21 December 2014

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog: still alive

Although the editor officially retired from bluegrass blogging on 15 February 2013, the Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) is still alive. Its calendar is kept updated, and news received is posted. Send in news for the calendar by e-mail, and please add a copy to Ray O'Brien, whose 'Bluegrass in Ireland' Facebook page is now the most interactive medium on bluegrass in Ireland.

The resources already on the BIB, including archives and links, remain accessible and may be improved for the convenience of readers. The BIB's background and purpose are explained here, and tips on using it are here. To reach both, click on the 'Welcome' label below.

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20 December 2014

More Brookfield Knights news for next autumn


Thanks to Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights (BK) roots music agency for news of two acts from the Vancouver (CAN) area who will be available for bookings in these islands in the autumn of 2015.

Following the success of a recent tour by the duo of Petunia and Nathan M. Godfrey, BK are inviting them to return for three weeks from 4 Sept. 2015 after playing dates in Sweden. This YouTube footage shows them playing at the Green Note in London. And don't miss the photos and comments on the Red Room Facebook for their show in Cookstown earlier this month.

BK are also 'super excited' to be bringing over Ben Rogers in Oct. 2015. His album Lost stories: volume one won critical acclaim and airplay, and a new album is due for release in the UK in late spring. A brief TV feature on him was shown in Canada recently.

Loudon asks promoters and event organisers to let BK know if they would like to provide a slot for either act in those timeframes, and also to indicate if possible any preferred dates, to help in planning tour logistics.

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19 December 2014

Gainsborough festival ticket info out now

Following on from the announcement in the BIB post of 11 December, the weekly FOAOTMAD news blog says:

The ticket booking details for Gainsborough Festival [England, mid Feb.] can be found here. Ticket prices remain the same. Alternatively you can download the order form here.

Buying your ticket in advance helps the committee with their planning – and makes it quicker to get your wristband when you arrive!

As previously mentioned, Jason and Pharis Romero will be joining us on the Saturday as part of their UK tour.

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18 December 2014

Christmas greetings: update

Woodbine display the festive image shown on their Facebook page, with the message:

We would like to wish all our friends a very happy Christmas and bright new year. Thanks for all your support in 2014 and look forward to meeting you somewhere on the bluegrass trail in 2015.

The BIB editor adds:

While I cordially agree with these sentiments, I have to point out that this is a seriously misleading picture. I have never played a banjo with tuners that protrude at the side of the peghead.
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Thanks also to Paul and Anne McEvoy of the Red Hat Acoustic Music Club, meeting every month at the Harbour Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare, for this message:

Just a little note to thank you for your support during the past year on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog. Happy Christmas to the bluegrass family in Ireland. Hope 2015 will be a good year.

It seems to be shaping up well, in terms of musicians from abroad - the BIB calendar has seldom looked so full before a year has even begun.

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17 December 2014

For your Christmas list...

In connection with the BIB post of 8 Dec. about publications by the University of Illinois Press, John Lawless has just published a feature on Bluegrass Today about the third book we mentioned: Jim Rooney's In it for the long run: a musical odyssey.

Addressing BT readers who might be 'still stuck for a bluegrass Christmas gift idea', John Lawless says: 'this book should be a joy for anyone who has followed acoustic music in the United States this past 50-60 years', which we imagine covers most BIB readers as well.

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16 December 2014

Knotty Pines and Down & Outs at Cookstown, 20 Dec. 2014

Thanks to Richard Leeman of the Down and Out Bluegrass Band for the news that on this coming Saturday (20 Dec.) they and the Knotty Pine String Band (above) will be appearing together at the Burnavon Theatre, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, in the 'Bluegrass comes to Town' show, starting at 8.00 p.m. Tickets (£10.00) can be booked online.

As Richard says on the Down and Outs Facebook, this should be a great night of music and craic as the band's last show of 2014. The Burnavon Theatre's online programme says:

Two of Ireland’s best bluegrass bands come together to present an outstanding showcase of music from the Americas. The Knotty Pine String Band and the Down and Out Bluegrass Band have been working the circuit for the past 25 years collectively, bringing a wealth of bluegrass and old time music knowledge to the stage. If toe-tapping, knee-clapping, finger-picking music is for you, then don’t miss this concert.

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European Bluegrass Gathering, 13-15 Mar. 2015

2015 European Bluegrass Gathering
IN THIS EMAIL


Invitation to join the 2015 European Bluegrass Gathering in Munich, Germany. Registration deadline 20 January 2015

3rd EBMA Pioneers & Personality Awards Presentation Award ceremony to take place during the Munich Bluegrass Festival with 5 bands from across Europe (more tbc) on Saturday 14th March 2015.
And if you are an EBMA member: EBMA's 13th General Membership Assembly will be held on Sunday, 15th March 2015, 9.00 am as part of the gathering.

