Saturday, 31 March 2012

Earl Scruggs' Funeral To Be Broadcast Worldwide

Breaking News from the International Bluegrass Music Association offices in Nashville, TN:

Nancy Cardwell tells us she received an important telephone call on Friday from former Johnson Mountain Boys fiddler, Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM Radio host Eddie Stubbs. Eddie would like the music world to know that the funeral for the legendary Earl Scruggs will be broadcast live on the internet via WSM Radio. Eddie will be the Master of Ceremonies.

Earl Scruggs Funeral Service

Sunday, April 1, 2012
2:00 pm Central Standard Time [CST]
21:00 Western European Time [WET]

Live from Ryman Auditorium
Nashville, Tennessee, USA

WSM Radio 650 am

Friday, 30 March 2012

Wanted: an affordable-premium British banjo

Thanks to the Prescription Bluegrass Blog (USA) for the news that Simon Middleton (left), head of the leading UK suppliers Banjos Direct, is eager to contact British banjo makers who can meet a particular demand in the growing market for instruments. While Britain already has specialist luthiers producing top-quality instruments at correspondingly high prices, Banjos Direct are searching for

high-quality, small-volume makers which are nevertheless working at a slightly larger scale than the individual hand-builders, and who can produce instruments around the £1,000 to £2,000 price point... we believe there is a real opportunity for British makers to supply the affordable-premium, not just the luxury, end of the market.

Read the full story on the Prescription Bluegrass Blog.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

In memoriam

The Looping Brothers of Germany - Ulli Sieker, Ralf Strotmann, and Matthias Malcher - announce a new video: a trio performance by them on YouTube of 'Preaching, praying, singing', as recorded by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, & the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1950:

We'd like to dedicate this video to our hero, the late Earl Scruggs, who passed away on 28 March 2012. May he rest in peace!


6 January 1924 – 28 March 2012

'Bye Earl, thanks for being my hero in this world!

Danilo Cartia

Earl Scruggs, January 6, 1924 - March 28, 2012: A Legend Beyond Borders

[ Editor's Update: A worthy and well written article about Earl Scruggs may be found online at this link: Earl Scruggs: Bluegrass Legend ]

Earl Scruggs: Miami Pop Music Fest 1968

As previously reported banjo innovator and pioneer Earl Scruggs passed away in a Nashville hospital yesterday morning: March 28, 2012. Family spokesperson, son Randy Scruggs, has not released details of his father's passing, despite various media accounts. The Scruggs family has always maintained their privacy and Earl's death is no exception. However it is known in the past several years that Earl has suffered occasional bouts of pneumonia, and a heart attack in 1998 during surgical procedures on his hip. He also had recurring issues with back pains due to a car crash and a rough landing in a small airplane, which Earl used to fly out of Cornelia Fort Airpark in Nashville, TN. Earl was preceded in death by his wife and pioneering music businesswoman Louise Certain Scruggs and their youngest son, Steve.

The following is a very short list of accomplishments and indisputable facts about Earl Scruggs:
* Earl began playing the 5-string banjo at age 4.
* Earl taught himself to play banjo by listening to radio and records.
* Earl had impeccable timing.
* Earl and his unique banjo style played a major role in the development and eventual success of the definitive sound of Blue Grass music when he worked with the 'Father of Blue Grass' Bill Monroe from December 8, 1945, until his departure with Lester Flatt in early 1948.
* Earl enjoyed performing all styles and genres of music. He performed and recorded with an amazing list of artists from Maybelle Carter to Bill Monroe and Bob Dylan; The Byrds, Elton John, and sitar legend Ravi Shankar. Earl's love for music knew no boundaries.
* Earl Scruggs introduced the Blue Grass 5-string banjo to more countries than any other banjo player in history.

Grand Ole Opry manager and boss George D. Hay (also known as The Solemn Ol' Judge) introduced Earl Scruggs in his Opry appearances with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys as "the boy who makes the banjo talk". Indeed he did, and Earl continued to do just that for 84 years!

Whether he was jamming with fans and friends in his living room, or making guest appearances onstage, Earl loved to play his guitar and banjo.

For a more detailed and factual account of Earl Scruggs' life and career, as well as a unique photo gallery, see this online news article from the Nashville publication, The Tennessean .

A public funeral service will be held at the Ryman Auditorium on Sunday, April 1st.

