Friday, 31 October 2014

2015 EWOB: Apply now!

The EWOB-website is still undergoing construction. However this should not stop all over the world Bluegrass Bands from downloading the 2015 application form here:

Send in your application before December 1 if you wish to showcase at the 2015 EWOB festival in the Netherlands. 
Do it now, so you won't forget! 

Spread the word!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Jeanette & Johnny Williams in Europe

Jeanette and Johnny Williams are currently on a brief tour in Europe with the next date being in Copenhagen on Friday 31st October.

Jeanette has accumulated no less than ten SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America) nominations and was awarded Female Vocalist of the Year three times (2009, 2012 & 2013). On top of that, two IBMA Recorded Event of the Year Awards as part of the Daughters of Bluegrass as well as other songwriting awards including the Chris Austin Songwriting contest at MerleFest in 2007.

As well as also winning MerleFest's Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (1998 and 1999) Jeanette's husband, Johnny is an award-winning singer and noted guitarist. Johnny also produced the two 'Close Kin' projects on Mountain Roads Recordings. These recordings - Close Kin and Close Kin: Our Roots Run Deep brought together Bluegrass and Old-Time musicians such as Adam & Tina Steffey, The Snyder Family, The Wolfe Brothers and the members of Rich In Tradition. Close Kin: Our Roots Run Deep brought together some of the finest young musicians including Lindsey Nale of Loose Strings, Jared Boyd, Daniel Greeson & Kitty Amaral.

At the moment,there is no specific information about which venues are hosting Jeanette & Johnny's concerts but the Velvet Agency are handling the tour and they can be contacted via their website.

Kruger Brothers: Dates in Europe

The Kruger Brothers are returning to Europe for just a few dates in Switzerland and one concert in Germany and one in the UK.

The opportunity to see The Kruger Brothers play in Europe should never be overlooked. Doc Watson said “The Kruger Brothers are just about as fine a band as I’ve ever played with....I love to play music with them.” and Bluegrass Journal said “The Krugers are nothing short of magnificent.”

The full list of the Euopean dates is shown below; the visit to Eagle Music in Hudderfield, England was the subject of an EBMA blog article earlier in October 'At Home in Huddersfield: Deering Banjos & The Kruger Brothers'

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Rest in Peace, Hazel McGee

Hazel and Mac McGee
Country Corner Coffeehouse
South Hadley Falls, Massachusetts, USA (2013)
Hazel McGee is no stranger to the older generation of bluegrass fans in Europe. After years of fighting the good fight against cancer, Hazel passed away on Monday morning (October 27, 2014).

This musical couple, Hazel (originally from Tennessee) and Mac (originally from Georgia) moved to the northeastern USA in 1960, eventually settling in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where they raised their family, worked day jobs and kept the music flowing... all at the same time. 

Hazel and Mac were singing partners for over 60 years; husband and wife for 57 years. They formed the White Mountain Bluegrass Band in 1970.

Hazel and Mac McGee's names are engraved on the International Bluegrass Music Museum's "Pioneers of Bluegrass" plaque. A very special honor awarded to less than 90 musicians from the first generation of artists in bluegrass music history.

White Mountan Bluegrass toured the European continent a total of 10 times since Rienk Janssen first brought them to the Netherlands in the late 1970s. Their final Euro tour was a special trip made specifically to attend the 'Strictly Country Magazine Farewell' event in May 2011. They retired the band in September 2013.

Hazel McGee has left many of us with fond memories and, of course, she leaves behind her songs; songs which she sang in her distinctive, most soulful of mountain voices. Hazel will be dearly missed by her family, friends, neighbors and fans.

Fans and friends may contact the family at this address:

Herman "Mac" McGee
51 Bunker Lane
Madbury, NH   03823

for more on the lives of Hazel and Mac McGee

"Going Home"
Het Blauwe Huis
Harpel, Netherlands (May 6, 2011)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau Tour Europe

Whilst not a Bluegrass tour, this may be of great interest to (and to the immense delight of) fans of progressive mandolinist, Chris Tile.

Chris Thile and jazz pianist Brad Mehldau  are joining forces for a number of concerts across Europe. The concerts will include material from such writers as Bob Dylan, Radiohead, Gillian Welch, folk/traditional standards as well as original compositions.

