26 April 2018

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. The BIB does not do reviews or accept posts with 'marketing messages'.

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


24 April 2018

Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival: launch party THIS SATURDAY

Rosa Kinsella
The organising committee of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival at Westport, Co. Mayo, announce:

On the weekend of 8-10 June one of Westport's main summer musical events - the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival - will be staged for the twelfth time. As in previous years, the festival will include over twenty-five concerts, pub gigs, sessions, and workshops in eleven different venues.

This Saturday (28 April) will mark the first event of many to promote this year's festival. The event will take place in McGing's pub (High St.) and will included words by the council and the venues' representatives as well as by Uri Kohen - Festival founder and producer.

On the night we will reveal the festival's main acts and information on the entire weekend as well as the numbers of promotional events to take place in the weeks leading to the main event. Music on the night will be provided by local singer/ songwriter Rosa Kinsella and four-piece Dublin-based bluegrass band Mules & Men.

Mules & Men

The organising committee are looking forward to meet all the followers of the festival and to enjoy a great night of music.

Saturday 28 April
9.30 p.m.
McGing's Pub
Admission Free

A video of Rosa Kinsella singing her song 'Each day' can be seen here, and a video of Mules & Men performing 'Caleb Myer' is here.

Labels: , , , ,

Ferguson, Henry, & Henry tour, 5-14 July 2018: full dates

Colin (left) and Gary on an earlier tour

Following the BIB post of 10 March,  singer/songwriter Gary Ferguson (USA) announces that the schedule is now complete for his twelfth tour in Ireland this coming July. He will be joined by Belfast dobro maestro Colin Henry, who has been his musical partner on five previous tours, and Colin's son James (photo below) on 5-string banjo. More information, including photos and ample bio details, are here. The full dates for the tour are:

Thurs. 5th July: Sunflower Folk Club, Belfast; £5.00; doors 8.30 p.m., show 9.00
Fri. 6th: Moy River Folk Club house concert, Cloonacool, Co. Sligo; bookings 071 9121902; €20 (includes complimentary beer/wine and supper!)
Sat. 7th: Mullarkeys, Clifden, Co. Galway
Sun. 8th: Tech Amergin Arts Centre, Waterville, Co. Kerry; 8.00 p.m.; €15 / €12; prebooking essential, 066 9478956/ e-mail
Mon. 9th: The Record Break, Lower Market St. Carpark, Ennis, Co. Clare, 8.00 p.m.; +353 65 670 6817; €15
Tues. 10th: Private party, Westport, Co. Mayo
Wed. 11th: Roots Room, Sligo town, +353 87 274 5389
Thurs. 12th: Sessions in the House, Castledawson, Co. Londonderry; recording session
Fri. 13th: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone; 8.30 p.m., +44 7747 120659
Sat. 14th: 3rd Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree, GAA Centre, Athy, Co. Kildare

James Henry

Labels: , , ,

Bill Monroe by Tom Ewing: for release in Sept. 2018

Tom Ewing's The Bill Monroe reader was published twelve years ago, and since then his full-scale biography of Bill Monroe has been eagerly awaited. Richard Thompson now brings the welcome news on Bluegrass Today that Ewing's Bill Monroe: the life and music of the Blue Grass Man is scheduled for publication by the University of Illinois Press in September this year, in 656 pages with thirty monochrome photos, at $34.95 in hardback.

For a comprehensive and meticulously accurate picture of the Father of Bluegrass, based on years of personal experience and an encyclopedic knowledge of all manner of other sources, it is unlikely ever to be equalled. More details are on the University of Illinois Press web page and the Bluegrass Today feature.

Labels: , ,

23 April 2018

Si Kahn and Joe Jencks celebrate forgotten heroes

Today is not just St George's day and Shakespeare's birthday - it's the 74th birthday of Si Kahn (USA), singer, songwriter, and political/ social activist. To mark the occasion, he announces The forgotten, a new album of fourteen songs he's composed over a long period but never recorded, sung by Chicago-based Joe Jencks, who describes the album as

... filled with authentic heroes, from the mill towns of the upper Midwest and New England to the cotton fields of the South. The songs sing of individual courage, collective struggle, loss and triumph, of people who brought new ideas about equality, justice, and freedom into our consciousness. They contain gritty truths about lives spent in steel mills, auto plants, classrooms, coal mines and cotton mills, stories about people who gave their all to the great movements of our time, who in the face of racial inequity and mass violence are still working for a just world.