Earl Scruggs dies in Nashville aged 88

The Tennessean, Nashville’s hometown paper, is reporting that Earl Scruggs passed away this morning at a local hospital. He was 88 years old.
We know that all of our readers will join us in mourning one of the most celebrated artists to ever play the banjo. In fact, it could be reasonably argued that there would have been no bluegrass music without him.
More coverage on Scruggs’ momentous life and musical career will be forthcoming.
You might also want to read the posts by various contributors on Bluegrass Today (

Bill Evans in Europe, October 2012

Thanks to banjo-player, -teacher, and all-round -expert Bill Evans (USA) for this news:

I will be coming to Germany to teach at the Munich Banjo Academy (5-7 Oct. 2012) and I am looking to play a few dates in Europe in the few days leading up to the camp and for ten days after the camp. This will be my first trip to Continental Europe since 1984, when I toured with the band Cloud Valley, with Missy Raines.

You can learn more about me by visiting my homepage. I have a new CD called In good company, featuring the Infamous Stringdusters, Tim O'Brien, Joy Kills Sorrow, David Grier, Rob Ickes, Stuart Duncan, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, and many others. You can hear samples from this recording through this link.

If you have, or know of, an opportunity for Bill to perform in Europe in the first half of October, contact him by e-mail.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Barcelona Bluegrass Band: an hour in the studio, on video

Thanks to the Barcelona Bluegrass Band in the historic capital of Catalonia for the news that the BBGB - Joan Pau Cumellas (harmònica), Lluís Gómez (banjo), Miguel Talavera (guitar, dobro), Robbie K. Jones (caixó), and Maribel Rivero (upright bass - are the stars of an hour-long video, shot in the TV3 recording studios for the 'Jazz a l'Estudi' series. The complete video can be seen here.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Toy Hearts: Whiskey tour begins

The Toy Hearts (GB) report:

... We have been very busy in the studio working on our 4th album. We are delighted to have Whiskey to share with you all very soon, the website is having a big spring-clean, and we have a whole bunch of dates in the UK in the coming months. But before the website gets revamped and we spill the beans on all of the exciting stuff coming up this year, we would just like to mention two possible dates for your diary:

Firstly, we’re kicking things off in London next week, so if you have your finger on the pulse and live in the Big Smoke, we have a special Exclusive Album Preview Show in Islington. We’re working in conjunction with our good friends at the Green Note in Camden, but moving to this larger venue for a one-off show, which is your first chance to hear the new record live, so get yourself down to the Old Queen’s Head on:

Tuesday 3 April The Old Queens Head, 44 Essex Road, Islington, N1 8LN. Tickets £8 advance or £10 on the door, 7.30 p.m.

Then a bit later in the month, and by popular Brummie demand, we have our Hometown Album Launch Party at The Glee. We want to pack out this club and have a bit of a party so please do spread the word!

Sunday 22 April The Glee Club, Birmingham. Tickets £9 advance or £10 on the door, 7.30 p.m.

For both these shows we will be a six-piece band, so Hannah, Sophia, and Stewart will be joined by Howard Gregory (Steve Gibbons) on Fiddle, Al Gare (Imelda May) on double bass, and Dean Beresford (Richard Hawley) on drums. We’ll be performing two sets, the first being completely acoustic bluegrass and the second set will be material from Whiskey, so get your dancing shoes on!

And if neither of those dates are geographically possible, you can of course find a full list of forthcoming gigs on the website.

So, we hope to see you in the spring when the solid kicks and red-hot licks of the Toy Hearts Whiskey tour will be coming to a town near you! There is lots more news to come, so stay tuned!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Danilo Cartia and Michele Anselmi in Rome, 30 Mar. 2012

Danilo Cartia (banjo, guitar, vocals) and Michele Anselmi (dobro) will present a Country Blues Night from 22:00 on Friday 30 Mar. 2012 at the 'Locanda Don Chisciotte', Via dei Sabelli 58, Rome, Italy. Admission is free.

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

Saturday, 24 March 2012

More photos from the 4th European Bluegrass Summit

Herr Wolfgang Jokerst of the city administration of Bühl opens the Summit, with Angelika Torrie, EBMA chairperson

Thanks to Lilly Pavlak for these (and more) photos taken at the 4th European Bluegrass Summit, held on 2-4 March in Bühl, Germany.

Christopher Howard-Williams, EBMA vice-chair, makes a point to Walter Fuchs and Bruno Sperber of Germany

Bluegrass Cwrkot (CZ) playing at an outside location to publicise the evening concert on 3 Mar.

