Sunday, 30 September 2012

Niall Toner in USA

Irish singer, songwriter, bandleader, and broadcaster Niall Toner has had a strenuous week at IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2012 and is about to face a three-week tour in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia in support of his new CD Onwards & upwards on the Pinecastle label.

Here is evidence of his hard work: left, swopping CDs backstage at the Grand Ole Opry with Rhonda Vincent (source: the official Rhonda Vincent Facebook); right, endorsing the slogan 'You can never have too many guitars' (source: the Mountain Music Entertainment Facebook). More recent news of Niall is on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog.

Germany and Ireland make their mark at IBMA WOB 2012

Volker Fisher, banjo-player of Covered Grass (D; shown above), contributed his third guest post to the Prescription Bluegrass Blog earlier this week, describing the band's experiences in Nashville during IBMA's World of Bluegrass, up to and including their first showcase appearance. The tensions, apprehensions, and hitches, together with the rewards and the good vibrations, are all there. Read the full text here. Volker ends with the words:

Believe me, folks; it is a dream comin' true to be part of the real bluegrass world. While I write these lines Sam Bush is crossing the room and smiles back to me. I'm a bluegrass musician and that means a big thing to me.

Yesterday Brian McNeal, founder, editor, and radio host of Prescription Bluegrass Media, published a major feature on the PBB, 'European Bluegrass Well Represented at IBMA Conference!', giving his view of World of Bluegrass 2012 as 'the best conference in recent years', and adding:

In no small way, three European acts are responsible for helping the overall 'High-Tide' momentum. Ireland’s Niall Toner and I Draw Slow, along with Germany’s Covered Grass, each did what they do to best and set the bar of excellence up several notches... Hats off to Germany and Ireland for sending their best.

Read Brian's full text here. Niall Toner was assisted in his set on stage was assisted by Konrad Liddy, bass-player of I Draw Slow, and Martino Coppo, EBMA board member and mandolinist/lead singer of Red Wine (I). An interview by John Lawless with Louise and Dave Holden of I Draw Slow has already appeared on Bluegrass Today, and his interview with Niall Toner is expected to appear in the near future.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Gibson Brothers, Blue Highway win IBMA awards

Thanks to Emily Amos of Compass Records for the news that on Thursday night (27 Sept.) the Gibson Brothers, Compass recording artists, won the Entertainer of the Year and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year awards at the 23rd annual International Bluegrass Music Awards in Nashville, TN. The photo above, taken by Alane Anno for the IBMA, shows them performing a new song, 'They called it music', during the awards show at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

The Gibson Brothers have played and toured several times in Europe - most recently in May 2012, when they performed in Denmark, Germany, France, and Italy. Banjoist/singer Eric Gibson says: 'I really think winning is the result of perseverance, even stubbornness. We have stayed the course at times when maybe it made little sense to continue, and thank God we did. Our goal remains the same – to improve as singers, writers, and players, and to make the next record better.'

Compass Records recording artists were nominated for ten awards, and Dale Ann Bradley won the title of Female Vocalist of the Year for the fifth time. The label now has the largest Celtic music catalogue in the world.

In addition, Rounder recording artists Blue Highway, who topped the bill at the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Ireland a week ago, and will be playing in Germany and the Czech Republic next month, won the Vocal Group of the Year award, together with yet another Dobro Performer of the Year award for Rob Ickes, who has now won it fourteen times. Read the full list of 2012 IBMA awards recipients here.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Random Canyon Growlers in Britain and Ireland, Oct.-Nov. 2012

Thanks to GPromo PR for the latest news on the coming tour (10 Oct.-4 Nov. 2012) by the Random Canyon Growlers (photo above) - their first in Britain and Ireland.

The Growlers, based in the north-western USA and billed as 'the Rockies’ fastest & finest bluegrass pickers', playing 'hard-driving bluegrass & old-time music boosted by lazer-beam harmonies', can be heard on SoundCloud and seen on YouTube (1; 2). They will be touring in England and Wales (10-28 Oct.) before coming to Ireland for a week. Their lineup will consist of Matt Donovan (bass), Jon Degroot (mandolin, lead guitar, vocals), Matt Herron (fiddle), Brock Benjamin (banjo, vocals), and Jamie Drysdale (guitar, lead vocals). The tour will support their debut album, Dickey ain't got all day, which has received favourable reviews from such magazines as Maverick and No Depression.

For further information, guest lists, interview requests etc. please contact Geraint Jones / G Promo PR
Phone: +44 (0) 1584 873211; mobile: +44 (0) 7855 724798; e-mail

Thursday, 27 September 2012

11th Al Ras Bluegrass & Old Time Music Festival, 10 Nov. 2012

A month ago, a visitor to the EBMA Facebook page asked whether there would be a bluegrass festival in Spain this year. For anyone who is still in doubt, we're happy to announce that the 11th Al Ras Bluegrass & Old Time Music Festival is scheduled to be held at the Mercat Vell de Mollet del Vallés, Pça Prat de la Riba 6, Mollet del Vallés, Barcelona, Catalonia, on 10 November 2012, starting at 18:00.

Full details can be found on the festival website; the lineup, as shown on the poster image (left), includes folk, old-time, Hooligan-Grass, Manouche/bluegrass, and more.

