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.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sacred Harp in St Giles Church, Prague

This weekend (26-7 November 2011) the first Sacred Harp all-day singing meeting to be held in the Czech Republic is taking place in the St Giles Church, Prague (Husova 234/8, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město). Sacred Harp singers from Germany, Ireland, Poland, the UK, and the USA are taking part, and Aldo Thomas Ceresa, a Sacred Harp singer from New York, is conducting a workshop. Admission is free, and the event is open to all. More information is on the Sacred Harp Poland website.

Sacred Harp music has been an important influence on bluegrass harmony singing. The sound was recently brought to wider audiences by the soundtrack of the motion picture Cold Mountain. In mid October 2011 Aldo Thomas Ceresa conducted a Sacred Harp workshop in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which was strongly supported by the Shape Note singing community in Cork, southern Ireland.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

EWOB 2012: application deadline 1 Dec. 2011

Thanks to the organising committee of the European World of Bluegrass Festival at Voorthuizen, the Netherlands, for this reminder:

EWOB-2012 Application DEADLINE December 1, 2011. Don't miss it!!

All musicians and bands, take part in the 2012 EWOB (European World Of Bluegrass) on May 17-18-19 in Voorthuizen, the Netherlands. Go to this page to apply. We're looking forward to seeing you there.

See this information, and much more, also on the EWOB website and Facebook.

Bluegrass Europe #81: worth the wait

The European Bluegrass Blog (EBB) editor reports:

This is old news for all EBMA members and subscribers to Bluegrass Europe magazine; but as the rest of the world heard in mid October that issue #81 would be delayed, it's time for the good news that the issue was sent out to everyone before the end of October. The additional good news is that the contents (as our chief editor promised) made it well worth waiting for. I got some useful tips out of the 'Bluegrass bass' article, and I'm not even a bass player...

Editorial ¦ EBMA NEWS ¦ European Award Winners 2011 ¦ The Observer ¦ BluegrassDuinen - News Europe ¦ CD Releases ¦ Cover Story: Bill Monroe - if it wasn't for him ¦ Concert & Festival Calendar ¦ Bluegrass Jamboree 2011 ¦ CD Reviews ¦ East Meets … Bluegrass ¦ The Bluegrass Bass ¦ Richard Weize ¦ Bluegrass in Germany ¦ News US and more ¦ IBMA Awards 2011 ¦ Remembering Liz Meyer ¦ EBMA's European Bluegrass Guide ¦ EWOB - It's time to Apply!

The next issue of Bluegrass Europe (#82: Jan.-Mar. 2012) will appear early in the New Year.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Lynne Butler: December highlights

Lynne Butler (UK) sends the playlists for this week's shows in her 'Butler's Boudoir Bluegrass' and 'Lynne Butler’s Eurograss' series (see the EBB's separate 'Radio playlists' post). Lynne adds:

This week’s shows are equally packed with fabulous music from the European bluegrass community as well as in 'Butler’s Boudoir Bluegrass' there is a section featuring other bluegrass music from around the world.

Coming up at Christmas are the highlights of all the festivals this year that I have been able to attend, including the Didmarton and Cornish festival highlights. Also 'The rise of the ukulele' - a two-hour documentary by myself on the uke and its popularity, and how it’s making its mark on the bluegrass scene. It will feature live tracks and interviews from the International Ukulele Club of Sonning Common and Jess & the Gents as well as some lovely extras thrown in!

Also coming up and NOT TO BE MISSED is the Living Advent Calendar to be held in Henley on Thames - it‘s all for charity and a lot of fun - take a look at the website each day from 1 December to see who will be behind which window! Full of surprises and fun. Each performance will be recorded and videoed so that EVERYONE can enjoy the festive fun around the world. Please pass on this link. I can tell you that my son George and I will be performing on one of the days and so will Sam Brown’s International Ukuele Club of Sonning Common! But when? You’ll have to keep your eyes on the website!

The schedule for the shows on UKCountryRadio.com are as follows:

19:00 on 22 December - The rise of the ukulele (documentary)
16:00 on 23 December - The rise of the ukulele (repeat)
13:00 on 24 December - Christmas in the Boudoir (purely bluegrass Xmas songs/tunes)
17:00 on 25 December - Christmas in the Boudoir (repeat)
22:00 on 27 December - EWOB Festival highlights
22:00 on 28 December - La Roche Festival highlights
22:00 on 29 December - Didmarton Festival highlights
22:00 on 30 December - 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.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

10th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival, 4-5 May 2012

At a press conference yesterday it was revealed that Bühl, the 'Bluegrass City' on the edge of the Black Forest in south-west Germany, will present a special programme in May 2012 for its tenth International Bluegrass Festival.