Summit participants relax at the concert venue (l-r): Bruno Sperber, Monika Finke, Michael Zumstein, Walter Fuchs, Eberhard Finke, Angelika Torrie and Hanno Borchert

Concert finale: Bluegrass Cwrkot jam with Strictly Bluegrass from Munich

Many more of Lilly's photos from the Summit can be seen on her Facebook album.

Thursday, 22 March 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). Lynne writes: has got several songs in the running for a 'Listener's Award' including one of mine, 'I'm blue'. So if you have got time and the inclination then please feel free to stop by and cast your vote on your favourite song - doesn't have to be mine :).

Lynne is touring in the UK early in April with the classic country singer Allen Karl (UK; see poster image above), and will be playing in Sweden in early May. Full details of all her performance dates are on her website. 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.

This year Lynne will be attending the EWOB Festival in Voorthuizen, the Jamboree in the Czech Republic, Abaliget in Hungary, and La Roche in France, as well as festivals in the UK.

AKUS in Europe, 28 June-15 July 2012

Thanks to Angelika Torrie for sending the hot news that
Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas (USA) will be touring in Europe during the coming summer. The dates at present shown on the band's tour schedule are:

28 June Koningin Elisabethzaal, Kon. Astridplein 26, 2018 Antwerp, Belgium
30 June Holmenkollen Sommerfest, Oslo, Norway
2 July Finlandia-Talo, Helsinki, Finland
4 July Cirkus, Stockholm, Sweden
5 July Göteborgs Konserthus, Gothenburg, Sweden
7 July Roskilde Festival, Roskilde, Denmark
8 July Tanz und Folk Festival, Rudolstadt, Germany
9 July Apostel Paulus Kirche, Berlin, Germany
11 July Theater Carré, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
13 July O2 Apollo, Manchester, England
14 July Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England
15 July Hard Rock Calling Festival (with Paul Simon), Hyde Park, London, England

More details are on the AKUS tour schedule.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Changes in EBMA leadership

Angelika Torrie, outgoing EBMA chairperson, passes the sceptre (a genuine Martha White spoon) to Petr Brandejs (photo: Dagfinn Pedersen)

The 11th Annual General EBMA Membership Assembly was held on Sunday 4 March. The accounts for 2011, showing a net profit of €4,726.75, were approved and the auditors, together with all current board members, were re-elected unanimously.

The board of directors announced that in future leadership tasks would be more evenly shared among board members, with an annual rotation of the chairmanship. Angelika Torrie (CH), chairperson since 2009 as well as treasurer, webmaster, and chief editor, will step down from the chair as from 1 Apr. 2012, to be succeeded by Petr Brandejs (CZ), musician, teacher, event organiser, and long-time president of the Czech BMA.

The 5th European Bluegrass Summit and the 12th Annual General EBMA Membership Assembly will be hosted by Capek Instruments in Prague (CZ) early in 2013, where the chairmanship will be handed over to the next EBMA board member.

All members of the EBMA board will also share all relevant documents in a 'cloud', allowing each of them to be capable of leading the organisation, even for shorter periods. Read more here.

4th European Bluegrass Summit, Bühl, 2-4 Mar. 2012

The Summit in session: Christopher Howard-Williams (EBMA vice-chair) has the floor (photo: Dagfinn Pedersen)

The 4th European Bluegrass Summit, held at Bühl, Germany, on 2-4 Mar. 2012 through the hospitality of the city council, discussed a range of topics and drew up plans for action in the following fields.

Festivals: Enhancement of the EBMA Festival Network; collection of market data on the value of bluegrass events for venues and host areas; development of a 'European Bluegrass Concert Hub / Circuit'; preparation of an EBMA 'White Paper' on planning a festival; entertainment and workshops for kids at festivals; encouragement of jamming facilities as part of a festival.

Jamming: Support for Wernick Method initiative in Europe.

Concert tours: Create preliminary 'White Paper' for agents on organising a European tour.

Read the full short report of the Summit meeting here.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Petr Brandejs's 7th Winter Bluegrass Workshop, 16-18 Mar. 2012

Thanks to Petr Brandejs, chairman of the CzBMA, who reports:

Petr Brandejs's 7th Winter Bluegrass Workshop took place on the weekend of 16-18 March. The faculty consisted of the band Poutnici plus Jirka Kralik (fiddle), Ondra Kozák (guitar), Petr Máslo (banjo), Michal Barok (mandolin), and Petr himself. Forty-nine content students (see photo above) enjoyed the Friday jamming and learning as well as the Saturday concert of Poutnici + instructors for the sold-out theatre in Nový Jičín, CZ. Present (and busy working!:-) was also luthier Premysl Vecerek, whose guitar will be auctioned at the Banjo Jamboree in Čáslav this year. More nice pictures by Jindra Hylmar can be seen here.