Panel sessions aimed at providing practical insights and useful advice

Lots of fun and extra-curricular activities planned throughout the weekend
A number of rooms have been reserved in the IBIS Hotel Book now!
Dear European Bluegrass Friends,

Since 2009, a highlight in the European bluegrass calendar has been the annual meeting in early spring where musicians, fans, event organisers, and other activists share ideas and plan coordinated development initiatives for Bluegrass across Europe.


The EBMA is now happy to confirm that arrangements have been made for the

2015 European Bluegrass Gathering
(formerly “Summit”) to be held on the weekend of 13-15 March 2015 in Munich, Germany.


The Gathering is open to all, professionals and non-professionals, members and non-members of the European or other bluegrass associations, and previous participants include fans, musicians, promoters, journalists, webmasters, national association reps, and anyone else with a personal, professional, or organisational interest in Bluegrass in Europe.


The meeting will follow up on plans laid out last year in Prague and and will be hosted by the Munich Bluegrass Friends and their 5th Munich Bluegrass Festival.


Everybody is invited, from all European regions, and we hope to make the 2015 European Bluegrass Gathering a unique event for everybody involved.


Costs and arrangements for travel, food, and accommodation as usual are the entire responsibility of the participants. The gathering will be limited to 60 delegates and early booking (in particular of rooms) is advised. Detailed information and registration to be online shortly at www.ebma.org/gathering2015


Please help us spread the word to people you think should attend this summit.


Kind regards,

Angelika Torrie
Chairman of EBMA

And more...

Find out about the Bluegrass Treasure Hunt, Bluegrass films, Bluegrass History in Europe, or just simply join the jamming going on all weekend. Link

Thanks for reading, and see you soon in Munich, Germany!

Angelika Torrie, EBMA Chairman
Rienk Janssen, Gathering Administration
Emanuel Niklas & the board of Munich Bluegrass Friends


European Bluegrass Music Association
Working together to support Bluegrass Music across borders.

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'I'm With Her' tour in Ireland, 2-5 May 2015 - AND Punch Brothers in Jan.

L-r: Sara Watkins, Aoife O'Donovan, Sarah Jarosz

Thanks to singer and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz (USA) for her latest e-newsletter, which includes, among many other items, the high points in her schedule for early 2015, and leads to some other interesting news.

First of the 'other' items is that the Punch Brothers will be playing at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on Wednesday 21 January. Bookings can be made via a link on their online schedule. They will then go on to Britain for two dates in London (where Jarosz will be opening for them) and at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.

Also at Celtic Connections - where their show is already sold out - will be Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O'Donovan in the start of their 2015 'I'm With Her' tour. In April the three of them will be back in Europe for shows in Spain, Sweden, and England before coming to Ireland for the following four appearances in May:

Sat. 2nd: Culturlann Ui Chanain, Derry city
Sun. 3rd: Kilkenny Roots Festival, Kilkenny city
Mon. 4th: Hawk's Well Theatre, Sligo town
Tues. 5th: Whelan's, Dublin 2

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15 December 2014

Front Country in Britain and Ireland, 3-22 Nov. 2015

More news from Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency: the innovative young San Francisco-based band Front Country (above) will be available to tour in these islands in the period 3-22 November 2015.

Bob Harris of BBC Radio 2 is quoted as calling them 'currently the biggest band on the bluegrass scene in America'. This may be a little premature; but given that they formed in 2011 and launched their debut album, Sake of the sound, just this year, they've already had a big impact on the western US scene (winning the band competitions at the Telluride and Rockygrass festivals) and are making themselves felt in the east.

Bluegrass Today has published two very positive features on them in the last few months, and they're warmly commended by members of the Steep Canyon Rangers and the Infamous Stringdusters. You can read the kind of reviews they get on their press webpage and watch them in action in eight videos on their website and elsewhere on YouTube. As an example of their work on a song that has become a bluegrass standard, Loudon sends this link to a video of their 'Rock salt and nails'.

The original plan was for Front Country to come over in late October and early November 2015, but as they have had a big offer in the US that will keep them occupied in October, the dates for which they are now available are in the first three-quarters of November. Contact Brookfield Knights for more information and bookings.

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14 December 2014

New Year at the Cabin Sessions

Following the BIB post of 10 Dec., thanks to Gerry Fitzpatrick for more details of the Christmas/New Year show in the Cabin Sessions series:

Just to let you know that we will be holding a special Cabin Sessions on Friday 2 January. Richard Hawkins will be joining the Cabin Crew for the occasion, and special guests will be Lynda Lucas, Emma Butler, Taylor's Lane, and Alan Begley's Spirit Riders.