The Festival - the major annual bluegrass event in Germany and one of the leading bluegrass festivals in Europe - was founded as a one-day event in 2003 and extended to two days in 2009. The coming Festival (4-5 May 2012) presents three acts from North America - the award-winning Gibson Brothers (USA), Alecia Nugent (USA), and Oh My Darling (Canada) - and three from Europe: G-Runs 'n Roses (CZ), Bluegrass 43 (F), and Tabea Anderfuhren (CH) with Bluegrass Stuff from Italy, who appeared on the first Bühl bluegrass festival.

Full details of programme times and ticket prices are on the Festival poster (left; click on the image to enlarge it). More details of bands, personnel, etc., are given in the Festival flyer.

An evening in the village

Banjoist Jake Schepps (USA) has released a new album, An evening in the village: the music of Béla Bartók. On Bluegrass Today, David Hollender, banjo-player and professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, reviews the CD (together with two audio tracks and a video of a recent performance of music from the album). Hollender points out that among classical composers who have made use of folk music, Béla Bartók was the first who did not 'fix' the traditional music to make it fit classical conventions. He adds:

The CD also includes a single tune that deserves mention. 'Cousin Sally Brown' is not by Bartók. It is an American fiddle tune. What is interesting is how much it has in common with the Eastern European tunes. It drives home the point that American and Eastern European folk music have more things in common than the number of things that divide them.

Read the review, listen to the audio samples, and see if you agree.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Downhill Bluegrass Band kick off the first 'Möklinta Bluegrass Hayride'

Downhill Bluegrass Band, one of Sweden's most prominent and respected bluegrass bands, initiate a wintertime festival in Sweden. Along with Torsåker Bluegrass Association, organiser of Sweden's biggest bluegrass festival, Torsåker Bluegrass Festival, they make an attempt to establish an event that takes place indoors in winter time. The first occasion is on 26 November at Möklintagården, close to Sala, in central Sweden.

The release of Downhill's fourth album, A grasshopper's lament, is receiving great reviews from the US media as well as from European ones, and the band will be headlighting the evening. They also perform along with Appalachian Roots (USA) in Stockholm on 24 November.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Irish national radio to broadcast documentary on Bill Monroe, 29 Dec. 2011

'From Rathgar to Rosine: a pilgrimage to find Bill Monroe', a one-hour radio documentary presented by Niall Toner and produced by Aidan Butler, will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1, the Irish national radio station, on Thursday 29 December 2011 at 2.00 p.m.

The title indicates Niall's fascination with Bill Monroe since first hearing his music in Rathgar, Dublin, in the late 1950s. In September 2011 Niall and RTÉ Radio 1 producer Aidan Butler travelled to the 10th Annual Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival at Jerusalem Ridge in Kentucky, near the Monroe homeplace in Rosine, and spoke with as many of Monroe's friends, relatives, neighbours, admirers, and band members as they could locate. Compiled from many hours of recordings, this one-hour documentary tries to unlock some of the mystery behind the enigma and the genius that was Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass Music.

More details are on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog. The photo above was taken by Niall Toner in the dressing room at the 1975 Belfast concert by Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

East-West: new band, new demo

A newly formed bluegrass band from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, East-West, has a new demo out.

East-West is a band from Slovakia and the Czech Republic founded in 2011. They play mostly modern bluegrass music influenced by other genres like folk music, new acoustic music, jazz, etc. Their set list contains original songs and instrumentals as well as innovatively interpreted covers of some well known songs. Although the band is quite new, the musicians are well established personalities in the European bluegrass music scene.
  • Filip Baťo (banjo) is a very talented multi-instrumentalist. He teaches banjo at bluegrass workshops. Filip recorded his own CD with original compositions and played with the very successful Slovak band Meantime.

  • Michal Vavro (guitar, vocals) is a great musician who also deals with classical and folk music. He played with the famous Slovak band Fragment, and recorded two CDs of his own compositions with the 'Acoustic Colors' project. Michal is a very sought-after guitar teacher at bluegrass workshops.

  • Ondra Kozák (mandolin, vocals) is another multi-instrumentalist in the band. He plays guitar with the band Fragment, and played guitar and fiddle with the successful Czech bands Kreni and the Petr Brandejs Band. Ondra regularly teaches guitar at bluegrass workshops; he recorded two instructional guitar DVDs.