Below: Poutnici + Petr Brandejs + Petr Maslo on stage at the Saturday night show

Westport 2012: full lineup and schedule

Thanks to Uri Kohen at Westport, Co. Mayo, in the west of Ireland, for a press release giving full details - lineup, schedule, and more - of this year's Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival (29 June-1 July 2012), headlined by one of the UK's most highly regarded and entertaining bluegrass bands, the Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys (above).

Photos of all the dozen bands taking part over the weekend can be seen on the band photo page of the Festival's Facebook, which from now on will serve as the event's main news channel on the web. For further information, contact Uri Kohen on +353 (0)87 757 0958 or by e-mail.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

St Patrick's weekend on Bluegrass Today

Thanks to Chris Stuart (USA; left), bluegrass activity in Ireland has been given special attention on Bluegrass Today this weekend, to mark St Patrick's day.

For his 'Blue Yodel' series of articles on Bluegrass Today, Chris conducted interviews with Richard Hawkins, editor of the Bluegrass Ireland Blog, and Ronnie Norton, photographer, radio presenter, commentator, and graduate of the IBMA 2012 Leadership Bluegrass programme.

A separate special contribution, 'Bluegrass: an Irish perspective', comes from Niall Toner, combining an account of his own journey in music, a look at the scene in Ireland, and more.

Hope River Entertainment in the US have also issued a special 'Happy St Patrick's day' announcement on their blog to mark the fact that Niall is now #1 on the AirPlay Direct Global Indicator Charts, hitting the all-time record of most radio downloads on the Bluegrass/Folk chart. More details are on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Della Mae chosen for American Music Abroad, 2012-13

Della Mae (USA), one of the bands that took part in Rainer Zellner's 3rd Bluegrass Jamboree! touring package in December 2011, have been chosen to represent bluegrass in the American Music Abroad programme for 2012-13.

Run jointly by the American Voices organisation and the US State Department, the programme selects twelve bands for their 'musical excellence and educational ability' to represent American music in tours of other countries. In an interview with John Lawless on Bluegrass Today, we learn that the band are planning a return to Germany. Read the full interview here.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Harmony singing workshop in Germany, 1 Apr. 2012

Thanks to Olaf Gläsmer, the Grassroot Philosopher, for this news:

Roots Experience [left] has organised a harmony singing workshop in the town of Alfter near Bonn, Germany on April 1st. A couple of slots are still open. The number of participants is limited to 24.

Sue Thompson, harmony vocal teacher par excellence, will teach this one-day workshop. It will take place from 10.00 a.m. to around 5.00 p.m. Check out her website.

No note reading, no bogging down in music theory, and no need for someone else to teach you your part! In the morning you´ll learn how your vocal harmony parts fit together and how to figure out harmony intuitively, plus some licks and tricks that make it easy. You´ll also learn techniques for blending your voice with others and for singing without strain. After a lunch break at the venue En de Hoett you´ll have a chance to practice in smaller groups and get personalised coaching from Sue.

The day closes out with a jam session where you can show what you´ve learned that day. Bring your instruments!

Price is €55 (excluding catering). Don´t miss the opportunity.

For further information e-mail Olaf Gläsmer or Gabi Weber, or call Olaf at +49-(0)176-50428385.

Horse Mountain touring the Heartland

Thanks to Horse Mountain from Germany for this photo of them with Appalachian Studies scholar Prof. Richard Blaustein (right) at his home in Johnson City, Tennessee. Richard recently retired from his tenure at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) where he was (and still is) one of the driving forces behind ETSU's Bluegrass, Old-Time & Country Music programme.

Horse Mountain are keeping busy: their schedule shows them taking part in a 'Harmony by Ear' workshop with Sue Thompson at Bülach, Switzerland, on 25 Mar. 2012, after which they will be touring in Tennessee and Virginia before returning to Germany to open for Alecia Nugent at Tübingen on 7 May. Full details are here.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Henhouse Prowlers European tour, 6-22 April 2012

Thanks to Ben Wright, banjo-player of the Chicago-based bluegrass band Henhouse Prowlers, who toured as a four-piece band in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany in March last year (see the EBB for 14 Feb. 2011).

