27 April 2015

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog: still alive

Although the editor retired from proactive bluegrass blogging on 15 February 2013, the Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) is still alive, keeps its calendar (the most important part of the BIB) updated, and publishes news received. Send in news by e-mail; and please also e-mail it to Wendy Connolly for publication on the 'Bluegrass in Ireland' Facebook page, which is the interactive medium in Ireland for bluegrass news.

Thinking of touring in Ireland? Have a look at the BIB's THINKING OF TOURING IN IRELAND? page. 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.


25 April 2015

Tex Logan, 1927-2015

We learn with great regret of the death yesterday (24 Apr.) of Benjamin Franklin Logan, jr, known in the bluegrass world as 'Tex' from his native state, who achieved distinction both as a widely respected fiddler and as a Ph.D. in the research field of electrical engineering. A brief summary of his career is on Wikipedia; BIB readers are strongly recommended to follow up the links to references 2 and 3 in that article. A fuller account of his life will appear soon on Bluegrass Today.

The picture above, showing Tex with Bill Monroe, is the cover image for a recording of them on YouTube, playing 'Katy Hill' together in 1969.

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New open bluegrass session in Dun Laoghaire - on TONIGHT

Thanks to Aran Sheehan of the Dublin Bluegrass Collective for this poster image and news of impressive developments for bluegrass in the Dublin region - and by the way, for anyone who wants to learn bluegrass mandolin, Aran is now teaching it: contact him by e-mail. He writes:

... to make the world aware of the new monthly open session (strictly bluegrass of course) that's being held from 9.00 p.m. today (Saturday 25 April) in McLoughlin's Pub, 73 Upper Georges St., Dun Laoghaire.

It's our second month today and they have already asked us back for Saturday 23 May, so it's officially on and worth mentioning now...

Our regular Tuesday session is going like a storm at the moment, with fifteen great musicians this week and the surprise pleasure of Mel Corry, wowing the audience and musicians alike with some great songs and awesome banjo picking last week... That one kicks off every Tuesday from 9.00 p.m., in Sin É, Ormond Quay, which is our favourite venue for this type of session.

Both sessions are essentially hosted at root by the Dublin Bluegrass Collective Band and all our bluegrass musician friends, who really help to make these evenings wonderful.

The Dublin Bluegrass Collective will be supporting the excellent Swiss trio Mala & Fyrmoon in the Cobblestone on Saturday 20 June, as part of their tour of Ireland, which includes the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.

The BIB is delighted to note that McLoughlin's announce the session on their own Facebook in these words:

After the huge success of our first night last month of bluegrass music, we are absolutely delighted to be welcoming back the Dublin Bluegrass Collective to McLoughlin's Bar on Sat April 25th from 9pm! - These guys are really fantastic and add wonderful atmosphere and craic to the bar...

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24 April 2015

Old-time news from FOAOTMAD

Thanks to the FOAOTMAD news blog, which this week gives dates and venues for the prospective tour in Britain in May by the splendid old-time duo Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt. They are booked solid from 7 May to 20 May at successive venues in England and Scotland.

FOAOTMAD, however, gives no info on their dates in Ireland, and their online tour schedule shows only what it has for a long time: Baltimore, Co. Cork, on 22 May (a fortnight after the Fiddle Fair), and then other shows TBA from 23 to 26 May. To quote again from the original FOAOTMAD press release of months ago, 'If anyone can offer a gig please contact Peta Webb [e-mail].'
The BIB mentioned six weeks ago the publication of the masterly Couldn't have a wedding without the fiddler: the story of traditional fiddling on Prince Edward Island by musicologist and 'melodic clawhammer' banjo maestro Ken Perlman (USA), which has been called 'the most thorough and comprehensive exploration of any fiddling tradition anywhere'.

FOAOTMAD now announces, for fiddlers who may be interested in exploring this further, a new website, 'Bowing down home: Prince Edward Island fiddling traditions', with sections on people, tunes, styles, traditions, and events.