The Porchlight Sessions: premiere in Tennessee

The Porchlight Sessions, a new documentary film on bluegrass music, which was featured on the EBB in April and May this year, had its premiere last night in the prestigious Franklin Theatre in Franklin, TN, south of Nashville, as part of IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2012. The Theatre is directed by Dan Hays, former executive director of IBMA.

The evening was launched with a special performance by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, followed by the film screening and a special question-and-answer session with director/producer Anna Schwaber and editor Chris Cloyd, hosted by Craig Havighurst. Belle Meade Bourbon from Nelson's Green Brier Distillery was featured at the cocktail hour before and after the screening. Some of the film's stars were in attendance, including Sam Bush, Steve Martin, Bobby Osborne, Peter Rowan, Alison Brown, Laurie Lewis, and many others.

The Country Music Hall of Fame will also present an additional screening of the film on Friday 28 September as part of IBMA WOB's Fan Fest, at 11.00 a.m. with a question-and-answer session to follow.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The 'I' in 'IBMA'

That's the title of the latest IBMA e-circular in the series 'The top ten reasons to attend World of Bluegrass 2012'. The text, which is headed by a picture of Covered Grass (D), begins:

One of the things that makes World of Bluegrass unique among bluegrass events is the fact that artists, songwriters, industry types and fans attend from literally around the globe! IBMA is truly an international association. This year alone we will welcome attendees from Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom...

and goes on to mention by name many notable figures on the bluegrass scene in Europe, as well as elsewhere in the world, who are now part of World of Bluegrass 2012. Read the whole circular here.

Covered Grass in USA on Prescription Bluegrass Blog

Covered Grass (D) are now installed at IBMA's World of Bluegrass, and their banjoist Volker Fisher is contributing an illustrated blog of their experiences to the Prescription Bluegrass Blog.

The first instalment (22 Sept.) tells of their journey from home in Engelskirchen to Nashville via Cologne, Frankfurt, and Dallas; the second (24 Sept.) describes their first two days in Nashville, including a performance at Valerie Smith's 'Dare to be Different' show in Bell Buckle, TN.

Photos and brief travel notes in German are also on the band's website, and many photos taken at an IBMA showcase are on their Facebook page. Keep following the Prescription Bluegrass Blog for full accounts of their experiences at the showcase and the rest of their trip to the USA.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Downhill Bluegrass Band and Maxida Märak

Sami artist Maxida Märak (left), a member of the Swedish indigenous Sami people, collaborates with Sweden's Downhill Bluegrass Band in a musical project blending bluegrass with traditional Sami folk music. Maxida alternates modern singing with the traditional Sami/ Lappish singing, yoik.

This single, Mountain songs, contains two tracks, 'The mountain' by Steve Earle and 'East of the mountains' written by Jonas Kjellgren, and is a sample of an upcoming full-length CD collaboration.

Mountain songs explores the similarities between the Sami culture's musical expression and the American traditional folk music from around the Appalachian mountains. The mountain has a central role in both contexts, and the mining industry affects the lives of both people and nature on both sides of the Atlantic.

The project is primarily a musical project, but has a more serious undertone and can be seen as a contribution to the debate on managing natural resources.

Monday, 24 September 2012

'Criffel Creek' off the (internet) air on 23 Sept.

C. Paul Lyttle, who sent in last week the playlist for the 23 Sept. edition of his 'Criffel Creek' radio record show, broadcast from Dumfries in Scotland, reported yesterday:

Some of you may have noticed the absence of 'Criffel Creek' this morning (unless you live within ten miles of Dumfries and received it via 107.3FM).

The internet service provider to Alive Radio has been asked to rectify the problem and the station should be online again by Wednesday at the latest. Too late for today's 'Criffel Creek', sorry.

The next 'Criffel Creek' should go out on 7 October at 10 a.m.-12 noon as per usual and the first hour or so will be given over to the Big Bluegrass Gospel Service to be held in St Ninian's Kirk on Sunday 30 September at 11.45 a.m.-1.00 p.m.

Meanwhile, if you are coming to MMBF 2012 next weekend, please make yourself known and enjoy it.

'Banjo 2012' at Eagle Music Shop, England, 3 Nov.

Thanks to Steve Noon of the Eagle Music Shop, Britain's 'leading and most passionate supplier of banjo, guitar, mandolin, and ukulele instruments', for the news that a special event will be held in the Eagle premises on Saturday 3 November - 'Banjo 2012'.

Greg and Janet Deering of the Deering banjo company (USA) will be visiting Eagle Music, which is the official worldwide #1 master dealer for Deering Banjos, selling more than any other retailer in the entire world. At the same time, the Kruger Brothers (Jens Kruger, Uwe Kruger, and Joel Landsberg, shown in the above photo) will be at Eagle to give on-stage workshops and an evening concert.

Details of other engagements in Europe for the Krugers will be posted on the EBB as soon as received. Meanwhile, a long letter of appreciation for the life and influence of the late Doc Watson, written by Uwe Kruger, can be read in the September 2012 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bluegrass Jam à Mazy!

Bluegrass in Belgium announces that Laurent Eeckhout, of the Namur Picnic Festival), is starting a monthly jam session and concert: 'Have a look at his message and support this wonderful initiative.' The message has been issued in French, Flemish, and English; the English version appears below.