  • Erik Banič (upright bass, vocals) is a very talented bass player who originally played mandolin and guitar in many bands. He also plays bass with another Czech-Slovak bluegrass band, Who´s Your Daddy.

The new recording EAST-WEST: DEMO 2011 can be downloaded directly here. You can also hear it on the 'Music' page of the band's website, or on their Facebook page.

Eastern Station: new CD Trust/Bizalom

Tölgyesi Péter of HuBMA sends news from Hungary:

Eastern Station has released its new album, Trust, which is also available fully in Hungarian, titled Bizalom.

From the band: Eastern Station’s Trust (36:24’) had been released recently by the Hungarian Hunnia Records. In its usual and by now personal style, Eastern Station gives us what we have valued the most in them. The album has its version in the Hungarian language, and the English one is somewhat unusual, since Eastern Station wanted us to be able to relate lyrics to the Hungarian language which is thought to be so much sophisticated and difficult to learn. Some songs have therefore been represented twice on the album, some only in Hungarian – however, everything is easy to comprehend when one follows the lyrics booklet which is generously part of the album.

Bluegrass news in Italy

Red Wine with their new bass player, Lucas Bellotti

Martino Coppo has sent us some news from Italy:

  • Red Wine is happy to introduce its new bass player, Lucas Bellotti, a young and very talented musician from Genoa (Genova). Despite his age Lucas has already an impressive experience in different music styles, including classic music, jazz, rock, and now bluegrass.

    The band is currently working on a new recording project, to be released in 2012, and on a US West Coast tour in late February 2012, ending up at the Wintergrass Festival in Washington State. For 2012 RW is also working at its annual Bluegrass Party, which will be moved to a bigger and nicer theatre in downtown Genoa (more info to follow).

  • Blue Dust is a new bluegrass band from Milan (Milano). Members are:
    Perry Meroni (guitar, vocal)
    Dino Barbè (banjo, baritone vocal)
    Josh Villa (mandolin, tenor vocal)
    Ignazio Sanfilippo (upright bass)
    Tonino Spezzano (guitar)

  • Veteran band Bluegrass Stuff from Milan has a new lineup:
    Massimo Gatti (mandolin, vocal)
    Maurizio Lodi (guitar, vocal)
    Ruben Minuto (guitar, vocal)
    Dario Lantero (banjo, vocal)
    Icaro Gatti (bass)
    Colm Murphy (fiddle)

  • Il Cancello del Cinabro is a nice music club in Genoa, featuring live music and occasionally bluegrass. Chris Jones & the Nightdrivers and  the Italian band 0039 (ex Bononia Grass) played there in October and November 2011, while Red Wine is scheduled to play on 21 January 2012.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Lilly of the West: Swings & heartaches

Lilly Drumeva reports from Bulgaria:

Lilly of the West is working on the finishing touches of the new album Swings & heartaches. The release is scheduled for January 2012. Special guest on the album is Slovak mandolin virtuoso Michal Barok (29 Strings, Meantime). Here is a preview of the cover; more news to come on my website.

Swings & heartaches includes eleven songs, in two parts. The 'swings' are lively, up-tempo songs from the 1940s/'50s, featuring two Patsy Cline hits ('Gotta lotta rhythm in my soul' and 'Walkin’ after midnight'), one by Hank Williams ('Lovesick blues'), two old Western Swing standards ('My window faces the south', 'I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter'), and a modern swing ('Who knows what tomorrow may bring').

The 'heartaches' are beautiful ballads with strong lyrics. One is a Johnny Cash/June Carter duet ('If I were a carpenter'), another is an Everly Brothers’ classic ('Crying in the rain'); a modern nostalgic song by Jools Holland and Sam Brown ('Valentine moon'), and two Bulgarian folk melodies ('Brala moma' and 'Malka moma').

On 11.11.2001 Lilly of the West performed together with American bluegrass and old-time dance band Mountain Quickstep. The concert took place in the Studio 5 club, Sofia, and was organized by the cultural department of the US embassy. Mountain Quickstep is currently on tour in Moldova, Macedonia, and Kosovo.

Videos, photos, and a full diary of Mountain Quickstep's tour can be seen on the band's website.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Danilo Cartia: Blue Frets and BJG

Danilo Cartia (I) reports that he and the Blue Frets acoustic music quartet will be playing on Saturday 19 November at 20:30 in the 'Four Green Fields', Via Costantino Morin 38, Rome, Italy. Admission is free.

