Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Country Pickers: in for a special treat

The Country Pickers, a bluegrass and country band from Basel, Switzerland, originally formed in 1960, will be in for a special treat on 1 March 2012. Almost exactly sixteen years after their last performance on 29 March 1996 with original members Peter Gisin on dobro (d. 2010) and Bill Bohn on guitar (d. 2008), they will perform as the supporting act for Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, an award-winning top US group, at the Schuetzenhaus Albisgüetli in Zurich, Switzerland.

The picture above shows the Country Pickers performing during their 24 March 1996 show at the Albisgüetli in Zurich (left to right): Paolo Dettwiler (guitar), Andreas Wäldele (fiddle), Peter Gisin (dobro), Vera Efler-Merath (bass), Hermann Merath (banjo). The last show with the original members of the band took place just a few days later on 29 March 1996 in their hometown.

After a fifteen-year hiatus the Country Pickers re-formed in mid October 2010 and now feature (above) Paolo Dettwiler on mandolin and Hermann Merath on banjo, with former bass player Hanspeter Gasser as well as Robert Brunner (dobro) and Tom Lochbrunner (guitar). Their upcoming shows include appearances at the Whisky & Cigar Club of Basel in May and at Paolo's wedding reception in August, and a performance at the 3rd SwissGrass Night in November 2012.

Country Pickers: website; e-mail

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Blue Frets Trio in Rome, 2 Mar. 2012

L-r: Michele Anselmi, Marie Keane, Danilo Cartia

Banjo- and guitar-player, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia reports from Italy that the Blue Frets Trio will be playing from 20:30 on Friday 2 March in the 'Four Green Fields', Via Costantino Morin 38, Rome; admission is free.

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

Monday, 27 February 2012

13th Spring Bluegrass Festival, Willisau, Switzerland, 19 May 2012

Paolo Dettwiler reports:

The organising committee of the Spring Bluegrass Festival in Willisau, Switzerland, has announced the full programme for the 13th edition of their successful event. Their updated website features short presentations of all bands appearing (in German).

The 13th Spring Bluegrass Festival takes place at the Swiss Agricultural Museum in Alberswil, next to Willisau, Canton Lucerne, Switzerland, on 19 May 2012.

The bands appearing on two stages at the all-day event are:

Alecia Nugent (USA)
WieśBand Bielany (PL)
Grass Root Ties (USA, GB, D)
Crooked Brothers (CAN)
Barcelona Bluegrass Band (E)
Red Wine (I)
Mala & FyrMoon (CH)

Advance ticket sales have been strong so far and a sold-out festival is likely.

The organising committee is looking forward to meeting old and new friends as well as a formidable set of bands from all over Europe and the USA.

Paolo Dettwiler

Friday, 24 February 2012

European Music Day (21 June): a place for bluegrass?

The Fête de la Musique, first held in France thirty years ago, is now a worldwide programme of free musical events on the summer solstice (21 June) each year.

The Fête de la Musique is generally known in English as International (or World) Music Day, or as National Music Day in individual countries; there are also regional networks such as European Music Day. This provides another framework in which bluegrass music (among many other genres) can be more widely heard throughout Europe during midsummer, in 2012 and every year.

The love:live music movement, presented by Music Network in association with RTÉ Lyric FM and funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, was launched on 22 Feb. 2012 as Ireland's part in the Fête de la Musique; more can be read about it on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog. Similar arrangements exist in other countries of Europe.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

News from Lynne Butler

Singer, bandleader, and radio presenter Lynne Butler (UK) sends current playlists for her weekly 'Butler's Boudoir Bluegrass' and 'Lynne Butler's Eurograss' radio shows (see the EBB's separate 'Radio playlists' post). At present Lynne's 'Boudoir Bluegrass' playlist each week is repeated the following week in her 'Eurograss' show. Separate programmes should be resumed in autumn 2012.

Lynne will be touring in the UK early in April with the classic country artist Allen Karl (UK; see poster image above). Her newsletter also provides a great deal of information on bluegrass-related events and activities in Britain and the rest of Europe, including the major European festivals, and ends with an EBMA link enabling readers to join the association. A few minutes from last year's EWOB Festival can be seen here.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bluegrass Summit concert, 3 Mar. 2012

Bluegrass Cwrkot

Thanks to Friedrich Hog, chairman of the German Bluegrass Music Association e.V. (GBMA), who announces on behalf of the GBMA:

3 March 2012, Bluegrass Night in Bühl

Bluegrass Cwrkot (Czech Republic) and Strictly Bluegrass (Germany) [photo below] will be playing the Bluegrass Night on 3 March 2012 presented by the German Bluegrass Music Association as part of EBMA's European Bluegrass Summit in Bühl. The concert, at the Bürgerhaus Neuer Markt in 77815 Bühl/Baden, starts at 20:00. Tickets can be ordered through the GBMA website.

