Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Music Contact rings out the old and rings in the new year

Rainer Zellner and his Music Contact team send the latest news on tours by bands in bluegrass and related music in the last Music Contact newsletter of 2013.

The 5th Bluegrass Jamboree was a great success for everyone involved, and the  planning of the 2014 tour has begun. Many performance videos from this year's tour can be found on YouTube. Music Contact is especially grateful to the Jamboree's sponsors and media partners, without whom the event would hardly be possible. A broadcast on the 5th Jamboree can be heard on 6 January at 20:05-22.00 on WDR3 Radio, giving excerpts and interviews from the Dortmund concert.

Upcoming tours include the wonderful Toy Hearts (mid January), who took part in the first Bluegrass Jamboree in 2009, and have this year been bringing their mixture of bluegrass and western swing to Texas, in a long tour centring on the music metropolis of Austin.  In May the hard-core traditionalists of the Foghorn String Band will make their first tour in Germany; two of their members, Caleb Klauder and Reeb Willms, took part in the 2012 Jamboree as a duo and now bring the powerful sound of a full band, performing old-time fiddle tunes, ballads, traditional bluegrass, country songs from the Golden Era, cajun grooves, and stringband blues.

EBB note: As announced in November, the European Bluegrass Blog is now putting Music Contact tour information before its readers in a new way. Instead of reproducing lists of dates, we are giving links to the schedules as they appear on the Music Contact website. These contain more information, including links to venue websites and contact data. We also give links both to bands' own websites in English, and to Music Contact information ('MC bio') about them in German.

The Toy Hearts (UK); MC bio
Tour schedule 16 Jan.-3 Feb.

Foghorn Stringband (USA); MC bio
Tour schedule 2 May-24 May

Rainer Zellner
Music Contact
Saarstrasse 8, D-72070 Tübingen, Germany
Tel. +49 7073 2250; mobile +49 170 2134 999
UStID: DE146940684

Friday, 27 December 2013

Greetings from Portugal

The Portuguese bluegrass band Stonebones & Bad Spaghetti wishes everyone in the bluegrass world all the best for 2014.

The band can be seen and heard with their setting of 'Jingle Bell Rock' on YouTube here:

Last jam of 2013 at Mazy, 27 December

Thanks to Steve Louvat, Laurent Eeckhout, and Pascal Similon in Belgium for this news:

Dear friends, musicians and music lovers,

Next Friday 27 December 2013

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

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 to everybody to be comfortable, we will suggest every month 1 'standard' piece of the style which will be certainly played! On Dec. 27, we will play 'Red Haired Boy'.

More details on our website!

Organising team: Steve Louvat, Laurent Eeckhout (Picnic Festival), and Pascal Similon from 'l’Atelier Guy Ness'. Thanks to all volunteers for their help.

Become friends on Facebook now.

Looking forward to meet you there numerous,

Musically yours,

Steve, Laurent, & Pascal

The team adds:

Dernière JAM de l’année !!! Spéciales retrouvailles Québecquoises !

En concert: 'Kieran Fahy - Lorcan Fahy - Simon Donnelly'

Avec ce trio irlandais bien connu, c’est l’Irlande qui s’invite à Mazy !

Monday, 23 December 2013

Greetings from Barcelona

Lluís Antonio Gómez Martinez of the Barcelona Bluegrass Band sends good wishes for Christmas in a wide range of European languages:

Espero que tots passeu unes Bones Festes i que el proper any es compleixin els vostres somnis.
Bon Nadal i feliç any nou 2014!!!!

Espero que todos paséis unas Buenas Fiestas y que el próximo año se cumplan vuestros sueños.
Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo 2014!!!!


I hope all your dreams come true.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year 2014!!!!

Joyeux Noël et bonne année 2014!!!!

Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo 2014!!!!

Boas Festas!!!!

Srecan Bozie!!!!

Frohe Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr 2014!!!!