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23 April 2015

Music Network and Moving on Music present April Verch Band in Ireland

Thanks to Kate O'Leary of Music Network (also on Facebook and Twitter) for an updated schedule and press release for next month's tour by the April Verch Band (CAN). The tour is being jointly presented by Music Network and its NI counterpart, Moving on Music.

The BIB has already carried quite a lot about April and the band, but the two bodies have of course ample online releases about them, which can be read here (Music Network) and here (Moving on Music). Both show clearly what is special about this group. The schedule info provided is as follows (some additional details are on the BIB calendar):

Wed. 6th: The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, 8.30 p.m., €15/€12; 071 9650828
Thurs. 7th: St John’s Theatre & Arts Centre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, 8.00 p.m., €12/€10; 068 22566)
Fri. 8th: National Opera House, Wexford town, 8.00 p.m., €16/€14; 053 9122144
Sat. 9th: Triskel Christchurch, Cork city, 8.00 p.m., €15/€12; 021 4272022
Sun. 10th: Glebe Gardens Amphitheatre, Baltimore Fiddle Fair, Co. Cork; 3.00 p.m., €20 (tickets from Fiddle Fair); 086 3753380 (info only)
Tues. 12th: Station House Theatre, Clifden, Co. Galway, 8.00 p.m., €12/€10, tickets on the door; 095 21699 (info only) (Promoted by Clifden Arts Society)
Wed. 13th: The Sugar Club, Dublin 2, 8.00 p.m., €18/€13; 01 4750224 (Promoted by Music Network)
Thurs. 14th: Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray, Co. Wicklow, 8.00 p.m., €16/€14; 01 2724030
Fri. 15th: Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, Co. Louth, 9.00 p.m., €16/€14; 041 9833946

Wed. 20th: Black Box, Belfast, doors 8.00 p.m., £12/£10
Thurs. 21st: Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, Co. Londonderry
Fri. 22nd: Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, Co. Antrim

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May 2015 - Mensis mirabilis (update)

... A wonderful month - that's what May should be for bluegrass and old-time enthusiasts in this island, and the prospects just keep getting better. Thanks especially to the indefatigable John Nyhan for details of the schedules he has arranged for two excellent groups from the USA: The Petersens and Jeff Scroggins & Colorado.

The BIB reported on 5 February that the Petersens family band from Branson, MO, would be here in May. This time, instead of the full family band, three of the siblings (above left) are coming: Ellen (banjo, vocals), Katie (fiddle, vocals), and Matthew (guitar, bass, vocals). Earlier this year Ellen, described by Bluegrass Today as 'a truly gifted vocalist', made her mark on the major TV talent show 'American Idol'.

L-r: Greg Blake, Jeff Scroggins, Tristan Scroggins

Also, as an unexpected bonus, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado will be in Ireland for five days in the course of a European tour taking in three bluegrass festivals in the Netherlands and Germany. Jeff is a two-time national banjo champion and will have a five-piece band, including Tristan (his son) on mandolin and Greg Blake, award-winning guitarist and singer. The band members who were still to be confirmed when this post was first published are Ellie Hakanson (fiddle) from Portland, OR, and Nate Sabat (bass), now in Boston studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.

John has arranged a schedule of concerts for the two groups together, and also the Petersens on their own, as follows. NB: dates that appear to be free on the schedule below are in fact booked for private concerts.

