Butler’s Eurograss' on Bluegrass Planet Earth at 21:00 repeated on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The interviews are really quite fun, as many of the artists have a wonderful sense of humour so you should really enjoy them - I had fun interviewing. There are lots of giggles. I do hope you enjoy. You can find out more about any of the bands by contacting me for further information.

The next festival that I’ll be attending and doing radio coverage for is La Roche on 4, 5, 6 & 7 August, so keep ears and eyes open for all the interviews and updates on that too - and of course tune into UK Country Radio over that weekend to hear all my updates while there, and of course the follow-up highlights show. Then it will be Didmarton and then Cornwall.

Update 8 July: Lynne's Butler's enthusiastic full-page report on this year's EWOB Festival appears in the current issue of British Bluegrass News, #57 (summer 2011).

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa in Britain, July-Aug. 2011

In addition to being the headline act at the Scottish Bluegrass Association's 25th Guildtown Bluegrass Music Festival (29 July-1 Aug. 2011), Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa (USA) are scheduled to play nine other dates in Scotland and two in England, including the Heart of England Bluegrass Venue. The full tour lasts from 27 July to 9 August; details are given on the schedule page of the band's website.

3rd edition of Munich Bluegrass Festival a success

Angelika Torrie reports from the English Garden in the middle of Munich:

I'm just back from the 3rd edition of the Munich Bluegrass Festival held on the Hausler Hof, a farm in the green but actually quite close to Munich airport, and presented by the Munich Bluegrass Friends.

Ronny Nash & Whiteline Casanovas
The music presented marked an incredible improvement of the programme with regard to variety of bands, now coming from 6 European countries including Germany. Over the three days, the obviously growing local scene yet again was represented with strong performances by a new band formed by Philip Schöppe, the rocking Strictly Bluegrass (with clog dancer Silvia Plankl and some of her students on Friday and closing the festival on Sunday), the youngsters' band CoolGrass, the Rolling Hills,  the Munich Mountain Ramblers, and Farmer's Breakfast. As the day's themes went from 'Country Grass' on Friday, 'European Bluegrass Jamboree' on Saturday, and 'Bluegrass Gospel' on Sunday this broad variety was well captured and put into a great context, presenting the audience with all kind of different styles and flavours.

A great and inspiring moment was the lively presentation by 5-year old Niklaus, a student of Rupert Paulik's teaching programme, in particular his natural leader-attitude on stage impressed both audience and backup 'staff'. The future of bluegrass seems in safe hands in Munich!

Tennessee Stud (F)
A special highlight from the country grass on Friday was Tennessee Stud, who sparkled with a great selection of songs, brilliantly delivered by the  whole band and great singing by Sandrine, Philippe, Thierry, Jean-Marc, Pascal and Christian, with a decent use of drum set replacing the mandolin in this setup. Ronny Nash & his Whiteline Casanovas on Friday night, a very much asked-for country band with a strong touch of bluegrass represented by Rupert Paulik on mandolin and fiddle. In spite of some technical challenges they delivered an entertaining and musically inspiring show. 

Saturday with European bands - from Austria the Carolina Ramblers, Lambergrass from Italy, and MoonRise from Switzerland and as a closing highlight Album from the Czech Republic - reflected the broad spectrum of our music and the great networking that can happen at such a festival, as ties and commitments were made between bands and other festivals in Germany and Switzerland (a great development which was especially noted by the EBMA chairperson present).

The nightly jam sessions on Friday and especially Saturday kept many from sleeping, but nevertheless the festival went on Sunday morning not only presenting the best of local bluegrass bands but also the local mayor, Mr Klaus Stallmeister of Hallbergmoos, who figured as patron of the festival. He even showed musical talent by adding washboard to the Farmer's Breakfast band and a great song delivery of 'The auctioneer'.

The festival is definitely on track now and one can look forward to the 4th edition in 2012. Make sure not to miss this opportunity again; experience the local hospitality and the great food on the Hausler Hof. Thank you for such a great event!

Angelika Torrie
3rd time patron of Munich Bluegrass Festival

Monday, 4 July 2011

THE bluegrass package tour project for 2011: update

If you missed the 1 July deadline for the proposed bluegrass package tour to Kentucky this autumn, don't despair; the offer has been extended for one week. To recap:

Brian Ingarfield of the award-winning travel agency Tour America in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1, Ireland, has planned the details of a trip to the six-day Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Celebration festival (27 Sept.-2 Oct. 2011), set in the Kentucky hills around the house where Bill Monroe spent his childhood. Full details of the festival are on its website.

Provisional details of the package are as follows:
Departure from Dublin 26 September 2011
Return flights to Nashville, TN
Return coach transfer to Owensboro, KY
8 nights at Marriot Fairfield Inn, Owensboro
Tickets to all days of Jerusalem Ridge Music Festival
Tour of International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro
Session in 'The Barn' in Rosine, KY
Approximate price €1750 per person (including all taxes and charges)

This is a bargain price for all that is on offer, not to mention the unique event. The price of course depends on a sufficient number of people taking up the proposal. If you intend to go, please let Brian Ingarfield know by e-mail or 'phone (+353 1 8173526) as soon as possible and not later than 8 July, at the end of this week. Faxes can be sent to Tour America at +353 1 878 0269.

New Acoustic Gallery newsletter, July 2011

Thanks to Oliver Waitze of the New Acoustic Gallery (NAG) in Solingen, Germany, for the NAG's July 2011 newsletter, with news of two coming concerts at the Gallery. The first, by Mando Nuevo with US guest artist Tim Connell, will be on 13 July at 8.00 p.m. The second will be by the Trio Vibracao with the great swing mandolinist Don Stiernberg (USA) on 13 November.

