Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Lilly of the West news

Lilly Drumeva reports from Bulgaria:

Lilly of the West had a successful summer season, including appearances at two major festivals: La Roche Bluegrass Festival, France, and the Bansko Jazz Fest, Bulgaria. The band also played a series of concerts in the Sofia parks, organized by the municipality.

Dorian Ricaux, a young, talented French mandolin player collaborated with Lilly of the West on several occasions. He was invited to join the band because of Lilly’s hand injury. She has been suffering from a 'trigger finger' in the past two months. In October the problem will hopefully be relieved by a small surgery.

In September the band tours in Bulgaria and abroad: Lovech Bard fest 2/3.09, Asenovgrad, Plovdiv 16/17.09, as well as in Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria (see below).

Recordings for the new album have been in process. It will feature jazz and swing standards, covers of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Everly Brothers, two Bulgarian folk songs, and Lilly’s original compositions.


Lilly of the West tour dates, Sept. 2011

Fri. 23.09 Vienna, Austria
Bulgarisches Kulturinstitut, Haus Wittgenstein, Parkgasse 18, 1030 Wien; info: +431 71331640

Sat. 24.09 Vienna, Austria
Schutzhaus am Rosenhügel, Atzgersdorfer Str. 171, 1230 Wien; info: +43 69919202032

Sun. 25.09 Budapest, Hungary
Acoustic Club, Rock Randevú, Budapest VI, Hunyadi tér 11; info: +36 30 253 8790

Mon. 26.09 Budapest, Hungary
LEGUAN Cafe+Bar, 1075 Budapest, Kazinczy u. 52 (bejárat a Holló utcából); tel.: +36 30 201 3456 ‌

Tues. 27.09 Budapest, Hungary
Bolgar Kulturalis Intezet, Andrassy ut. 14, Budapest VI 1061; info: +361 2694246, 269-20-48

Wed. 28.09 Bratislava, Slovakia
Concert at: Hviezdoslav square, Bulharský kultúrny inštitút, Jesenského 7, 811 01 Bratislava; info: +421 2 544 101 40

Thurs. 29.09 Vienna, Austria
Folkclub Heureka, A-1080 Wien, Skodagasse 17; info: +43/676/544 34 13, +43/676/722 22 95

Fri. 30.09 Vienna, Austria
Vienna Country & Western Club, Neilreichgasse 78, A-1100 Wien; info: +4319053001

Sat. 01.10 Vienna, Austria
Vienna Headquarter Club, Beckmanngasse 72 (Ecke Meiselstrasse), A-1150 Wien; info +43 699 19546154, +43 699 19438211

Bluegrass news from France

Christopher Howard-Williams of the France Bluegrass Musique Association (FBMA) reports:

After a great summer with the Craponne Country Rendez-Vous (Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Kathy Kallick Band) and a successful La Roche Bluegrass Festival (congratulations to contest winners Blackjack), France is winding down towards winter.

There have been some excellent workshops over the summer with the La Roche Bluegrass Camp, Bluegrass Nature (run by the musicians of Banjomaniacs), Bill Keith's banjo workshop at La Tannerie (Bourg en Bresse). Also the local associations have been busy with their 'weekend at home' bluegrass jams, with one in Alsace (August) and one in the south-west (September).

To find out more about these events and to see about future events, check out the FBMA website and follow the links to the events or to the lively discussion forum. Upcoming events worth noting are:

26-29 Oct. 8th International Mandolin Festival at Lunel with Mike Marshall (USA) and Hamilto de Holanda (Brazil), in the south of France between Nimes and Montepellier;

9 Nov. Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings in concert at Paris (www.lamaroquinerie.fr);

10-13 Nov. FBMA's annual Winter Bluegrass Weekend at Vichy. Mainly a weekend of jamming in and around the main Omnisports centre with accommodation on site and, hopefully, a big-name band for the Saturday evening concert.

Bluegrass in Hungary, Sept.-Dec. 2011

Thanks to Tölgyesi Péter for the following significant dates in the Hungarian bluegrass calendar for the rest of 2011. The photo above shows Poa Pratensis, who took part in the La Roche Bluegrass Festival (F) earlier this month.