Tues. May 19th: Jeff Scroggins & Colorado and the Petersens, the Grain Store, Ballymaloe, Co. Cork, 8.00 p.m.; tel. 021 4651511 & 021 4651555

Thurs. 21st: The Petersens, Kanturk Library, Kanturk, Co. Cork, 11.00 a.m.; tel. 029 51384
The Petersens, Millstreet Library, Millstreet, Co. Cork, 3.00 p.m.; tel. 029 21970

The Petersens and Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, the Schoolyard Theatre, Charleville, Co. Cork, 8.15 p.m.; tel. 087 2530955, 063 8184

Fri. 22nd: Jeff Scroggins & Colorado and the Petersens, Christ Church, Main St., Innishannon, Co. Cork, 8.00 p.m.; tel. 021 4775361, 087 7921771

Sat. 23rd: A Family Music Day - 'The Families That Play Together'
The Petersens and the Kelleher Family, from Dripsey, Co. Cork (Pat, banjo, guitar, vocals; Lorna, guitar, vocals; Ricky, guitar, bass, vocals, who play a blend of folk, old-time, and bluegrass). Mallow Library, Mallow, Co. Cork, 3.00 p.m.
Christ Church Church of Ireland, Ballyhooly Castle Grounds, Ballyhooly, Co. Cork, 8.00 p.m.; tel. 086 2659496

Sun. 24th: The Petersens, St Mary's Church of Ireland, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, 3.00 p.m.; concert in aid of Hope Foundation and Church Repair Fund; tel. 087 225 7983

Tues. 26th: 'Bluegrass Meets Trad' concert: The Petersens and Jamie Kirby (tenor bjo) and Daniel Ahern (tenor bjo, guitar), the Mill Bar, Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare; tel. 086 8464509 (A Sixmilebridge Folk Club presentation)

Thanks to John for arranging this schedule as part of what we know will be a very busy month for him, and there's every likelihood it will also be an outstanding month for fans of our music.

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Flats and Sharps: coming to Westport

Thanks to Uri Kohen, head of the organising team of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, for a foretaste of this year's event (12-14 June). Uri sends a link to a thirteen-minute video of the very hot young band Flats and Sharps (also on Facebook) from England, playing to a very enthusiastic house at the BBC Youth Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, London - a gig which they won as finalists in the Music for Youth event.

Flats and Sharps, who make excellent use of the single mike, will be one of the main acts at Westport in a special concert entitled 'Bluegrass: the next generation'. Uri will shortly be issuing a press release for the Festival with full details of its schedule.

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21 April 2015

Latest news of the Foghorn Stringband

L-r: Caleb Klauder, Reeb Willms, Nadine Landry, 'Sammy' Lind

The BIB's last news on the coming tour of this island by the Foghorn Stringband (above) from Portland, OR, was five weeks ago (14 Mar.). Thanks to G Promo PR in the UK for an update on their schedule, with two extra confirmed dates and more details. G Promo PR also send ample quotes from reviews on how good the band are; but BIB readers know that anyway. Reminders can be found on the band's own 'Reviews' web page.

They will have the new CD Devil in the seat - due for release next Monday (27 Apr.) - available on live shows and from CD Baby. You can hear an audio stream of it here, and G Promo PR also send links to videos of the Foghorns playing 'Mining camp blues' and 'Leland's waltz'.

The Foghorns' full schedule now reads:

Wed. 6th May: Whelan's, 25 Wexford St., Dublin 2, 8.00 p.m.
Thurs. 7th: The Local, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, 8.00 p.m.
Fri. 8th-Sun. 10th: Baltimore Fiddle Fair, Co. Cork
Tues. 12th: Siopa Ceoil an Daingin / Dingle Music & Coffee Shop, 7.30 p.m.; John Benny's, 9.00 p.m., Dingle, Co. Kerry
Wed. 13th: Linenhall, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, 8.00 p.m.
Thurs. 14th: Crane Bar, Galway city
Fri. 15th: Glens Centre, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim, 8.00 p.m.
Sat. 16th: Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone; SOLD OUT!

Venue location and contact details are on the band's website. They will subsequently be playing seven dates in Britain.

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Belfast Bluegrass - next session 5 May 2015

Richard Leeman, organiser of the monthly Belfast Bluegrass sessions (and also guitar player and lead singer of the Down and Out Bluegrass Band), announces that the next Belfast Bluegrass session will be in two weeks' time, on Tuesday 5 May. The session, as always, will be upstairs at the Errigle Inn, 312-320 Ormeau Rd, Belfast, starting about 9.00 p.m. All are welcome.