Dear friends, musicians, and music lovers,

We are happy to invite you to the first 'Mazy Bluegrass, Irish, & Old-Time Jam'!!!

Goal: to offer a friendly meeting place for fans of bluegrass, Irish, old-time music and more globally, for fans of acoustic music who wish to share musical moments between players or listeners.

When: these musical meetings are scheduled to the last Friday of each month. So the first jam will happen on Friday 28 September 2012.

Where: at the wonderful Zy’coop place, 9a rue de l’usine, 5032 Mazy.

Opening hours: Doors open at 19:30
Jam from 20:00 to 21:30
Open stage from 21:30 to 21:50
Concert from 22:00 to 23:00

This 28/09/2012 : Louvat Bros; video YouTube teaser CD 2012

Last jam for the road …

Who: fans of bluegrass, Irish, and old-time acoustic music, with their instrument or not, beginners or advanced… cheerfulness required!

What: The purpose of the jam is to let the musicians to propose tunes to each other, spontaneously, following the feeling of the moment. However, to allow everybody to be comfortable, we will suggest every month five 'standards' pieces of the style which will be certainly played!

- This 28/09/2012 : Cripple Creek (A) - Salt Creek (A) - Bury me Beneath the Willow (G) - John Hardy (G) - Home Sweet Home (C)

- More details on our website!

Rate: Take part in the jam for a symbolic coin of 2,00 € !!!
Thank the musicians performing the concert of the evening according to
your appreciation by participating in the hat...

Organising team: Steve Louvat and Laurent Eeckhout - Blue Wings asbl
(Picnic Festival organiser)
Become friends on Facebook now. Looking forward to meet you there numerous,

Musically yours,
Steve and Laurent

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

FREE Live Video Webcast: 2012 IBMA Awards Show

2012 IBMA Awards Show
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Live Video Webcast
Ryman Auditorium
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
7:30pm Central Standard Time (CST)
28 September at 01:30 CET in Europe
For the first time ever -- Bluegrass Nation, powered by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), will present LIVE streaming video of the IBMA awards show.

Bluegrass Nation, a new IBMA web site presently under development, will be an online "nerve center" for bluegrass, connecting fans with artists and the culture of bluegrass music. It will also connect all the great bluegrass news outlets, blogs, forums and web sites out there into one true community. Ultimately an online community for bluegrass news, information sharing, promotion, education, all media formats.

Please help the IBMA fire-up Bluegrass Nation! Submit your e-mail at the BN website. They will contact you soon to tell you when and how to set up your membership. Everything is free!

Click here for more details about the purpose and goals of IBMA's Bluegrass Nation.

Contact IBMA in Nashville, Tennessee, USA at  or  telephone: 615-256-3222.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Niall Toner in USA, 24 Sept.-20 Oct. 2012

The latest e-newsletter from the US agency Mountain Music Entertainment gives details of the USA tour schedule of Irish singer/songwriter, broadcaster, and bandleader Niall Toner, beginning later this month.

The fifteen scheduled appearances begin with three in Nashville during IBMA's World of Bluegrass week, including the launch of his new Pinecastle album Onwards & upwards, and continue with others at noted venues in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina up to 20 October. Read the full details here.

Friday, 14 September 2012

So long, Doc, Earl, and Doug - from Dan Crary

We reprint here, by permission, this reflective and inspiring tribute by master guitarist Dan Crary, who can be heard reading it on YouTube:

'Give sorrow words', the poet advised; not an easy thing to do when we have seen the passing of some of the greats of our music. And it always comes as a shock; you 'know not the hour', as the Bible says. 2012 has been the year of the passing of some of our music’s greatest monumental figures, especially for me: Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Doug Dillard, as well as other greats of our music, including Everett Lilly. Sic transit gloria mundi, 'thus passes away the glory of the world.' And so we grieve for these giant figures in our lives and music, we feel their absence, make speeches, write memorials, and as the characters in the play said, gathered around the deathbed of Richard II, 'For God’s sake let us sit down upon the ground and tell sad tales of the death of kings.'

The tales of Doc and Earl and Doug will be many to tell, in fact they already have been: happily these great players did actually receive some of their flowers while they were living, as the old Stanley Brothers song has it. Earl Scruggs seemed to come out of nowhere in the 1940s playing a style of banjo that was, by the time the world heard it, so complete, so powerful, all banjo playing since has been judged by its standard. The old tapes of the Bluegrass Boys on the 1940s Grand Ol’ Opry record how audiences went berserk for Earl’s banjo, demanding so many encores, it almost stopped the Opry rest of the show.

When Doc Watson burst on the national scene in those early ‘60s Newport Folk Festivals, he blew the New England folkies away with the power of his gravel-pure voice, and the greatest guitar flatpicking that had ever been heard. And when Doc and son Merle toured the world starting in the late sixties, they began the biggest migration of a single musical instrument in history. The steel-string guitar went from deep obscurity in the mid-20th century to become the most ubiquitous instrument on earth.