25 Sept. Acoustic Club, featuring Lilly of the West (BG), Budapest, Rock Randevu, 6.00 p.m., www.hubma.hu
28 Sept. Poa Pratensis, Budapest, Bonyai Etterem, 8.00 p.m.
19 Oct. Poa Pratensis, Budapest, Bonyai Etterem, 8.00 p.m.
22 Oct. Bajai Bluegrass (B)Est, Baja, Ady Endre Varosi Konyvtar, 7.00 p.m., www.hubma.hu
23 Oct. Acoustic Club, Budapest, Rock Randevu, 6.00 p.m., www.hubma.hu
16 Nov. Poa Pratensis, Budapest, Bonyai Etterem, 8.00 p.m.
20 Nov. Acoustic Club, Budapest, Rock Randevu, 6.00 p.m., www.hubma.hu
18 Dec. Acoustic Club, Budapest, Rock Randevu, 6.00 p.m., www.hubma.hu
21 Dec. Poa Pratensis, Budapest, Bonyai Etterem, 8.00 p.m.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Liz Meyer, 7 Mar. 1952-26 Aug. 2011

Pieter Groenveld and Elisabeth Groenveld announce:

With much regret we bid farewell to our beloved wife and mother

Elisabeth Mathilda Groenveld-Meyer
Liz Meyer


Friends of the family are invited to pay their respects to Liz on Thursday 1 September. The service will be held at 3.00 p.m. at crematorium Bouwens, Noorddammerweg 40 in Uithoorn and followed by a reception at De Oude Veiling, Marktstraat 19 in Aalsmeer.

The locations are near one another in the southern suburbs of Amsterdam.

Doppelstopp goes “on air” today!


Thank you to Volker Dick for the following news:

It´s already five years ago “Doppelstopp” – the German weblog about mandolins and acoustic music started. But instead of inviting all the thousands of readers to a giant party Doppelstopp is going to start another try in a different field: Beginning on Tuesday 30th August 2011 (today!), exactly five years after the first post, the blog goes on air! “DoppelstoppRadio” (http://laut.fm/doppelstopp) is launched through laut.fm! A lot of Bluegrass music will be streamed but other music with mandolins as well: Folk, Pop and a little bit of Jazz. Okay, it´s an amateur station and some songs may be on heavy rotation without reason. But maybe you´ll like to listen to it nevertheless, 24 hours a day, and hopefully Doppelstopp Radio will develop during the weeks and months. So, please give it a try and tell your friends: it's http://laut.fm/doppelstopp. The direct link for streaming is: http://stream.laut.fm/doppelstopp.m3u 
Volker Dick
Doppelstopp (http://doppelstopp.wordpress.com)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Liz Meyer 1952 - 2011

It is with great sadness that we hear about the death of Liz Meyer after a long and brave fight with illness.
Liz Meyer, at 8th EWOB (2005), picture courtesy of Lilly Pavlak
Liz was one of a small group of American Bluegrass lovers who dedicated a great deal of time to promoting the music she loved in Europe. She did this not only by playing and recording on the old continent but she went even further by setting up her home here and by becoming a driving force in helping the growth of Bluegrass music across the whole of Europe.
The EWOB festival in Voorthuizen has become a major event on the international Bluegrass calendar and many musicians and bands in Europe owe their current success to her efforts. 

Ronald Groot, chairman of the EWOB Festival, Voorthuizen, NL, writes:
"Dear all, again the Board of the EWOB-festival Voorthuizen has been struck in the heart.
Friday night, Liz Meyer, driving force behind EWOB-Voorthuizen, has lost her struggle that she fought the last couple of years. Even her great and exceptional mental strength was not enough to defend her body.
Liz will be greatly missed not only by her natural family, but of course also by her bluegrass family.
European Bluegrass has lost one of its best ambassadors.
With a sad hart
On behalf of the EWOB-board,
Ronald Groot"


Liz will be sadly missed by the whole Bluegrass community on both sides of the Atlantic and our thoughts are with her husband Pieter Groenveld at this sad time.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Bluegrass Europe #81

Angelika Torrie, editor in chief of Bluegrass Europe, the official EBMA magazine, writes:

Dear bluegrass bands and bluegrass event producers in Europe,

This is an invitation to send in gig dates for the Bluegrass Concert & Festival Calendar in the next issue of our magazine Bluegrass Europe.

For the last issues, we received a huge amount of dates - thank you all very much! Unfortunately, we were not able to include all the dates, and referred to national bluegrass event calendars instead...

However, please send us your dates again for the October/November/December issue (#81). We will try to publish all dates between 15 October 2011 through 31 January 2012.

Deadline to send in dates for BE#81 is 31 August 2011. Due to the sheer number of gigs, please format your information as follows:

Country, Date, Band (or event) name, Zip & City, Address, website

--> here's an example:
Germany, Oct. 15, The Grascals, Oldenburg, Oldenburgisches Staatstheater, 7:00 p.m., www.hillbillie-guesthouse.de

We also have space available for advertisements; the rates are fair (we think). Please have a look at the data sheet and contact us here for more information. 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.

Thank you for your contribution!

European Bluegrass Music Association & Bluegrass Europe
Postal address: Holeerain 29, CH-4102 Binningen, Switzerland
e-mail

Friday, 26 August 2011

7th Picnic Festival at Namur, Belgium, 1-4 Sept. 2011

Bluegrass in Belgium reports:

Next weekend we'll have the 7nd annual Picnic Festival on the beautiful Citadelle de Namur. The only bluegrass festival in Belgium !