The BIB notes that this coming Saturday morning (25 Apr.) Howard Walker of the Down and Outs will be giving banjo tuition in Lisburn at the monthly DanGem Bluegrass Get-Together (see yesterday's BIB post), and at 8.30 that evening the whole band will be playing at the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone.

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20 April 2015

DanGem Bluegrass Get-Together, 25 Apr. 2015 - Banjo tuition is back!

Thanks to DanGem Bluegrass in Craigavon, Co. Armagh, for a reminder that their next monthly Bluegrass Get-Together will be held this coming Saturday (25 Apr.) at the usual place and time (the Lagan Valley Island Civic Centre, Lisburn, Co. Antrim BT27 4RL, from 10.00 a.m. to noon); and with the usual schedule:

10.00-10.30 Warm-up
10.30-11.00(ish) Breakout time for beginners; rest of players, jam time
11.00(ish) to 12.00(ish) All back together

The big news is that at this meeting banjo tuition by Howard Walker of the Down and Out Bluegrass Band will be resumed, thanks to sponsorship by the Island Arts Centre. As well as being a fine picker (he plays a Deering), Howard is a thoroughly experienced teacher.

DanGem add: 'So let everyone know. Bring along your banjos, guitars, mandolins, fiddles, dobros, and bass, or just come along and enjoy us make music. Look forward to seeing as many of you who can attend.'

The DanGem Get-Together combines a jam session for those who are already active pickers, with the opportunity to learn for those who are beginners or just want to listen. DanGem's e-newsletter includes a reminder that they have the largest range of banjos for sale in this island.

The image on the left (from the Down and Outs' Facebook) shows Howard with his Deering. The image below (supplied by Dangem) does not show either Howard or a Deering.

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Baltimore Fiddle Fair, 7-10 May 2015: Foghorns, April Verch, much more

Thanks to Declan McCarthy, organiser of the annual Baltimore Fiddle Fair in Baltimore, West Cork, for the poster image, press release, and performance schedule for this year's edition (7-10 May) of 'The Small Festival with the Big Reputation!':

Arguably Ireland's best small music festival, from humble beginnings in 1992 this remarkable festival has grown a little in size and a lot in stature and truly does get better with age. Its reputation is built on its consistent ability to present world-class national and international acts in intimate settings in the beautiful seaside village of Baltimore in West Cork, and once again they present a lineup that is simply amazing.

International acts include amazing Swedish group Väsen, from Scotland the enchanting singer Julie Fowlis and the electrifying 5-piece Daimh, from Canada there's the sensational duo Troy MacGillivray & Shane Cook and the incredible April Verch Trio, and from the USA the award-winning multi-instrumentalist & songwriter Peter Broderick and the best 'old-time' group on the planet - the Foghorn Stringband!

Top-class Irish acts include the finest accordion player in the country, Dermot Byrne with Dermot McLaughlin; gorgeous harmony-singing group the Henry Girls from Donegal; world-renowned violinist Zoe Conway with John McIntyre, young Dublin fiddle & pipes duo Liam O'Connor & Sean McKeon; and Danny Diamond with Aki and a first appearance by Louth fidder Gerry O'Connor with Breton guitar supremo Gilles Le Bigot.

These intimate concerts will be held in unique venues across Baltimore, including garden amphitheatres, ancient castles, small churches, and cosy marquees, and all in one of the most stunning festival settings on the planet. The Baltimore Fiddle Fair will also include a host of additional events including top-class workshops, art exhibitions, and a plethora of great sessions in and around the village. For many musicians and music lovers, the annual pilgrimage to the Baltimore Fiddle Fair is the musical highlight of the year, and this year's festival promises to be no exception!

