25 September 2017

A work in progress

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) keeps its calendar updated, publishes news received, and adds new features whenever they come to mind. Send in news or queries by e-mail, please; we can't send a direct reply to a comment on a post.

Thinking of touring in Ireland? Look at the BIB's THINKING OF TOURING IN IRELAND? page (now updated). Click on the 'Welcome' label below for more about the BIB's background, purpose, and uses.


24 September 2017

Mala & Fyrmoon (CH) in Ireland, 28 Sept.-6 Oct. 2017

(L-r) Stefan Behler, Mala, Vincent Zurkinden

As reported on the BIB on 23 June, our multi-talented Swiss friends Mala & Fyrmoon (also on Facebook) will be back in Ireland from the end of the coming week. Tour dates as shown on their online schedule are:

Thurs. 28th: Sunflower Folk Club, Belfast
Fri. 29th: The Cobblestone, Dublin, with CUA
Sat. 30th: Tech Amergin, Waterville, Co. Kerry

Mon. 2nd: Crane Lane, Cork city
Wed. 4th: St John's Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry
Fri. 6th: Moy River Folk Club, Cloonacool, Co. Sligo

Among their other distinctions, Mala & Fyrmoon were selected to take part in the band contest at this year's big La Roche Bluegrass Festival in France.

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From Texas to Ireland: Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay (USA) tour, 20-29 Oct. 2017

Thanks to Uri Kohen for this news:

The Electric Cave Production, in association with the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, are delighted to announce the first ever tour of Texas country/ folk duo Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay (above).

Some might know them as half of the bluegrass group High Plains Jamboree who recently toured the UK and played the Beer & Bluegrass Festival in Poole, Dorset. The duo have been championed by the likes of Guy Clark and are very much looking forward to bringing their song and music to Ireland for the first time.

There are many of their live performances clips on YouTube (such as this one), but this particular clip is a good example of what they sound like as a duo and the quality of their songwriting craftsmanship. The tour dates are below, and more specific details regarding door times, etc. to follow.

Wed. 25th:      Thomas Connolly, Sligo town
Thurs. 26th:      Bridge St., Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Fri. 27th: TBA
Sat. 28th:      The Olde Woods, Main St., Balla, Co. Mayo (part of Balla Bluegrass Festival)

This tour will be a unique opportunity to catch this quality act for the first time - don't miss it!

BIB editor's note: High Plains Jamboree, mentioned above, will be on the showcase programme at IBMA's World of Bluegrass next week, on the same lineup with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado.

Uri adds: 'it might be worth mentioning that Cup O' Joe will play the IBMA as well and are about to bring big pride to our island.'

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More editorial not-business

Please note that the BIB editor will be out of the office (for reasons of pleasure) from Monday 25 September to Friday 29 September inclusive. All news is still welcome, but if received after 24 Sept. it will not appear on the BIB till Saturday 30 Sept. at the earliest.

21 September 2017

News from the Mother Country

The Prescription Bluegrass Blog reports that the Ashokan Center in New York State is celebrating fifty years as a focus of environmental education, and is honouring Jay Ungar and Molly Mason for their help in keeping the Center going, not least by holding their annual Fiddle and Dance Camps there since 1980. Jay Ungar wrote the famous 'Ashokan farewell' there in 1982, as told here.
Bluegrass Today reports that Alison Brown and Deering Banjos have worked together to produce the Julia Belle banjo, based on the inspiration of the late John Hartford. It has a 24-fret fingerboard, and uses heavy-medium strings to enable it to be tuned down to an open E or D chord. Alison is quoted as saying:

...there’s nothing like a low banjo to open up a player’s creativity. The low resonance gives the banjo a solo voice that is so comfortable and inspiring to play that I find myself reaching for it often to play around the house. It’s a great tool in band settings and in the studio too...

Update 22 Sept.: Deering's press release, with links, can be seen here.
Thanks to Denver film-maker and copywriter Bo Smith, who draws attention to Avenhart, an indie-folk band formed by Colorado University students. Their website describes their music as

... 'City-folk' with a pinch of bluegrass and a dash of Americana. [...] Sound inspirations come from a mixture of the Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan, two parts of Fleet Foxes, and a teaspoon of Joy Kills Sorrow.