Thursday 1 September, 20:00
* Bluegrass 43 (F)
* Sanseverino (F)

Saturday 3 September, 16:00
* The Straps (B)
* East West (CZ)
* Rawhide (B)
* Bluegrass Cwrkot (CZ)
* Hayseed Dixie (USA)

Highly recommended !

All details (including links to band websites and the programme for the 'Celtic' section of the Festival, 2 and 4 Sept.) are on the Festival website. The Festival is also on Facebook.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Irish DJ receives CMA International Broadcaster of the Year award


Sandy Harsch, presenter of the radio show 'Country Time' on RTE, the Irish national broadcasting station, has received the International Broadcaster of the Year award from the Country Music Association (CMA) of Nashville, TN. The photo shows Sandy with country star Brad Paisley, current CMA Entertainer of the Year and co-host of the CMA Awards show, at the presentation backstage at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin

The award honours radio broadcasters outside the USA who have made outstanding contributions toward the development of country music in their country. Sandy has worked in and around the music business in Ireland in many roles (including chief photographer, record reviewer, and interviewer for Hot Press magazine), has broadcast since 1989, and has presented 'Country Time' since 1996, playing, in her own words, 'bluegrass, old-time string-band music, Cajun, roots country, Western swing... honky-tonk, cowboy songs, hillbilly, Bakersfield, rockabilly – in fact everything from Americana to zydeco'.

The full CMA press release can be read here. (A minor detail: the trophy itself was held up in customs, so its role in the photo is being played by a digital recorder.)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

'Smiling faces': Jan Johansson and friends


Fiddler Jan Johansson, born in Sweden and resident in the USA since 1989, reports:

There’s a new, recently released CD that includes an amazing list of truly legendary performers. The album has been in production for over four years as a project for the benefit of my favorite charity, Amazing Grace Adoptions. Over the years my wife and I have adopted four kids from Russia and half of the proceeds from the CD sales will go to their orphanage in Saratov, Russia!

It has taken so long to finish this project it seems to have become more of a quest than a project! Plus, as some of you might already know, I’ve had a heart trouble recently which has been expertly corrected by the great folks at the University of North Carolina Hospitals with a heart transplant :-)! The good news is that all is good again and the project has finally been finished.

On this CD you will find the late great Charlie Waller and outstanding bluegrass performers Bobby Hicks, David Grisman, Dale Ann Bradley, Russell Moore, Amanda and Kenny Smith, Mike Compton, Larry Sparks, Steve Dilling, Daren Vincent, Laurie Lewis, Julie Elkins, Rick Pardue, Honi Deaton, Wayne Benson, Butch Robbins and... The list just goes on and on. This album is a real masterpiece of talented performers who all donated their much appreciated time to support me and my cause.

The CD is easily available from iTunes and Amazon (as .mp3 files). If you’d like a 'real' CD complete with jewel case and liner notes (very worthwhile!), you can order via PayPal using the PayPal registered e-mail address for $15 including shipping. For international shipping please add $5.

Please check in with iTunes or Amazon and sample some of the tunes on this album. I know you’ll be pleased with what you’ll hear and want to order the entire album. Plus you’ll be supporting a really good cause.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this and thanks for your support.

Yours truly,

Jan Johansson

Send material for IBMA week

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

The European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA) again will have a booth at IBMA's Business Conference (Trade Show) - only during the week, not during Fan Fest. Also, together with Nechville Instruments, the EBMA will host 'Foreign Affairs', a number of after-hours showcase performances, focusing on non-US bands and artists. (More information about IBMA's event: here).

What we try to do, is promote whatever is happening with the music outside of the USA (not only in Europe). For this purpose we encourage anybody who is active with bluegrass music in other countries than the US (bands, promoters, associations, songwriters, festivals, etc.) to send us materials that we can either show and/or hand out to interested parties during the conference. (If you will be in Nashville, you may also bring your things to our booth, early in the week.)

So please send us your POSTERS - FLYERS - CDs etc. (I will not be able to return leftover materials to you by mail!)

Packages arriving before 19 September should be addressed to:
EBMA / Booth # 420
IBMA World of Bluegrass
c/o Freeman
1701 Lebanon Pike Circle
Nashville, TN 37210, USA

Packages arriving after 19 September should be addressed to:
EBMA / Booth # 420
IBMA World of Bluegrass
c/o Freeman
Nashville Convention Center
601 Commerce Street
Nashville, TN 37203, USA

Monday, 22 August 2011

Jim Eanes in Europe (and much more) on YouTube

Thanks to Jan Michielsen of 4 Wheel Drive (NL/D/B) for this link to Dennis Schut's YouTube channel, which includes many videos from a concert by the great Jim Eanes (USA) at Bad Ischl, Austria, in 1990.