Tickets for the 23rd anniversary Baltimore Fiddle Fair are on sale now. Full lineup, schedule, and ticket information are on the Fair's website. For further information, contact Declan McCarthy at 2 The Courtyard, Baltimore, Co. Cork; 'phone +353 86 3753380; e-mail.


Thurs. 7th: 9.00 p.m. Dún na Séad Castle: Candle-lit concert with Dermot Byrne & Dermot McLaughlin

Fri. 8th: 9.00 p.m. Fiddle Fair Marquee: Troy MacGillivray & Shane Cook; Julie Fowlis

Sat. 9th: 1.00 p.m. St Matthew's church: Danny Diamond and Aki
3.00 p.m. Glebe Gardens Amphitheatre: Peter Broderick; Zoe Conway & John McIntyre
9.00 p.m. Fiddle Fair Marquee: The Foghorn Stringband; Daimh with special guest Eilidh Shaw

Sun. 10th: 1.00 p.m. St Matthew's church: Gerry O'Connor & Gilles Le Bigot
3.00 p.m. Glebe Gardens Amphitheatre: April Verch Trio; the Henry Girls
9.00 p.m. Fiddle Fair Marquee: Liam O' Connor and Sean McKeon; Väsen

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19 April 2015

No connection with bluegrass

In memory

'Todd' (Gordon Cyril George) Hawkins
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; 107 Squadron, 2 Group,
RAF Bomber Command
Born 14 April 1911; POW 10 July 1940; died 19 April 1945 from 'friendly fire'
Younger son of Henry Frederick Hawkins and Susannah Jane Hawkins (née Blackmore) of Wembley, Middlesex, England; brother of Harry, Vera, and Jeanne; husband of Jessie Ellen (née Chisholm)


17 April 2015

Harpers Hollow at Ballygally, 27 May 2015

Thanks to Adrian Rolston of the Cairncastle Ulster Scots organisation for this news:

At our monthly soiree on Wednesday 27 May 2015, we are having Harpers Hollow Bluegrass Band playing. They will be on stage for approximately one hour. The soiree commences at 8.00 p.m. in Halfway House, Ballygally, four miles north of Larne [Co. Antrim].

The band photo above shows Derek Lockhart (bass, vocals), Derek Norwood (guitar, vocals), William Duddy (mandolin, clawhammer banjo, vocals), and Colin Allen (banjo, vocals).

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Belle election!

No, that's not a message from the French electorate to their counterparts in the UK; but it similarly relates to next month, when the April Verch Band (CAN) will be back in Ireland for a tour beginning at Carrick-on-Shannon on 6 May. Dates are on the BIB calendar.

'Belle election' is an instrumental track from the band's new album The Newpart, released ten days ago (7 April). There's also a video to go with it, which you can see on Bluegrass Today - or on YouTube, where April also has a trio of videos on the making of the album.

As Bluegrass Today says, the 'Belle election' video 'combines all the familiar elements of a Verch performance: tasty fiddle and precision step-dancing along with her giant smile and close-cropped ginger coif'.

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16 April 2015

Dermot O'Connor

Readers who recall the scene in Ireland in the 1970s will be sad to learn that Dermot O'Connor (left), who was in several highly talented and popular bands, has had intensive treatment over the past year for a life-threatening condition, and has decided against further medical procedures.

In this situation, Dermot is keeping upbeat: last month he went on a three-week cruise with his Sicilian wife Scina, and he has invited friends to join him in a picking session tomorrow (17 April) at his home in northern Italy. The sympathies and good wishes of all who know Dermot will be with him. Among those taking part will be the legendary fiddler George Kaye.

In the '70s Dermot played mandolin and guitar in the electric folk group Spud, and later with George in Permanent Cure, as well as other groups. About 1980 he and George moved to London and played on different circuits till relaunching Permanent Cure on a successful new career in Germany in the 1990s. They last played together at Dermot's birthday celebration at Brunswick in 2006.