May I also take the opportunity to wish all our friends and supporters a peaceful Christmas and to thank you for supporting the Cabin Sessions over the past year.

The Cabin Sessions, 'Acoustic Music at its Finest', are held at Uncle Tom's Cabin in south Dublin (not far from Dundrum Luas station in the city direction) from 9.30 to 11.30 p.m., and admission is free. If you or someone you know would like to perform at the Cabin Sessions, let Gerry know by e-mail. The Sessions are particularly interested in featuring local musicians and singers.

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12 December 2014

3rd annual International Bluegrass Music Appreciation Day - today!

Thanks to Bluegrass Today for a reminder that today is the third annual International Bluegrass Music Appreciation Day (IBMAD). The initiative was launched by Lee Marcus (USA) two years ago, when the Prescription Bluegrass Blog was first to draw our attention to it. So celebrate the day by picking, listening, visiting the IBMAD Facebook page, or any other way of making bluegrass a part of your day and expressing your appreciation of it. More ideas can be found on Bluegrass Today.

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11 December 2014

Gainsborough Old-Time Music Festival, 13-15 Feb. 2015

Jason and Pharis Romero

Thanks to the FOAOTMAD news blog for advance notice of FOAOTMAD's forthcoming Old-Time Music Festival (13-15 Feb. 2015) at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England. Confirmed as part of the lineup are:

Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones (USA)
Howard Rains and Tricia Spencer (USA)
Jason and Pharis Romero (CAN; Saturday night only)
Little Hoedown (Friday night only)
The A & E String Band
Legs Levens with the Limestone Cowboys
Issy Emeney (clogging)
Old-time singing workshop with Roger Jackson
Sacred Harp singing with Cath and Phil Tyler
Ukulele workshop with Cathy Mars and Colm Daly
Plus workshops from Erynn, Carl, Howard, and Tricia

Ticket details will follow shortly.

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10 December 2014

Christmas comes early at the Red Hat - and late at the Cabin

Thanks to Paul and Anne McEvoy, curators of the Red Hat Acoustic Music Club at the Harbour Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare, for this message:

It's Red Hat time again - Friday 12th. Looking forward to seeing all our friends. Happy Christmas to all.

Music is expected to start around 8.30 p.m., and a donation of €3.00 covers coffee/tea and sandwiches at the interval.
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Another celebrated acoustic music venue, the Cabin Sessions at Uncle Tom's Cabin, Dundrum, Dublin 14, presents shows as a rule on the last Thursday of each month. This month, that would mean Christmas Day; so instead, the Cabin's Christmas Special show will be held on Friday 2 January, with the Cabin Crew house band and many guest artists.  9.30-11.30 p.m., admission free.

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Coming in 2015?

Thanks to Al Evers of A Train Entertainment in Oakland, California, for the news that he and the legendary Peter Rowan are planning a tour on this side of the Atlantic for August/ September 2015, and opportunities to perform at festivals and other events will be welcome.

For bookings or further info, Al can be contacted by e-mail.

Peter has had two new albums released this year: Dharma blues (on the Omnivore label; see the two reviews reproduced here) and Twang an' groove, vol. 1 (on Al's label). Both of them illustrate his continued wide-ranging creative power, vocal and instrumental mastery, and ability to bring the best out of accompanying artists.

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Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency sends word that 'the new kings of old-time', Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son (CAN), will be available for dates on two separate occasions in 2015, as they have been confirmed for a big festival appearance in England on 4/5 July AND have been invited back by popular demand to the Tønder Festival in Denmark at the end of August. They will therefore be potentially available in these islands from 6 July to 12 July and from 1 September 1 to 13 September.

Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son have received very enthusiastic reviews for their live shows, and video clips of them can be seen on their website. For further info and bookings, contact Brookfield Knights.
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Finally, thanks to Stefan Behler of the Swiss trio Mala & Fyrmoon (left) for the news that they are keen to play at a festival in Ireland. Stefan (who can be contacted by e-mail) writes:

We are a trio, 100% own material, great vocals by female singer/fiddler Mala, harmonies by her two bandmates on bass and guitar. Our music style is in-between acoustic Americana and bluegrass. We have just released our first album; this summer we did a short US tour, playing venues in Boston, New York (with Vincent Cross [see the BIB for 6 June]), and at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival... We believe that festival audiences would love our music. We got so many nice feedbacks over the years.

As well as their website, the band are on Facebook and SoundCloud. Stefan also sends the following links to videos of their CD title track, the making of the CD, and live shows on tour, in Sweden, at the Little Restaurant, and at Grey Fox.

