Friday, 29 May 2015

Alison Brown - Three concerts in France during June

Alison Brown will be performing three concerts in France during June ahead of the release of her new album Song of the Banjo in September.

The concert dates are as follows:
*The concert at La Roche Sur Foron has free entrance though donations at the end of the concert will be welcomed. A Facebook event has been created for this concert but please note (as the Facebook notice says) please call l'Office de Tourisme on +33/0 450 03 36 68 to reserve your place.

We hope to bring you a more in-depth article about Alison's forthcoming album Song of the Banjo in the near future but do not miss the opportunity to see Alison when she vists France next month.

Della Mae - Dates in UK (& one in France)

After dates ranging from the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax, the Rochester (NY) Jazz Festival (yes, that's right - Jazz Festival) to the hugely popular Grey Fox Festival, Della Mae will be coming over to the UK for the second half of July with some Channel-hopping for one date in France at Craponne-Sur-Arzon, France.

In May, Della Mae released their third album simply called 'Della Mae'. Produced by Jacquire King (who has previously worked with Of Monsters and Men, Norah Jones, Dawes & The Kings of Leon) this follow-up to the Grammy-nominated 'This World Oft Can Be' will certainly win them even more fans with this collection of very strong songs that are all delivered with passion - none more so, the opening track 'Boston Town' - see the video at the end of this article.

Do not miss the opportunity to see Della Mae during July!

  • Jul 19    SummerTyne Americana Festival
    • Birtley, United Kingdom
  • Jul 20    The Bullingdon
    • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Jul 21    The Musician
    • Leicester, United Kingdom
  • Jul 22    Waterfront Studio
    • Norwich, United Kingdom
  • Jul 24    Festival Country Rendez-Vous
    • Craponne-Sur-Arzon, France
  • Jul 25    Ramblin' Man Fair
    • Maidstone, United Kingdom
  • Jul 26    Nell's Jazz and Blues
    • London, United Kingdom
  • Jul 28    Manchester Academy 3
    • Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Jul 29    Oran Mor
    • Glasgow, United Kingdom
  • Jul 30    Southern Fried Festival
    • Perth, United Kingdom
  • Jul 31    Southern Fried Festival
    • Perth, United Kingdom
  • Aug 01    Southern Fried Festival (Dolly Parton Tribute)
    • Perth, United Kingdom

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

3rd Italian Bluegrass Meeting - 29 May, 2015 - Sarzana (Italy)

After the success of the previous edition, the Italian Bluegrass Meeting will be held next Friday, May 29, 2015, in Sarzana, a small, precious, medieval town in Northern Italy. The venue is the Firmafede Fortress, where the famous Acoustic Guitar Meeting  has yearly taken place for 17 years, and this year will celebrate the 18th edition.

A special area with a dedicated stage at the Fortress entrance will be reserved for the event. Bluegrass artists and bands from all over Italy will alternate shows, jam sessions seminars and workshops. The program, that will include bands and soloists, will be non stop from 11am to 7pm.

After the visit of Tim O’Brien at last year’s edition, this year Mark Johnson & Emory Lester (banjo, mandolin, guitar & vocals) and Russ Barenberg, the great flatpicking guitarist, will be honoured guests. During the day they will lead free workshops and seminars of banjo clawhammer, mandolin and guitar, and will perform on the main stage in the evening concerts. There will also be bluegrass banjo, vocal harmony and dobro workshops.

As usual, the coordinator of the Italian Bluegrass Meeting is the banjo player, guitarist Danilo Cartia.

Quite a number of facilities have an arrangement with the Acoustic Guitar Meeting organization and offer the Italian Bluegrass Meeting parcitipants special terms and conditions of accommodation. For further information please visit the Bluegrass Meeting Blog and the Facebook page of the Italian Bluegrass Meeting.

So, save the date, don't miss the occasion to make a wish come true: come to Italy and play bluegrass!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Lluís Gómez publishes '5 String Banjo Book'

Lluís Gómez is well-known by Bluegrass fans for his playing with the Barcelona Bluegrass Band, Grazztrio and Swing 42  and is also a very popular teacher.