The European Bluegrass Summit is held in Bühl for the fourth time and has been instrumental in pulling together the scene across borders. With these two fine European bluegrass bands, bluegrass friends from all over Germany as well as Summit participants are looking forward to an entertaining evening.

The text in German of the GBMA press release appears on the left; click on the image for an enlarged view.

On the concert evening, doors open at the Bürgerhaus Neuer Markt at 7.30 p.m., and the concert starts at 8.00 p.m. Tickets can be booked online. Below: Bluegrass Cwrkot at an outdoor location.

Wookalily to represent Ireland on the new Daughters of Bluegrass project

Thanks to Adele Ingram of One-A-Chord Music Promotions in Northern Ireland for the news that Wookalily, Ireland's premier all-woman, bluegrass-and-more band, have been invited by Tom T. and Dixie Hall of Good Home Grown Music (USA) to feature on the brand new Daughters of Bluegrass recording project.

The 'Daughters of Bluegrass', originated as a concept by Lorraine Jordan and Gena Britt, now comprises some fifty women bluegrass artists. Their first album, The Daughters of American Bluegrass, was released on CMH Records in 2005 and nominated later that year for the 2005 IBMA Recorded Event of the Year.

The Daughters have subsequently recorded two more albums: Back to the well, winner of the 2006 IBMA Recorded Event of the Year, and Bluegrass bouquet, winner of the 2009 IBMA Recorded Event of the Year for the song 'Proud to be a Daughter'. Their fourth album will include names such as Sierra Hull and Dale Ann Bradley. This year they are also including women from all over the world, and Wookalily will be representing Ireland. More details are on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog.

Charlie Parr to tour Ireland in May 2012

Thanks to Robin at Tin Angel Records (UK) for the news that US old-time country blues musician Charlie Parr (National steel guitar, 12-string guitar, banjo), who toured Europe in February and November 2011, will undertake a short tour of Ireland in May. The dates are as follows:

3 May Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast
4 May JJ Harlows, Roscommon town, Co. Roscommon
5 May Clubhouse Hotel, Kilkenny city (Kilkenny Rhythm and Roots Festival)
6 May Clubhouse Hotel, Kilkenny city (Kilkenny Rhythm and Roots Festival)
7 May Crane Lane Theatre, Cork city

Tin Angel Records

Country Blues Night in Rome, 23 Feb. 2012

Banjo- and guitar-player, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia reports from Italy that he will be presenting a Country Blues Night on Thursday 23 Feb. 2012 at the Locanda Don Chisciotte, Via dei Sabelli, Rome. The show begins at 22:00; admission is free.

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

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Unsigned Only Music Competition: deadline 5 Mar. 2012

Thanks to Candace Avery of Nashville for the following press release:

The newly launched Unsigned Only Music Competition, from the team behind the International Songwriting Competition, is fast approaching its 5 March deadline for artists to enter. Designed for solo artists, bands, and singers who are not signed to a major record label, Unsigned Only's goal is to find an outstanding, talented performing artist: a band, singer, or solo artist, a newcomer or veteran, raw or polished - the 'gem' that needs to be discovered. Judging criteria include vocals, performance, songwriting, and originality.

... This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for an artist to directly network with the top echelon of record company professionals and get guidance, advice, feedback, and networking opportunities... The judging panel is comprised of an impressive group of recording artists, producers, and top-level music journalists. The Grand Prize Winner will be awarded $5,000 in cash (plus additional prizes) and one-on-one mentoring by an elite group of record company executives. First Place and Second Place winners will also be selected in each category.

Entries are being accepted now until March 5, 2012. Winners will be announced in July, 2012. Categories include: AAA (Adult Album Alternative), AC (Adult Contemporary), Christian Music, Country, Folk/Singer-Songwriter, R&B/Hip-Hop, Rock, Pop/Top 40, and Vocal Performance. All entries must be original music except for the Vocal Performance category which accepts original or cover songs. Judging criteria in the Vocal Performance category will be based solely on the quality of the vocals, thereby allowing singers who do not write their own songs the opportunity to enter.