Out of all the sincere and well-intentioned attempts of politics, diplomacy, philosophy, religion, and education to get people to be peaceable together, ironically today, the last thing on earth that all seven billion of us agree on is that we like the steel string guitar. If you could get into Tehran, Beijing, or Mogadishu there would be a peaceable jam session, and someone there would know the 'Wildwood flower.' Having thus swept the world, guitar music may, just maybe, someday save humanity; if it does, Doc and Merle started the trend.

Doug Dillard was another tremendous personality and player, very influential, and with the Dillards band came roaring out of the California music scene in the late '60s and early '70s. The Dillards showed the world that bluegrass music, acoustic instruments, and entertaining stories and repartee could make it on a major label and stand on its own surrounded by electrified country and rock music.

So it’s shocking to think of our world without them; for me Earl was the blazing banjo sound that hooked me as a little kid in 1951; in my world, Doc was the fifth face on the Mt Rushmore of music; and Doug was sassy, smart old-time music walking unapologetically up and down Santa Monica Blvd. Now, without them, the world feels very strange, and we wonder what more to say about their absence. Books will be written, memorials created, and most of all, we will tell stories of Doc and Earl and Doug for a long time.

So what more is there to say? Just one thing more: to remind ourselves how their music and their example ought to influence us. In history the great funeral orations were aimed not at the departed, but at the living. Pericles after the Peloponnesian war and Lincoln at Gettysburg, for example, reminded the living to carry on the vision of those being memorialised. And that’s what we can do as we celebrate and feel the loss of Doc and Earl and Doug. We can go back to the source, listen again to the recordings, hear in Doc’s singing and playing what Utah Phillips called 'the power of an authorless folksong'. Listen to the beautiful inside stuff of Earl’s banjo, the irony, the tone, the drive. And revisit those sessions from over three decades ago when Doug and the Dillards took bluegrass to town and made it dance in the city streets.

And there is another important tradition that these heroes of our music all taught us: the tradition of 'it’s OK to do something different'. Realize that the passing greats of 2012 are immortal and revered by us both because they were true to their roots and traditions, and also because the music they actually performed changed everything that went before. Doc, Earl, Doug: all innovators who warped and altered the music drastically while somehow never letting you forget where they (and it) came from. That’s a difficult line to walk: their legacy of rooted-but-different is a challenging course for us to navigate, and it can get divisive. If you don’t think so, just sit in on some of our beer-and-opinions arguments that range everywhere from 'bluegrasser-than-thou' to 'it’s my guitar and I’ll play what I want to.' It’s a dialogue as old as western civilisation: will it be permanence or change? The answer to that one, my friends, had better be 'Yes!'

The examples of Doc and Earl and Doug are a perfect guide into our future. They’re a compass to keep the music on course in some sense, but also to point to the next Earl, Doc, or Doug, the next inspired young player waiting in the wings to knock your socks off.

Think about it: somewhere out there, today, walking around, are the players who will be the heroes of 2062. So our job is twofold: we need to be the old curmudgeons nagging the young players to remember the tradition, and then we need the wisdom to get out of their way as they change things, become Doc II, or the kid-who-will-become-Earl, or a Doug-for-the-next-generation. Because as Lee Hayes of the Weavers famously said: 'The future isn’t what it was cracked up to be; and what’s more, it never was.'

Dan Crary
Copyright 2012, Thunderation, Inc.

Pick your passion at 6th Bluegrass Camp Munich, 5-7 Oct. 2012

Instructors and students 'on campus', 2011

Thanks to Adiaha Bürkmiller for the news that the 6th Bluegrass Camp Munich, the 'Pick your Passion Camp' for all bluegrass instruments, will be held from 5th to 7th October 2012 in Aschau, near Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria. Only a few places are left!

This year's instructors:

Bill Evans, banjo (US)
Rüdiger Helbig, banjo (D)
John Dowling, banjo (UK)
Jürgen Biller, banjo (D)

Jimmy Heffernan, Dobro ­(US)
Phillip Schöppe, mandolin (D)
Rico Waldmann, guitar ­(D)
Anna Dowling, fiddle ­(UK)

Two-and-a-half days of intensive learning, jamming, and socialising with students from all over Europe and instructors from all over the world.

Besides the workout classes (10-12 students), the weekend will include a band workshop with jamming night, harmony singing, clawhammer for beginners, how to work with Band-in-Box, improvisation, and many more.

For more information, please contact Adiaha Bürkmiller website; cell-phone +49-176-23640702; e-mail.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival workshop schedule

The 11th Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival opens in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, Ireland, seven days from now. In their latest e-newsletter, the organisers send a wide-ranging schedule for workshops, all of which will be held in the conference centre at the Tullamore Court Hotel.

Songwriting workshops are being given by Niall Toner, Tim Stafford, Shawn Lane, and Rick Shea; 5-string banjo workshops by Michael J. Miles (who will also give a performance of his 'Senegal to Seeger' one-man show), Lluis Gomez, and Jason Burleson; flatpicking guitar by Charlie Sizemore; dobro by Rob Ickes; Don Rigsby will give workshops on bluegrass mandolin and on bluegrass and gospel vocals; and Barcelona Bluegrass Band members Joan Pau Cumellas and Robbie K. Jones will give workshops on the mouth organ and the 'Cajon' in bluegrass and Irish music.