Links to individual concert venues for ticket information can be found on the Punch Brothers website though the dates are listed below:

  • Oct 27    Kulturzentrum Das Haus, Ludwigshafen, Germany
  • Oct 29    Multisala, Bari, Italy
  • Oct 30    Theaterhaus Gessnerallee, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Oct 31    Teatro G. Verdi, Salerno, Italy
  • Nov 02    Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Nov 03    Lucerna – Grand Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
  • Nov 04    Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna, Austria
  • Nov 05    Kleiner Musikhalle, Hamburg, Germany
  • Nov 07    Le Prisme, Elancourt, France
  • Nov 08    Barcelona Jazz Festival, Barcelona, Spain
  • Nov 09    National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Russ Barenberg - Concert in Vichy (France) 8th November

As part of the Winter Bluegrass Weekend in Vichy (7th-11th November), Russ Barenberg will be playing a concert on Saturday 8th November at the Omnisports Centre in Vichy. Opening the concert will be, Parisian group, 'South Drive'. The concert has been organised by France Bluegrass Musique Association
Earlier in the day there will be jam sessions open to players of all abilities which are free! There will also be a flatpicking masterclass conducted by Russ Barenberg and a  song masterclass with Mary Cole. More information can be found at the FBMA website, on the FBMA forum or by contacting Jean-Francois Tronelle.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

HIGH LONESOME BELOW SEA LEVEL: The Faces and Stories of Bluegrass Music in the Netherlands

A most worthy bluegrass music related project is now well underway in the Netherlands. The Dutch authors have a refreshing and unique concept for their endeavor scheduled for release in Spring 2015.

Cultural scholar and musician Loes van Schaijk and photographer Marieke Odekerken have joined forces in producing a publication that will portray a very specific genre of music. A music which came into being in the United States of America in the 1940’s, yet found its way to the Netherlands about ten years later: Bluegrass.

Over a period of four months, Loes and Marieke will visit people in Holland who have somehow been captivated by this style of acoustic music. A music style which distinguishes itself by using a combination of stringed instruments, breakneck speed, virtuoso solos, harmony vocals and “high lonesome” singing. 

The photographs and interviews will feature musicians, promoters and instrument builders; amateurs and professionals, pioneers and rookies; wallflowers, hillbillies and hard-rockers; traditionalists, purists and people interested in the cross-over aspect of mixing with other music styles. Apart from their shared love of bluegrass music, the only thing these people have in common is their opinion that they don’t need to have anything in common.

While this book indeed portrays some of the history of bluegrass music in the Netherlands, it is perhaps more symbolic as a presentation of human individuality. Supporting that theme will be 50 photographs of colorful characters in black and white.

The official website for the project will be online in the coming weeks. At that time it will be possible to pre-order the book (with a 10% discount).

Also -- for the altruistic people among us – there is an opportunity to help with the ‘crowd funding’ campaign. If crowd funding is successful, the book can go into production and will be officially released in May 2015.

The Faces and Stories of Bluegrass Music in the Netherlands
Authors: writer Loes van Schaijk; photographer Marieke Odekerken
Contents: Text, 50 New and Vintage Photographs
Hardcover - 128 pages
Language: English
Projected Release Date: May 2015
Marieke Oderkerken, Loes van Schaijk

Future (the website will be operational November 7, 2014)

Website photographer:
Website writer:

Telephone: Loes van Schaijk  0031-6-14362134

Friday, 10 October 2014

At Home in Huddersfield: Deering Banjos & The Kruger Brothers

Close your eyes for a few seconds and think of towns that you would associate with Bluegrass and banjos. So, who was on your list? Was it Galax, the home of the annual Fiddlers Convention in Virginia, or Union Grove which has held the Ole Time Fiddlers & Bluegrass Festival for over 75 years – or how about Rosine in Kentucky, the resting place of Bill Monroe? What about Huddersfield in West Yorkshire? If not, maybe it should.

Huddersfield is where you will find Eagle Music, Deering Banjos’ No. 1 dealership world-wide.

The Deering Banjo Company was the recipient of a Distinguished Achievement Award at IBMA 2014. The citation from the IBMA states: Greg and Janet Deering started the Deering Banjo Company as a family business in 1975. In its 39-year history, the company has created more than 100,000 banjos, all built by hand in Deering’s Spring Valley, California facility. The company’s mission statement is “to champion the banjo and inspire creativity around the globe by supplying the best quality, American-made banjos to players of all abilities.” Noted Deering players are many, and include Béla Fleck, Jens Kruger and Eric Gibson.

So, what’s the story behind the association between Deering Banjos and Eagle Music?

Eagle Music was established in 2004 by Steve Noon and through their ethos of being run ‘by musicians for musicians’ they have built up an enviable reputation for first-class customer service and perfectly presented instruments to suit musicians of all abilities. Steve Noon explained that, from the outset, Deering Banjos would be a focal point of the Eagle Music’s business and, within a few years of opening, Eagle Music became Deering Banjos’ No. 1 dealership world-wide. In 2009 Steve was invited to speak at Deering’s ‘Banjo Summit Meeting’ and, in 2014, Eagle Music celebrates its No. 1 dealership status for the 8th consecutive year.
To celebrate this status, Eagle Music has annually held a Deering Banjo event and this year sees “Deering Banjo 8”. Steve Noon explained that “the event came about when Eagle Music became the number one banjo retailer in the entire world for the Deering Banjo Company. Each year Greg and Janet Deering have been guests of honour at the event, and as such have presented Eagle Music each year with a plaque in recognition of Eagle Music’s status and service to banjo customers. The world-acclaimed Kruger Brothers have played at the event on six occasions, and along with other world-class artists making the event the biggest on the banjo and bluegrass calendar. Eagle Music has [so far] arranged [for] the following artists to perform at the ‘Banjo 8’ Event … The Kruger Brothers, The Old Grey Dogs, The House Devils, Andre Dal (Portugal) and The Kentucky Cow Tippers. Special guests of honour will be Greg, Janet and Jamie Deering.