The band has changed guitar players and added a fiddler, and the full new five-piece lineup - Ben Wright (banjo), Starr Moss (guitar), Jon Goldfine (bass), Grant Ziolkowski (mandolin), and Dan Andree (fiddle) - is shown in the photo. Their brief bio reads:

The Henhouse Prowlers hail from Chicago, IL, and are one of the hardest touring bands in bluegrass. With 220+ shows a year under their belts, these guys are both great pickers and songwriters. The band shows serious respect for traditional bluegrass, all while incorporating themes of modern city life. The Henhouse Prowlers have won multiple prestigious awards including the RockyGrass band competition and several Chicago Music Awards.

The full tour dates now showing on their schedule, including Sunday double-headers, are:

6 Apr. Stone Valley Music, Lichtenvoorde (NL)
7 Apr. The Pub, Zonhoven (BE)
8 Apr. Fagot, Ingelmunster (BE) / Roskam, Brussels (BE)
9 Apr. Den Eik, Gierle (BE)
10 Apr.
11 Apr. De Stek, Arendonk (BE)
12 Apr. Bacchus, Geel (BE)
13 Apr. N9, Eeklo (BE)
14 Apr. Hoppin’ Around Vorselaar (BE)
15 Apr. Crossroads, Antwerpen (BE) / Ace Cafe, Rumst (BE)
16 Apr. Au Sans Nom, Schaerbeek (BE)
17 Apr. Merlo, Brussels (BE)
18 Apr. Burgerweeshuis, Deventer (NL)
19 Apr. McBoll, Olen (BE)
20 Apr. Sjor, Roggel (NL)
21 Apr. Antiq Cafe, Wolfersheim (DE)
22 Apr. Willem 2, Den Bosch (NL) / Turnhout (BE)

The band is also on Facebook.

Sacred Harp singing in Germany: update and contacts

Chris Sepic reports from Bochum in the Ruhr area of north-west Germany:

I am trying to start a local Sacred Harp singing group in Bochum (Ruhrgebiet) if there is any member or blog subscriber at EBMA who lives in/near Bochum and wants to help out. I am an American who has a few years experience singing in local US groups in Ohio and Virginia as well as attending annual conventions in three US states.

I am working on building a website and have been in contact with Harald Grundner of the Bremen Sacred Harp singing group, as well as participating in a UK/US Sacred Harp singing workshop in Frankfurt am Main in October 2011. I would like to start a group in my region to help link together the Irish, English, Polish, and German groups.

I would be very grateful for any support from you or your members to get in touch with people in Bochum or the surrounding area to help form a singing group here.

E-mails sent to the European Bluegrass Blog arrive without attachments or the sender's address, so we are grateful to Harald Grundner at Bremen for info enabling EBB readers to contact Chris at Bochum by e-mail. Harald also sends the appropriate e-mail address for the Bremen Sacred Harp group.

Links on the UK website include a group in Paris, and the BerlinShapeNote group, whose main website image appears above; the introduction to their website includes the words: 'Discover the beauty of Old-Time Country and Mountain music...'

Danilo Cartia in Much More Blues, 17 Mar. 2012

Banjoist, guitarist, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia reports from Italy that he will be taking part in the Much More Blues concert presented by the Defrag on Saturday 17 Mar. 2012 at Via delle Isole Curzolane 75, Rome.

Doors open at 22:00, and other artists taking part include Piero Frisani (fingerstyle blues guitar), the 'house band' Vintage Factory, Leno Landini (electric harmonica), and the electric blues band Rollin’ and Tumblin’. The evening ends with the Much More Blues Special Jam.

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

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Tao of bluegrass: a portrait of Peter Rowan needs help

Thanks to Sven Simonsen who reports that support is needed for a documentary film on Peter Rowan, made by South 40 films in the San Francisco area of the USA, and entitled The Tao of bluegrass: a portrait of Peter Rowan.

Full details can be found on the South 40 website, and donations can be made through the Kickstarter project. The film has been seven years in the making, and Christine Funk, director and producer of the film, has included much live and archive footage of this major and pivotal bluegrass figure (well known for his performances in Europe), together with interviews with many other musicians. A trailer for the film can be seen on both the South 40 and the Kickstarter websites.

A sum of $19,000 needs to be raised for funding by Kickstarter, of which $17,681 (87%) has already been pledged. However, the deadline for funding is now only a week away (21 Mar. 2012). In return for a $25 donation the donor receives a digital download of the film (and thanks by name on the South 40 website), and there is an increasing scale of rewards for larger donations. Full details are on Kickstarter.