More information and means for supporting the project are on Indiegogo.

Labels: , ,

22 April 2018

An extra gig for Sheesham, Lotus & Son, TODAY

An addition is reported to the gig schedule for Sheesham, Lotus & Son that appeared on the BIB on 18 Apr.

Thanks to Alec Somerville for the news that when he saw them perform at Sligo yesterday, they said they would be going to the Crane Bar, Galway, today (Sunday). The gig is not shown on their website or Facebook, but if you're within easy reach of the Crane Bar, this would be worth checking out. Alec writes: 'They played 6.00 to 8.00 non-stop. [...] The harmonies were magic, as was the whole performance.'

Labels: , ,

21 April 2018

Bluegrass on the Smithwick's Music Trail, 5-6 May 2018

Bluegrass and related music at this year's Kilkenny Roots Festival is to be found not on the main stage lineup but on the Smithwick's Music Trail - the gigs in many venues around Kilkenny city.

The busiest prospective day for BIB readers is Saturday 5 May, when the Niall Toner Band (above) will be playing at Syd Harkin's at 6.00 p.m. and at the Pembroke Hotel at 10.00 p.m.; Woodbine will be at the Clubhouse at 10.00 p.m.; and Two Time Polka will be at the Left Bank, The Parade, at 4.00 p.m. and Billy Byrne's, John St., at 10.00 p.m.

On Sunday 6 May the Needables will be at the Playwright at 2.00 p.m. and the Ormonde Hotel at 10.00 p.m.; Woodbine will be at the Springhill Hotel, also at 10.00 p.m.

All the above are free-admission gigs. The Music Trail for Monday includes the 4.00 p.m. ticketed show by Molly Tuttle and Rachel Baiman, but as mentioned on the BIB two days ago, this is sold out.

Labels: , , , ,

Baltimore Fiddle Fair: tickets in demand

All three- and four-day season tickets for this year's Baltimore Fiddle Fair (10-13 May 2018) are now sold out, as are single-day tickets for Thursday 10 May. The 9.00 p.m. Friday concert, featuring Rhiannon Giddens, is now 'standing room only'. Tickets are still available for Saturday and Sunday events (including American musicians Stephanie Coleman and Brittany & Natalie Haas), except that seats in the first eight rows for the 9.00 p.m. Saturday concert are sold out.

Labels: , ,

19 April 2018

The IBMM rebranded

Just over two weeks ago, the BIB carried an item on the scheduled opening (18-20 Oct. 2018) of the impressive new premises of the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY. It has now been announced that the Museum will indeed be reopening - but not as the International Bluegrass Music Museum. The institution will (as shown in the artist's impression below) be known as the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and also as the International Bluegrass Music Center.

Chris Joslin, the executive director, explains that this is a new branding, not just a name change - though it reflects the fact that the IBMM has always been the home of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. 'Much like the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, we are the worldwide destination for our genre, bluegrass music.'


18 April 2018

Sheesham, Lotus & Son (CAN) in Ireland, 19-21 Apr. 2018

Thanks to Derek Copley of Old Time Music Dublin for the news that 'Canadian madcap old time trio [his words] Sheesham, Lotus & Son begin a mini tour around Ireland, starting Thursday 19 April in Dublin, before heading to Cork and then Sligo.'

Sheesham, Lotus & Son, 'the new kings of old time' (their words), consist of Sheesham Crow, Lotus Wight, and 'Son' Sanderson. They describe their Ontario-based band (also on Facebook) as a 'Ragtime High Stepping Good Time Music, Vaudevillian Music Hall Minstrel Medicine Show'. They are now on a European tour, and have played seven shows in the Netherlands and Belgium. Their shows in Ireland are:

Thurs. 19th Apr.: Marrowbone Bookstore, Dublin, 7.00 p.m.; Sin E (downstairs), Ormond Quay, Dublin, 9.30 p.m.
Fri. 20th: Levis Corner House, Ballydehob, Co. Cork
Sat. 21st: Shoot the Crows, Sligo town, 6.00 p.m.; The Strand Bar, Strandhill, Co. Sligo, 10.00 p.m.