The Kruger Brothers

“Deering Banjo 8” will involve on-stage workshops and performances as well as the chance to have Greg Deering look at and adjust attendees’ banjos and a finale of a concert by The Kruger Brothers.

Joe McIlvenny of The Old Grey Dogs will be running the picking sessions that will take place between the afternoon and evening sessions. Joe said “It's [the] one day each year that the world’s greatest banjoist visits the UK, along with the other members of the Kruger Brothers. Their musicianship is wonderful to the ear and creates a lasting emotion and memory in the listener. Plus we have Greg Deering in attendance to demonstrate his wonderful banjos. Put this together with some of the UK's top players in support and the event becomes unmissable. Everyone appreciates the work that Steve Noon and his team puts into this day and, if you've not been, you’re missing the best day in the UK calendar.”

From the 2013 event - The Kruger Brothers with Joe McIlvenny of the Old Grey Dogs:

So.. to return to the original question about towns associated with Bluegrass and banjos; maybe Huddersfield with Eagle Music as the world’s No. 1 retailer of Deering Banjos (who are themselves recognised with a Distinguished Achievement Award from the IBMA) deserve a place alongside Galax, Union Grove and Rosine.

“Deering Banjo 8” will take place on Saturday November 8th 2014 at The North Light (behind Eagle Music Shop), Brooke’s Mill, Armitage Bridge, Huddersfield, HD4 7NR and more information can be found on the Eagle Music website.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ken Harris: one more loss in the British bluegrass scene

Ken Harris

We regretfully report the loss of another iconic figure in the British bluegrass scene: Ken Harris, born 1935, who died on September 4, 2014.

Coming from the Co. Down end of the Belfast area, Ken was one of the foremost pioneers of bluegrass in Britain. He was the founder member, the leader, and the moving spirit of the Down County Boys, the first professional and successful bluegrass group in the UK, and the Britain's longest-lived and most award-winning bluegrass band. This band is still going strong.

As well as his work with the band as lead singer, guitar player, and frontman on stage, Harris was the founder of the Swanswell Tavern country music club, where he and his band made their debut in January 1965. Also, he was the organiser of the well-known Heart of England Bluegrass Club, whose weekly sessions allowed the best of British and visiting American acts for over 13 years, thus helping to establish bluegrass music in the Midlands.

With Ken's passing away we lose an important link with the bluegrass pioneering early days. We owe a great debt to Ken's efforts and are deeply grateful for his life-long work and passion for bluegrass music. 

News from Spain's own Surrounders

News from Spain: 
Hello a todos,
Surrounders are playing the Monkey Week Festival 2014 which takes place in the city of El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Spain. It is a three day festival with many great bands from all over the planet. Its focus is on independent music. We have been invited to play at the Gibson Showcase stage presented by Happy Place Records and Gibson and also on one of their many stages throughout town. It is a great festival which each year reaches a wider audience. It brings together more than 400 professionals from the record industry and thousands of fans. We are stoked that the organization thought that traditional music, such as bluegrass, had a place  at Monkey Week! Please visit and for more details.
Un saludo de los SURROUNDERS!!

Sad News for British Bluegrass

The great British banjo player Phill Morley passed away in hospital on last August 27th, 2014 in Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, Essex.

Born on March 13, 1952, his passion for the banjo began at the age of 16, and in the mid-1970s he started busking in his hometown of Romford. Even if he was still learning to play his instrument, these public displays led to teaching assignments. In fact, Phill was also a teacher, and it was his teaching to over a 100 people that sustained him for the past 20 years. He featured in bluegrass bands but also played country music, swing, country rock, folk music and jazz, the latter mostly to help with his teaching.

Phill was a cornerstone of the British bluegrass and old-time music scene during the last 40 years, having set up the first magazine, British Bluegrass & Old Time Music Newsletter, first published in the 1970s, that turned later into British Bluegrass News. He seemed to have a constant yearning to publish; only ill health caused him to leave a little quarterly journal, The Banjo Gazette, which he started not long after the publication of British Bluegrass News was taken over by the British Bluegrass Music Association in November 1990.

Phill's many contributions to the British bluegrass scene show him as a tireless promoter of bluegrass, and a  friend to so many. He will be missed by the whole bluegrass community.