Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Foghorn Stringband (Caleb Klauder) - Tour dates Ireland & UK - May

The Foghorn Stringband
Caleb Klauder-Reeb Willms-Nadine Landry-'Sammy' Lind
Photograph by Betse Ellis

With concert dates across Ireland and the UK, The Foghorn Stringband (led by Caleb Klauder) will be heralding their new release 'Devil In The Seat' during May. It has been said that The Foghorn Stringband has 'brought in influences and inspirations from their many travels and late-night jam sessions. Old-time square dance tunes now rub shoulders with Cajun waltzes, jugband ditties, vintage honky-tonk songs, and pre-bluegrass picking. This is the kind of bubbling musical brew which first intoxicated the American mainstream in the days when “country music” was just being invented'.

Having listened to 'Devil In The Seat', I would say that (as you might expect) it ranges from the exuberant to the beautifully restrained, from the contemporary to the historic with some traditional favourites added for good measure. After starting with a rousing rendition of Stillhouse, Nadine Landry and Reeb Willms then join forces for Alice Gerrard & Hazel Dickens' 'Mining Camp Blues' - Nadine and Reeb later sing unaccompanied on 'What Will We Do?' a song which was previously recorded by June Tabor & Maddie Prior (aka The Silly Sisters).

Looking at the tracklist, in addition to the traditional tunes (John Hardy, Chicken Reel & Paddy On The Turnpike) there are tracks ranging from the end of the 19th century (Chadwell's Station) through the mid-20th century Hank Snow's '90 Miles An Hour' and The Cooke Duet's 'Longing For A Home' to the recently-written Jailbreak (by Garry Harrison).

Where will you be able to see The Foghorn Stringband during
May 2015?

  • Wed 6th - Dublin Whelan’s with special guests Lynched
  • Thurs 7th - Dungarvan The Local
  • Sat 9th - Baltimore Baltimore Fiddle Fair
  • Tue 12th - Dingle John Benny's Pub
  • Wed 13th - Castlebar The Linenhall
  • Thurs 14th - Galway The Crane - confirmed!
  • Fri 15th - Manorhamilton The Glens Centre
  • Sat 16th - Cookstown The Red Room SOLD OUT
  • Sun 17th - Glasgow CCA
  • Mon 18th - Edinburgh Traverse Theatre Bar
  • Weds 20th - Newcastle Cluny 2
  • Thurs 21th - Liverpool The Caledonia
  • Fri 22th - London Kings Place
  • Sat 23th - Tunbridge Wells Cajun Barn, King Charles Church Hall
  • Sun 24th - Towersey The Three Horseshoes
Lastly...The Foghorn Stringband in action with 'I'm Longing For A Home'

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

European Bluegrass Music Association Board - New Board Announced

Top Picture - New Board Members (left to right):
Richard Ciferský, Susie Bowe (existing Board Member), Stu Vincent & Eugene O'Brien
Returning Board Members: Martino Coppo & Chris Keenan
As mentioned in the EBMA blog article of the 6th March regarding the EBMA AGM, Angelika Torrie, Rienk Janssen, Petr Brandejs and Christopher Howard-Williams announced their decision to step back from the EBMA Board subsequently, Dagfinn Pederson also announced his resignation at short notice. Following the Board Meeting and the EBMA AGM held during the Munich Bluegrass Festival three new board members were elected.

Richard Ciferský from Slovakia is an established professional musician having recorded with his own bands (Bill Faster and Fragment) as well as with recording and touring with US artists (see Richard's website) and is the owner of Radio Velvet - Europe's first 24 hour internet Bluegrass radio station (website). Stu Vincent has been involved with the EBMA since mid-2014 as part of the EBMA Blog Team writing and editing articles and also hosts two weekly internet Bluegrass radio shows - one for The Bluegrass Mix based in the US and the other on Radio Velvet. Eugene O'Brien is an Irish-born banjo player known around the European festivals as a member of Sons of Navarone. Eugene is also a member of the British Bluegrass Music Association board and has been elected to be the Chair of the newly constituted EBMA Board. Susie Bowe, Martino Coppo and Chris Keenan were existing Board members who will continue to serve on the Board. It should also be mentioned that retiring members Angelika Torrie, Petr Brandesj and Rienk Janssen will continue to take a supporting role to the new Board and the EBMA (assistance which has been gratefully accepted); Angelika will remain as Chief Editor for the Bluegrass Europe magazine, Petr will continue to support with the EBMA scholarships programme and Rienk will continue to manage the membership administration.