The 'pinch' of bluegrass means that they use acoustic bluegrass instruments (guitars, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass) and harmony vocals. Bo Smith has produced and directed this video of the band's song 'Fade away'. If you like what you see and hear, more of their work is on YouTube.

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Molsky's Mountain Drifters in London, 18 Nov. 2017

The FOAOTMAD news blog reports that Molsky's Mountain Drifters (Bruce Molsky, fiddle; Allison de Groot, banjo; Stash Wyslouch, guitar) will be giving afternoon workshops and an evening concert at Richmond, SW London, on Saturday 18 November.

This does not yet appear on the FOAOTMAD calendar, the Drifters' own online schedule, or their Facebook, and there's no indication of other shows (if any) that they'll be playing in these islands, but we can hope...

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20 September 2017

A new online resource for bluegrass instruction

Thanks to the European Bluegrass Music Association's Facebook for the announcement from banjoist Gilles Rézard (F) that his new online instructional website, L'Ecole Bluegrass ('The Bluegrass School') opened its doors on Monday 18 Sept.

For anyone who can follow written and spoken French, L'Ecole Bluegrass (also on Facebook) is a comprehensive, well structured, and prospectively very useful instructional guide. Seven introductory courses can be seen free of charge. The rates for others can be seen here. If you want to know more of Gilles Rézard, read the interview with him by Pete Wernick on the Banjo News Letter website. Gilles is now a certified Wernick Method teacher.

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18 September 2017

Winners at Winfield 2017

Thanks to Rex Flottman of the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, for news of the top three winners in each of the National Championship instrument contests held at the 46th festival, which has been in progress over the last five days (13-17 Sept.). The contests are for flatpicking guitar, fingerstyle guitar, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, mountain dulcimer, autoharp, old-time fiddle, and bluegrass banjo.

As the BIB mentioned last year, winners of Winfield contests often go on to greater prominence in music, so those on the complete list of winners are worth watching. An extra treat for instrument freaks: the details of the instruments selected as prizes. The Festival is also on Facebook.

The Winfield website also contains 'A day in County Clare with the Socks in the Frying Pan', in which Kelley F. Hurst, who was turned on to Irish music at Winfield, tells the story, with photos, of her day out with the Irish band. The endnote says: 'She is considering writing about Ireland in the future – but first she needs to do more on-location research.'

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16 September 2017

From Virginia to the Rockies (Cork, that is)

Thanks to Roger Ryan of the Country Music Association of Ireland for these photos of Ed and Trish Bowes of Midlothian, VA (see the BIB for 28 Aug.) at the Hooley in the Rockies GAA Club at Church Rd, Blackrock, Cork, on Tuesday (12 Sept.). Roger reports that it was a great night. Above, Trish and Ed (on the left) warm up jamming with Jim and Pat; below (l-r) Siobhán O'Callaghan, Lisa Curtin, Trish & Ed, and Ber Murphy. Roger adds: 'These three Rockies ladies served up some lovely treats for everyone during the evening.'

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The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 28 Sept. 2017

Gerry Fitzpatrick, organiser of the Cabin Sessions series, 'Acoustic Music at its Finest', announces the Session for this month:

Hey Y'all,

We're back again on Thursday 28 September. We'll have the usual Cabin Crew with special guests Kate Dineen, Joyce Murphy, and Ruth Egan, all young contemporary folk singers. Look forward to seeing you there!

The Sessions are held on the last Thursday of every month at Uncle Tom's Cabin in Dundrum, south Dublin (not far from Dundrum Luas station, in the city direction). Shows run 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.
The Cabin has a special treat in store a month from now: Gerry Madigan (Cotton Mill Boys; see the BIB for 28 Mar.) and George Kaye (Smokey Mountain Ramblers), pioneers of bluegrass music in Ireland, will be playing there on Thursday 26 October. Full details of their autumn tour will appear on the BIB in the very near future.

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15 September 2017

Laura Cortese (USA) at Clonakilty Guitar Festival, 19 Sept. 2017

Laura Cortese (photo: Natalie Champa Jennings)

Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency announced in February this year that Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards (USA) would be available for bookings in these islands in the period from 27 September to 11 October inclusive. As it turns out, they will be playing in Britain from 28 September to 14 October, but not in Ireland.