Jim, who at the time looked much the same as on the cover of his Rebel CD Classic bluegrass (above), performed both solo and with the accompaniment of the German band Hard Times; and (despite a rather noisy audience) he was in magnificent voice. The channel also includes footage from other performances by him and four instalments showing him being interviewed by Dennis Schut.

Jan also sends links to videos on his own Cheap Aldi Camera Productions channel: a reunion show by Helmut & the Hillbillies (D) in Thun, Switzerland, this year; a tribute to Ulli Sieker, mandolinist and fiddler with the Looping Brothers (D) and 4 Wheel Drive; Jurgen Biller (4WD banjoist) and friends at the Banjoree 2009, 1 and 2; and 4 Wheel Drive at 'Folk in Schlosshof', shot at the beginning of July 2011.

International Songwriting Competition 2011

Thanks to Candace Avery of the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) in Nashville, TN, for a reminder of this year's event, whose sponsors include Lowden Guitars (NI).

With the most high-profile judging panel of any music competition in the world, ISC offers songwriters and artists the unprecedented opportunity to have their music heard by iconic recording artists, as well as many major and indie record label presidents, A&R executives, producers, music supervisors, and more.

More than $150,000 in cash and prizes will be divided among the 68 winners for the 2011 competition, including an overall Grand Prize of $25,000 (US) cash and $20,000 in prizes. The competition is open to all levels of songwriters, with 22 categories comprising all genres of popular music. More details are on the ISC website, where you can also read the latest ISC press release.

Candace Avery
International Songwriting Competition (ISC)
1307 Eastland Ave
Nashville TN 37206
PH: 615-251-4441
Fax: 615-251-4442
e-mail

Lynne Butler's La Roche festival highlights

Lynne Butler (UK) sends the playlists for her 'Butler's Boudoir Bluegrass' and 'Lynne Butler’s Eurograss' shows (see the EBB's separate 'Radio playlists' post) for this week and next week. As promised, Lynne has devoted these shows to highlights from the 2011 La Roche Bluegrass Festival in La Roche-sur-Foron, Haute Savoie, France, at the beginning of this month.

LBE and BBB playlist for W/C 22 August 2011: La Roche festival highlights, part 1

Every Breath You Take - Poa Pratensis - Hungary
Interview with Blue Side of Town - Germany
Chalk Up Another One - Blue Side of Town - Germany
Interview with Philippe Ohin from Bluegrass 43
The Witch - Bluegrass 43
Where is My Little Cabin Home - Kathy Kallick Band - USA
Interview with Grass Road - Czech Republic
Den Posledni - Grass Road - Czech Republic
(Live From La Roche) - Roots and Galoots - UK
Interview with Lonesome Day - France
Tiptina Two Step - Lonesome Day - France
Interview with Angelika Torrie about Dr Bluegrass and the Hillbilly 8 - UK
It Ain’t Me Babe - Dr Bluegrass and the Hillbilly 8 - UK
Interview with Lily Drumeva - Bulgaria
Red Clay Halo - Lily of the West - Bulgaria
Crazy Blues - Lazy Tater - Netherlands
Interview with Didier Phillipe - one of the organisers of the festival
A band jamming outside a café one afternoon

LBE and BBB playlist for W/C 29 August 2011: La Roche festival highlights, part 2

I Still Write Your Name - Blackjack - Czech Republic
My Hometown - The Hickory Project - USA
Learning to Fly - G-Runs and Roses - Czech Republic
Interview with Heather Joyce - France
Towards Dawn - Heather Joyce - France (although English)
Why Not Me - Percy Copley and the Hillbilly Hiccups - UK
Interview with Christopher Howard Williams - One of the organisers
Random recording of atmosphere and music one evening - just to remind you from last week’s show just how fabby this festival is!
Melting Time - Melting Times - Hungary
Vim Vim Mala - Country Cocktail - Czech Republic
God and Everybody - Grass road - Czech Republic
Carolina Star - Bluegrass 43 - France
I’m Satisfied with You - Blue Side of Town - Germany
La P’tite Marie - Lonesome Day - France
Daddy’s Little Girl - Holy Water - Netherlands
Haenny - Lonesome Wally - France
Live recording at La Roche

Lynne adds:

Please also note that the Coal Porters (UK/USA) have a show with the Water Tower Bucket Boys (from Portland, OR, USA) at Shepherd's Bush immortal Bush Hall in London this very 25 August 25 (Thursday night). Tickets are £12.50. This is a quick blog by Sid Griffin which ends with the gig info at the bottom.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

New Acoustic Gallery newsletter, summer 2011

Oliver Waitze of the New Acoustic Gallery (NAG), in Solingen, Germany, sends the NAG's summer newsletter, with details of some of the good things now in stock.