The new EBMA held their first Board meeting on Monday 23rd March. All recognised the work that had been done by the previous Board which resulted in the EBMA receiving a Distinguished Achievement Award at last year's IBMA World of Bluegrass. From the agenda items which were submitted for the first board meeting it seems that EBMA will have a very busy year ahead!

Coming from that meeting:
  • (As mentioned before) Eugene O'Brien elected to Chair the EBMA.
  • To build closer relationships with the national Bluegrass Music Associations within Europe.
  • To look at EBMA membership from the perspective of performing musicians and Bluegrass fans and how EBMA can best support and reward membership.
  • To review the presentation of the EBMA through its website and other social media.
  • To ensure that the current EBMA processes which support Bluegrass music are maintained and, where possible, developed.
  • To look to set a date for the 2016 EBMA Bluegrass Gathering and develop an informative, supportive and entertaining programme.
2015 is going to be an exciting year for the EBMA and Bluegrass music in Europe .

Monday, 23 March 2015

33rd Big Bear Festival ~ May 2015

The roster of artists for the 33rd Annual Big Bear Festival in the Netherlands has been finalized. Rienk Janssen has been presenting and producing this bluegrass festival since its inception.

As always, presenting performers from the USA as well as the European continent:

In good weather the event is held outdoors on a beautiful field of grass, complete with a low-level stage made of stone. A perfect music and picnic area amongst the quiet of the trees (and some occasional soft church bells).

If the weather does not cooperate there is a comfortable theater indoors... only a short 250 meters from the parking and stage location.

There are many varied restaurants nearby and plenty of places to spend the night, including Bed and Breakfast choices and hotels in the area. All in all, a great way to spend an afternoon and early evening.

[You may click on the image above for the large version of the 2015 Big Bear Festival poster]

Contact Rienk Janssen via email at:  rienk.janssen@planet.nl
Or view his website:  strictlycountry.nl

Thursday, 19 March 2015

April Verch - Release: The Newpart & Dates in Ireland & UK

April Verch, the only woman to have won the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship and the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition, will be coming across the Atlantic in May - but more of that later.

'The Newpart', April's tenth album (produced by Casey Driessen) will be released by Slab Town Records on the 20th April. April's name is equally likely to appear on the lineup of a Bluegrass, Folk or Celtic festival and 'The Newpart' demonstrates why she has such a wide appeal.

Anyone familiar with April will know that dancing features significantly in her performances and 'The Newpart' is no exception; listening the the album, when the track 'Gilchrist' began I scribbled 'musical feet' only to later find that April described 'Gilchrist' as "a tune for feet". 'Gilchrist' is named after Donnie Gilchrist who taught April's stepdancing teacher, Buster Brown.

For those not familiar with April and her dancing, here is an example:

As might be expected, there are traditional tunes (such as Belle Election, Polska From Kumla & Dry Bones), tunes and songs written by April (sometimes with Cody Walters) but also songs which evoked and earlier age. Again, referring to notes, I wrote about some songs that 'could be from a bygone age' and 'not out of place in a black & white era romantic film' to subsequently find that these songs were discovered in recordings from the 1920's and 30's from artists such as Nick Lucas, Seger Ellis and Lew Childre yet beautifully interpreted by April, guitarist Hayes Griffin and banjo/bassist Cody Walters. Did I mention that there is a John Hartford song too?