Of his new book, Lluís said:
“It’s a collection of tablature I’ve transcribed over the years. Standard tunes in Scruggs style, fiddle tunes in C, D, Dm, G and A (with and without a capo), some Russ Barrenberg transcriptions, Irish tunes and exercises, some modern banjo technique studies and some Béla Fleck, Tony Trischka and Bill Keith licks and techniques.”
We all know that Bluegrass is a universal 'language' and with his new book there is no text, just tablature and transcriptions. The new book will shortly be available via Lluís' website but, in the meantime, Lluís is happy for people to contact him directly via email at this address or via his website. It should be added that the book will cost just €25. is Lluís in action with the Barcelona Bluegrass Band:

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Poole Beer and Bluegrass Festival - 24-25 July 2015 - Dorset (UK)

The Beer and Bluegrass Festival will be held from Friday 24th July 6pm to Saturday 25th, 11.30pm, in Poole, Dorset (UK) -- St Aldhelms Hall, Poole Road, Branksome Poole.

What makes this "Back to the Roots" Bluegrass Festival different is a sense that you have been here before. It’s like all those great small festivals and the most memorable gigs you have ever been to, rolled into one. Set in the Church Hall and Gardens of St Aldhelms Church in Branksome Poole, it provides a perfect backdrop for a Music and Beer Festival. The organizers say “We wanted to go back to a time when small festivals were fun. So we have carefully selected a line-up of great musicians who have that down home vibe and play good time Bluegrass and Americana, all played with verve and a smile. We think you will love it “.
Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys

The highlight on Friday night is the wonderful Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys from Michigan, USA, one of the most exciting emerging bands on the American roots music circuit. They have begun to spread their wings and soar far beyond their own home turf, taking Germany by storm to emerge triumphant from a major tour there in 2014. This year they are set to tour the UK and Ireland as well with several big festival appearances, with their fresh-released Ionia, that was recorded using vintage equipment. Expect lush harmonies with a great Bluegrass resonating drive that typifies their unique sound.

Hillfolk Noir and Travis Ward Too
Hillfolk Noir and Travis Ward too are from Boise, Idaho, USA. Fronted by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Travis Ward, Hillfolk Noir is a trio of neo-traditionalists playing traditional music on traditional instruments for non-traditional times. They call it Junkerdash, and it's a sound brewed from folk, bluegrass, punk, string-band blues and other influences musical and otherwise. Their rollicking roadhouse, good time stomp is deeply infectious. They draw from a sepia toned Grapes of Wrath America with half-forgotten dustbowl songs depicting gamblers, gangsters, whisky stills and loose women, all very fine topics. It’s a music that is just made for dancing and drinking beer, two very good reasons why they were included in the line-up of the Festival.

Flats & Sharps
Flats and Sharps, such a young band from UK, quote the Delmore Brothers, the Louvin Brothers and
Flatt and Scruggs as major influences. It’s not hard to understand why. They blur the lines between Bluegrass, Folk and Country, and have gained recognition for performing their own highly original songs as well as their renditions of Bluegrass classics. These five incredible young musicians honed their skills in more than 300 live performances over four years charming and wowing audiences along the way. Their four part harmonies combined with strong individual instrumental skills and buckets of charm, will be huge.

Mountain Firework Company
The Mountain Firework Company, with front man Gareth McGahan, have already built up an impressive following both in the UK and the US. Their reputation has rapidly grown since their release of their second album The Lonesome Losing Blues, which is full of strong and memorable songs. They are acoustic 5 piece based in Brighton, England, and came together to create what was has been described as "gorgeous folk/alt country pop, with equal parts darkness and cheeky humour" and "alternative bluegrass with a dark treacle folk centre". Their driving and melodic sound comes from an all acoustic string band line-up of guitars, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, double bass and drums. Taking the traditional bluegrass line-up in new directions, they incorporate country, fold, bluegrass and Americana within their sound.