There is a correspondingly wide range of workshops in the instruments and techniques of Irish music, and more workshops may be added to this list. More details - together with the full concert schedule, accommodation and camping guidance, and a list of nineteen venues in Tullamore at which live music is welcome - can be read here.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bluegrass news from Italy

Martino Coppo, EBMA board member and mandolinist/lead singer of Red Wine (above), reports:
  • Red Wine's Bluegrass Party #4
    is scheduled for Friday 16th November at Teatro Modena in Genova, Italy. Special guest for this year is legendary singer/songwriter Peter Rowan. Red Wine and Peter Rowan will also play a short tour together; here is the full schedule:

    Thurs. 15th Maison Musique (Turin (Torino), IT)
    Fri. 16th Teatro Modena (Genoa (Genova), IT)
    Sat. 17th Auditorium (La Roche, FR)
    Sun. 18th Teatro Amigdala (Trezzo d'Adda, IT)

  • Miniera Acustica Music Summer Camp, Urbino (IT)
    The 7th Miniera Acustica Music Camp at La Corte della Miniera near Urbino in August was a complete success. Students from Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Slovenia came to attend music classes and enjoy a relax and family atmosphere (and great food and wine!) in the beautiful rolling hills of the Marche region, near Urbino. This year teachers included the great master flatpicker Russ Barenberg (guitar), Martino Coppo (mandolin), and Henrich Novak (dobro).

  • Ronnie Bowman & the Committee in Italy
    Ronnie Bowman & the Committee (USA) played a sold-out house concert for more than sixty people on 2 August in the Monferrato area (Piemonte region) near Genoa (Genova). The house concert was part of the Arte In Cascina (Art in the Cabin) summer schedule, which included music, comedian, and magician exhibitions in a very nice and old country house, nestled in the mountains near Ovada, IT.

Bluegrass summer in France

Christopher Howard-Williams of the France Bluegrass Musique Association (FBMA) sends this news:

We had a pretty good summer in France, with the main events all enjoying success. The annual Bluegrass Meet at the Grange Rouge Trad en Fête saw a good number of bluegrass musicians come for the jamming and for the concerts, that included a special 'Banjo Sessions' organised by virtuoso banjo player Gilles Rezard (above left) on Friday evening. It has been announced that this will be the last Bluegrass Meet at the Grange Rouge, because FBMA representative Jean Lacote, who handled the organisation, is moving away. Jeff Tronelle, FBMA chairman and organiser of the Vichy Winter Weekend, is planning a Spring Weekend in Vichy and hoping to reach out to an international audience. Watch this space for more information.

Country Rendez-Vous at Craponne, while essentially a country rock festival, remained true to its tradition of showcasing bluegrass bands with the Steeldrivers, Ronnie Bowman (in patnership with La Roche), and French high-energy rockabilly-bluegrass band Howlin Fox from Normandy. Georges Carrier, who has been leading this festival with wife Jocelyne for many years, is stepping down this year and retiring completely from the board. This left many people wondering about the future artist-booking policy. I am pleased to write that I have been in touch with new president Blandine Peline and she assures me that they want to continue to work with La Roche on bringing bluegrass artists to Craponne.

As for La Roche Bluegrass Festival, we enjoyed another successful year with record attendance, in spite of the storm on Sunday night, which forced us to play the last two bands indoors in poor conditions. Sons of Navarone (B) were worthy winners of the contest ahead of Lazy Tater (NL) and Candy Floss (SK), thus breaking the Czech dominance of recent years! Ronnie Bowman was spectacularly good, playing many favourites from his back catalogue, and Bearfoot made a lot of friends with their modern take on bluegrass. Now that Nora Jane and PJ are moving on, it will be interesting to see what their next incarnation will produce. Hickory Project came back with a slightly changed lineup and continue to surprise with their modern hard-drive bluegrass with Coleman Smith from Texas excelling on the fiddle. Anthony Hannigan will be back next year with Hickory Project to lead the workshop, which once again proved a successful format.

And so to the future and our next Winter Bluegrass Weekend to be held in Vichy the weekend of 31 October-4 November. It's a great weekend of jamming with a concert on Saturday evening. It is held in a major sporting complex and the infrastructure, accommodation and food on site is excellent. See the FBMA website (go to the forum) for more information.

Sue Thompson returning to Europe 2013

Thanks to Sue Thompson (USA) for this news:

I'll be living in Europe once again during the spring and possibly part of the summer of 2013. I'll be based in Paris as before and I'll be available to do vocal and harmony workshops, as well as private lessons and band coaching in Europe.

In addition, I'm working on a recording project with James Field [of Blue Railroad Train (F)], and our new band, Field and Thompson, will be available for performances in Europe starting next spring.

Sue Thompson with the Petr Brandejs Band (CZ) at the Banjo Jamboree 2010 (photo: Lilly Pavlak). Sue and Petr have done many festivals and workshops together.

Retrospect and prospects in Switzerland

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

Switzerland can look back at a successful summer festival season in terms of music, fun, and food. The festivals in Thun and Stetten were blessed with wonderful weather. The later festivals in the Bernese Uplands and in Lommis in eastern Switzerland might have attracted a few less people than usual because of rainy and cool weather respectively. For one reason or the other, most of the festivals featured bands mainly from Switzerland. But good bands from other European countries (most of them from Germany) helped make the festivals attractive to the loyal fans in the various regions.