However, Laura Cortese herself will be performing in Ireland next Tuesday (19 Sept.) as part of the Clonakilty Guitar Festival, at De Barra's Folk Club in Clonakilty, Co. Cork. The timetable isn't yet on the Festival website, but it is on the 'Events' page of the Facebook. Sharing the bill with her that night are Moxie and Ye Vagabonds. Tickets are €15, booked online.

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5th Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, 20-22 Oct. 2017: programme online

Following their initial detailed press release published on the BIB on 3 August, thanks to Brendan Walsh and his team at the Sixmilebridge Folk Club, who have just put on Facebook the complete official lineup and schedule of events in the 5th Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, from 7.30 in the evening of Friday 20 Oct. to the last of three weekend concerts, which begins at 5.00 p.m. on Sunday 22 Oct. In between these two are twenty-seven other gigs, sessions, or concerts in the many hostelries of Bunratty and the Folk Park.

Friday and Sunday concerts are €15 each, and the headline act on Saturday night is €20. Combined tickets for the three concerts are €35 from the ticket line at 086 8464509. All other details are on the 'About' section of the Festival Facebook.

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14 September 2017

The BIB calendar: work in progress

The BIB editor reports:

Yesterday (13 Sept. 2017) the calendar for 2017-18 was withdrawn from use, as all the items had somehow been replaced by those for part of 2012-13, and some information shown in the introductory headnote was obsolete. Work has begun on reconstruction, and it is now available; unfortunately, events from the beginning of 2017 to 13 Sept. will not be appearing in the calendar archive.

The opportunity is being taken to update the list of weekly regular sessions. Bands and event/venue organisers: if your session or event is not shown here (or not correctly), please contact the editor.

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13 September 2017

Two Time Polka: September gigs

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka sends news of the band's gigs for September:

Dunfanaghy Jazz & Blues Festival:
Sat. 16th: Ronnies, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Start 9.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 074 9136101
Sun. 17th: Arnolds Hotel, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. 2.00-4.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 074 9136208

Sat. 23rd: Che do Bheatha Festival, O'Mara's Bar, Kilkee, Co. Clare. Start 10.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 065 9056286

Fri. 29th: The Empire Bar, 42 Botanic Ave., Belfast, Co. Antrim. Start 10.30 p.m. Adm. free

Sat. 30th: Upstairs in the Oliver Plunkett Bar, Cork city. Start 11.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4222779 (part of Cork Folk Festival)

Regards & thanks,
Ray & TTP

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More Bluegrass Jamboree news

Following yesterday's post on Rainer Zellner and his Music Contact agency (Tübingen, Germany), Rainer has just issued the following news:

Dear Friends of Bluegrass, Country, Folk, and Americana Music,

The 9th edition of the Bluegrass Jamboree: Festival of Bluegrass and Americana Music tour will be on the road November 21-December 16 in Germany, Netherlands and Austria. We are very proud of the amazing artists that will be travelling all over the place in the big legendary 'Banjo Bus' and introduce audiences to their music. There is no other travelling event like this anywhere in Europe. You can follow the tour on our Jamboree Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter. Full program and schedule: www.bluegrassjamboree.de.

I will be attending IBMA in Raleigh Sept. 25 to 30 and would be happy to set up some meetings there.

BIB editor's note: The tour now comprises twenty-five shows, with one added in Utrecht (NL) on 3 December.

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12 September 2017

News from Germany

The BIB mentioned yesterday that the Henry Girls of Donegal will be touring in Germany next month - their second time this year. This is thanks to Rainer Zellner and his Music Contact agency in Tübingen, who has arranged fourteen dates for them from 5 to 22 October inclusive.

Rainer has also begun booking a May 2018 tour for the all-woman five-piece UK bluegrass band Midnight Skyracer, with Tabitha Agnew of Cup O' Joe on banjo.

In the interim, the ninth edition of Rainer's 'bluegrass festival in a bus', the Bluegrass Jamboree!, with three fine bands from North America, will be bringing the music to more audiences than ever before, with twenty-three shows in Germany and one in Austria between 21 November and 16 December. Full details (in German) are on the Jamboree website.

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The Lowest Pair: available for bookings in Ireland, 26 Mar.-1 Apr. 2018

The BIB mentioned on 1 June that the UK's Brookfield Knights agency is planning a tour in these islands next year by The Lowest Pair (USA), the duo of Kendi Winter and Palmer T. Lee. Audio and video links can be found here.