Danilo also brings his long experience as a singer, 5-string banjo player, and guitarist in bluegrass music to another project: BJG Roots Music (see photo below). The letters stand for 'Bluegrass, Jazz, Gospel', and BJG Roots Music is a sixteen-piece orchestra comprising some of the best Italian and foreign bluegrass, jazz, and gospel musicians, including members of the Danilo Cartia Band. The repertoire traces the roots of the three genres, interpreted with great respect for tradition but in a pleasantly unusual way.

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

Advertise in Bluegrass Europe!

If you...
  • perform in a band or as a solo artist,
  • organise a festival,
  • run a venue, instrument supply shop, or recording studio,
  • or offer any product or service that would be of interest to bluegrass enthusiasts throughout Europe,

... your advertisement should be in the next issue (#82; Jan.-Mar. 2012) of Bluegrass Europe, the EBMA's own magazine.

Don't lose time - the deadline is getting close. Contact EBMA board member Chris Keenan by e-mail or fill in this form online.

What's new in the Czech Republic

Petr Brandejs reports from the Czech Bluegrass Music Association (CzBMA):
  • It seems that CzBMA again succeeded in getting a major sponsor for the Banjo Jamboree: the wood processing company LESS. Last year it allowed the organisers to invite Don Rigsby, this year the Canadian band Oh My Darling has been booked for Friday 15 June, and the CzBMA board keeps searching for another headliner for Saturday.

  • Bluegrass and banjo enthusiasts are looking forward to the show of Kruger Brothers with the Czech classical UNI Quartet playing Jens's classical compositions on 10 December. The show is being organised by the luthier Jarda Prucha.

  • Just two days later, on 12 December, there will be a stop of the Bluegrass Jamboree in Prague. This time organised by another instrument maker, Rosta Capek, at the same venue - Theatre Koppernik.
  • A new CD of the band Reliéf is out. The band nevertheless seems to keep the name of it as a secret, as it cannot be found on their website...:-).

  • Over 19,000 people have seen the Saturday night show of the 6th Bluegrass Workshop run by Petr Brandejs and Jindra Hylmar, which took place in the village of Male Svatonovice in the Czech Republic on 14-16 October. Top Czech and Slovak instructors (including steel guitar and ukulele!) + 130 participants left this three-day event on the Sunday afternoon.

  • Next workshop by Petr Brandejs will take place in Novy Jicin (CZ) on 16-18 March 2012.

Risør Bluegrass Festival relocates

Risør Bluegrass Festival celebrated its 10th year anniversary this year. It has always been held at a beautiful 'horse ranch', located on the banks of a true wilderness lake. This farm is not able to host the bluegrass festival in 2012 and it is being moved to a new location. But fear not: it is a truly a magnificent place they have found, an old mill by a waterfall, now used as a state-of-the-art sound studio for many well known bands. Black metal bands, that is, not bluegrass. Norway is well known for its black metal bands, and the owner of the sound studio is touring worldwide when he is not producing, writing songs, or teaching music or sound engineering. He has a farm nearby, where he hunts deer, elk, and moose and serves a variety of wildlife dishes at his own festival.

It is truly a scenic setting for the Risør Bluegrass Festival, and the organizers really look forward to working with 'The Mill' and creating an very special festival next year. The recipe is:

Workshop: July 9th-12th, four days with top international instructors in banjo, mandolin, guitar, dobro, fiddle, bass, and harmony singing, and not to forget: the BandLab

Festival: July 12th-14th, three days with 30+ bands, including some of Europe's best, children concerts and music tent, church concert and more

Concerts start at noon and end at 2.00 a.m., jamming encouraged at all times. More info will be on the festival website (www.risorbluegrassfestival.no) in the near future. Contact Dagfinn Pedersen (e-mail).

The photo shows the waterfall and the 'swimming pool'; just 40-50 metres behind the stage. A nice place to cool off between the sets on a lazy, warm July day. Best regards,

Dagfinn M. Pedersen, Norway
EBMA board, coordinator National Representatives (e-mail)
IBMM board member
NoBMA board member (e-mail)
Risør Bluegrass Festival, organiser
Home: +47 3715 4528; work: +47  3715 0096; mobile: +47 9700 0055

Friday, 11 November 2011

Press conference (22 Nov.) on 10th Bühl Bluegrass Festival

Thanks to Wolfgang Mark of the press office of the city of Bühl, in Baden, south-west Germany, for the news that a press conference on the 10th Bühl Bluegrass Festival (4-5 May 2012) will be held at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesday 22 November 2011 in the Friedrichsbau, Neuer Trausaal, Friedrichstraße 2, 77815 Bühl. Parking is available in the Tiefgarage P6 Volksbank (1 hour free).