For more information, please contact Candace Avery at +1 615.251.4441 or by e-mail. For entry and general information, please go to

Friday, 17 February 2012

Toy Hearts in Zurich, 4 Feb. 2012

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for these photos from the show by the Toy Hearts (GB) at the Restaurant Lerchenberg, Zurich, Switzerland, on 4 February 2012, during their tour of central Europe, arranged by Rainer Zellner's Music Contact agency. Lilly writes:

It was a great concert! The first part bluegrass, swing, gypsy jazz, the second part western swing. The audience just loved them!

Above, Regula Sulzer, the promoter, welcomes the audience and introduces the Toy Hearts. Many more of Lilly's photos from the show can be seen here.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Invitation to the EBMA's 11th General Membership Assembly, 4 Mar. 2012

Angelika Torrie, chairperson of the EBMA board of directors, sends the following to all EBMA members:

Invitation to attend the EBMA's 11th General Membership Assembly
on Sunday 4 March 2012, 09:00–10:00 hrs
in the building Friedrichsbau, Friedrichstrasse 2, Bühl (Baden) Germany

Dear EBMA Member,

Following our general invitation in the January edition of our organisation’s newsletter Bluegrass Europe, the EBMA Board of Directors now invites you to the eleventh EBMA General Membership Assembly. All members of the EBMA have the right to attend the assembly, vote on matters concerning the work of the EBMA, as well as nominate and vote for members going forward for election to the Board.

Subscribers to Bluegrass Europe, and members of any national bluegrass music association, are welcome to attend the Assembly as guests.

If you have any additional items for the agenda below, the EBMA Board of Directors will be happy to include these under '10. Any Other Business'. Please send submissions by e-mail no later than 1 March 2012.

Please find EBMA's bylaws, as well as the minutes of previous General Membership Assemblies, here.


1 Welcome
2 Acceptance of last years’ AGM minutes
3 Reports of Activity by EBMA Board of Directors for 2011
4 Acceptance of Financial Report 2011
5 Election of EBMA Board of Directors for 2012/13
6 Election of Financial Auditors for 2012
7 Acceptance revised Budget for 2012
8 EBMA Goals for 2012/13
9 Membership contribution
10 Any other Business
11 Questions and Answers

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Crossing the line with Chris Jones

Singer, songwriter, bandleader, and broadcaster Chris Jones (USA) is now also writing some of the sharpest and funniest commentary on bluegrass subjects on the Bluegrass Today website - most recently, a series giving advice on handling the issues that confront bluegrass bands. The latest instalment deals with crossing national borders, in the course of which Chris writes:

I will also spend more time on crossing the US/Canada border, than on entering European countries (the other area of the world I have touring experience in). This is mainly because the US/Canada border is fraught with a lot more peril than the European ones. I’ll elaborate on it later, but generally, when entering Europe, you just follow the green sign, they hand you a free cup of strong coffee and a croissant, and you’re on your way.

There is more to it than that, as Chris says; and the EBMA advises bands who are thinking of touring Europe to read its White Paper on the subject. Meanwhile, read the whole of Chris's piece here. The image above is about his latest album, Lost souls & free spirits.

Monday, 13 February 2012

'British Bluegrass Veterans' on Facebook

Lynn Lewis (UK) reports to the Scottish Bluegrass Association's e-magazine Bluegrass and More that Dave Morriss of the Morriss Boys String Band has created a 'British Bluegrass Veterans' page on Facebook, with the aim of

... reconnecting with old friends and fans and exchanging memories and photos of the old days. It's well worth joining Facebook if only for this page. Come and join us with your own contributions.

The site already holds a treasury of photos of British bluegrass bands and individual musicians from the past decades, and will be a valuable source for historians of the music in Britain - and perhaps an example to be followed in other countries?

Kusterdingen festival 2012 now on YouTube

Thanks to Dieter Stoll of Horse Mountain (D), who reports:

With reference to the EBB entry of 10 January (updated 11 Jan.) about video footage from the 5 Jan. Kusterdingen festival, I am happy to report that I have now created a YouTube playlist covering the entire event. A night of more than four hours distilled into two hours and thirty-four minutes of pure music. The playlist has the pieces arranged chronologically, just like they were played that night. Some of the videos have been re-edited very recently to accomodate additional video footage provided by Walter Pfender, whose contribution is hereby gratefully acknowledged. Enjoy!