Instruments include a Bourgeois (USA) OM Cutaway Soloist guitar, a Collings CW Indian A Dreadnought (see photo), the Deering Goodtime acoustic/electric banjo, and Eastman mandolins (A and F style), with accessories ranging from pickup systems by K & K Sound to braided leather mandolin straps, both flat and round, in black, gold, or 'bumblebee'.

Books include Oliver's own recent publications Bach for flatpicking guitar and Bach for mandolin; CDs and DVDs include new releases by Brian Oberlin, David Grisman, and Don Stiernberg (the latter's Swing 220 is now in the NAG) and Jens Kruger's banjo method for beginners. Full details can be seen on the news page of the NAG website.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Takeoff imminent at Kemble airfield!

Thanks to John Wirtz for the latest news on this year's Didmarton Bluegrass Festival (1-4 Sept. 2011) in England:

Not long before the bluegrass event of the year lifts off at Kemble airfield! With another superb lineup and a top-notch show in prospect, there is a real sense of anticipation within the organising team and we are looking forward to helping everybody have a great time at this year’s festival.

The final details are being sorted out, and we’ve had our last planning meeting, and just about everything is set, and we’ve placed our call with those above us to order some friendly weather too! Anyway, just to whet your appetite, here’s a few items of late news.

Bristol-based luthier Phil Davidson has again sponsored the festival and donated a beautiful mandolin which will be offered as a first prize in the annual raffle. Phil has also been involved in the design of a new range of exclusive banjos produced by the Fairfield Banjo Company, a joint venture between Phil, Leon Hunt, and Johnny Whelan of well known band the Buffalo Gals. Hopefully, there will be a demonstration of this fabulous instrument at the festival.

In recognition of Phil’s generosity, the main stage is now called the 'Davidson Stage' and we are all grateful to Phil for his kindness and support. Do call and see his range of instruments in the traders area, he always welcomes folk with a smile!

The OGRI stage has been improved with a wider marquee and a bigger stage to improve the spectacle – better PA and stage lights – and provide the bands with a better performing experience. We hope you like the new setup.

The programmed concert featuring the Scoville Units and Matthew and the Atlas: this concert is separately ticketed and you can buy tickets on the day.

The programme will continue on both stages from Friday lunchtime until Sunday afternoon, with afternoon and evening concerts on both stages. With around thirty-eight bands playing, there will be music for everyone and all tastes! You can check the running order and the band biogs on the bands page of this site.

The British Bluegrass Music Association (BBMA) is dedicated to promoting bluegrass music in the UK and is also active in encouraging people to play the music. The BBMA tuition tent will be in attendance and will be running one-to-one lessons on Friday and Saturday afternoons from their base in the traders area. You can book a lesson at the merchandising tent; and as you will see from the lineup of specially selected musicians below, there are some real good teachers at your disposal. Many of them are regular teachers in their home towns or have taught at Sore Fingers Week, so you are in good hands. And if you don’t yet own an instrument, I understand there is a facility to borrow one! I call that a 'win/win' situation; but don’t hang around, we sold out of lessons at Orwell and we were pretty close to selling out here last year!

BBMA members can book lessons at a discounted rate and here is a list of tutors:
Leon Hunt (banjo); Rex Preston (mandolin); Dan Norton (mandolin/guitar); Gary Payne (guitar/singing); Eleanor Cross (fiddle/double bass); Joe Hymas (mandolin); Laura Carrivick (dobro/fiddle); Charlotte Carrivick (mandolin/guitar); Howard Burton (banjo); Richard Holland (banjo); John Breese (banjo); Keiran Towers (fiddle). Brilliant lineup - almost puts Sore Fingers to shame…

And finally, a few practical notes. The site is open to the public on Wednesday afternoon and the bar will be officially open from Thursday afternoon but may be open earlier. Catering will be open from Thursday night and then throughout. Showers and toilets will be operational from Wednesday and we have also increased the number of chemical disposal tanks for caravaners.

Can’t think of anything else; don’t forget your banjos and fiddles, and see you at Kemble. It’s going to be a blast!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Lilly Pavlak to receive IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award!

Lilly with the Kruger Brothers in the Czech Republic last year

Lilly Pavlak, born in what is now the Czech Republic and resident for many years in Switzerland, is to receive a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA).

The IBMA announced today the nominations for this year's International Bluegrass Music Awards. The winners will be announced at the IBMA Awards Show on Thursday 29 Sept. 2011. The names of the 2011 inductees into the IBMA Hall of Fame - Del McCoury and George Shuffler - and of the five recipients of Distinguished Achievement Awards were also announced. In addition to Lilly, the awards went to Bill Knowlton, Geoff Stelling, Roland White, and Greg Cahill (shown below), past president of IBMA and former chairman of the IBMA board of directors, who has brought his band Special Consensus to Europe many times in the thirty-six years of its existence.