April talking about 'The Newpart' which is part of her family home and which gives it's name to her new album :

Back to the tour...

April will be perfoming concerts (mostly) in Ireland throughout May with two dates in England (Derby & Bury) but will be returning to the UK in November for further dates.

  • Weds 6 Carrick-on-Shannon The Dock
  • Thurs 7 Listowel St John’s Theatre & Arts Centre
  • Fri 8 Wexford Wexford Opera House
  • Sat 9 Cork Triskel Christchurch
  • Sun 10 Baltimore Fiddle Fair NB: Afternoon show at 3pm
  • Tues 12 Clifden Station House Theatre
  • Weds 13 Dublin The Sugar Club
  • Thurs 14 Bray Mermaid Arts Centre
  • Friday 15 Drogheda Droichead Arts Centre

Northern Ireland
  • Weds 20 Belfast Black Box
  • Thurs 21 Portstewart Flowerfield Arts Centre
  • Fri 22 Lisburn Island Arts Centre

  • Sat 23 Derby Robert Ludlam Theatre
  • Sun 24 Bury The Met

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Presentation of the 2015 EBMA Bluegrass Pioneers and Personalities Awards

On Saturday 14th March, during the Munich Bluegrass Festival, the presentation of the 2015 EBMA Bluegrass Pioneers and Personalities Awards took place. (See the Munich Bluegrass Festival website for more pictures of the event)

The Festival was held in Das Schloss, just north of Munich's city centre. From the outside, Das Schloss looks like a circus tent but inside is a very well-equipped auditorium with a central lobby and a separate conservatory-like room which served as a coffee bar, restaurant and - most importantly - a place to jam.

The EBMA Bluegrass Pioneers and Personalities Awards were presented during the Saturday night sets by bands  from Germany and the Czech Republic - including a set by GeorgiaRina & The Loose Screws who are a young band who have been supported by Bluegrass-Nachwuchs-Förderung (or BNF) which supports promising, young musicians with tuition and other costs.

The recipients of the 2015 European Bluegrass Pioneer Awards were:
  • RICHARD WEIZE (Germany)
  • DALIBOR CIDLINSKY (Czech Republic)
2015 European Bluegrass Personality of the Year was awarded to RAINER ZELLNER (Germany). 

Jean-Marie Redon started playing Bluegrass in the mid-1960's and has not stopped since! So far, his Bluegrass career has included playing in several bands, writing and producing instructional books and DVDs, regular performances on both sides of the Atlantic and winning a SPBGMA Award in 1998.

Angelika Torrie & Susie Bowe
Hosts of the Awards Ceremony
Photograph by Robert Bowe

Jean-Marie was unable to attend the presentation so his award was accepted on his behalf by Jean-Michel Peyrou.

Jean-Michel Peyrou accepting the award for
Jean -Marie Redon
Photograph by Robert Bowe

Since 1975, Richard Weize - the founder of Bear Family Records - has enabled fans and collectors to obtain copies of rare and, otherwise unavailable, vintage recordings through his company Bear Family Records.

Richard Weize (in a characteristic 'bear' shirt)
Photograph by Robert Bowe
Dalibor Cidlinsky has brought Bluegrass music to fans in the Czech Republic and beyond for many years but the manner of his acceptance of his award may be as memorable as his musical career. Dalibor came onto the stage with guitar-case in hand and, after being introduced to the audience, threw open the case, grabbed his guitar and (from the experssions of the hosts Angelike Torrie and Susie Bowe) undertook and un-rehearsed, un-announced and un-mic'd rendition of Shady Grove in his native tongue. It was a commanding performance that was much appreciated by the audience.

Dalibor Cidlinsky's impromptu Shady Grove
Photograph by Robert Bowe
The final award of the evening was the European Bluegrass Personality of the Year which was awarded to Rainer Zellner. Rainer has been involved in promoting Bluegrass in his native Germany and other European countries since the early 90's and through his Bluegrass Jamboree has sought to introduce Bluegrass music to Americana and Country music fans through his multi-genre shows.