Also appearing will be the Red Rooster Moving Co from Portland, Oregon, USA; Medicine BendNew Hawleans Jug Band; and Bow Legged Skeeters.

So, join and expect over 18 hours of music from the USA and UK over two days, as well as 30 Real Ales from Britain and American styled Beers, American Bottled Beers, Local Cider and also great food from local producers.

Ticket Information - Beer and Bluegrass Festival
Friday 24th July 6pm to 11.30pm - £ 12.00
and Saturday 25th Noon to 11.30pm - £ 18.00
or Weekendsaver - £25.00 for both sessions

We got Tickets:
Ticket South:

The Banjo Revolution Returns to Europe July 2015

Tom Nechville will be present at the 27th North Wales Bluegrass Festival, in Conwy, 2nd - 5th July 2015. Besides providing service and support for his European clients, Tom will be doing a new workshop called the
Banjo Renaissance

with various European musicians throughout July. Guy Rogers will join Tom in Conwy, and the month's finale will take place at the 10th LaRoche Bluegrass Festival in France with superpickers Lluis Gomez from Barcelona and Fred Simon from Toulouse. See for store appearances and special gatherings yet to be scheduled.

Reply to Tom by e-mail, and, he says: "feel free to call if I don't reply promptly, office 952-888-9710, cell 612-275-6602".

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Railsplitters - UK & Ireland Dates

Of The Railsplitters, Steven Mougin (Sam Bush Band) said: "The Railsplitters are one of the most exciting bands to come on the scene in a long time. The complexity of their arrangements, the beauty of their vocals, and excitement in their performance should put them right in the center of your radar. Catch the Railsplitters, you'll dig 'em!" and John Goad (Bluegrass Today) added: "The Railsplitters are talented, with well-written songs and spot-on instrumentation. This album is a nice addition to the ever-growing progressive bluegrass field."

Well...what more can I add to that? The plaudits for The Railsplitters are many and I had heard many positive comments and recommendations but when I received 'The Faster It Goes' I sat down to make up my own mind. On many of the tracks, the strong vocals of Lauren Stovall come to the fore but are perfectly balanced throughout with the playing of Christine King (fiddle), Dusty Rider (banjo), Peter Sharpe (mandolin) and Leslie Ziegler (bass). As John Goad intimated, The Railsplitters are firmly in the progressive bluegrass field and, indeed, there are tracks that have a jazzy/bluesy feel but there are also more traditional-sounding tracks such as the gentle instrumental 'The Estuary', the more upbeat instrumental (and one of my favourites) 'Goosetown' and the final track - a terrific version of 'Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes' (previously recorded by Jim & Jesse, Bill Monroe, David Grisman and others). 'The Faster It Goes' perfectly relects The Railspiltters - music for the open dance floor and open ears.

The Railsplitters will be in concert from the end of May and through much of June:

  • May 30: Glenbuchat Hall, Aberdeenshire
  • May 31: Universal Hall, Findhorn
  • June 1: Traverse Theatre Hall, Edinburgh
    w/ The Hot Seats
  • June 2: The Memorial Hall, Kilbarchan
    w/ The Hot Seats
  • June 3: Swaledale Festival, North Yorkshire
  • June 4: The Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
  • June 5: Jumpin Hot Club, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
  • June 6: St Cuthbert's Seahouses, Northumberland
  • June 7: Gate To Southwell Festival, Notts
  • June 8: Devizes Festival, The Corn Exchange, Devizes
  • June 9: The Barn at Three Horseshoes, Towersey
  • June 10: Garret Sessions, Queens Head, Fyfield, Essex
  • June 11: The Green Note, Camden
  • June 12: Royal Native Oyster Stores, Whitstable
  • June 13: The Exchange, Bristol
    w/ Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow
  • June 14: The Live Room, Saltaire
  • June 16: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co Tyrone
  • June 18: Raheen House Hotel, Clonmel, Co Tipperary
  • June 19: Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey, Co Donegal
  • June 20: Seamus Ennis Centre, Naul, Co Dublin
  • June 21: The Green Room, Black Box, Belfast