Brookfield Knights's Loudon Temple reports that they had a triumphant debut tour in Britain this year, including performances at the Shetland Folk Festival and Edinburgh's TradFest. Their provisional schedule for next spring allocates a period in Ireland from 26 March to 1 April. Loudon writes:

Can you please let us know if you would like to grab them for a slot on your music programmme, and indicate if possible any particular date preference you have, as that will be a great help when it comes to looking at sensible routing.

Contact Loudon by e-mail or through the Brookfield Knights website.

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'From Albion to Appalachia', 18-20 May 2018

Cecil Sharp (left) and Maud Karpeles (right) collecting songs in Appalachia

The FOAOTMAD news blog announces a weekend residential event at Halsway Manor in the Quantock Hills, Somerset, England, next spring - 'From Albion to Appalachia', commemorating the final song-collecting trip in Appalachia made by Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles.

The course (18-20 May 2018) will explore Appalachian music and culture, and the links with 'the Old Country'. The tutors - Anna Roberts-Gevalt (USA), Jeff Warner (USA), and Brian Peters (UK) - will offer a range of workshops as well as a Saturday night concert. Full details are on the 'From Albion to Appalachia' web page. Halsway Manor is very accessible by car, bus, or train.

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EBMA news, Sept. 2017

Supporting European Bluegrass and Bluegrass in Europe

The European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA) has issued the sixth of its new monthly e-newsletters. The main feature is an interview with Molly Tuttle by Cindy Richner, with the news that Molly (right) intends to return to Europe in 2018; a review of her latest album, Rise; and a link for buying it.

Other reviews include an album by Steel Sheep, a progressive string trio drawn from Slovenia, Spain, and the USA, who base original compositions and improv-isations on traditional, bluegrass, and Celtic music.

The newsletter continues with reviews, gig lists, ads, and event calendars for EBMA-affiliated artists and festivals, including Cup O' Joe. Upcoming events include the 5th Italian Bluegrass Meeting (30 Sept.) in Cremona, organised by Danilo Cartia; and the 16th Al Ras Bluegrass & Old-Time Festival (9-11 Nov.) at Barcelona. You can arrange to receive the newsletter by contacting the EBMA board, without having to be an EBMA member.

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11 September 2017

Band news

Many thanks to the members of the Dublin Bluegrass Collective who came together on Saturday (9 Sept.) to welcome Ed and Trish Bowes of Virginia and their daughter Beth to Ireland (see the BIB for 28 Aug.) in a jam session that surpassed their expectations - and special thanks to T.J. Screene (co-organiser of Bluegrass Camp Ireland) and his wife Breedge for hosting the evening.
The Cat's Meow of Mohill, Co. Leitrim, took part in a tribute to the music of John Prine last Thursday (7 Sept.) at Connolly's of Leap, Co. Cork, and had a great time among 'such a wealth of talent and a fabulous bunch of people'.
At the other end of the country last night (Sun. 10th), the Cool Hand String Band of Omagh, Co. Tyrone, had their first gig in the Tipsy Bird of Ann St., Belfast.
Dublin's Greasy Coat Stringband (Derek Copley and Aisling Keogh) present five tunes and songs in a quarter-hour of fine old-time music (and one Irish jig) on Liam Kennedy's 'Acoustic Kitchen' YouTube channel. Bill Whelan, the doyen of clawhammer banjo in Ireland, can also be seen in the Kitchen, showing and playing his banjos - including the magnificent 14-inch-pot 'Joel Sweeney' banjo made from a bodhran, with a neck by Pete Stanley.
Greenshine were heard last Friday (8 Sept.) on David Dee Moore's Acoustic Yard Radio Show, which airs every Friday at 6.30 p.m. on www.bluesandrootsradio.com.
The Henry Girls are currently on tour in Austria and will be in Germany next month and Bilbao, Spain, in late November. Around those dates, they'll be playing at the Theatre Royal, Waterford city, on 23 Sept. and the Ballymaloe Grainstore, Co. Cork, on 24 Sept., and then at the Achill Harp Festival in Co. Mayo on 29 Oct., the Allingham Arts Festival in Co. Donegal on 11 Nov., and the Ark in Dublin during December.
Rackhouse Pilfer have refurbished their website and will launch their new album Solar/Lunar on Friday 22 Sept. at Sixth on Teeling St., Sligo town. Doors open at 9.00 p.m., and tickets (€11) can be booked here. More on their Facebook.
Woodbine offer a fascinating glimpse of band life offstage on their Facebook.