'Happy holidays!' from Vincent Cross

Singer/ songwriter and bandleader Vincent Cross, from Ireland and now resident in New York, sends his Christmas e-newsletter:

Dear Friends,

The end of the year is approaching, and I wanted to reach out with a hearty 'thank you'.

Your support over the years has kept me open to sharing the music that I hold so dear to my existence, and with the release of A town called Normal I've felt that I'm getting closer to creating the music that I've always wanted to hear.

Thanks for listening, and have a wonderful new year!

Download or order the CD from CDbaby or iTunes.

Vincent Cross:Live on The Song
Check out this solo version of "Childish things' from my appearance on The Song this year. The full 30 minute show includes chatter about the songwriting process.

Contact Vincent by e-mail.

Merry Christmas from Andy Glandt

Thanks to musician and author Andy Glandt (D) for Christmas greetings:

My wife and  I wish you all a very nice and healthy Christmas and may all your dreams for 2014 come true.
Beate and Andy Glandt
Music keeps the world together.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Denis Chanders, veteran member of Athy festival team, passes

Tony O'Brien, organiser of the Athy Bluegrass Festival (Ireland's oldest annual bluegrass event) in Athy, Co. Kildare, sends this sad news:

Denis Chanders, for many years the 'video man' and a very valued member of the organising team at the Athy Bluegrass Festival, passed away today (Saturday) at 3.00 p.m. after a long battle with illness. Denis's funeral mass is on Monday at 1.00 p.m. in St Michael's parish church, Athy, and burial afterwards in Oakvale cemetery, Stradbally, Co. Laois.

Deepest sympathy from the Athy Bluegrass Music Association and the wider bluegrass family goes out to his partner Teresa and the members of the Chanders family.

The attached photo shows Denis playing his beloved double bass, 'Berta'.

Lilly Drumeva at IBMA - on Bluegrass Today

See a video interview with Lilly Drumeva of Bulgaria, conducted by John Lawless, editor of Bluegrass Today, at this year's IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, North Carolina. The interview is published here.

Friday, 20 December 2013

A busy bluegrass beginning to 2014 in Ireland

The Nation & Blackwell Bluegrass Band: (l-r) Gary Davis, Chuck Nation, former Blue Grass Boy Curtis Blackwell, Susan Nation

Bluegrass enthusiasts in Ireland will be well provided with solid traditional bluegrass early in the New Year. High Plains Tradition from Colorado will be touring from 16 to 27 January, including the Shannonside Winter Music Weekend; and from the other side of North America, the Nation & Blackwell Band from Georgia will be touring from 24 January to 8 February. 

Both bands toured in Ireland in 2012. Nation & Blackwell released an album earlier this year, and High Plains Tradition are preparing their fifth album. Gary 'Biscuit' Davis will be on banjo with Nation & Blackwell in place of Jim Pankey, who was with them in 2012; and High Plains Tradition, as in 2012, will have Ron Lynam (formerly of Front Range) on banjo in place of their regular banjo player, Mark Leslie

In addition, Martin Gilmore, son of the High Plains Tradition guitarist Steve Gilmore, will be accompanying the band and playing some shows with them as well as solo dates. Full details of both tours are on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Danilo Cartia Band in Rome, 19-21 Dec. 2013

Banjoist, guitarist, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia (I) announces that the Danilo Cartia Band will be playing bluegrass, blues, and ballads at three shows in Rome this week, starting tonight:

Thurs. 19 Dec. 'The Help Pub', Via Jovanni Animuccia 24, 22:00
Fri. 20 Dec. 'Fiddler's Elbow', Via dell' Olmata 43, 22:00
Sat. 21 Dec. 'Green Buddha', Via Cassia 927, 22:00

Danilo Cartia
Phone/fax: +39 068273332
Mobile: +39 3396908450

NAG newsletter, December 2013

Thanks to Oliver Waitze of the New Acoustic Gallery (NAG) in Wuppertal, Germany, for the December 2013 issue of its newsletter. The NAG stocks the finest acoustic instruments and accessories for bluegrass, gypsy music, and other genres, offers a repair service, and organises workshops and concerts. Oliver wishes everyone a merry Christmas, with plenty of mandolins under the Christmas tree! 