The BIB editor writes:

I very much regret being unable to take this chance of picking with Dermot again. His musicianship - for instance, on such tunes as 'Fisher's hornpipe' - would be intimidating if he weren't at the same time such good company; and I have special reason to be grateful to him for filling, with his customary joie de vivre, the mandolin role on an ersatz version of the Sackville String Band that went up to Belfast c.1978 to support Bill Grant & Delia Bell. Dermot - here's hoping to see you some time, somehow.

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Detached notes

This disturbing 'face' is part of the body of a three-stringed halam from Senegal, a relative of the banjo. It appears in the latest e-newsletter from banjo virtuoso Michael J. Miles. Among his many other active projects, Michael will be playing a classical concert in Chicago next week, which will be filmed live for his 'Existential banjo' YouTube series. His fellow teachers at Midwest Banjo Camp in June will include Tony Trischka, Greg Cahill, Bill Evans, and Ken Perlman - all of whom, like himself, have played in Ireland. All this, and much more, can be read here.
Thanks to the Prescription Bluegrass Blog for the news that the National Fiddler Hall of Fame will hold its 2015 Inductee Gala on 28 May at the Broken Arrow PAC, 701 S. Main St., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Those honoured are drawn from a wide range of styles - Bob Wills was the first in 2007 - and this year's inductees are Charlie Daniels, Stuart Duncan, Howdy Forrester, Jana Jae, and Jay Ungar. A full list to 2014 is here.
Many mandolinists will already know about this record, as it's been out for some time: Rags, breakdowns, stomps and blues: vintage mandolin music 1927-1946. The music presented in the twenty-four tracks comes from a range of blues, jug-band, and string-band numbers by black and white artists - including, of course, 'Hawkins Rag', led by Ted Hawkins of Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers. This is a field that Mike Compton has been exploring for some years. Mike's 2015 Monroe Mandolin Camp will be held in early September in Kingston Springs, TN.
Finally, for anyone in the Dublin area who enjoys classic country music, Gerry Fitzpatrick, dobroist and impresario of the Cabin Sessions in Dundrum, writes:

Many of you will have enjoyed Alan Begley, Joe Ryan, and Mick O'Doherty perform at the Cabin Sessions. Well, here's a chance to spend a late Sunday afternoon listening to their full band - Spirit Riders - on 10 May in Toners [Baggot St., Dublin 2].

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15 April 2015

Broken String Band - every Thursday in Belfast, and...

The BIB learns that the Broken String Band, comprising some of the Belfast area's most experienced and respected pickers, play every Thursday night at the Dirty Onion, 3 Hill St., Belfast BT1 2LA - a regular venue for traditional music, set in one of the oldest buildings in the city.

The band are always on the bill at the annual Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival at the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh, Co. Tyrone, and are booked this year (not for the first time) for the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Folk Festival near Larne, Co. Antrim. More details on the latter as soon as the BIB receives them.

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The Cabin Sessions - next on 30 Apr. 2015

Gerry Fitzpatrick announces the next show in the Cabin Sessions series, 'Acoustic Music at its Finest', at Uncle Tom's Cabin in Dundrum, south Dublin (not far from Dundrum Luas station in the city direction):

We're back on Thursday 30 April, featuring the all-star house band The Cabin Crew [Spats (guitar), Con (bass), Gerry (dobro), Christian (harmonica), Cathy (fiddle), Richard Hawkins (banjo), Dave Hardy (sax/clarinet),] with special guests Liam & Mary (Americana), Clare Dunne (contemporary), and DK Tuesdays (acoustic rock). 9.30-11.30 p.m., and admission is FREE. Hope to see you there!