If you will be attending as a media representative, or wish to receive the press package, contact Wolfgang Mark at Stadt Bühl Pressearbeit, Hauptstrasse 47, 77815 Bühl; tel. +49 (0) 72 23) 935-282, fax -289; e-mail.

Rawhide in Antwerp, 13 Nov. 2011

Rawhide at this year's Picnic Festival at Namur, Belgium

Bluegrass in Belgium announces that the multi-award-winning Rawhide will be performing in concert on Sunday 13 November at 15:00 in De Zoltjes, St Paulusstraat 29/31, Antwerp (Antwerpen, Anvers). Entry: €3.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Appalachian Roots in Britain and Sweden, Nov. 2011

Appalachian Roots (Ira Bernstein and Biley Baugus; USA) are currently playing a tour in Britain that began on 4 Nov. 2011 and will finish on 20 Nov. They will then travel to Sweden for the following two dates:

Thurs. 24 Nov. Södra Teatern, Stockholm
Fri. 25 Nov. SS Marieholm, Gothenburg

All their shows are sure to display their mastery of old-time fiddle, banjo, guitar, ballad-singing, fiddlesticks, and Appalachian dance. More details are on their tour schedule.

Front Page Bluegrass News comes to Ireland!

Thanks to Front Page Bluegrass News (USA) for the news that Ireland's RTE Radio 1 will begin airing the news to bluegrass fans on Niall Toner's popular Roots Freeway Radio show, beginning on 3 December 2011. Listeners will be able to hear the news between 11.00 p.m. and 12.00 midnight every Saturday to keep up-to-date on all that's newsworthy in bluegrass.

Front Page Bluegrass News, syndicated from America, was founded in January 2011 by long-time broadcaster Brian McNeal. It is the radio extension of McNeal's popular Prescription Bluegrass Blog attached to his own bluegrass music programme, and is the only syndicated radio news programme of its kind for bluegrass. Front Page Bluegrass News is delivered free to radio affiliates two times a week, and in addition to US radio stations it is already heard on four stations in Canada and two more in the Netherlands.

Read the full Front Page Bluegrass News press release here.

Brian McNeal and Niall Toner

"Give Me The Banjo" Television Documentary; Watch It Online

Give Me The Banjo appeared on American television last week (November 4, 2011). It is currently available for viewing online. This Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary is narrated by Steve Martin and was directed by banjo historian and modern banjo innovator, Tony Trischka.

The video is a 1-hour, 21-minute journey through 300 years of American music history and culture. Included are banjo masters such as Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Sonny Osborne, Mike Seeger, J.D. Crowe, Bill Keith, Bela Fleck, Taj Mahal, Tony Ellis, Abigail Washburn and more.

The film explores American music history from the black minstrels, ragtime and early jazz to blues, folk, and bluegrass. There is an extended segment about the role of the banjo in the "black music" of America. This segment of the documentary digs deep into the earliest African-American music culture and offers an often untold story in America's music history.

Other historic names & figures in this documentary include Gus Cannon & The Jug Stompers, Dock Boggs, Bascam Lamar Lunsford, Roscoe Holcomb, Alan Lomax and many more. If you are a musician or interested in music history...remember these names and learn more about them.

Worthy of special note is a segment devoted to one of the most influential and innovative banjo players and songwriters, the legendary Charlie Poole. Poole laid the foundation for what would become the bluegrass style of banjo playing. Kinney Rorrer offers his first-hand family knowledge of Charlie Poole and his great-uncle, Posey Rorrer (Poole's fiddler). You will see Kinney Rorrer's impressive antique Thomas Edison "Talking Machine" collection of cylinder and 78rpm players.

Among other interesting features is a story of Earl Scruggs' that is told during a short walk around his childhood home. Also of interest, especially for instrument enthusiasts, is the few minutes spent with Jim Bollman; an old-time banjo collector and a view of his wall full of antique banjos.

There is much more to be seen, heard and learned in this documentary. Do not wait too watch the video on the PBS website, as we do not know how long it will remain available online.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Danilo Cartia shows, 9, 11 Nov. 2011

Danilo Cartia (I) reports that he will be playing the following two shows this week in or near Rome, Italy. Both begin at 22:00.