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Navá launch album at the NCH, 6 Oct. 2017

Navá: Shahab Coohe, Shayan Coohe, Paddy Kiernan, Niall Hughes

Thanks to the Blue Light Smugglers for the news that their friends in Navá will be launching a new album on 6 October at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Half of Navá (a quartet devoted to exploring the relationship between the ancient musical cultures of Ireland and Persia) is Paddy Kiernan and Niall Hughes of Pine Marten.

Update 13 Sept.: Online bookings can be made here, where there is a video of the group (also on YouTube).


10 September 2017

NTB at Rahanna, Co. Carlow NOW

Ten minutes from the posting of this news, the Niall Toner Band is due to step on stage at Rahanna, Co. Carlow, as part of a celebration of free-range sheep-farming. Who said bluegrass was becoming detached from its rural roots? They're due to play till 5.00 p.m., so lucky readers will be able to catch some of their set. More details on the NTB Facebook.

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Munich String Band (D) in Ireland, 20-28 Oct. 2017

As mentioned in yesterday's post on the Balla Bluegrass Festival (27-30 October), the Munich String Band (above) from Bavaria will be among the main attractions. Their full schedule in Ireland, as shown on their website, is:

Fri. 20th: The Village Pump, Rathangan, Co. Kildare
Sat. 21st-Sun. 22nd: Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, Bunratty, Co. Clare
Tues. 24th: Crane Lane Theatre, Cork city (midnight gig, free admission)
Wed. 25th: Old Schoolhouse, Clashmore, Co. Waterford
Thurs. 26th: Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford, details TBA
Fri. 27th-Sat. 28th: Balla Bluegrass Festival, Balla, Co. Mayo

A full tour schedule for Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay (USA), also starring at Balla, will appear on the BIB very shortly.

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09 September 2017

Don Williams

Thanks to Des Butler for the sad news that Don Williams, for a period the most successful country artist in the world, with seventeen no. 1 hits, died yesterday. The complete U.S. Country Music encyclopedia (1995) describes him as 'like a calming voice of reason and serenity during country music's tumultuous 1970s and droll early '80s'.

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Balla Bluegrass Festival, 27-30 Oct. 2017

Thanks to Uri Kohen and his team for this news:

For the last eight years, on the October bank holiday the small town of Balla in Co. Mayo has been filling up with the sweet sound of bluegrass, and this year will be no different. From Friday 27 October to Monday 30th, Mannion's and The Olde Woods pubs will open their doors to musicians, pickers, and music fans alike for top-quality bluegrass.

The festival will see the return of such favourites as Woodbine and Colonel Bullshot Rides Again, as well as a very special appearance by five-piece bluegrass band Munich String Band (above) and Texas-based folk/country duo Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay (left).

The production team of Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, who took over helping with organising the Balla festival too, have a few more surprises up their sleeves which will be announced soon. Full details and show times will appear on the Festival Facebook page. We are looking forward to welcome all music fans to the West.

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Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass, died twenty-one years ago today. Here are some memories of him on Terry Heaton's YouTube channel: an interview in 1980, when he was 69, and another in 1981, after he had recovered from cancer and surgery. His band at the time consisted of Wayne Lewis (guitar), Kenny Baker (fiddle), Butch Robins (banjo), and Randy Davis (bass).

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08 September 2017

The hard core continues

Thanks to the Prescription Bluegrass Blog for the news that the late James King (above) will be commemorated in A storyteller's memory, a forthcoming album on Pinecastle Records by the Pennsylvania-based band Remington Ryde. It will comprise songs from James King's repertoire, together with a composition by Remington Ryde's leader, Ryan Frankhouser, entitled 'Mr King'.

Bluegrass Today reports that another major departed figure of hard-core bluegrass was commemorated at a festival in Ohio last weekend when Dave Evans's sons Tracy and Todd came on stage for a special tribute to their father, with Barry Crabtree, formerly banjoist with the James King Band, playing Dave’s banjo 'Ole Bess'. 'No one could have done a better tribute', writes C.J. Lewandowski (who will be in Ireland with the Po' Ramblin' Boys next spring).

For reassurance that the hard core remains as hard and vital as ever, have a look at this video of Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome playing 'Appalachia is my name'.