EBMA chairperson Angelika Torrie sends congratulations to Lilly on this great news. Her award will be presented at the special awards luncheon on 29 Sept. The IBMA's press releases, including the full citations for Lilly and the other award recipients, can be read here.

Greg Cahill (photo: Janet Holmes)

Butler's Boudoir Bluegrass

Lynne Butler (UK) sends the playlists for tonight's programme in her 'Butler's Boudoir Bluegrass' series and for the 15 August programme in her 'Lynne Butler’s Eurograss' series on Bluegrass Planet Earth.com, broadcast every Monday night at 21:00 UK time, and repeated on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the same time (see the EBB's separate 'Radio playlists' post). Lynne adds:

As you know I had an amazing time at the La Roche Bluegrass Festival in France and you can hear all about it with my ‘highlights’ show which will be aired next week with part 1 and the week after with part 2. It’s a free festival so I recommend that you make a holiday of it and get yourself along to it at the same time. The Alps as a backdrop are wonderful and the atmosphere amazing. Great music, great people, and great fun. It’s now in my diary for next year already.

The festivals that I will be at after that are Didmarton and Cornwall - again, regular updates over the weekend followed by a ’highlights’ programme.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

'You do it for the stories you can tell'


'Why would anyone drive two hours one way to meet people they've never met before and to play the same old songs they've played a hundred times over?' - that's what an uninitiated person may ask when told you're going to yet another bluegrass jam.

Dieter Stoll of Horse Mountain (D) opens his report on Serge Rieger's 3ème Rassemblement Bluegrass (see the EBB of 3 July 2011) with that question - and the event gave more than one very positive answer.

The Rassemblement was held on Sunday 14 August at the rural museum in Kutzenhausen, Alsace, France, with 300 people buying tickets - a much larger attendance than last year. Dieter's account describes how

one of those fleeting, priceless moments happened - something that's next to impossible to convey to an 'outsider'

- while waiting in line for Flammekueche (tartes flambées). Meanwhile, Walter Fuchs, organiser of the International Bühl Bluegrass Festival, who was also at Kutzenhausen, had a completely unexpected reunion, after nearly twenty years, with an old friend - the very popular Alsatian singer, composer, musician, recording artist, writer, and broadcaster René Egles. Walter adds:

Rene listened to my country radio programs for many years and became a bluegrass freak. He often works together with bluegrass musicians.

Kutzenhausen seems to have a special magic. Read both accounts, Dieter's and Walter's, in full in the next issue of Bluegrass Europe, the EBMA's official magazine.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys (UK) for Westport 2012

The popular Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys (UK; above) will be the headline act at next year's Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.

The sixth Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival will be held on 29-30 June and 1 July 2012 in the attractive town of Westport, Co. Mayo, in the west of Ireland. Festival organiser Uri Kohen reports that preparations for next year's event are well advanced. A video of the Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys can be seen here. Also on the programme will be the Galway-based Molly Hicks band and other Irish bluegrass performers.

More will be revealed over the next few months. Previous festivals at Westport have featured leading acts from elsewhere in Europe, such as 4 Wheel Drive and the Blue Grass Boogiemen. Bands interested in taking part should contact Uri by e-mail.

Niall Toner and the story of 'William Smith Monroe' - now on YouTube


Niall Toner reports from Ireland that the story behind the creation of his new commemorative song, 'William Smith Monroe', can now be seen on YouTube.

The video shows Niall himself, against the background of scenes around his home in the countryside of Co. Carlow, explaining the part that Bill Monroe played in his life, and some of the inspiration that went into the song. Music from Niall's previous recordings, and of course from the new song itself, forms the audio background. Niall adds:

The whole thing was filmed, directed, and edited by my thirteen-year-old grandson Kyle, and his eight-year-old brother, Jay (who also played the part of young Monroe/Toner in the final scene). If these boys stick at it, I believe they could have a bright future in the movie business! I have given them a little write-up on my new blog on our website.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Thomm Jutz: The 1861 project

Many bluegrass people also have an interest in American history. Walter Fuchs reports from Bühl (where he organises the annual International Bühl Bluegrass Festival):

The sensation is perfect. A good friend of mine, Thomm Jutz (photo, left), born and raised in Bühl, Germany, makes it big in Nashville.

As a studied musician and guitarist, Thomm was active for years in the blues and rock scene in the south-west of Germany. For a couple of years he ran a recording studio near Bühl, then in 2003 he migrated to Nashville. Although he was known as an excellent musician, nobody would have given a dime that Thomm could make it in Music City USA, where year by year thousands of top American musicians are trying to make it big.