Irish band gets digital press kit on AirPlay Direct

The Niall Toner Band from Ireland now have their own digital press kit online, as part of the service provided by AirPlay Direct, the US agency making bluegrass recordings available for radio presenters.

The online press kit provides almost all the information one would expect to find in an artist's individual website: bio, discography, press releases, tour dates, photos, and music samples. The Niall Toner Band add:

We hope you enjoy our latest single, 'Tomorrow', now available for download on AirPlay Direct. Our USA success has been incredible. Thank you for your support. Pinecastle Records has been kind enough to sign us to their label. We are excited to work with them! Visit our website to learn more.

The NTB are booked in the US by Mountain Music Entertainment.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Red Wine: new CD and US tour, 16-25 Feb. 2012

Italian bluegrass Band Red Wine is ready to take off for a ten-days US tour to launch its new CD RED, which will be released in the US on 16 February.

The album contains thirteen tracks taken by great past and contemporary songwriters like Ernest Tubb, Don Reno & Red Smiley, Marty Stuart, John Fogerty, Liz Meyer, Niall Toner & Keith Sewell, Jon Weisberger, Christoffer Ollsson, Anne & Pete Sibley, Ben Wiship, plus a Beatles cover, an instrumental by banjo player Silvio Ferretti, and a 'Mamma Mia' medley.

Special guests on the album are Tony Trischka on banjo, Josh Swift on dobro, Annie Staninec on fiddle, Daniele Bovo on cello, Daniele Zalaffi on drums, and Ilaria Olcese on harmony vocals.

Here are Red Wine's upcoming dates in the US:

16 Feb. Palms Playhouse, Winters, CA
18 Feb. Redwood Bluegrass Ass., Mountain View, CA
21 Feb. Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, CA, with Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum
23-25 Feb. Wintergrass Festival, Bellevue, WA

Come out and see us somewhere!

Rachel Harrington & the Knock Outs in Europe, 4 Mar.-5 Apr. 2012

Seattle-based 'country soul' singer Rachel Harrington will be touring for a month in Europe in March and April with her new band the Knock Outs - 'some of the finest female musicians in the Northwest' - and their new album, Rachel Harrington & the Knock Outs.

Rachel Harrington won the songwriting contest at MerleFest 2011. Three advance mixes from the album can be heard on Bandcamp. The band is said to be 'dedicated to excavating the very soul of American roots music', and some of their music is clearly influenced by and compatible with bluegrass.

The tour begins on 4 March with seven dates in the Netherlands and Belgium, continues with seventeen dates in England, and concludes with six dates in Scotland. Full details are on the Rachel Harrington website. For further information, interview requests, guest lists, etc., contact Geraint Jones at G Promo PR: phone +44 (0)1584 873211; mobile +44 07855 724798; e-mail.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Svaťa Kotas Band in Brno, 12 Jan. 2012

The award-winning, world-class banjo-player and bandleader Svaťa Kotas (SK) will be featured in the next issue of the EBMA's own magazine, Bluegrass Europe.

Lilly Pavlak (who took this photo) stayed longer in the Czech Republic than she had intended, so that she could see the Svaťa Kotas Band in concert at Brno on 12 January. Her report on the concert will appear in Bluegrass Europe #83, with her review of the career of Svaťa Kotas, founder (1983) of the band Fragment. His solo album Late at night (1993) was the first instrumental acoustic project in the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Read much more (with more photos from the concert) in Bluegrass Europe #83. The photo below (also by Lilly) shows Early Times, who opened for the Svaťa Kotas Band at Brno.

Eddie and Martha Adcock with Tom Gray in Europe, 15-24 June 2012

Petr Brandejs reports:

The Czech Bluegrass Music Association is searching for additional gigs for Eddie and Martha Adcock with Tom Gray in Europe. Their gig at the Banjo Jamboree festival in Čáslav (90 km east from Prague) on 16 June is being negotiated, and they are available one day before - on Fri. 15 June, and then in the following period: Sun. 17-Sun. 24 June.

For more information contact CzBMA chairman Petr Brandejs by e-mail or mobile phone (+420 777122569).