The five-page NAG newsletter, in pdf format, can be viewed here or downloaded, and the news items can be seen in full on the NAG website.

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

Dave Stacey at Westport festival

Among those attending the recent Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival (23-4 June) in Co. Mayo, Ireland, was English luthier Dave Stacey (left), whose outstanding old-time banjos have been featured in Banjo Newsletter magazine. Dave was not at Westport as a performer, but he had brought a 'travelling banjo' with him. In more than one jam session, it was evident that he is also a fine player and singer of old-time music.

The standard line of Stacey Banjos comprises the 'Classic Era', 'Gainsborough Special', and 'Ultimate Fretless' models, to which the 'Sodbuster' has recently been added. Dave also builds reproductions of classic instruments; makes banjos to custom requirements; and restores, repairs, and sets up all fretted instruments. He can be contacted at

David Stacey
19 Field Lane
Hertfordshire SG6 3LF
+44 (0)1462 683074

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Kenny Baker suffers a stroke

Kenny Baker as a Blue Grass Boy (photo by Jim Peva)

Richard F Thompson (GB) writes:

Courtesy of Julia LaBella, who has posted news on Facebook, we have learned that Kenny Baker has suffered a stroke and is hospitalised. He celebrated his 85th birthday on 26 June.

Baker, whom Bill Monroe always introduced as 'the greatest fiddler in bluegrass music', first joined the Blue Grass Boys in 1957 and, aside from three breaks, stayed with Monroe until October 1984.

In addition to playing on about 75 recording sessions of one type or other while working for Monroe, he has about 35 albums of his own (or shared with others like Josh Graves, Blain Sprouse, Bobby Hicks, and Howdy Forrester).

Keep him in your thoughts and offer a prayer for his complete recovery. Cards and/or flowers can be sent to Kenny Baker c/o Sumner Regional Medical Center, 555 Hartsville Pike, Gallatin, Tennessee 37066-2400.

Here’s a clip of Kenny Baker with Josh Graves backed by Groundspeed (D) live in Basel, Switzerland, in 1988. Groundspeed's lineup at the time was Klaus Gausmann (bass), Ulli Sieker (mandolin), Matthias Malcher (guitar), and Edwin Herkert (banjo).

Ray Whiteway-Roberts (GB) writes that the stroke

has affected the left side of his body. He has slurred speech; the nurses are taking good care of him. Keep him in your thoughts & prayers.

3rd Bluegrass Meeting in Kutzenhausen, Alsace, Sunday 14 Aug. 2011

Above: the Serge Rieger Band in front of the Maison Rurale during a previous Bluegrass Meeting

Thanks to Walter Fuchs for this news:

The 3rd Bluegrass Meeting in Kutzenhausen, Alsace, will take place on Sunday 14 August 2011. It will start at 11.00 a.m. with Serge Rieger & his Band with an Aperitif-Concert. After lunch the German band Strictly Bluegrass from Munich (below) will give a concert followed by a big jam session with all musicians.

The whole event takes place in the forecourt of the Maison Rurale de l’Outre-Forêt, a wonderful rural Alsatian museum. Kutzenhausen is a small village in a picturesque area. Every visitor can have a good time, dining and drinking, relaxing, and listening to good music. From 6.00 p.m. on one can try the famous Alsatian speciality Flammekueche, or (in French) Tartes flambées.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Barcelona Bluegrass Band CD now available at Elderly Instruments

Thanks to Lluís Gómez for the news that the new CD Old time blues by the Barcelona Bluegrass Band (E), released in April, can now be bought through the famous US suppliers Elderly Instruments.

The album shows the band's mastery of musical genres including bluegrass, blues, Irish, and manouche, with original tunes and two twin banjo tunes with banjo master Tony Trischka! More info and some mp3 samples can be found at the BBGB website.

1-Old Time Blues (Gómez)
2-Malvado Rocker (Gómez)
3-Manga el Banjo (Gómez)
4-Remington Ride (Herb Remington)
5-Music For A Found Harmonium (Simon Jeffes)
6-Wabash Cannonball (Trad. Arr. Gomez/Moya)
7-Picatoste (Gómez)
8-Magic Foot (Russ Barenberg)
9-Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Joe Zawinul)
10-Trio! (Gómez)
11-Tree O House (Gómez)

The BBB: Lluís Gómez (5-string banjo), Joan Pau Cumellas (harmonica), Miguel Talavera (guitar/ mandolin 8; dobro 1), Maribel Rivero (upright bass)

Guests: Albert Bello (guitar 6), Josep Traver (guitar 4, 6, 8, 11), Valentín Moya (guitar 6), Oriol Saña (violin), Tony Trischka (5-string banjo 3, 10)

Press applause for 9th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival

Thanks to Walter Fuchs, organiser of the International Bühl Bluegrass Festival in Germany, for the news that full press reports on the 9th Bühl Festival (13-14 May 2011), with many photographs, are now to be seen on the Aktuelles page of the Festival website.

Walter also contributes on the same page a review of the new CD by the Canadian band Oh My Darling, who played at this year's EWOB Festival in the Netherlands.

Danilo Cartia in St Petersburg, Russia, 10 July 2011

Banjoist, guitarist, and bandleader Danilo Cartia (I) will be playing his own blend of bluegrass, blues, and ballads on Sunday 10 July at the Jimi Hendrix Blues Club, Liteiny Prospekt, 33 St Petersburg, Russia.

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