Thomm built up his own recording studio, TJ Tunes Studio, near Nashville and became a member of the Nanci Griffith Band. Beside his own albums he recorded CDs of well known stars and now, in 2011, it seems he really made it with an album he dedicated to the civil war (1861-5), the sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter.

Thomm had the idea, worked as a producer, songwriter, singer, and musician with such well known guests as Marty Stuart, John Anderson, Mark Fain, Justin Moses, Chris Jones, Jon Weisberger, Fats Kaplin, Richard Dobson and many others. All songs are co-written by Thomm, that means all songs are new. The album is entitled The 1861 project, Vol. 1: From farmers to foot soldiers; that means we can expect more albums over the next four years, because the project should last as long as the civil war did.

This first album is simply great and introduces a great talent, Thomm Jutz, from Bühl, Germany, a singer, guitarist, piano player, songwriter, and producer, who by now is an American citizen.

The 1861 project, Vol. 1: From farmers to foot soldiers (Cohesion Arts)

Bluegrass in the London area? Yes!

The European Bluegrass Blog(EBB) has received a message from Rob Graham in Australia, who will be travelling to London for the month of November to visit family. Rob writes:

I was hoping you could steer me onto some good jam sessions and maybe regular bluegrass venues to hit while I am there. I couldn't stand to be away from my first music love for a whole month!

Any tips/ideas would be very welcome. Of course, I would love to hear about any top-line local or touring bluegrass bands I could see while I am in London.


We can't send Rob an e-mail reply, as e-mails sent to the EBB through the direct link don't retain the address of their origin; but we hope he's reading this. Ample help is at hand! The indispensable source for all bluegrass and old-time activity in the London area and south-east England is the website of Rick Townend, especially its calendar page. Rick (see photo) has been a mainstay of bluegrass in Britain since his schooldays in the Echo Mountain Boys.

Check also the invaluable UKBluegrass.com for general bluegrass action in Britain, especially bands touring outside the south-east.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Congratulations to the winners of the La Roche band contest!

Blackjack receive the #1 award from M. Michel Thabuis, mayor of La Roche (in suit and hat); on right, Angelika Torrie, EBMA chair; in shorts, Christopher Howard-Williams, festival organiser

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for these photos of the winners in this year's band contest at the La Roche Bluegrass Festival in France:

#1 Blackjack (CZ)
#2 Blueland (SK)
#3 Lazy Tater (NL)

Blackjack and a corner of the La Roche audience

Blackjack off stage

Blackjack with Lilly after the awards: on the left in front is the prize and award certificate for Blueland, who had had to leave early

Blackjack with their own award

Blackjack celebrating with Lilly in the VIP tent

Blueland in action

Blueland off stage

Lilly collects the awards for Blueland; the bottle was too heavy for her

Blueland's award certificate

Lazy Tater in action

Lazy Tater after their award

Lazy Tater celebrating in the VIP tent

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Blackjack (CZ) takes 1st at La Roche Bluegrass Festival 2011

After 4 days of bluegrass music happening in the whole city of La Roche sur Foron, France, Blackjack (CZ) is the winner of this years' competition between 10 preselected European bands from all over Europe. Second was taken by Blueland (SK), and Lazy Tater (NL) ranked 3rd. More about the festival, and pictures in particular, will follow.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Wayne Taylor recovering after illness prevents UK tour

The Bluegrass Blog reported two days ago that Wayne Taylor (USA) is making a good recovery from surgery.

The surgery was essential to remedy a ruptured colon: a serious and acute condition which prevented Taylor and his band Appaloosa from travelling to Britain for a tour that was scheduled to include an appearance as headline act at the Scottish Bluegrass Association's 25th Guildtown Bluegrass Music Festival (29 July-1 Aug.).

The SBA website reports that Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa have been invited to appear at next year's Guildtown festival, and that Monogram (CZ) and Lilly of the West (BG) have already been booked for Guildtown 2012.

Heartstrings in the UK

UKBluegrass.com reports today that the Dutch duo Heartstrings (Elly Beurskens, guitar; Bruno van Hoek, banjo, mandolin, dobro) will be playing in Britain in the latter half of August. Two dates in England are already scheduled, and they invite contacts for more opportunities to perform or give workshops.

Heartstrings are regular visitors to Britain, and have a band page on the UKBluegrass.com website.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Grascals in Europe, 13-15 Oct. 2011

Thanks to Walter Fuchs for the news that in its 'Bluegrass Series' the Oldenburgisches Staatstheater will present the multi-award-winning Grascals (USA) exclusively in Germany on Saturday 15 October 2011, at 7.30 p.m. Ticket reservation: +49-441-2225-111.

The Grascals have won six IBMA awards (two Entertainer of the Year and four Instrumental Group of the Year), three #1 albums, and two Grammy nominations. For some time they were Dolly Parton’s touring band.