Rainer Zellner of Bluegrass Jamboree.de
Photograph by Robert Bowe

From the volume of the applause, the recipients of the EBMA awards were very popular choices. Lastly,  the organisers of the Munich Bluegrass Festival are also to be applauded for an efficiently run festival in a very smart venue. All facilities were exceptional as were the in-house sound & stage crew.

Monday, 9 March 2015

2015 EBMA Bluegrass Pioneers and Personalities Awards

Congratulations to the 2015 recipients of an EBMA Bluegrass Pioneer / EBMA Bluegrass Personality Award:
Jean-Marie Redon (F)

2015 European Bluegrass Pioneers:

Personality of the Year

The Award ceremony will take place during the Munich Bluegrass Festival next Saturday evening, 14th March 2015. Make sure to be there and show the awardees present your appreciation.

Richard Weize of Bear Family Records (D)
It's not too late to join us for our 2015 European Bluegrass Gathering, which will take place in the same venue as the Festival on Friday 5pm - Sunday 2pm. You can also join in for a part of the gathering only - see our programme. In particular some might be interested in the Banjo-Workshop by Richard Cifersky, or the session with Kent Gustavsson (author of book on Doc Watson book "Blind but Now I See").

In 2012 the EBMA Board set up the European Bluegrass Pioneers and Personalities Project (EBPP) to recognise and acknowledge the past and present most influential European musicians, promoters, journalists, DJs, luthiers, experts, and others who contributed, and still contribute, in a relevant and significant way to establish or popularise the bluegrass music genre in Europe, and to create a European bluegrass scene and community.
The EBPPP Selecting Committee
The EBMA Board formed a special Selecting Committee comprising Paolo Dettwiler, Eberhard Finke, Christian Séguret, Jacques Brémond, Petr Kuklik, and Thierry Schoysman, with Martino Coppo as non-voting chairman. 

The criteria for selecting European Bluegrass Pioneers & Personalities are:
To be born in Europe or to have lived in European countries long enough to be considered European 'naturalised citizens';
To be representative of the European bluegrass culture;
To have inspired others to join the European bluegrass community;
To have acted in harmony with the principles of the EBMA's mission statement;
Pioneers: To have been among the first who had a significant impact on the popularisation of the bluegrass music genre in their own country or area in Europe, with special reference to their popularity and longevity in the bluegrass music community;

Personalities: To have promoted or contributed to promote special projects or have reached special achievements during the last year.

Members of the selection committee and serving members of the EBMA board are ineligible for nomination.

Join the European Bluegrass Music Association: www.ebma.org
EBMA: Working together to support Bluegrass Music across borders.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Arthur Robinson: British bluegrass veteran with a European dimension

Arthur St Clair Robinson, one of British bluegrass music’s true high-lonesome vocalists, passed away on Friday, March 6, 2015. He suffered a seizure at the beginning of February and was hospitalized for a while before being moved to St. Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough, Yorkshire, where he lived in later life. He had battled against the ravages of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for about 25 years.

His first encounter with bluegrass music was when he went to a concert in Middlesbrough to see Bob Paisley and the Southern Grass. He said in an interview with me in February 2010, “I was knocked out by the performance of these American visitors, and can remember saying to myself I want to sing like Dan Paisley! Since then I have strived to sing and be as authentic as possible to my chosen artists.” Those influential bands included the Stanley Brothers, Larry Sparks, The Johnson Mountain Boys, Laurie Lewis, Special Consensus and the Bluegrass Patriots.

Robinson earned his living as a fire chief in Redcar, a small coastal town in the north east of England close to Middlesbrough. He made his musical baptism on stages – small sets in local pubs – in Redcar. Later he formed a band called King Arthur and the Knights of Bluegrass and they made many very successful appearances at the Edale Bluegrass Festival, the North Wales Bluegrass Festival and elsewhere.