Some of the outstanding instruments that have recently come into stock include a 2012 Froggy Bottom H12 De Luxe; guitars by Joe Striebel (see photo above); an Obana CK-25 Z concert ukulele; a Weber Yellowstone A-style octave mandolin; a Romero open-back banjo; a 1927 Martin AA-style mandola; a Krishot blonde amber F-style mandolin; guitars by Bourgeois, Martin, and Furch; a Gibson RB-00 replica 5-string banjo; Eastman MD 315 and MD 515 mandolins; a Scott Cao antique cello; and a Kentucky Dawg A-style mandocello. The Jazz mandolin appetizers book/CD set by Don Stiernberg is also in stock.

And of course the Trio Vibracao are available for bookings. They can be seen playing 'Ride the wild turkey' on YouTube. The NAG will be open till Saturday 21 December. More information is on the NAG website.

Schloss Lüntenbeck, Lüntenbeck 1
D - 42327 Wuppertal
Tel. +49 (0)202 94672730

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Fifth Bluegrass Jamboree! a great success

Above: Rainer Zellner (front row, right), of the Music Contact agency, with members of the Foggy Hogtown Boys (CAN), the Carper Family (USA), and Red Tail Ring (USA). Rainer reports below on the growing success of the Bluegrass Jamboree!:

Sunday 15 December was the last show in Roth/Nürnberg for the Bluegrass Jamboree! - Festival of Bluegrass and Americana Music on tour. Nineteen shows in nineteen days all over Germany plus a show in Prague.

The fifth edition of the touring project was a breakthrough as we reached new heights in attendance (ca. 5000 tickets overall) and introduced many visitors to the richness of American roots music with a bluegrass/ country/ folk flavoured programme. Media supported the tour with intense radio and print promotion, and legendary label Bear Family Records added programme flyers to their orders.

Many of the theatres and art centres were close to being sold out, the highlight beeing the Berlin show in the prestigious Classic/World music venue Passionskirche, which was packed. All shows ended with enthusiastic audiences, asking for more, many times with standing ovations and long lines at the merchandise table.

On 6 January at 20:05-22:00, CET WDR, the largest radio station in Germany, will broadcast/stream almost two hours of music and interview recorded at the Dortmund show.

On YouTube there are many videos taken by the audience; more links will be published soon on the website, as well as the Facebook page of the project, which is the main source for keeping updated.

Planning of lineup and shows for the sixth edition has begun; we are still looking to expand the tour into countries that share a border with Germany.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Tony Trischka to teach at Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp in Aschau (near Munich), Germany, in 2014

Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp 
is proud to have Tony Trischka 
as one of the banjo instructors 
in Aschau in October 2014!
Thanks to Adiaha Bürkmiller for this news: Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp proudly presents Tony Trischka as one of the bluegrass banjo instructors of next year's edition of the camp (10th - 13th October 2014).
Since 5th December, Adiaha has opened door after door on a virtual advent calendar on the camp's facebook page, introducing instructors confirmed to teach at the 2014 edition of her bluegrass camp in Aschau near Munich, Germany. To date these are: Jürgen Biller (banjo), Martino Coppo (mandolin), Angelika Torrie (bluegrass jam class Wernick Method) and Britta Wittenzellner (harmony singing / band booking). 
With Tony Trischka as a further banjo instructor, a first highlight was announced on 11th December. Tony is not only considered amongst the most innovative of banjo players, he is one of its most respected and sought after instructors creating fifteen instructional books as well as a series of DVDs. In 2009, he launched the groundbreaking Tony Trischka School of Banjo, an advanced, interactive, online instructional site that is the banjo home for students from around the world.
For his CD „Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular", featuring appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice and many other luminaries, Tony went back to Bluegrass and reinvigorated the double banjo tradition. In October 2007, Tony was given an IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award for Banjo Player of the Year 2007. Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular received IBMA awards for Recorded Event of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and a Grammy Nomination.
Adiaha is very proud to have Tony Trischka on board. If you're insterested, make sure to send your registration soon to save your spot.
Hear Tony Trischka (with Steve Martin) on YouTube.
Visit Adiaha's Bluegrass Camp for information or registration.
Check out the camp's Facebook page for daily announcements of 2014 instructors.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Flor de canciones on CD Baby