Friday, 15 May 2015

Coastline Bluegrass in North Wales

With Bluegrass from Wales, England & Italy, showcase concert for Young Bluegrassers and the beautiful scenery of North Wales the Coastline Bluegrass event has all the right ingredients.
The name of the event is misleading but the festival brought their name with them when the event moved from Conway (on the Nort Wales coastline) to their new home in Llangollen.

Llangollen has a very long tradition of music and culture and is the home of the International Eisteddfod which, as their website says, is where Wales welcomes the world; Llangollen has also hosted the National Eisteddfod.

Coastline Bluegrass will take place between the 29th and 31st of May and, recognising that this is a time when children are out of school, young people under 16 years old have free entrance (when accompanied by a paying adult). Talking to John Prytherch of Coastline Bluegrass he explained that they also have a Young Bluegrassers concert which is co-ordinated by Stuart Williams bringing young Bluegrass musicians from the region to the stage. Stuart was awarded the Jan Jerrold Award  by the British Bluegrass Music Association (BBMA) for what he has done to support, encourage and develop young people to become involved with Bluegrass. Editor's Note: A more detailed article discussing the grass-roots development of youth Bluegrass is being planned. I would like any festival or organisation within Europe which has a program to bring young people into Bluegrass to email me.

But let's get back to Coastline Bluegrass... on the lineup (and from the UK) are Bakers' Fabulous Boys, Blossom Hill, the Whitefern Mountain String Band, The Grass Snakes as well as the fabulous Kentucky Cow Tippers.

Headlining, from Italy, are Ruben & Matt and the Truffle Valley Boys who (as suggested by their picture below) play traditional-style Bluegrass.

Ruben & Matt and the Truffle Valley Boys have a new CD - 'One Thing To Tell' and you can get a taste for their sound in the video below:

Lastly, in the event of poor weather, Coastline Bluegrass are able readily able to continue proceedings under cover and if you get chance, and if the water is 'good', take a stroll to the Llangollen bridge and watch the kayaks - impressive water there.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver 'Get It Done' at the Gulpener Festival in Utrecht

Yesterday (May 14, 2015) was the 3rd annual festival held on the grounds of De Parel van Zuilen, located outside the city limits of Utrecht, Netherlands. Gulpener Bluegrass Festival host Joost van Es -- with the host band, Four Wheel Drive -- had a great day for music with some sunny springtime weather. The crowd that gathered by the small river which ran just behind the two outdoor stages were taking full advantage of the sun, grassy lawn, and the very large fresh-made hamburgers onsite! 
Ulli Sieker - Joost van Es (4 Wheel Drive)
The audience seemed to be a nice balance of new faces and veteren bluegrass fans. Many were there to simply spend a day outdoors with music. Some were locals unaware of bluegrass music but there to support the venue and event, while others were taking the rare opportunity to see one of the most accomplished bluegrass artists in the business, Doyle Lawson. Having spoken with several bluegrass musicians in the crowd throughout the day, I was surprised that some of them did not know anything about Doyle Lawson or his music. Lawson's band performed 2 shows...and it seems everyone stayed for both sets. I also noticed that two of the people I spoke to early in the day, whom were seeing and hearing the band for the first time, were standing on chairs and benches taking-in the awesome vocal harmonies that filled the air during his final set. 
Marieke Odekerken - Doyle Lawson - Loes van Schaijk

Authors of the newly released publication about the Dutch bluegrass scene "High Lonesome Below Sea Level: Faces and Stories of Bluegrass Music in The Netherlands" Loes van Schaijk and Marieke Odekerken took center stage to present Doyle Lawson with the first hardcover book off the press. Now officially released and available, you can see the details at .