Wed. 9 Nov. With Loredana Battaglia (left) at Margot, Via dei Volsci 13, Rome
Fri. 11 Nov. With Leno Landini (below) at the D.O.T Pub, Tarquinia

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

IBMA survey to help find a new executive director

Following the announcement on 4 Nov. 2011 that Dan Hays (left) will resign after 21 years' service as executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Association, the IBMA has prepared a survey to enable anyone with a concern for the future of bluegrass to assist in the process of recruiting a new executive director.

The survey has been issued initially to IBMA members, but it can be answered by people who have let their membership lapse, or who have never been IBMA members. It can be accessed through this link. Answers should be completed by 16 November 2011. Read the full IBMA release here.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Walter Fuchs back on radio with 'Hillbilly Gasthaus'

After a radio career of thirty-five years, starting in 1970, on networks like SWF3, Victoria and RPR and an interruption of six years, Walter Fuchs (above; photo by Klaus-Peter Maier) is back on radio. From Wednesday 7 December 2011 on, he will broadcast 'live' every Wednesday from 8.00 p.m. till 11.00 p.m. - that means every week a three-hour programme with lots of bluegrass, hillbilly, Americana, Tex-Mex, Cajun and acoustic swing.

The name of this weekly program will be 'Hillbilly Gasthaus' and will bring back memories of an old AFN hillbilly programme that ran from 1946 up till the early '50s. Even the theme-song will be the same as in the old days: Roy Acuff, 'Down in Union County'.

You can hear this programme worldwide on the internet on the German Coolradio 1 channel (classic rock, oldies, pop), where also Frank Laufenberg, a famous German radio personality, is broadcasting once a week. Beside the internet, folks in some parts of Bavaria can hear Walter's programme also on Digital Radio (DAB Band III) and via cable.

Lynne Butler on air again - and on the ukulele

Lynne Butler (UK) sends the playlists for the latest programmes in her 'Butler's Boudoir Bluegrass' and 'Lynne Butler’s Eurograss' series (see the EBB's separate 'Radio playlists' post). Lynne adds:

This week’s shows are equally packed with fabulous music from the European bluegrass community as well as in Butler’s Boudoir Bluegrass there is a section featuring other bluegrass music from around the world.

Coming up at Christmas are the highlights of all the festivals this year that I have been able to attend, including the Didmarton and Cornish festival highlights.

I will also have a special on a local ukulele group run by Sam Brown with interviews from Sam herself and some of the uke-ists, as well as live playing with an interview also from Jess and the Gents who are a breakout group from the group. Because my son and I are both part of the International Ukulele Club of Sonning Common I thought it fitting to do a special on it and especially as this little instrument is making it’s mark in the music world and in the bluegrass world. So, listen out for that over Christmas too.

I will be grabbing an interview with the Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys nearer Christmas too, so that’ll be worth listening out for whilst including some music from their recently released second album, Back in the land of the living room. So, please keep an eye out for the playlists revealing when these shows and many more will be aired.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Dan Hays to step down as IBMA executive director

The board of directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) announced yesterday (4 Nov. 2011) that it has reluctantly accepted the resignation of IBMA's executive director Dan Hays (left), to take effect on 29 February 2012. The board expressed profound appreciation for his twenty-one years of dedicated service, his indispensable contributions to the IBMA’s efforts for professionalism within the industry, and his advocacy of bluegrass music in broader circles. The full release, with a link to a message by Dan Hays to IBMA members, can be read here or on the IBMA website.

A spokesperson for the EBMA board expressed the board's appreciation and thanks for Dan's tireless work in developing bluegrass and helping it to grow, and for his support in developing the 'I' in IBMA. Even before the EBMA was founded, Dan came to Europe in 1999 to attend, and take an active part in, the European World of Bluegrass that year. His doing so was greatly appreciated, and the experience of working with him was a pleasure.

Don Stiernberg at the New Acoustic Gallery, 13 Nov. 2011

Oliver Waitze sends a reminder that the great jazz mandolinist Don Stiernberg (USA) will play a concert with the hot swinging Trio Vibracao in the New Acoustic Gallery, Solingen, Germany, on Sunday 13 November 2011. Ticket hot line: +49 (0)212/2474007.

Don Stiernberg, based in Chicago, is an outstanding performing, recording, and session musician, best known as a jazz mandolin player and leader of his own jazz quartet. His bluegrass credentials include the album Blue skies, recorded with Greg Cahill of the Special Consensus (USA).

New Acoustic Gallery
Neuenhofer Str. 122
42657 Solingen
Tel.: +49 (0)212/2474007

Bluegrass from Castile: the Hermanos Cubero on FolkWorld

Thanks to Roberto of the Hermanos Cubero (E) for this link to a major interview with them in the online magazine FolkWorld.