Thanks to Roberto of Los Hermanos Cubero (E) for this news:

Hi amigos,

Just a note to let you know that our new album Flor de canciones ['Flower of songs'] is on CD Baby now.


8th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, 13-15 June 2014

Uri Kohen, organiser of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival in Westport, Co. Mayo, in the west of Ireland, announces the dates and lineup for next year's event - from Friday 13 June to Sunday 15 June 2014, with acts from the UK, mainland Europe, America, and Australia, as well as Irish acts from all over the island.

Performers at the multi-venue festival will include the Loose Moose String Band (GB), the Corn Potatos (USA), Battenkill Ramblers (D), the Down and Out Bluegrass Band (NI), Hat Fitz and Cora Robinson (AUS), and Irish acts Miriam Donohue, the Sullivan Brothers, the Rocky Top String Band, and Tim Rogers & Friends. More acts will be announced soon. A new feature in 2014 will be the combining of members from different bands to form 'Super Groups', together with the established programme of workshops and informal sessions.

The full press release is on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog. Further details will be released on the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival website and Facebook page.

Fragment on tour - and on Bluegrass Today

Fragment: (l-r) Henrich Novak, Ondra Kozak, Jana Mougin, Richard Cifersky

Fragment have been making bluegrass history for thirty years, and the current members (shown above), living in three different countries (SK, CZ, USA) on two different continents, are celebrating that fact with a tour in central Europe that begins on 23 November in the Czech Republic and continues through Germany to Slovakia. The tour is being chronicled by bass player Jana Mougin for Bluegrass Today, where you can now read her accounts:

23 November
24 November
25 November
26 November
27 November
28 November
29 November

A list of the instalments is also on Henrich Novak's website.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Palomino Live with Danilo Cartia in Rome, 12 Dec. 2013

Palomino Live with Danilo Cartia (vocals and 5-string banjo) will be playing country, bluegrass, and hillbilly music in Rome this week at the 'Planet Roma', Via del Commercio 36, on Thursday 12 December. The show begins at 22:30.

Danilo Cartia
Phone/fax: +39 068273332
Mobile: +39 3396908450

Monday, 9 December 2013

Giving Back to Tony Rice, Part 2

I would respectfully like to follow-up on my colleague's post regarding legendary guitar innovator Tony Rice. 
As so often is the case in Blue Grass music, our pioneers occasionally come upon hard times ~ both financially and physically. Such is the case with true guitar legend, Tony Rice. if you are not aware, Tony has been battlng arthritis in his hands for many years. Often his cancellations have resulted in many rumors regarding his health. But the truth of the matter is that he has all too often had severe pain in his hands and fingers and could not perform. Recently Tony, and his wife Pam, have had to come to terms with the fact that playing guitar is an impossible and painful task. Unfortunately Tony's music has been - and still is - their only means of income.
Please pay special attention to something John Lawless mentioned in his article at BluegrassToday.com. In this time of need you may help give back to Tony by purchasing his excellent biography, "Still Inside: The Story of Tony Rice".

Unfortunately much of Tony Rice's website is not updated nor in working order, but you may purchase the book from the publisher at the link for the book's title shown above. If you care to send Tony a personal message there is a Tony Rice 'Guest Book' on his website. He does read his messages.