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07 September 2017

American banjo - sixty years on, as relevant as ever

Sixty years ago this year*, the first bluegrass LP ever produced, Folkways 2314 American banjo: tunes and songs in Scruggs style, was released. As a further milestone in the history of the music, Ralph Rinzler's liner notes were almost certainly the first time that 'bluegrass' had been used in print as a name for it.

In recording the album, Mike Seeger wanted to document the older styles from which Earl Scruggs's had emerged, and a broad selection of players Scruggs had influenced; he also wanted tunes (especially older tunes) that were not from the bluegrass mainstream. The album therefore included J.C. Sutphin of Virginia, playing old-time three-finger style; Junie Scruggs, one of Earl's older brothers; Snuffy Jenkins (then only in his late forties), a key figure in developing three-finger picking; Smiley Hobbs, playing with exemplary verve, humour, and imagination; younger bluegrass professionals (Oren Jenkins, Larry Richardson); and, among others, the late-teens Pete Kuykendall, Eric Weissberg, and one woman - Roni Stoneman.

The LP opened with Joe Stuart's 'Cackling hen', a jet of notes from a high-pressure hose, followed by a remarkable variety of sounds from different players. The album has since been re-released on CD as American banjo: three-finger and Scruggs style (Smithsonian/ Folkways CD SF 40037). This no longer opens with 'Cackling hen', but has all the tracks of the LP, plus sixteen previously unreleased. Despite all that has happened to bluegrass banjo since then, the music is as rewarding as ever. The banjos themselves - recorded by a novice engineer obliged to skimp on tape, using a crude early portable recorder and one omnidirectional mike, which he drove from one home to another in a beat-up station wagon - sound so good; perhaps because the plastic heads and ample instructional material of today were not available? People took up the banjo with virtually nothing to guide them but the sound they could hear Scruggs and others producing; and the sound was one of excitement.

*Neil V. Rosenberg's Bluegrass: a history says it came out early in 1957.

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06 September 2017

The Malina Brothers (CZ) in Ireland, 16-22 Oct. 2017

Thanks to Chris Schut, writing on behalf on the Czech bluegrass/folk band The Malina Brothers, who will be in Ireland for the week 16-22 October. Bluegrass fans in Ireland have good reason to know that the Czech and Slovak republics have long been the powerhouses of bluegrass in Europe, and the lineup in this band goes a long way to explain why.

The band consists of Lubos Malina, banjo player for the legendary Czech bands Poutnici and Druha Trava, and his brothers Pavel and Josef Malina (guitar and fiddle). Chris Schut is their sound engineer and will be playing bass with them on this tour. Two years ago they released a CD recorded with Charlie McCoy on harmonica (who played with Johnny Cash, Elvis, Bob Dylan), and this year they will record with Czech-Spanish singer Katerina Garcia (see the video links below), who currently lives in Dublin.

The band is already booked for Thursday 19th, Friday 20th, and Saturday 21st October at the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, Co. Clare, and Bruff, Co. Limerick, but they would be glad to get bookings also for the preceding three days, Monday 16th, Tuesday 17th, and Wednesday 18th. If you can offer or suggest a booking, Chris can be contacted by e-mail.

YouTube samples:
Malina Brothers with Charlie McCoy
Malina Brothers with Katerina Garcia, 'Banks of the Ohio'
'Videoklip k písni Návrat'

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Mikaya Taylor: the Irish connection

On 2 June the BIB mentioned 12-year old Mikaya Taylor (left) from Lawrenceburg, KY, as a striking example of the rising generation of young musicians in the States. We added: 'The BIB doesn't usually carry news about US artists unless there's some Irish connection.'

Thanks to Traci Taylor, Mikaya's mother, we now know that there is a  connection: Mikaya's family on her father's side is all from England and Ireland. Mrs Taylor reports:

She has always wanted to go to Ireland just to see where her family came from. Hopefully, if people hear she wants to come, they can make it happen for us. Mikaya would absolutely love that.

Links to YouTube videos of Mikaya singing 'Gentle river' and 'Ghost in this house' with Blue Mafia show how much her voice has grown. Another CD is planned, so we'll keep watching for it.

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04 September 2017

'Smoky wind' - 'Browngrass' from two continents

Thanks to Donal McKernan in Australia for this link to 'Browngrass', an article posted last week by his father Joe on the blog of the Bruderhof community, and the song 'Smoky wind' that comes with it, written by Donal and Geordie McKernan.