The brothers, Roberto and Enrique, began playing the traditional music of Castile in the early 1990s and were later drawn to bluegrass. At one point the interviewer, Pío Fernández, asks: 'Have you found any kind of similarity between bluegrass... and the music from La Alcarria or from Castile in general?' and the Cuberos reply:

We have found many points in common between both styles of music. We never needed to make any adaptations to the traditional Castilian melodies that we incorporated in our bluegrass repertoire.

The interview also includes their recommendations for further listening, both in bluegrass and in Spanish traditional music, and a mention of the main annual event in Spain, the Al Ras Old Time and Bluegrass Festival near Barcelona. Read the whole interview here.

Friday, 4 November 2011

European winners of BHTV caps

The latest e-newsletter from Blue Highways TV (USA) includes a sidebar with photos of attenders at this year's IBMA World of Bluegrass who won BHTV baseball caps. The lucky winners include Tatiana Pechenova of the Russian band Grass Pistols (formerly Country Saloon), and the well known broadcaster, promoter, and festival organiser from the Netherlands, Loek Lamers. See the photos and read the whole newsletter here.

La Fuente de Musica workshop, May 2012

The next edition of La Fuente de Musica, the residential old-time music workshop week in Andalucia, Spain, organised by Kate Lissauer, is scheduled for 12-19 May 2012, at El Fonte, Sorbas, Espana 04270.

The curriculum for May music week includes classes in beginning and advanced old-time fiddle, beginning and advanced old-time banjo, guitar, and group singing. Teachers are Dave Bing, Kate Lissauer, John Whelan, Peter Dunn, and one or two others TBC. The attractions include

... great teaching, great companionship, a small group of like-minded people, the intimate setting, pure natural beauty, wonderful food, big swimming pool, mountains, privacy, great music day and night... May week has now expanded to include more instruments and more levels of instruction. There is something for everyone, and even the non-playing partner or family member will have a glorious, relaxing time.

The £500 fee covers tuition, room and board, and use of all facilities. Transport is paid by participants, and transfers are arranged, as needed, by La Fuente. Rooms are shared by two, three, or four people, and private double or twin rooms are available for couples.

News about the workshop is posted here, and many photos from previous workshops can be seen on the gallery pages of Kate Lissauer's website. For more information, or an enrolment form, contact Kate Lissauer by e-mail.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Twenty-one years is a mighty long time...

A news item by Richard F. Thompson on Bluegrass Today commemorates the foundation, twenty-one years ago today, of the British Bluegrass Music Association (above: the original BBMA logo). Twelve volumes of the journal British Bluegrass News, founded and edited by Phill Morley, had already been published. Read the full details here.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Foreign Affairs - International presence at IBMA's World of Bluegrass

Rienk Janssen, EBMA board member and International member of the IBMA board, sends this message to all IBMA members from outside the USA:

I was happy to see quite many of you in Nashville, a few weeks ago, during the IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2011. Also, some of you either brought or sent materials for us to use at our booth, and/or in the After Hours showcase room. Thank you very much! I received materials from:

Bluegrass Association of Canada
Boet'n Deure (The Netherlands)
Downtown Ramblers (Sweden)
European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA)
EBMA's Festival Network
EWOB Festival (The Netherlands)
Grass Pistols (Russia)
Honeygrass (Canada)
La Roche Bluegrass Festival (France)
Karen Lynne (Australia)
Risor Bluegrass Festival (Norway)
Niall Toner Band (Ireland)
April Verch Band (Canada)
WiesBand Bielany (Poland)

Thanks to the bands who performed during our 'Foreign Affairs' after-hours showcases:

BRIE (Banjo Revolution International Ensemble)
Della Mae (USA)
Grant Gordy Quartet (USA)
Grass Pistols (Russia)
Brittany Haas & Lauren Rioux (USA)
Jean-Luc Leroux (New Caledonia) & Jean-Marie Redon (France)
Janet McGarry & Serge Bernard (Canada)
Milk Drive (USA)
Monogram (Czech Republic)
Jean-Marie Redon, Sharon Lombardi & James Field (France)
Special Consensus (USA)
Spinney Brothers (Canada)
Niall Toner Band (Ireland)
April Verch Band (Canada)

Last but not least, my sincere thanks to those who have helped financially with the cost of the showcase room, and to our partner host Tom Nechville of Nechville Instruments!

We are already thinking about next year. If you have ideas about how to make the international presence better and more impressive, let's hear from you.