The EBB regrets that a Taoist-themed image of Peter Rowan was not available; we hope that the 'Blue Buddha' image is acceptable.

Monday, 12 March 2012

IBMA Leadership Bluegrass 2012 graduates

Ronnie Norton of Dublin is on the extreme left of this photo (by Stephanie Taylor) of the graduates of the 2012 IBMA Leadership Bluegrass class. Ronnie was the only member of this year's class from outside the USA. The names of all class members, together with further details, can be seen here and on the IBMA website.

Hotel reservations can now be made for IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2012; details are here.

Strong shoots in Swiss spring

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

The dynamic little Swiss bluegrass scene is looking forward to more highlights this spring. The big festival on 19 May in Willisau has become a traditional highpoint of the year while continuing to be innovative with bands from Switzerland, Poland, and Germany supporting headliner Alecia Nugent (right). Spring Festival Willisau is a great way to spend a day in central Switzerland.

Oh My Darling is here in March for two gigs. In other news, Sue Thompson is here in March for a workshop and Chris Jones is doing one in May. All of the jams are still going on every month. The SBMA is working on their second Jam Book of songs. The SBMA radio show continues, with new shows with various bluegrass themes every week. Playlists and information for sending in CDs, requests, and information can be found on the SBMA website.

Just got back from winter vacation. Have a nice spring!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

African Banjo Safari Workshop, 1-9 Nov. 2012

Thanks to Kevin Dooley of Idube Photo Safaris, based in New Mexico, USA, for news of a very unusual opportunity for banjo players - a Banjo Safari Workshop in Africa, with instruction by Ross Nickerson (USA; photo), running from 1 to 9 November 2012.

This project aims to provide a first-class safari, spending mornings and afternoons among the prolific wildlife of the African bush, combined with a mid-day banjo workshop every day - all at a very affordable rate. Six of the eight places are already reserved (four banjo players, a mandolin player, and one spouse), so only two vacancies remain. Pricing information and other details (together with an introduction by Ross) can be seen here.

Kevin, who is an established professional photographer of thirty years' standing, has been playing banjo for just over a year and already has three banjos.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Sacred Harp singing in Europe

The website of the Sacred Harp Singers of Cork in southern Ireland has a page of links to other Sacred Harp singing communities in Europe. These include (as well as the new group in Dublin), the United Kingdom Sacred Harp and Shapenote Singing website: the UK is described as 'a stronghold' for this music in Europe.

Sacred Harp singing, with its very close links to harmony singing in old-time and bluegrass music, is represented in Continental Europe by the groups at Warsaw, Poland, and Bremen, Germany. In September 2012 the Warsaw group will be hosting the first ever Camp Fasola Europe, as well as the first Poland Sacred Harp convention. The Bremen group, which meets in the air-raid bunker (below) on Zeppelinstrasse, have some inspiring quotes on their website, which should appeal to bluegrass enthusiasts.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Danilo Cartia in Rome, 8-9 Mar. 2012

Banjo- and guitar-player, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia reports from Italy that he and the Danilo Cartia Band will be playing on Thursday 8 Mar. from 21:00 at the Etablì, Vicolo delle Vacche 9, Rome. Danilo and Leno Landini (above, with harmonica) will be playing from 22:30 on the following night, Friday 9 Mar., at the Frane Letterarie, Via S. Martino ai Monti 7, Rome.

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

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Gibson Brothers in Europe, May 2012

Recent reports on the European Bluegrass Blog have indicated that the multi-award-winning Gibson Brothers (USA) will be playing in several parts of western Europe this spring, so here is a list of the European dates currently shown on their tour schedule.

May 2 Bluegrass Music Denmark, Karens Minde Kulturhus, Copenhagen, Denmark
May 3 Aalborg Country Music Club, Aalborg, Denmark
May 5 10th International Bluegrass Festival, Bühl/Baden, Germany
May 7 La Roche Bluegrass, Le Parc Theatre, La Roche-sur-Foron, Haute Savoie, France
May 8 FolkClub, Turin (Torino), Italy

On the La Roche website you can see a YouTube video of a Gibson Brothers performance.

The coming bluegrass season in France

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

The 30th Trad en Fête will take place at La Grange Rouge on 8-10 June. Bluegrass and French folk come together for a weekend of concerts and jams. This is in the Burgundy region well known for lovely Bresse chicken and delicious wines. More info at the FBMA website.