[On A Personal Note: I want to give a huge Thumbs Up to Doyle's soundman who kept the volume at a reasonable 'acoustic-friendly' level for the band's last set. It was a special treat to hear the natural acoustic sounds leaking out from the stage in addition to the subtle amplified speaker sound levels. We are all too familiar with unnecessarily loud systems for bluegrass artists. That last hour with Doyle Lawson was an exceptionally fine balance between the acoustic sound, and the amplified sound system. Unfortunately most sound companies do not possess the finesse of Doyle Lawson's sound dude.]

All in all it was a full day of music with nine bands of various acoustic music styles alternating between two stages, plenty of sun, the sponsor's beer, giant (100% real beef) hamburgers, plus a few hundred people hanging out and surely looking forward to returning next year. 

Check out theses web sites where you can find details about the annual festival in Utrecht: and the De Parel Sessies music series:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Mark Johnson & Emory Lester European Tour 2015 Media Release

Thanks to Paolo Dettwiler of SwissGrass Productions for this information!

Mark Johnson & Emory Lester to embark on their first European tour

Wasn’t it about time for these masters of acoustic music to present their music to a European audience! We are only a few days away from the start of their first European tour which will take them to four countries and seven concerts in ten days.
MARK JOHNSON is an American Master of the 5-string banjo. He has revolutionized the art of playing clawhammer style banjo and advanced the five-string banjo well into uncharted territory by incorporating complex, rhythmic runs and beautiful melodies into his original banjo compositions and variations on traditional music. He calls his banjo style "Clawgrass" and his style will shatter and expand any preconceived notions the listener has ever had about clawhammer banjo playing. Mark has performed and recorded with many bluegrass and acoustic luminaries and is a gifted teacher and songwriter as well. In 2012 he received the most prestigious award in the world of banjo: the Steve Martin Award for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music.
EMORY LESTER is an American Master of the acoustic mandolin and a multi-instrumentalist.His mandolin style has caught the attention of many other mandolin masters and he has performed and recorded with some of today’s hottest acts. He is also a gifted teacher and songwriter. The power of his playing is unmatched, and his sound is infectious.
Together, these two music masters, performing as a duet, deliver a powerful performance that will excite audiences, touch every listener, and create a memorable experience
leaving audiences asking for more and more.
Mark Johnson & Emory Lester can be seen and heard at the following European venues:
22 May 2015, Zweidlen, Switzerland - Folk Club Rocking Chair
23 May 2015, Willisau, Switzerland - 16. Spring Bluegrass Festival (including workshops)
25 May 2015, Zuidlaren, The Netherlands - 33rd Big Bear Festival
26 May 2015, Prague, Czech Republic - Pyramida Hotel
29 May 2015, Sarzana, Italy - 18th Acoustic Guitar Meeting
30 May 2015, Zürich, Switzerland - private event
31 May 2015, Liestal, Switzerland - Masters of Acoustic Music

SwissGrass Productions -
Public Relations and more ... bluegrass style!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Alan Munde Trio (USA) at 'Het Blauwe Huis' in Holland; May 28

The next house concert at “Het Blauwe Huis” will be Thursday, May 28 with the Alan Munde Trio (USA). Het Blauwe Huis is located in the small village of Harpel in the eastern region of the Netherlands, only a few kilometers from the German border.  The trio consists of: Alan Munde - banjo, Dick Kimmel - mandolin, Adam Granger - guitar. Alan Munde is a founding member of the band "Country Gazette" which has performed in Holland, beginning in the early days of the Dutch bluegrass music scene. Dick Kimmel and Adam Granger have also toured Europe, as a duo in the 1980s-90s. The host band Janis McCoury and The Wall Of Sound will get things started at 20:00.

Dick Kimmel - Adam Granger - Alan Munde
Date: Thursday, May 28, 2015
Time:  20:00
Entrance: €15,
Phone: 06-29368131

Het Blauwe Huis
Molenkampeg 5
9541 TK  Vlagtwedde, NL

Het Blauwe Huis website

Following is a brief history of a much larger bluegrass history at this location...