Our French friends of the La Roche Bluegrass Festival came up with the idea of combining the musical input with some touristic promotion for their (beautiful) region, possibly with help from the La Roche tourist office. You are of course all from beautiful and exotic parts of the world, so you might contribute something similar...?

It would be nice (I think) if in the future we could have a space all week long during the WOB, as some kind of a home base for non-US bluegrass. Please keep in touch, the IBMA is here for you, too - remember, that first letter in 'IBMA' is ours!

Soulgrass in Eurasia

Bluegrass Today reports that Bill Evans (USA) - no, not the banjo maestro but the jazz saxophone maestro - is touring in Europe and adjacent areas with his group Soulgrass. And the 5-string banjo is in the picture, too: played by progressive banjo icon Ryan Cavanaugh, a regular member of the group, which has also welcomed guest pickers such as Bela Fleck and Sam Bush.

The tour began in Ireland on 29 October and will continue till 19 November; most of the dates are in Germany, but the band is also playing in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Turkey, and Russia. Full tour details, together with audio tracks, are on the Bill Evans website.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

12th Annual International Old Time Country Festival, Winkel (CH)

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak, who reports from Bülach:

The 12th Annual Old Time Country Festival was held last Saturday (29 October 2011) in the beautiful, decorated, sold-out Breiti Hall in Winkel, near Bülach, Switzerland. It was organised by American Folk Club Rocking Chair, together with the local old-time-country band Big Stone. That night three bands were playing for us.

The house band Big Stone, as usual, dressed nicely in outfits from American pioneer days. They tied up to the string bands tradition, with clawhammer banjo and the autoharp. The band is: Pete 'Two Feathers' Erb (bass), Godi Gammeter (guitar), Rene Zentner (clawhammer and bluegrass banjo, dulcimer, and autoharp) and Beat Heri (mandolin). All of them sing. Some people asked why they are not playing standing as usual. So they told us: everybody is over 60 now, so finally they have a right to sit down.

During their set they invited on stage their friend the singer Manuela [see photo above], whom they met at the jam sessions every second Friday in Bachenbülach, which they have organised for several years. She sang a song of Alison Krauss. Their next guest was the fiddle player Rachel Eddy from West Virginia, whom some of you know from her former band Uncle Earl. After more than an hour and several encores the audience let them go.

The second act, bluegrass band Red Wine from Italy, won the hearts of the audience by storm. They also perform some Italian songs, which the audience loved the best. The band veterans – mandolin player Martino Coppo and banjo player Silvio Ferretti – introduced to us a new bass player, Lucas Belloti. Maybe some of you don’t know yet their young guitar player, Silvio’s son Marco Ferretti. The audience loved them and did not want to let them leave the stage. They had to play also several encores.

Then a duo, fiddle & banjo – Rachel Eddy & Kristian Herner came on stage and played some beautiful pieces. Rachel revealed that she fell in love with Kristian and moved to Sweden a while ago, and the Rockridge Brothers became her family.

The Rockridge Brothers and their new sister

After several tunes the last band, the Rockridge Brothers, came on stage and a firework of old-time country and hillbilly music followed. The band is: Ralf Fredbad (fiddle), Peter Frovik (guitar), Kristian Herner (banjo), and Pontus Juth (bass). They also invited their 'new Rockridge sister' Rachel on stage and performed some great double fiddle tunes with her. They asked if somebody speaks French (of course, almost all Swiss people do) and then performed a French-sung Cajun tune. Everybody was laughing (I did not understand the words), but in the middle of the song somebody brought them a couple of bottles of beer. Applause with no end…

It was long past midnight when all the musicians gathered on stage for the grand finale and played several songs for us; the last one was 'Will the circle be unbroken'.

The grand finale: Red Wine at centre stage

The sound by Robi Brunner from the Sunny Mountain Grass was excellent. Both the audience and musicians were happy. Everybody is already looking forward for the next, 13th Festival. Thanks to all promoters and volunteers.

These and twenty-three other photos taken by Lilly at the Festival can be viewed on Facebook.

NTS Radio seeks passionate alternative country/bluegrass radio presenter!

Thanks to Debi Ghose, assistant programmer of the online UK radio station NTS, for this announcement:

Forward-thinking London-based radio station NTS seeks passionate and engaging alternative-country/bluegrass lover to present an innovative country show.

If you are involved with the alternative country music scene, and think you could translate this knowledge to an open-minded audience, with an ambitious and informed tracklist - please get in touch by e-mail.

NTS Radio 
(Don't Assume)

89a Kingsland High Street,
Dalston, London E8 2PB