In 1989 MS was diagnosed and in the following year he began a friendship with Czechoslovakia (as it was then) bringing Czech bands to tour in the UK; he visited the country many times and began dealing in mandolins with Czech musicians and instrument makers. The mandolin was his chosen instrument to play. In 1993 Robinson recorded with the Czech band Cop. From 2000 onwards he built up a business making and selling tortoiseshell thumb and flat picks.  He found a therapeutic benefit in working on the picks as it helped him maintain the use of his hands.  Sadly, he had to stop that about 2010. In 2006 Robinson was presented with a life time associate membership of the British Bluegrass Music Association.

Of his MS, he told me defiantly in 2010, “I still can sing and enjoy the music and I won’t give up trying to play the mandolin.” He was naturally a warm individual, with a wide smile. He helped young musicians attend the Sore Fingers Summer Schools.

British bluegrass pioneer Tom Travis once related ….
“Many years ago, I was in conversation with British bluegrass pioneer, the late Jan Jerrold, and we were discussing the British bluegrass scene. We got onto the subject of British bluegrass talent and Jan said, ‘I think that the best bluegrass voice in Britain is that of Arthur Robinson.’ And, do you know, I couldn’t argue with that.”
King Arthur and the Knights of Bluegrass can be seen/heard – with the three Crocker Brothers and Steve Read (glimpsed at the back playing bass) – in typical hard-driving form at the Edale Bluegrass Festival in 1990:

Robinson’s funeral will be held at Scarborough Crematorium on Friday, March 13, at 2:40 p.m., and all are welcome. There will be a gathering afterwards at Scarborough Rugby Club. Musicians are more than welcome to bring their instruments.
R.I.P. Arthur

Editor's Note: 
This obituary was originally published on Bluegrass Today and was written (and is reproduced with the kind permission of) Richard F. Thompson.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Danilo Cartia Trio at the Black Market in Rome

(Editor's note: In my haste to post details of the Danilo Cartia Trio's concert on Friday
 at The Other Place in Rome, I overlooked this show - apologies)

The Danilo Cartia Trio featuring Danilo with Letizia Sampaolo and Alberto Solieri will be bringing their mix of Bluegrass, Blues and Americana to the Black Market in the heart of Rome this Tuesday, 10th March.

Details of the venue can be found on the Black Market website or their Facebook page.

So, if you are looking for music in Rome on Tuesday, the Black Market is the place to be!


Friday, 6 March 2015

Tonight: The Danilo Cartia Trio - Concert in Rome

The Danilo Cartia Trio will be holding a concert in Rome tonight!

The Danilo Cartia Trio (Danilo with Letizia Sampaolo and Alberto Solieri) will be playing at 'The Other Place' in Rome this evening. Directions to 'The Other Place' can be found on their Facebook page.
As the poster above states, an evening of Bluegrass, Country & Americana awaits you at The Other Place.... TONIGHT!

EBMA Annual General Meeting & Munich Bluegrass Festival

Two weeks ago the 'Counting The Days' article was written about the European Bluegrass Gathering and the Munich Bluegrass Festival... it is now just one week away! Take a look at the original article - particularly if you are unfamiliar with the many ways to enjoy your Weisswurst!

While any Bluegrass gathering is guaranteed to be joyful - how could it be anything other than joyful with such fine music? - the EBMA Annual General Meeting (which is open to all members and interested friends) will also be an opportunity to show your appreciation to the four Board members who will be standing down from their positions.

Angelika Torrie, Rienk Janssen, Petr Brandejs and Christopher Howard-Williams have given many years of service to European Bluegrass Music and to the EBMA - culminating in the EBMA being awarded the IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award at IBMA's World of Bluegrass last September. Through the Distinguished Achievement Award, the EBMA has been given recognition for it's work and the profile of European Bluegrass has been raised as a result. Thank you to all members of the EBMA but a particular Thank You to Angelika, Rienk, Petr and Christopher for all that you have done.