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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Update on the Chuck Nation Band - updated

Thanks to Susan Nation (second from right, above) for an update on the Chuck Nation Band from Georgia, who toured Ireland in 2012 and early last year with former Blue Grass Boy Curtis Blackwell on guitar and lead vocals. Curtis Blackwell has gone back to leading his own Dixie Bluegrass Boys (in which Chuck, above centre, plays fiddle), and the current Chuck Nation Band lineup includes Jody Hughes (vocals, banjo), Libby Nation-Whitehead (vocals, mandolin, guitar) and percussionist Steve Vincent.

The band has a busy schedule coming up: the imminent dates can be seen on their Facebook page, but one outstanding event is that on 22 May they will be playing at Carnegie Hall, in the New York premiere of Dr Tim Sharp's 'Come away to the skies: a high, lonesome mass'. BIB readers may recall a performance of it in Dec. 2013 in Taney church, Dundrum, Dublin 14, with members of the Dublin bluegrass fraternity taking part.

Update 16 Apr.: Susan writes further -

We have such a special place in our hearts for Ireland and have been fortunate enough to retain some good friendships with many of the folks we met... We've had two great Ireland tours and created some wonderful memories. We hope to bring the Chuck Nation Band over some time as well. Chuck has assembled a top-notch group of award-winning musicians who play with creative innovation and flair. We're preparing material now for a new CD which will be out in the fall.

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14 April 2015

Hank Wedel Band at the Rockies Club. Cork, 25 Apr. 2015

Thanks to Roger Ryan of the Country Music Association of Ireland and the Blackrock 'Rockies' GAA Club of Church Rd, Cork, for this news of US-born and Cork-resident singer/ songwriter Hank Wedel:

The Hank Wedel Band will make a welcome return to the Rockies Club on Saturday 25 April. Now considered one of the most popular entertainers on the Cork scene, Hank and his band always put on a great show. The music kicks off at around 9.30 p.m. and admission is free. So why not join us at the Rockies for a great night's entertainment?

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Concert lineup for Athy 2015

The Athy Bluegrass Festival Facebook publishes this image of the lineup for concerts at this year's festival (10-12 July), the twenty-fifth in the series. It's a truly international lineup as well as being a pretty high-powered one, with 4 Wheel Drive (NL/D/B), the top bluegrass talent in Europe in one perfectly coordinated package; the Patuxent Partners (USA), from one of the historic hotbeds of bluegrass in the Mother Country; The Plough, from Sydney, Australia; and from Ireland, KingBlue and the host band, Woodbine.

More details of the weekend will be announced. A video of the Patuxent Partners in action can be viewed here on the festival Facebook, and also on YouTube. The 25th Athy Bluegrass Festival will be held at the GAA Centre, Dublin Road, Athy, Co. Kildare.

PS: A 28-minute TV set that the Patuxent Partners played two and a half years ago can be seen here; they were in fine form, and the cameras caught the individual members well.

PPS: While you're on the web, look up the YouTube channel of Jürgen Biller, 4WD's banjo maestro - plenty of hardcore bluegrass there, including several videos of Jürgen's earlier band, Helmut & the Hillbillies.

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11 April 2015

Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly at the DC Music Club, 24 Apr. 2015

Thanks to Paul Lee for the news that among forthcoming Musiclee.ie shows, in two weeks' time Frankie Lane (guitar, dobro) and Paul Kelly (fiddle, mandolin) will be playing at the DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, on Friday 24 Apr., starting at 9.00 p.m. Tickets are €15 (€13 if booked in advance). The Musiclee.ie blurb reads, with impressive truthfulness:

They are one of the best-known duos touring in Ireland for many years. Traditional tunes and songs, American Folk, Western Swing, Jazz, Classical, Bluegrass, and anything else that pops up. Entertaining and talented. It's just not fair. (As for looks, well, you can't have everything.)

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New faces on an old song

The BIB editor reports:

One of the many tonic effects of going to the monthly Cabin Sessions at Uncle Tom's Cabin in Dundrum is getting to hear and see the multi-talented Kevin 'Spats' Davenport (above), front man of the Sessions' house band. Spats is also an instrument freak whose repertoire draws heavily on a wide range of music of the 1920s to 1940s, including blues, early jazz, and swing, especially Western Swing - a very similar mixture to what can be found in old-time music of the same period.