In the new year we expect to enjoy a few top acts from North America. The Krüger Brothers (left) are here again in November for concerts and excellent workshops. The indoor festival season starts in Winkel, near Zurich, at the end of October. The SBMA General Meeting is at the beginning of December. The regional jams continue to attract pickers and fans. Check out the information provided by the SBMA at their website if you're traveling in Switzerland this autumn.

Kent Miller (e-mail)
Bluegrass Radio Show
19:00 Sundays, 15:00 Mondays; e-mail

Sunday, 9 September 2012

A wedding made in bluegrass

Thanks to SwissGrass Productions for this good news:

On 25 August 2012 Magdalena and Paolo Dettwiler, former chairman of the EBMA, got married in Dornach/Aesch, Switzerland. Present at the wedding were some well-known bluegrass personalities such as Angelika Torrie (editor of Bluegrass Europe magazine), Eberhard Finke (founder of Bluegrass Buehne/Germany) and Gary Reid (owner of Copper Creek Records and the Bluegrass Calendar), who flew in from Roanoke, VA, especially for the occasion.

Paolo Dettwiler is a founder of the European Bluegrass Network and the European Bluegrass Music Association, a two-term member of the IBMA Board, and founder/creator of Bluegrass Europe magazine. He now concentrates on the Spring Bluegrass Festival Willisau (Switzerland) and Bluegrass in Basel, as well as picking and singing with the Country Pickers, who performed at the wedding reception [see photo below]. Paolo works as a teacher while Magdalena Dettwiler (née Dƚubak) is a toxicologist.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Promo material for IBMA's World of Bluegrass

Rienk Janssen, EBMA board member and 'international' member of the IBMA board, sends this information:

If any of you have promo stuff for your festivals, bands, associations, etc. (flyers, posters, CDs, whatever) that we can have at the international (EBMA) booth at IBMA's Business Conference (trade show), to show and/or to hand out, please bring them if you will be there, or otherwise send it to:

EBMA - Rienk Janssen
c/o IBMA
2 Music Circle South, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37203, USA

as soon as possible (it should be there before 20 September).

I will not have time and opportunity to send back leftovers; they will be left at the tables in hallways of the Convention Center, where people can take them during Fan Fest, after the trade show ends.

High society - bluegrass style

Following from the EBB post of 4 September on Laurie Lewis's visit to Norway, we learn that her travels took her as far as Bühl in southern Germany, scene of the annual Bühl International Bluegrass Festival, where Laurie and Tom Rozum played in 2009.

The photo, taken by Karl Heinz Siber of Muff Musik in the garden of Walter Fuchs, country music historian, radio presenter, and organiser of the festival, shows (clockwise from left) Walter, his wife Marianne, Tom, Laurie, and Annelie Baumann.

Toy Hearts in the home town, 14 Sept. 2012 - and then the USA

The Toy Hearts (GB) send greetings and good wishes to all their friends and fans, and announce:

Firstly, a big thanks to everyone who has bought our new record Whiskey, and supported us by attending shows on the release tour over the spring and summer. We’ve had a very busy, but very enjoyable few months, getting all across the country to lots of new venues and festivals.

We have plans for the autumn that include a USA tour and a new video shoot, then we’re heading back to Germany in early 2013. More info on all of this to come; the USA tour dates are on the gigs page of the website.

However, before all that, we would very much like to invite you to our last big headline home-town show for a while, at The End, the Birmingham Ballroom, on Friday 14 September. We are thrilled to be playing in this great venue; for Brummies in the know, the Ballroom is where the old Hummingbird Club used to be. Fellow local musician Ben Gunn will be opening the evening with his own brand of blues, rhythm, and skiffle music. We’ll be playing material from Whiskey, as well as some very special brand new songs which we're preparing for our trip to the States. Come on down, we promise you’ll enjoy it!

We'll be in touch soon - warmest wishes from Hannah, Sophia, and Stewart xx

The End @ The Birmingham Ballroom, Friday 14 September; 51 Dale End, Birmingham, West Midlands, B4 7LS. Doors 7.30 p.m., tickets £10. Children under 14 are welcome to attend but must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

NB - Although you will be able to buy tickets on the door, we strongly recommend buying them in advance from the links below to avoid disappointment!
Ballroom website; The Ticket Sellers

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Covered Grass and California: donations still essential

The EBB regrets that its report of 4 September about Covered Grass (D) was based on a misunderstanding.

The report stated that the band will be able to go to Los Angeles, CA, to perform their song 'Goodnight, John Boy' on 29 September in the Wilshire Ebel Theater at a giant reunion party celebrating the 40th anniversary of the famous 'Waltons' TV show of the 1970s, attended by the assembled actors of the original series. The invitation to L.A. arose from a video of the song, which Covered Grass recently released on YouTube.

To enable them to go to L.A. as well as travelling to Nashville for an official showcase at IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2012 (24-30 Sept.), Covered Grass launched an appeal on Startnext to cover the expenses of seizing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

However, the band will receive none of the funds pledged so far unless the total sum aimed at is reached or exceeded; so it is vitally important that donations should continue. Please continue to donate through Startnext.