Clockwise from top left: Angelika Torrie, Rienk Janssen,Petr Brandejs & Christopher Howard-Williams
Of course, this will now give the new Board members a lofty standard to maintain but part of the AGM agenda is looking at the EBMA goals for 2015 and beyond so please attend, show your appreciation and share your views on European Bluegrass. The full programme for the European Bluegrass Gathering can be found on the EBMA website. But let's not forget the music!

The Munich Bluegrass festival will have workshops, performances and (of course) there will be jamming - wherever Bluegrass folk gather, there will be jamming. There will be workshops by Richard Cifersky (banjo) and Kent Gustavsson (Doc Watson-style guitar) - registration for the workshops can take place from 17:00 on Friday 13th March. Performances will include Sons of Navarone (Belgium), Blue Side of Town (Germany), Black Jack (Czech Republic) and B471 (see the video below). See you in Munich!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Deering Day Proclaimed in San Diego

Congratulations to Deering Banjo Company! Here's their press release from last night:

March 3rd, 2015 has officially been declared Deering Banjo Company Day throughout San Diego County. Bill Horn, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and all of the County Board of Supervisors of San Diego honored Janet, Greg, and Jamie Deering for the 40th Anniversary of the Deering Banjo Company at their Board of Supervisors meeting. Supervisor Dianne Jacob presented the Deering family with a proclamation that honored them as the founders of "a small family-run business (that) through hard work, passion, and attention to detail has grown into one of the world's leading banjo manufacturers."
The proclamation acknowledges the Deering BanjoCompany for holding 5 patents for banjo manufacturing, having built over 100,000 banjos intheir history as a company, and for including such notable artists as Taylor Swift, Mumford and Sons, Eric Church, and Steve Martin among those performing with their banjos. Deering Banjo Company was founded in 1975 as the world's specialist in banjos and has grown to become the largest manufacturer of American made banjos in the world. Located in Spring Valley, CA, Deering produces all of its quality 4-string, 5-string, 6-string, and 12-string banjos in the same US facility and boasts the most knowledgeable team in the industry.
Always on the cutting edge of banjo innovation, Deering is proud to have artists such as Mumford and Sons, Steve Martin, Taylor Swift, Bela Fleck, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, the Avett Brothers, Jens Kruger, Dropkick Murphys, and many more play their banjos. Visit www.deeringbanjos.com to learn more about Deering Banjos or call their toll free number 800-845-7791.
Carolina Bridges
Deering Banjo Company
Director of Public Relations
619.464.8252 | 1.800.845.7791


Monday, 2 March 2015

Bluegrass Concerts in Belgium

Looking for some live Bluegrass in Belgium? If so, then take a look at the Bluegrass in Belgium website for the listing of concerts, information about Belgian Bluegrass bands and a lot more!

Make sure that you bookmark the Bluegrass in Belgium website so that you can see the latest information but, in the meantime, here is a list of concerts and events that have already been arranged.

March 15
Bluegrass Jam at Den Hopsack, Grote Pieter Potstraat 24, 2000 Antwerpen
Den Hopsack website

March 20
Rawhide at  De Schuur 2200 Noorderwijk (Herentals)
Rawhide website
Event notice

March 21
Shenandoah Special & The Sundowners
Het Keizershof  Hovenierstraat 1, 2300 Turnhout
Shenandoah Special website
The Sundowners website
Het Keizershof website

April 18
Shenandoah Special
Café KIEBOOMS De Coninckplein 18, Antwerpen
Shenandoah Special website
Bandsintown link

Shenandoah Special

May 14-16
European World of Bluegrass
40 bands from Europe and the US in Voorthuizen, Nederland
EWOB website

May 24
Alan Munde Trio
Toogenblik Kortenbachstraat 11 1130 Haren (Brussel)
Reservations only - contact info@bluegrass.be for tickets
Alan Munde website
Toogenblik website 

Alan Munde

November 15
Shenandoah Special
Carte Postale Winkelom 34, Geel
Shenandoah Special website
Bandsintown link