La Roche Bluegrass Festival will be from 2 August to 5 August, with Ronnie Bowman headlining on Saturday night. The workshop will be run by Hickory Project again from 31 July to 2 August. More info at the La Roche website.

If you are around the Geneva/French Alps area in May, you can catch the Gibson Brothers at La Roche on 7 May. Entrance is free - we are hoping many will come and contribute on their way out!

The Punch Brothers made many friends when they played in Paris in January, opening for Amos Lee, whose fans appreciated the energy, style, and brilliance of our bluegrass relations.

New blood in Denmark

Spencer Sorenson reports from Bluegrass Music Denmark:

We are continuing on our program of ten annual concerts, with high-quality bluegrass from Europe and occasionally the US. We continue to see a slow but steady increase in the number of attendees, and are happy to report that they are very attentive and knowledgeable, and provide a very good concert atmosphere. This past year was successful, and culminated in our annual Bluegrass Night, which featured an all-Scandinavian night with Earlybird Stringband from Norway, Rockridge Brothers with old-time from Sweden, and the debut of a new Danish band, Ungrassified. We are very pleased to have some young up and coming musicians joining our efforts, and look for supplements and replacements for those of us who have been involved with the organisation for a long time.

We have an exciting concert program planned for 2012, and have already had two successful concerts, the latest being a return engagement of G-runs 'n Roses, who gave a memorable performance as usual. We are thrilled to be able to present one of the top American bands, the Gibson Brothers, who will appear in Copenhagen on 2 May. We are really looking forward to that, and hoping to meet a lot of bluegrass fans at the various summer arrangements.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sons of Navarone go east, 11 Mar. 2012

Bluegrass in Belgium reports that the Sons of Navarone will play this Sunday (11 March 2012) at the De Muze cultural centre, Dekenstraat 40, 3550 Heusden-Zolder - in eastern Belgium, about 30 km north-west of Maastricht.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Lilly of the West: new CD, new shows

Lilly Drumeva reports from Bulgaria:

Lilly of the West's brand new album Swings & heartaches is out now!

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 ballades 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').

Musicians: Lilly Drumeva (lead and harmony vocals, fiddle); Yasen Vasilev (lead and harmony vocals, lead and rhythm guitars), Michail Shishkov (lead and harmony vocals, Dobro, piano), and Svoboda Bozduganova (upright bass: pizzicato and arco), with special guests Michal Barok (mandolin) from Slovakia, and Milena Vuleva (violin).

Lilly of the West will have the official CD release party for Swings & heartaches on Tuesday 3 April at 18:30 in the Studio 5 club, Sofia, Bulgaria. Special guests include Michal Barok, Milena Vuleva, and Toma Sprostranov (MC). The event is supported by the embassy of Slovakia.

Lilly of the West will play on Monday 2 April at 20:00, at the Da Da Cultural Bar in Sofia. The band will also perform live on SKAT Bulgarian Television on Wednesday 4 April at 22:00, with MC Vasko the Patsch. On both shows, Michal Barok will play as guest on mandolin. More info on the Lilly Drumeva website.

The photos below, by Elizabeth Kolbl, show Lilly of the West at recent appearances.

Bluegrass news from the Czech Republic

Petr Brandejs, chairman of the Bluegrass Association of the Czech Republic (CzBMA), reports:

The CzBMA, along with Lilly Pavlak, managed to get Eddie and Martha Adcock with Tom Gray to the 40th Banjo Jamboree in Čáslav, CZ, on 15-16 June. More shows are to be announced around Europe the following week.

A handmade dreadnought guitar made by the young Czech luthier Premysl Vecerek will be sold via Dutch auction at the Banjo Jamboree.

The CzBMA newsletter brings two reports from the winter concert of the Kruger Brothers with UNI Quartet in Europe; Bluegrass Jamboree in Prague; review of Svata Kotas Band concert (by Lilly Pavlak) in Brno; and a concert remembering late lyricist Josef Prudil with Poutnici and Traperi. Also mentioned is Festival Malinkej and the life of Wade Mainer.

After four years of silence Vabank Unit announces its comeback in a fine new lineup: Marek Mikulas (guitar, lead vocals), Petr Vosta (banjo), Karel Zacal (dobro), Vitek Hanulik (mandolin), Jaro Rakay.

Dobro wizard Henrich Novak restarted his travel agency Resotravel, dedicated especially to travelling to bluegrass precious places in the USA.

Petr O. Ruby released the JamPack - lyrics to more than 200 bluegrass standards to be downloaded. More info here.