Spats's latest video (on his own and the Cabin Sessions' Facebook pages, as well as on YouTube) is his 'western/horror-themed take' on the classic blues song 'Jack of Diamonds'. Old-time and bluegrass fans will recognise this as the twin of what may be the oldest banjo song in America, with roots in West Africa - known, with varying texts, under the names 'Old Reuben', 'Reuben's train', 'Train 45', 'Ruby', etc.

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10 April 2015

Tut Taylor, 1923-2015

Robert Arthur 'Tut' Taylor - musician, luthier, instrument collector, master sign-painter, raconteur, and much more - died yesterday (9 Apr. 2015) at the age of 91. Appreciations have already appeared on Bluegrass Today, the Prescription Bluegrass Blog, and Bluegrass in Ireland, where Pat Kelleher of Co. Cork shares his personal memory of Tut.

Tut Taylor became involved with music as a teenager in Milledgeville, Georgia, and kept throughout his life a love of the old sounds of country music and bluegrass, while also taking part in ground-breaking recordings with John Hartford and many others. Anyone interested in bluegrass history should see the photos and stories on his website, not forgetting the gallery of his remarkable paintings on instrument cases. More on his life and music can be found at the Steam Powered Preservation Society website.

Tut was associated most closely with the dobro (which he played with a flat pick) and the mandolin. The photo above (taken c.1970?) shows him (centre) playing mandolin with Bill Monroe and Norman Blake; Joe Zinkan is on bass, and the English bluegrass pioneer Pete Sayers (who was working at WSM about that time) is on guitar at right centre. Partly hidden are Vassar Clements on fiddle (far left), Rual Yarborough on banjo, and another guitarist behind Sayers.

Update 20 Apr.: Much more information is now presented in a feature by Richard Thompson on Bluegrass Today.

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Gareiss & Gilchrist show at Naul POSTPONED

The Séamus Ennis Arts Centre (SEAC) at Naul, Co. Dublin, announces that the events scheduled for today (Friday 10 April) have been postponed. These were to be a 'Dance the tune' workshop (3.00 p.m.) and a concert (8.30 p.m.), both given by percussive dancer Nic Gareiss (USA) and Edinburgh harpist Maeve Gilchrist. We have no info at present on a future date for them to play at Naul - this was the last show in a tour that began on 1 April (see the BIB for 26 Mar.).

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09 April 2015

Vincent Cross: Spring newsletter

Vincent Cross, the Irish bluegrass scene's ambassador in New York City, sends his spring e-newsletter with reflections on the music scene there, past and present, and some memorable events in the company of compatriots. Vincent also sends this poster image (right) and explains:

Years back, not too many, I was involved with a wonderful crew of musicians who loved to breathe life into classic bluegrass tunes (they referred to this as 'rescued music'). These fine muscians have histories longer than I could possibly cover here, but if you're on Staten Island, NYC for April, May, and June, check these guys out.

Vincent himself will be in Ireland in three months' time in the course of a European tour. Contact him for bookings by e-mail.

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All-day Sacred Harp singing in Dublin, 2 May 2015

Thanks to Sacred Harp Singers of Dublin for this news:

Sacred Harp Singers of Dublin warmly invite you to sing with us on Saturday 2 May, 10.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m., in the Franciscan Friary on Merchant's Quay, Dublin 8.

We will have a pot-luck lunch in the middle of the day, so feel free to bring along something tasty ; )

All welcome, hope to see you there!

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Quote of the month

Sonny Osborne told me one time: 'If you're not learning something new every time you get that banjo out of the case and play it, then something's not right.' I've always taken that to heart.

Rob McCoury, quoted in Bill Conger's article on him in the Apr. 2015 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited. (The advice probably works for other instruments as well.)

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