See a Bluegrass Today feature on the foundation of the group a year ago from these legendary components.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Wagon Tales (UK) in Sweden, May 2012

The Wagon Tales: Joe Hymas, Kate Robinson, Ben Somers, Lewis Cohen, Joe Auckland

Thanks to Ben Somers, bass player with the Wagon Tales (UK), for the news that in early May 2012 the London-based 'alternative bluegrass band' will be coming to Sweden, where the following shows are already scheduled for them:

4 May Kägelbanan at Södra teatern Mosebacke Torg 1–3, 116 46, Stockholm
5 May Pusterviksteatern, Gothenburg

The Wagon Tales are looking for more dates around this time. They can be contacted by e-mail or 'phone (Ben Somers, +44 7811 447486). Their EP (see cover image, right) is available from iTunes and emusic.

In 2011 the band had a very busy year, playing on some of the largest festivals in the UK; their EP was given much airplay, and they had the opportunity of playing alongside such US acts as the Wilders and the Deadly Gentlemen. More details, including enthusiastic quotes from reviewers and a tour schedule, are on the Wagon Tales' website. They are also on Facebook.

Your festival or event ad in EWOB 2012 guide?

If you're interested to advertise your festival or event in the 2012 EWOB Guide please let us know, and send your ad (in pdf format, please) by 16 April to me by e-mail.

The ad prices are the following:

1/4 page: €200
1/2 page: €380
full page: €740

Thank you so much, and we hope to meet you all at EWOB 2012 in Voorthuizen, the Netherlands. Best wishes,

Pieter Groenveld

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Keep up with EWOB on Facebook

Thanks to EWOB Facebook administrators Pieter Groenveld and Ruud de Bruin for this news:

Did you know that, apart from its own website, the European World of Bluegrass Festival in the Netherlands has its own Facebook page? What better way to stay up-to-date, read last-minute updates, find interesting links, and have a possibility to share any EWOB-related news items?

Apart from festival-related information, we aim to provide information on upcoming events, misplaced instruments, workshops, etc., and hope this to be a regular meeting place for global bluegrass lovers.

Stay up to date by visiting and Liking our page. New items will then be instantly accessible and brought to your attention. Follow the 1600 people who have already done so and become part of the virtual EWOB family! We are looking forward to meeting you both in Voorthuizen and on Facebook.

The 15th European World of Bluegrass Festival takes place on 17-18-19 May 2012 at Voorthuizen, the Netherlands.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Alan Lomax archives to be made available online

Thanks to Pieter Groenveld of Strictly Country Records for drawing attention to this link to the article 'Folklorist’s Global Jukebox goes digital' by Larry Rohter in the New York Times.

Folklorist and ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax (1915-2002), born in Texas, sought out and recorded thousands of examples and varieties of music, song, dance, and speech in many countries. He gave incalculable encouragement and impetus to the folk music revival of the mid twentieth century, and was especially important in championing 'hillbilly' music (including bluegrass and old-time). His work is described on the websites of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress and the Association for Cultural Equity.

His immense archive of material is now being digitised with a view to making all of it available online. Read the details here.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Sore Fingers 2012: 9-13 April

John Wirtz of the Sore Fingers Summer School, Europe's premier instruction camp for the instruments of bluegrass and old-time music, announces:

Sore Fingers Week takes place at the usual location, Kingham Hill School near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, 9-13 April 2012, and promises to be another classic event with a stellar line up of bluegrass tutors and old-time tutors. The bluegrass classes are bursting at the seams. We have three bluegrass banjo classes with Richard Bailey, Danny Barnes, and Richard Collins!

With the old-time classes - Erynn Marshall (above left; fiddle) and Carl Jones (above right; banjo) - not enough people are booking up to make these courses pay. Surprisingly, Carl’s course still has a lot of vacancies. Erynn’s class is looking reasonable, but five or six more students would certainly give it a boost.

So, if you are intending to get up to Kingham this year, we look forward to receiving your booking form. And if you’ve never been before, you should give it a try. It’s probably one of the nicest musical experiences you will have.

Full details are on the website. Hope to see many of you at Sore Fingers Week 2012.

Danilo Cartia and Michele Anselmi in Rome, 3 Feb. 2012

Danilo Cartia and Michele Anselmi will be perfoming bluegrass, blues, and ballads from 22:00 on Friday 3 Feb. 2012 at the 'Locanda Don Chisciotte', Via dei Sabelli 58, Rome, Italy. Admission is free.

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

Banjo Festival - new camping and accommodation details

Following their announcement (see the EBB for 19 Jan. 2012) that this year's Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival (20-23 Sept.) will be held in the new location of Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland, the organisers have issued a guide to accommodation and camping facilities in Tullamore, linked to other tourism services. Read the complete e-newsletter and start making your bookings for the 2012 festival!