Bluegrass Cwrkot are going to record their sixth CD in early April. As usual, it will contain some original material as well as popular bluegrass standards.

Mike Scott in Israel and Europe, summer 2012

Rural Rhythm Records (USA) announce that Mike Scott will be touring abroad in the early and mid summer of 2012: first in Israel (2-8 May) and two months later in Europe (9-23 July), when he will be a featured performer with Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa. His itinerary for the European tour is:

Mon. 9th July Travel to Frankfurt, Germany
Tues. 10th Frankfurt to Bergen, Norway
Wed. 11th Bergen, Norway
Thurs. 12th Sandane, Norway (National Folk Museum of Sandane)
Fri. 13th Bø, Norway
Sat. 14th Breim, Norway (performance on the Kolbein stage)
Sat. 14th Reed, Norway (church performance/ fundraiser with other regional artists)
Sun. 15th- Mon. 16th Breim, Norway
Tues. 17th-Wed. 18th Nieuwkoop, the Netherlands
Thurs. 19th, Fri. 20th, Sat. 21st Breim, Norway
Sun. 22nd Guildtown Bluegrass Festival, Scotland

Sunday, 4 March 2012

BanjoMania in Brittany, 16-18 Mar. 2012

Thanks to Aran Sheehan in Dublin, Ireland, for the news that a 'unique rendezvous with BanjoMania' will be held near Plouaret, Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany, in north-west France, over the St Patrick's Day weekend (16-18 Mar. 2012).

The YES WEEKEND! (organised by the Compagnie Papier Théâtre, la Quincaillerie) will include concerts, a masterclass, and a Ciné-Repas at the Vieux-Marché near Lannion. Two outstanding banjo-players will take part: Gilles Rézard from Lyon, one of the rare French masters of 5-string banjo, who plays with spirit in several musical genres; and Tom Hanway (USA; resident in Ireland since 2003). For more info, see the poster image (click for a larger view) or contact the Compagnie Papier Théâtre.

Gilles Rézard and Jacques Titley will be playing as a duo, together with the trio from Ireland of Tom Hanway (banjo), Aran Sheehan (mandolin), and Hugh Taggart (guitar) for a bluegrass evening on Friday 16 Mar. at Korong, Glomel (22), and there will be a final concert of Irish bluegrass on Sunday 18 Mar. at the Sabots Rouges, Gueméné/Scorff (56).

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Racing aimless reviewed

The EBB published on 14 January Danilo Cartia's news that Waving Fish Music had released Racing aimless, an album of new songs by Texas-born, Netherlands- based singer/songwriter David Rodriguez.

Danilo, who is one of the musicians featured on the album along with Rodriguez (guitar, vocals), Tom Cantrell (mandolin, bass), and Dan Earhart (harmonica), sends this link to a 750-word review (in Italian) by Claudio Giuliani on the website, giving the CD a warm and enthusiastic reception - 'a beautiful record worth searching out... powerful, 100% Americana...'

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

New: 1st European Bluegrass Festival Directory 2012/13 released 3rd March 2012

European Bluegrass Festival Directory 2012/13
For the first time, a complete and comprehensive directory of all festivals in Europe featuring bluegrass music (known to us) has been published by EBMA. The directory is a service as part of the EBMA Festival Network EFN. All EBMA members and subscribers of BE will receive a copy of the directory, which will also be available at no cost at the various participating festivals.
EBMA recommends to all of you Bluegrass festival goers (or festival goers to be!): Don't be shy or lazy! Travel, take your family, enjoy the countries, the people and the music, pick up some language skills, support or sponsor these festivals ... and encourage the promoters not to give up!
See you along the European axis of Bluegrass Music!

Dick Kimmel and Jerilyn Kjellberg honoured

Bluegrass Today reports that Dick Kimmel and Jerilyn Kjellberg (USA; shown in the photo) have been inducted into the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame. More details can be read here, including an outline of Dick's long, productive career in bluegrass and old-time music. Jerilyn Kjellberg performs and records with him as a member of their duo, and of the full band Dick Kimmel & Co.

Among other accomplishments, Dick chaired for several years the IBMA's International Committee. While in that position, he encouraged IBMA members from outside the USA to form networks for coordinated action in their regions - an initiative that led directly to the formation of the European Bluegrass Network, chaired by Paolo Dettwiler of Switzerland, and subsequently to the founding (2001) of the EBMA, which Paolo chaired for its first seven years.