The article's a fascinating story of how a family combining Irish catholic and Dutch/ puritan/ quaker/ huguenot ancestry were welcomed into the mountain culture of rural Pennsylvania, moved to the Australian countryside, and are now composing songs that combine recorded contributions from brothers in both Australia and the USA. It's also an illustration of the power of music to bring people together.

The full text of 'Smoky wind' is given - as Joe explains, 'tasting smoke on the wind is part of Australian springtime.' The song has a strong old-timey character with very nice fiddle, banjo, and guitar backing, and ends with a banjo tune reminiscent of Dwight Diller's 'Boatin up Sandy'. Warmly recommended.

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Séamus Ennis Arts Centre: events Sept.-Dec. 2017

All musical events at the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul, Co. Dublin, between now and Christmas can be seen on this schedule. For BIB readers, there are two highlights in late October: the rising young Slocan Ramblers bluegrass band from Canada (above) on Friday 20 Oct., and the two pioneers of professional-level bluegrass in Ireland, George Kaye and Gerry Madigan (below), on Saturday 28 Oct. For both shows, the doors open at 8.00 p.m. and music begins at 8.30; tickets for each show are €16/€13 in advance, and €18/€15 at the door.

The Naul show by the Slocan Ramblers is part of a tour that includes the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival (20-22 Oct.). All dates for their tour are on the BIB calendar. Dates for the tour by George Kaye and Gerry Madigan will be posted on the BIB as soon as they become available.

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01 September 2017

Outlaw Country Show in Derry, 30 Sept. 2017

Thanks to Barry Johnston for news of the Outlaw Country Show, featuring the songs of Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Willy Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, and John Prine (see the BIB for 28 June announcing the Strabane show on 8 July). The next show will be in the Waterside Theatre, Derry city, on Saturday 30 September at 8.00 p.m.; tickets are £11.

The performing artists are Barry Johnston (acoustic guitar), front man with Illegal SmileRod Patterson (double bass), touring musician and musical director; and Ivan Gilliland (guitar, mandolin), who has worked with Van Morrison, James Galway, and many others. Sample numbers on YouTube include Barry's rendition of Guy Clark's 'LA freeway' and this excerpt from the Black Box show. Barry can be contacted at +447840 622731.

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31 August 2017

Ballymore Acoustic Gigs schedule, Sept.-Dec. 2017

The autumn and early winter programme for Ballymore Acoustic Gigs, at Mick Murphy's, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, can now be seen here. Those taking part include several US artists including Josh Harty (right).

This season begins next Monday (4 Sept.) and ends on Friday 8 Dec. 2017 with the annual 'Vibe for Larry' (in honour of the late Larry Roddy, founder of the series of shows in Ballymore Eustace) at which all are welcome and there is no cover charge.

The 'Vibe for Larry' is followed by the winter break, after which gigs resume on Monday 5 February 2018.

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Bluegrass from Moving On Music

Moving On Music send a reminder that as part of their 'Beatroot' programme Cup O' Joe (left) will be playing in the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, on Thursday 7 September, as support to Daoirí Farrell. The show starts at 8.00 p.m.; tickets are £13 (£10 conc.). Online booking is available here.

Also on Moving On Music's schedule: six weeks later, on Sunday 22 October, the rising young Canadian bluegrass band the Slocan Ramblers (below) will be in concert at the Duncairn Arts Centre, Belfast; doors open at 7.30 p.m. and tickets are £13 (£10 conc.). Online booking is available here.

This show is part of the Ramblers' tour, which includes the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival (20-22 Oct.). All dates for the tour are on the BIB calendar.

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30 August 2017

John Smith in Ireland, 14-21 Sept. 2017

Whelan's of 25 Wexford St., Dublin 2, announce that folksinger and guitarist John Smith will be performing in their main venue on Sunday 17 September, as part of a tour with his new album Headlong (dedicated to the late John Renbourn). Performance videos and online booking facilities are on the Whelan's website.

John Smith is not a bluegrass or old-time artist, but BIB readers may find that his songs and his guitar work have a good deal of what they like about their favourite musics. The Whelan's show is halfway through an eight-day tour of Ireland, for which the dates are shown below. His online tour schedule shows all the times as 7.00 p.m., whereas Whelan's doors open at 8.00; so if you're thinking of going to any of the shows, check with the venue.