New Acoustic Gallery newsletter, Sept. 2012

Thanks to Oliver Waitze (left) of the New Acoustic Gallery (NAG) in Solingen, Germany, for the NAG's September 2012 newsletter, which can be downloaded as a pdf format document, or viewed on the news pages of the NAG website.

The newsletter includes items on a planned move by the NAG to a fine new location; details of new instruments; a new Celtic 5-string banjo book by Oliver Waitze, published by Schell Music; Oliver's flatpicking guitar workshop on 3 November 2012, and Jesper Rübner-Petersen's weekend mandolin workshop a fortnight later (17-18 Nov.). That weekend will also see the last 2012 concert at the NAG, to be given by the Trio Vibracao. Read the whole newsletter here.

Another European showcase at IBMA WOB 2012?

Singer, songwriter, and impresario Adele Ingram (left) of Belfast, Northern Ireland, hopes to be able to accept an invitation to the IBMA songwriter showcase (Tuesday 25 Sept., 12.30-1.30 p.m.) at the World Of Bluegrass Week in Nashville, to showcase her song 'Diamonds and gold'.

As Adele does not have the funds at such short notice, she has set up a website where donations can be made for various rewards. On the website you can also read more about her story, see photos from a previous trip to the USA, and listen to the song. She is also looking for sponsors, performers, and a venue for a fundraising concert, for which Belfast Music Week and the Belfast-Nashville Songwriters' Festival have offered to help with publicity.

Adele, a member of the all-woman band Wookalily, also runs the One-A-Chord Music Promotions agency and the monthly Bluegrass Pickin' Parlour in Belfast.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bluegrass autumn in the Czech Republic

Petr Brandejs reports:

Summer was full of festivals (as you can see on the European BG festival map) including the 40th Banjo Jamboree in Čáslav, organised by the CzBMA, starring Eddie & Martha Adcock featuring Tom Gray and the Canadian band Oh My Darling.

Luthier Rosťa Čapek with Iva Louková are busy working on the upcoming events: Blue Highway concert in Prague on 29 October; and on 4 December Bluegrass Jamboree with Audie Blay­lock & Red­li­ne, Be­ar­foot, Caleb Klau­der & Reeb Will­ms.

They are also working on the European Bluegrass Summit which will take place on 15-17 March 2013 in Prague. More at the Čapek website. Special guests at the Summit will be Peter and Joan Wernick, whose Jam Camp will take place the following weekend in Prague, organised by the EBMA.

Banjo player Petr Brandejs will start the first European Wernick jam class in November in Novy Jičín, CZ. The details are being arranged.

Autumn brings two bluegrass workshops: Ralph Schut's and Petr Vošta's Dilna s prasetem in September and Petr Brandejs's and Jindra Hylmar's workshop in Malé Svatoňovice in October (already sold out).

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Music Contact: USA Roots Music Tour News, September 2012

Audie Blaylock & Redline

In the latest Music Contact newsletter, Rainer Zellner and his team update the schedules for coming tours by bluegrass and Americana artists:

Joy Kills Sorrow (USA)
29 Sept. Restaurant Lerchenberg, CH-8046 Zürich, Switzerland, 20:00
30 Sept. Clubheim, 89269 Voehringen-Illerberg, 20:00
2 Oct Kulturforum, 90762 Fürth, 20:00
3 Oct. Schlosscafe, 88471 Laupheim, 20:00
4 Oct. Haus International, 87435 Kempten, 20:00
6 Oct. Schlachthof, 34127 Kassel
9 Oct. Reithalle, 77654 Offenburg, 20:00
10 Oct. franz k, 72762 Reutlingen, 20:00
11 Oct. Innsbruck TBC
12 Oct. Amerikahaus Foyer, 80333 München, 20:00

Blue Highway (USA)
27 Oct. Staatstheater, 26122 Oldenburg, 20:00
29 Oct. Kopernik Teater, Hotel Pyramida, Prague, CZ, 20:00 TBC

4th Bluegrass Jamboree! Festival of Bluegrass and Americana Music: Bearfoot, the Caleb Klauder Duo, and Audie Blaylock & Redline
28 Nov. Salmen, 77652 Offenburg, 20:00
29 Nov. Bürgerhaus, 63303 Dreieich, 20:00
30 Nov. Haus International, 87435 Kempten, 20:00
1 Dec. Schloss Großlaupheim, 88471 Laupheim, 20:00
2 Dec. Amerikahaus, Munich (München), 20:00
3 Dec. Haus der Kultur, Waldkraiburg, 20:00
4 Dec. Koppernik Theater, Hotel Pyramida, Prague, CZ, 20:00
5 Dec. Bürgersaal, 95233 Helmbrechts, 20:00
6 Dec. Kulturfabrik, 91154 Roth, 20:00
7 Dec. NeuStadtHalle am Schloss, 91413 Neustadt a.d. Aisch, 20:00
8 Dec. franz k, 72762 Reutlingen, 20:00
9 Dec. Beavers Museum, 63897 Miltenberg, 20:00
10 Dec. Dreikönigskirche, 01097 Dresden, 20:00
11 Dec. Harmonie, 53121 Bonn, 19:30
12 Dec. Gutsscheune Varrel, 28816 Stuhr, 20:00
13 Dec. Landesbühne, 06295 Lutherstadt-Eisleben, 19:30 (Aufz.
14 Dec. Kulturfabrik Löseke, 31137 Hildesheim, 20:00
15 Dec. Domicil, 44137 Dortmund, 20:00
16 Dec. Schlachthof, 34127 Kassel, 20:00