In the 1970's, Bluegrass music experienced an enormous boost in the former "Home of Strictly Country" in Harpel, NL. Rienk and Joke Janssen organized house concerts in their cozy living space. Many Bluegrass music lovers will remember those great concerts. Well known bluegrass musicians performed at the old house in the middle of farmer’s fields for 3 decades. A partial list of artists include: Charlie Moore, Hot Rize, Joe Val, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Mark O'Connor, Jerry Douglas, Dan Crary, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Bob Paisley, Bill Clifton, Red Rector, Don Stover, Kenny Baker & Josh Graves, Steve Gilette, White Mountain Bluegrass, Jimmy Gaudreau, Hugh Moffatt, Chris Jones, Béla Fleck, Tony Trishka, Beppe Gambetta, Lynn Morris Band and Jerrycan

In 2001, the "Home of Strictly Country" was totally destroyed by an early morning fire. Joke, who was alone in the house, lost her life in that fire. In 2005, the house was rebuilt and is now the home of Rienk and Joke’s daughter, Liz Meesters where she lives with her family. They named their new home "Het Blauwe Huis". The tradition of organizing house concerts by Liz' parents’ continues. Since 2005, many great musicians have performed in "Het Blauwe Huis". Many of whom performed in the old "Home of Strictly Country". And so it goes, the music, tradition and new history continues in this very close and intimate space.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

33rd Annual Big Bear Festival - May 25, 2015 (update)

With only a few weeks to go before the longest-running bluegrass festival in Holland takes place, we have received an update... and a nice bit of history about the event as well. 

Appearing at the 33rd annual Big Bear Festival will be USA artists such as Alan Munde Trio (with Dick Kimmel and Adam Granger), Mark Johnson and Emory Lester (Mark is an extraordinary clawhammer banjo player whose peers call his playing style "clawgrass"), Jeff Scroggins and Colorado and, from Holland, Heartstrings (two familiar veteran Dutch bluegrass performers in Elly Beurskens and Bruno van Hoek).

Jamming at Tex Logan's home, August 1971
(Ron Petronko photo)
Dick Kimmel sent this historic, rare photo of Alan Munde (left) jamming with Kenny Baker, Bill Monroe, Tex Logan and Jimmy Martin. The occasion was one of Tex Logan's now legendary all-night picking parties at his home in New Jersey, USA. [note: Sadly, fiddler/songwriter Benjamin Franklin "Tex" Logan passed away on April 24, 2015 after a lengthy illness. History may remember Tex best for his song 'Christmas Times A-comin' which Bill Monroe recorded and performed for many years].

The 'Big Bear Festival Story' written by producer/promoter Rienk Janssen:

Big Bear Festival
Zuidlaren, Netherlands

“The small festival with the big name[s]”

The first festival in 1983 was Egbert Meyers’ initiative. He had attended my first Strictly Country Festival in Diever the year before and wanted to do something similar in Grolloo, where he had found a nice little open air theatre that looked promising, the Berenkuil (the ‘bear pit’).

He asked me if I had anything against that and I decided to help him get it off the ground, with the simple philosophy: the more bluegrass music, the better. For the date, we chose "Whit Monday" (Pinkstermaandag in Dutch). ‘Pinksteren’ in the Netherlands is a holiday weekend that falls some time between May 11 and June 14 (seven weeks after Easter).

On May 22, 1983 the first edition took place, with Bob Paisley, Peter Rowan, Transatlantic
Bluegrass, Jerrycan, and Egbert himself on the program. It was well attended and we decided to keep going. The next one drew even more people, so the Berenkuil was too small, and we started looking for a better location. Another reason for that was Grolloo - just like Diever - did not really have the possibility of moving indoors when the weather was bad and in our climate you will need that about half of the time.

Those first two years the festival was called Berenkuil Festival, and when we moved out of Grolloo we wanted to keep the “bear” in the name. That is when Egbert came up with the Big
Bear name and the logo that ever since has been used.