Please help if you can. 
As John Lawless wrote in his column: 'This isn't charity, this is giving back to Tony.'

   Tony recently told a friend, 
"I never thought my guitar would ever let me down."

Backing up Tony Rice

Bluegrass people all over the world were moved by the 'Miracle of Raleigh' - the few minutes at this year's IBMA Awards Show when, in responding to his inauguration into the IBMA Hall of Fame, Tony Rice was able to recover his speaking voice, and even to hold out hope that he might be on the path back to singing.

However, by an irony of fate, arthritis is now impairing his legendary ability as a guitar player, and consequently his earning ability. John Lawless in Bluegrass Today draws attention to the Tony Rice Foundation, a benefit campaign launched by Terry and Jeff Pinkham with (at present) a Facebook Page and a PayPal account. Please note also John Lawless's suggestions for benefiting Tony through buying his CDs, DVDs, or autobiography.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Truman's Ridge says farewell to Czech musician

Thanks to the Prescription Bluegrass Blog for the news that Karel Waska has completed his doctoral thesis in the USA and will be going home to the Czech Republic later this month, after a year of playing bass for the Chicago area bluegrass band Truman's Ridge (shown above, with Karel on bass). Greg Heintz will be replacing him in the band.

A farewell concert at the House Cafe, De Kalb, Illinois, followed by a jam session, will be held on 19 December 2013, two days before Karel goes home.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Sacred music in Dublin, Ireland, Dec. 2013

Dr Tim Sharp, executive director of the American Choral Directors Association, has an impressive record of performances, publications, choral compositions, and arrangements. These include 'Come Away to the Skies: A High Lonesome Bluegrass Mass', in which the movements of the Ordinary of the Mass are set to bluegrass music with Southern Harmony tunes. This has already been recorded and performed with some of Nashville's finest musicians.

Dr Sharp (himself a banjo-picker) is bringing 'Come Away to the Skies' to Dublin, Ireland, on the three successive days 27-9 December, with performances in Christ Church protestant cathedral, the Guinness Storehouse, and  a protestant church in the south Dublin suburbs. The instrumental work is being provided by musicians from the Dublin bluegrass scene.

For a foretaste of the music in this unique and historic event, use the following YouTube links:

In addition, the Sacred Harp Singers of Dublin will be hosting an All-Day Singing in the Franciscan Friary on Merchant's Quay, Dublin 8, this coming Saturday (7 December) from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., with visiting singers from Cork and the UK. As always with the Sacred Harp group, everyone is welcome and no experience is necessary.

More details of both these events are on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog.

The Coloradas (USA) returning to Europe, 18 Apr.-10 May

The Coloradas (featured on the EBB in January and June last year) from Portland, Maine, are planning their third tour in Europe, extending from 18 April to 10 May 2014. The lineup this time is their core duo: Roy Davis (songs, vocals, acoustic guitars) and Bernie Nye (songs, vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar, harmonica).

Roy - the Coloradas' audio engineer, manager, graphic designer, documentarian, and motor-home mechanic, as well as being a solo performer - reports: 'We just released our second album on the Dresden-based label Hometown Caravan. The album is called Big empty, and is available through their website, and on iTunes.'

For the tour, the Coloradas currently have shows booked in north-eastern Germany, and eastern Austria. They still have dates open for bookings to play clubs, performing arts spaces, listening rooms, house concerts, or festivals. Roy can be contacted by e-mail or mobile 'phone: (207) 680-0924.


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Bluegrass Jamboree tours successfully

Thanks to Rainer Zellner of Music Contact for this good news on the current 5th Bluegrass Jamboree!, sent from the tour bus:

We have successfully performed the first seven shows. ALL venues had increased ticket sales. We played wonderful high-profile venues up to 400 seats, to extremely pleased and enthusiastic audiences. There are more and more young people attending the shows that buy CDs and want to know more about the music. Everybody on the bus is having a great time, team spirit is high.