Their line-up in Oldenburg will be: Kristin Scott Benson (banjo), Terry Eldredge (guitar, vocals), Jamie Johnson (guitar, vocals), Danny Roberts (mandolin), Terry Smith (double bass, vocals), Jeremy Abshire (fiddle).

The Grosse Haus (main auditorium) at the Staatstheater in Oldenburg, which has previously presented the Claire Lynch Band and the Gibson Brothers.

The Grascals will also be making two appearances in Norway:

13 Oct. Crossroad Club, Oslo

14 Oct. DOKKHuset, Trondheim

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Niall Toner reports from Ireland

Niall Toner reports from Ireland that in September RTE, the Irish national broadcasting station, will be broadcasting a special show in his Roots Freeway series, in conjunction with the BBC, from the 20th Annual Bluegrass Festival in the Ulster American Folk Park (UAFP), Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The RTE and BBC will set up a studio in the Park throughout Saturday 3 September, where they hope to interview Dailey & Vincent (USA), the Malpass Brothers (USA), Red Wine (I), Sunny Side (CZ), and many more.

The Niall Toner Band will be performing on the main stage at UAFP on Friday night, 2 September, and also in the Park on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Niall Toner will also be presenting two live bluegrass shows in the Roots Freeway Series from the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, TN, during the 2011 World Of Bluegrass Conference. Niall is showcasing at WOB with his American band as part of the Mountain Music Entertainment 1814 hospitality suite, before touring through Tennessee and North Carolina.

Peter Rowan in Europe, Sept. 2011

A-Train Entertainment of Oakland, CA, reports:

Fresh off his latest Grammy nomination for the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band's Legacy, Peter reunites with his old friends Druha Trava for a series of five dates in the Czech Republic as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations for the notable Czech bluegrass band.

Sept. 16 Ploukonice 46, Country Saloon V jeteli, 511 01 Turnov
Ing. Radim Janecek, tel. 608 312 911
Sept. 17 Horni Sloupnice, areal Na mlejnici, Upper Sloupnice 565 53; 777 148 435
Sept. 18 Svandovo divadlo, Stefanikova 57, 150 00 Prague 5; tel. +420 234 651
Sept. 19 Kino Hvezda, namesti Miru 951, 68601 Uherske Hradiste; tel. 572 553 617
Sept. 20 Brno, KD Rubin, Makovsky Square 3
Bruno Zabovresky, 541 213 704

Directly after the Czech tour, Peter Rowan will be taking part with the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band in the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Longford, Ireland (22-25 Sept. 2011).

Tim O'Brien & The Crossing in Europe, 17-28 Aug. 2011

The Grammy-Award-winning artist Tim O'Brien (USA) will be playing several dates in Europe later this month, including the Tønder Festival in Denmark (25-28 Aug.). According to his website schedule, the tour will begin with seven dates in Ireland; details are on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog.

During the tour he will be accompanied by 'The Crossing', a group of outstanding traditional musicians: Mike McGoldrick (flute, uilleann pipes, whistles), Arty McGlynn (guitars), John McCusker (fiddle, whistles), John Jo Kelly (bodhrán), and Heidi Talbot (vocals), with Tim on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and vocals.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Rhonda Vincent in Europe

Thanks to Herb Sandker of Upper Management Music for this news:

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage are travelling abroad, leaving behind their Martha White Bluegrass Express for trains, planes, and automobiles. The international bluegrass star and All American Bluegrass Girl, Rhonda Vincent, with her band the Rage, set a personal European record with two consecutive SOLD OUT SHOWS in Laufen, Switzerland, on 27 and 28 July 2011.

'This was my sixth visit to Switzerland. It feels like my second home', Rhonda shares from her Paris hotel room. 'The people are so warm and friendly, and I so enjoy the overall feeling of the country... We are thrilled to have sold out shows, and to meet many new fans, along with our Swiss friends.'

The Swiss venue was purchased and renovated by the family who owns the famous Swiss cough drops, Ricola. The venue houses a music school, with the intended purpose of educating and featuring musical artists.

In addition to the Swiss performances, they appeared on Saturday 30 July 2011 in Craponne, France, as the headlining artist of the Craponne Country Music Festival - Festival Country Rendez-Vous de Craponne sur Arzon.

Fans of Rhonda Vincent & the Rage traveled many miles to enjoy their style of acoustic music: from neighboring countries such as Holland, Norway, England, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and even a couple from the USA travelled halfway around the world to hear their favourite group in both European settings.

After their performances in Laufen, Switzerland, and Craponne, France, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage traveled to Paris, France, to visit the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre with the 'Mona Lisa' being a highlight not to miss. They will remain in Paris until their return to the US later in the week. Other areas visited on their tour include Africa, Sicily, Italy, Spain, and Malta.