The BIB editor also confesses that when he saw this band in Switzerland three years ago, he wanted to be their banjo player - although their repertoire is much less old-fashioned than his.

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08 December 2014

Coming from University of Illinois Press

The BIB editor reports:

Devotees of bluegrass, old-time music, and many other genres owe a great debt to the University of Illinois Press and its splendid and wide-ranging 'Music in American Life' series. Two volumes in particular, due for publication in the next few months, should please a lot of us.

The first is Gary B. Reid's The music of the Stanley Brothers, scheduled to appear in January. I met the author at IBMA's World of Bluegrass several years ago; he was then wearing a badge that read 'Ask me about the Stanley Brothers', and probably no one in the world had a better right to do so. The book - over 300 pages, with 51 photos, a discography, and a wealth of biographical information from many sources - is unlikely ever to be superseded. Gary Reid has recently presented a one-man show based on the life and songs of Carter Stanley.

Hoedowns, reels, and frolics: roots and branches of southern Appalachian dance, by Phil Jamison, is due out next July. BIB readers will remember Phil as a member of the late Ralph Blizard's New Southern Ramblers at the Omagh festival over ten years ago (last Thursday was the tenth anniversary of Ralph's death). The book is a radical reappraisal of the history of Appalachian dance, indicating in detail what came from Native American, African American, and European sources, and how they were remade in new syntheses.

Earlier this year the Press published In it for the long run by Jim Rooney - part of whose amazingly varied career in music is his role as strong supporter of Cork's Lee Valley String Band, the group that have played bluegrass and old-time music for longer than any other in this island.

While writing this post I learned with great regret that Judith McCulloh, whose founding and direction of the 'Music in American Life' series is just one of her many achievements, died on 13 July 2014 (the last day of this year's Athy festival). The range of her activities, and the warmth of her character, are shown in this appreciation by Stephen Winick. As well as her distinguished work as folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and arts administrator, she was an editor of the highest quality.

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A voting puzzle

Thanks to Ray O'Brien and Bluegrass in Ireland for sharing the news that the Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival has been nominated in three categories in the Irish Festival Awards – Best Small Festival, Best Lineup, and the Family Festival Award. The Westport team are justly proud of this, and invite supporters to vote at this link.

The BIB, unfortunately, finds this difficult. First, in the 'Best Small Festival' category, the Westport Festival has been placed in competition with the Ulster American Folk Park's Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival - which, by the Irish Festival Awards' own criteria, belongs in the 'Best Medium Festival' category. Secondly, if you try to vote in the three categories suggested, the site reminds you that you haven't voted in the other four categories, and is apparently unwilling to let you go without doing so, whether you want to or not. So apparently you have to vote for something you may know and care nothing about.

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07 December 2014

11th Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival, 4-8 Mar. 2015

Thanks to Colin Magee, Panarts director, for this e-newsletter about the next Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival:

We've got another fantastic lineup for the next BelNash festival here in Belfast. Early-bird Special tickets are out right now, then increase from 1 January. More artists to be announced very soon, so keep an eye on the Festival website.

Don't forget too - 7.30 p.m. Thursday 11 December, Olympic Room, Holiday Inn Belfast. We're working closely with one of our sponsors, Dawsons Belfast, and 11 Dec. is the final of the Dawsons Singer-Songwriter Competition. Ten great finalists performing live, and you can get your free tickets from getinvited.to. Winner gets to play one of the concerts at the festival in March and will win great music gear and recording time.

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06 December 2014

16th Shannonside Winter Music Weekend, 15-19 Jan. 2015

Thanks to Brendan Walsh and his team organising the Shannonside Winter Music Weekend for the news that the 32-page full colour brochure for the 16th 'edition' (as they say on the Continent) of this unique event is now available. It gives photos and brief descriptions of all artists taking part, complete schedules for all events on all days, location maps for venues in Sixmilebridge and Bunratty, Co. Clare, ads and contact data for accommodation and other local services, and a list of Sixmilebridge Folk Club activities during the rest of the year.

As usual, the musical programme ranges across many genres, including classical, flamenco, jazz, gypsy swing, blues, morris dance, set dance and Irish traditional. For the bluegrass enthusiast, the lineup includes Chicago's finest, the Special Consensus, in concert on Sunday, the Niall Toner Band on Saturday, the Down and Out Bluegrass Band (Fri.-Sat.-Sun.), JigJam, Colonel Bullshot Rides Again, Pat & Ricky Kelleher, and Rosie & Gordon - not to mention whoever may turn up at the acoustic roots sessions.

There will be a 'recovery session' on the evening of Mon. 19 Jan. NB: this year, musical events in Bunratty Castle and Folk Park are on Saturday, from noon to 5.00 p.m.

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