In 1985 it was in Zweeloo and the next three years in Papenvoort, where Ab Sligter - who later started the successful concert series in De Amer in Amen, NL - helped us out.

In 1989, the Big Bear Festival took place for the first time in Zuidlaren where, on May 25, 2015, the 33rd edition will be held. On the grounds of the psychiatric hospital Dennenoord we found De Kimme, a very nice theatre that will hold several hundred people and a park around it that provides a great place to do music outdoors when the weather permits.

Around that time Egbert Meyers moved on to other things, and in the meantime ‘Diever’ got rained out a few times too many. So Big Bear became more and more ‘mine’.

Dennenoord welcomed the festival as it fit quite well in their endeavours to further the integration of the hospital population. Many patients live there permanently - and the ‘normal’ society - and I was very happy with the logistics, as just about everything we needed was there including helping-hands for the chores on the festival day. Just about the only things I need to do myself is booking the bands, promote the festival in bluegrass circles, put up my record booth on the festival day and take care of the annual deficit.

Of the Dennenoord staff, I have worked closely together with first Frans Diemers, then Paul Bitter, and nowadays Herman Overberg. Egbert Meyers stayed connected to ‘his’ festival for quite a few years doing the MC work, later to be followed by Paul Bitter, who is still very much involved. There is always food available inside and outside the theater.

The sound had been in Pieter Groenveld’s capable hands for close to 25 years. These days Jan and Beppie Pals are most able and willing to help make things sound as perfect as can be.

Over the years many famous, and some less famous, artists have stood on the Big Bear stage. The main focus has always been bluegrass and acoustic country music, but when opportunities presented themselves we have had very memorable shows by the likes of Dave Van Ronk, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Santiago Jimenez Jr., Mark O’Connor, Jerry Douglas and many more. Even if I do say so myself the list of performers has been quite impressive.

Despite its ‘big’ name, Big Bear is a relatively small festival. In the best years we have had as many as 500 people. Enough for a nice atmosphere, and quite ideal to enjoy the acoustic music, if not always enough to pay the bills. However, for the foreseeable future, I plan to keep going and hope to see many familiar and new faces in the crowd on May 25, at the 33rd Big Bear Festival.

~ Rienk Janssen

 More details about the festival, including a festival poster,
may be found at:

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Bluegrass / Oldtime Mandolin Workshop in the UK - South Petherton, Somerset - August 2015

The next 15 and 16 August, Jesper Rübner-Petersen will lead a Bluegrass / Oldtime Mandolin Workshop, at The David Hall, South Petherton, Somerset (UK), to introduce participants to play bluegrass/oldtime mandolin.

Jesper was born on the 8th of July 1969 in Aarhus, Denmark, where he grew up with bluegrass and acoustic music, that his family loved so much. He began very soon to play guitar and performing at gigs and festivals all over Europe; then, in 1994, he approached the mandolin for the first time. It was a first-sight love that led him to modify his style and his way of living music.  Since then, he also started a professional career as guitar and mandolin teacher, and even as book writer. In fact, Jesper's book on Bluegrass improvisation (2010) has been a great success.
Now, he's willing to share once again his expertise with the new participants of the next August 2015 workshop, in which both solo and back-up playing will be explored. Exercises for improvisation, work groups, and all-levels examples taken from bluegrass/oldtime standard tunes, or swing, jazz, Irish music will give every participant the chance to upgrade his/her own skills, and share ideas and techniques.

The workshop fee, that does not include accommodation and meals, is £90. On the website  a number of available options and prices in the local area are listed. The timetable will be the following:

Sat, Aug 15: Morning and afternoon workshop. Lunch at the Brewer's Arms (pub) 
Sun, Aug 16: Morning and afternoon workshop (until about 4:00 pm). Lunch at the Brewer's Arms

If you are willing to participate and want to register, please send an e-mail to Will Helton . See website or write to Jesper to get further details.