Thurs. 14th: Dolan's (upstairs), Limerick city
Fri. 15th: Roisin Dubh, Galway city
Sun. 17th: Whelan's, Dublin 2
Mon. 18th: Black Box, Belfast
Wed. 20th: Folk Alliance International & Clonakilty International Guitar Festival, Clonakilty, Co. Cork
Thurs. 21st: International Guitar Festival, Clonakilty, Co. Cork

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28 August 2017

Pete Kuykendall: funeral arrangements (update)

The IBMA announces this information on funeral arrangements for Pete Kuykendall (see the BIB for 24 Aug.).

The family will receive friends on Tuesday, August 29th, from 3-5 pm and 7-9 pm, and the funeral service will be held on Wednesday, August 30, 10:00 am, at Moser Funeral Home, 233 Broadview Avenue, Warrenton, VA. An interment service will follow at 12:00. The funeral home's phone number is (540) 347-3431.

Kitsy Kuykendall has requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to these funds: the International Bluegrass Music Museum and the IBMA Trust Fund.

Update 31 Aug.: A report of the funeral, by David Morris, is on Bluegrass Today. It includes this quote from an address by Dan Hays, former executive director of the IBMA:

'If Bill Monroe is the father of bluegrass and Jimmy Martin is the king, I would suggest to you that Pete has been the godfather of the music', Hays said. He was, Hays continued, 'the most trusted and influential behind-the-scenes presence' bluegrass has known.

The report is headed with a fine photo from Bluegrass Unlimited files of Pete (with banjo) c.1960. In 1956, at the age of 18, he had been one of the players recorded for the Folkways album American banjo: tunes and songs in Scruggs style (now on CD), both as accompanist and solo with his fine 3/4 arrangement of 'Irish washerwoman'.


Visitors from Virginia, 7-25 Sept. 2017

Thanks to Ed and Trish Bowes (above) of Midlothian, VA, for the news that they will soon be in Ireland for three weeks (7-25 Sept.) - partly to see distant or extended family and partly to see the country, but they will also be glad to meet, hear, and pick with other musicians.

Ed and Trish have both been involved with folk, jazz, bluegrass, and other music for many years. and are making good use of retirement to enjoy music all the time. At home they play in a local bluegrass band, the Dust Cutters (seen below; this photo was taken before the band gained a mandolinist). They also play a mix of traditional and more modern music as a duo or with friends, under the name 'Push To Start'. When they married, Ed composed the wedding music; eight of the tunes were then arranged for classical string trio, and have been recorded by the Jason Labrador Trio on the 16-track album The Beverly waltz and wedding suite), which can be heard on CD Baby. Ed writes:

We have a second home near Elkins, West Virginia, about four hours from Richmond, and spend most of our summers there, enjoying the Augusta Heritage Center, which has programs at the local college for five weeks that include weekly workshops in various types of traditional music and dance. The theme weeks include bluegrass, old time, cajun, classic country, swing, and blues, sometimes Irish, and it's wonderful. This past July I got to study banjo with Alan Munde, Trish studied dobro with Jimmy Heffernan, and in previous years I've gotten to study with Tony Trischka, Russ Barenberg, Tom Adams, and a lot of other wonderful professionals.

An important matter on which any help would be appreciated. Ed will be able to borrow his cousin's guitar to use in Ireland. He also plays banjo, but feels it might be too difficult to bring one this time with everything else they have to bring, so any suggestions for renting or borrowing a banjo will be welcome. Ed will be bringing the normal banjo paraphernalia of picks, strings, capos, tuners, and the like. Their itinerary is as follows:

Thurs. 7th-Sun. 10th: arrive and stay in Dublin, spend time over the weekend with Ed's distant family, whom he's never met
Mon. 11th-Tues. 12th: Kinsale, Co. Cork
Wed. 13th-Fri. 15th: Dingle, Co. Kerry
Sat. 16th-Sun. 17th: Galway city, to connect with Trish's extended family
Mon. 18th-Fri. 22nd: 'Improvise'
About Sat. 23rd: return to Dublin
Mon. 25th: fly back to USA

Trish and Ed can be contacted by e-mail (Trish; Ed) or phone (001-804-317-3057), and Ed can also be reached on What's App, at 804.317.3057.

The Dust Cutters: Ed and Trish on the right

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