[See the above photo: Rainer (front row, right) with members of the Foggy Hogtown Boys (CAN), the Carper Family (USA), and Red Tail Ring (USA)]

There are notes coming in from promoters about sold-out shows from advance tickets only (Helmbrechts, 14 Dec.). See updated schedule on www.bluegrassjamboree and www.musiccontact.com. Videos and pictures from various shows can be found on the internet.

The Jamboree bus now will start moving north - Dortmund, Bremen, Hildesheim, Dresden will be the stops from tomorrow on.

MUSIC CONTACT Rainer Zellner

Roots Music Booking and Production
Saarstrasse 8 
D-72070 Tübingen
+49 (0) 7073 2250; fax +49 (0) 7073 2134
Mobile +49 170 2134 999
UStID: DE146940684 (German tax number)

'Frauenpower auf der Bühne' coming to Bühl

Thanks again to Walter Fuchs in Bühl, south-west Germany, who sends this feature from the Badische Neueste Nachrichten, reporting on the press conference held a week ago to announce the details of the 12th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival (2-3 May 2014). Click on the image to enlarge it.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Danilo Cartia Band: shows in Rome, 5-8 Dec. 2013

Banjoist, guitarist, singer, and bandleader Danilo Cartia (I) announces that the Danilo Cartia Band will be playing bluegrass, blues, and ballads at four shows in Rome this week:

Thurs. 5 Dec. 'Cantine Blues', Via della Batteria Nomentana 66, 22:00
Fri. 6 Dec. 'Frane Letterarie', Via San Martino ai Monti 7/a, 22:00
Sat. 7 Dec. 'The Odd Room', Via dei Sabelli, 22:00
Sun. 8 Dec. 'Blackmarket', Via Panisperna 101, 21:30

Danilo Cartia
Phone/fax: +39 068273332
Mobile: +39 3396908450

Monday, 2 December 2013

New Leon Hunt banjo book from Mel Bay

Thanks to Bluegrass Today for the news that a new book/DVD by the outstanding British banjo-player Leon Hunt has been published by Mel Bay: On the outside looking out: 5-string banjo beyond bluegrass.

The autumn 2013 issue of British Bluegrass News included an article by Leon Hunt on his career as a banjo player, and the need for anyone in that position to extend their musical reach beyond the boundaries of bluegrass music. In his introductory note to the book he writes:

My own motives for straying musically were born out of necessity, but now the enjoyment and exploration of new musical styles are what guides me. This book and accompanying DVD are intended to help anyone who also wants to take their banjo playing to new exciting places.

More details are on Bluegrass Today. One historical irony - in his note Leon Hunt also writes: 'There's no getting away from it, the 5-string banjo is about as American as apple pie.' Would an English 5-string banjo player of a hundred years ago have written those words?

More foretastes of Bühl 2014

Thanks again to Walter Fuchs and to Heinz Wendling for further images of the forthcoming 12th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival (2-3 May 2014): the Festival poster (left); the obverse and reverse of the Festival flyer and programme (below) in full colour; and a further nice photo of the Foghorn Stringband (bottom).

Sunday, 1 December 2013

12th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival, 2-3 May 2014

Della Mae (left); James Field and Sue Thompson (right)

Thanks to Wolfgang Mark of the press office of the City of Bühl, south-west Germany, for details of the 12th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival (2-3 May 2014) and photos of the bands taking part.

The City of Bühl, together with Festival director/MC, country music historian, and radio presenter Walter Fuchs, will present another top-quality programme for an event that has become known throughout Europe. Bands from the USA in the 2014 Festival lineup include Della Mae, the Foghorn Stringband, Tumbling Bones, the John Lowell Band, and Field & Thompson, together with Tabea & TRAM (CH/I).

Full details (in German) of all artists on the programme, together with the schedule of appearances, are now on the Bühl Festival website.

Foghorn Stringband
Tumbling Bones
John Lowell Band
Tabea & TRAM