Toy Hearts (UK) (13-28 Feb. 2013): 'Bluegrass & Western Swing'
13 Feb. Der Club, Heiligenhaus, TBC
19 Feb. Bottich, 75175 Pforzheim, 20:15
21 Feb. Haus International, Kempten, TBC
22 Feb. Wodan Halle, 79098 Freiburg, 20:30
23 Feb. Zehntscheuer, Ravensburg, TBC

Deadly Gentlemen (USA) (May 2013)
4 May Bürgerhaus, 77815 Bühl, 14:55
6 May Neue Welt, Ingolstadt
7 May franz k, Reutlingen, 20:00
10 May Wodan Halle, Freiburg
16 May Haus der Kultur, Waldkraiburg, 20:00
21 May Schlachthof, 34127 Kassel, 20:00
22 May der Club, Heiligenhaus, 20:00

'Hillbilly Boogie', the Country and Roots broadcast on Free Radio Tübingen, can be heard online every Friday (21:00-23:00), with repeats the following Saturday at 3:00-5:00. Tell your friends! Call in: +49 7071 760 204.

Rainer Zellner
Music Contact
Roots Music Booking and Production
Saarstrasse 8, D-72070 Tübingen, Germany
Tel. +49 (0) 7073 2250; fax +49 (0) 7073 2134; mobile +49 170 2134 999
UStID: DE146940684 (German Tax Number)
Media download; E-mail; YouTube

Laurie Lewis: August in Norway

The latest e-newsletter from Laurie Lewis includes these and other pictures from a recent visit to Norway with family members. Above left, Laurie's mother (born in Norway) outside the stave church at Ringebu; above right, Hardanger fiddler (and shop attendant) at the Valdres Folkmuseum. Read the full newsletter, with upcoming show schedule and other details, here.

Neil Rosenberg on international bluegrass

The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, volume 8. Genres: North America, edited by John Shepherd and David Horn has been published, covering over 100 different genres of music in 584 pages, of which nine are devoted to bluegrass. A large part of the bluegrass section is written by Robert Cantwell, author of Bluegrass breakdown and other books.

A sub-section, 'International bluegrass', is contributed by Neil Rosenberg, doyen of bluegrass historians and a former Blue Grass Boy. Though bluegrass everywhere outside the USA has to be covered in a very limited space, themes such as the growth of the music in Czechoslovakia, the writing of bluegrass songs in languages other than English, and the formation of the EBMA are touched upon.

Rawhide and the Sons: upcoming shows in Belgium

Rawhide at EWOB 2010

Bluegrass in Belgium announces concert appearances for two leading Belgian bands in the middle of this month:

Friday 14 September: Rawhide at Bistro GC Op-Weule, Sint Lambertusstraat 91, 1200 Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, Brussels, at 20:00, admission free.

Saturday 15 September: The Sons of Navarone at OC De Vondel, Karel van Manderstraat 26, 8760 Meulebeke (near Kortrijk, Flanders), at 20:00, admission €12; tel. 051/48 80 80

More details are on the Bluegrass in Belgium calendar.

The Sons of Navarone at La Roche 2012 (photo: Lilly Pavlak)

Monday, 3 September 2012

Second Annual Castle Picking Party (Netherlands)

Het Kasteel in Groningen, NL
After a very successful first event in 2011, producers Hans Kelderhuis en Ben Wiltjer are inviting bluegrass, folk and old-time acoustic musicians to attend the Castle Picking Party in Groningen, Netherlands / Sunday, September 23, 2012.

There will be jamming from 13.00 until 21.00. In addition to jamming inside and outdoors, there will be 8 bands perfoming in the small concert hall on the second level of this beautiful castle.

The day of jamming will be followed by an 'After Party' in the Castle's cafe with performances from three additional bands: Stringtime, Lazy Tater and Whiskey Rose.
Henk Eggens foto
This event is free to the public, but the organizers would like to know how many visitors / musicians expect to attend. You may sign-up in advance at Castle Picking Party.
Parking is rather easy to find on the streets surrounding the building. An outstanding and impressive venue. The castle has several small rooms for jamming. There is a garden area outside and various other outdoor jamming spaces. A great ending to your musical summer!

Heard 'Round the World

This picture of Irish 'neo-old-time' band I Draw Slow heads the 'Heard 'Round the World' international news section of International Bluegrass, the monthly newsletter of the International Bluegrass Music Association.

I Draw Slow, who performed at the 21st Bluegrass Festival at Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, over the past weekend, will be among the European artists taking part in IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2012 in Nashville, TN.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Carreteres Secundaries: bluegrass on radio from Spain

Thanks to the operators of the eclectic 'Carreteres Secundaries' radio music programme in Spain, who are searching for good music in all quarters. They already have two programmes about bluegrass, which can be heard here and here.

More information is on the Carreteres Secundaries radio blog. Carreteres Secundaries can be contacted by e-mail, and is also on Ivoox, Facebook, and iTunes.