They will then continue to play thirteen shows in Britain.

NB: The BIB editor apologises for the fact that this post was first published with the erroneous time of 8.00 p.m. shown for the Sin E performance.

Labels: , , ,

I'm With Her (USA) at Belfast (11 May) and Dublin (12 May 2018)

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

I'm With Her (Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins, and Aoife O'Donovan) will be performing two shows in this island in the course of a European tour that begins on 4 May in Paris, continues through Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands, and ends with four shows in Britain. Their Irish appearances are:

Fri. 11th May: Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast, 8.00 p.m. (part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival)
Sat. 12th: Whelan's, Wexford St., Dublin 2, 8.00 p.m.

Online booking facilities and more information are on I'm With Her's website. Three shows on the tour are already sold out, and five more - including Belfast - carry the warning 'Few tickets left'.

Labels: , , , ,

Molly Tuttle's new guitar - coming to Ireland?

L-r: Rachel Baiman, Molly Tuttle

At the end of next week the multi-talented, award-winning Molly Tuttle (USA), together with fiddler Rachel Baiman (USA), will begin a two-week tour of these islands. In 2017 Molly was IBMA's Guitar Player of the Year (not to mention her abilities on other instruments), and two of the shows on the tour are already sold out - including the 4.00-5.15 p.m. performance on Monday 7 May in Cleere's Bar & Theatre, Kilkenny city, part of this year's Kilkenny Roots Festival.

It is not known whether she'll be bringing her new sunburst dreadnaught guitar built by Preston Thompson of Oregon; but you can see and hear it in two videos John Lawless has put on Bluegrass Today: one made at home, where she picks 'Billy in the low ground', and one in which she plays 'Dry and dusty' while Preston Thompson tells what went into the making of this guitar. Shows by Molly Tuttle and Rachel Baiman in Ireland are:

Sun. 6th May: JJ Harlow's, The Square, Roscommon town
Mon. 7th: Cleere's Bar & Theatre, Kilkenny city [SOLD OUT]
Tues. 8th: The Green Room, Black Box, 8.00 p.m. (part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast)

Labels: , , , , , ,

17 April 2018

Mules & Men warm up for Cahersiveen

Mules & Men (above, l-r: Mark Corry, double bass, vocals; Luke Coffey, banjo, vocals; John Denby, mandolin, vocals; Lily Sheehan, guitar, vocals) spent the first weekend this month in Co. Roscommon, playing at Ballaghaderreen on 6 Apr. and Boyle on 7 Apr. This coming weekend they'll be playing at the Horseman's Inn, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, on 21 Apr. and the Harbour Bar, Bray, Co. Wicklow, on 22 Apr. Over the May bank holiday they form the active bluegrass ingredient of the 5th Cahersiveen Mountain Roots Music Weekend, whose programme states:

We had some of these guys here before as the New Breadwinners... Well I've been asked about their return and we are delighted that they are coming back to town as Mules and Men. We are talking about serious talent here folks... just come and hear them for yourselves.

Labels: , , ,

East of Monroe back in the USA

The final instalment of East of Monroe's account of their tour in Ireland (the concluding show was last Saturday) is now on Bluegrass Today, and reproduced from there on their Facebook. It includes videos and photos from the second (post-Dublin) half of the tour, with their promise that many more photos will be appearing on their Instagram. It's good to see how good a time they've clearly had over here, and they write that 'we all agreed that our favorite part of this tour has been the people!'

Find out more by reading the instalment, and keep up with East of Monroe on their website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Labels: , ,

16 April 2018

The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 26 Apr. 2018

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

Hey Y'all,

We're back on 26 April with special guests Runah
[contemporary] and Pat McSweeney [Americana]See you then!
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.

Labels: , , ,

A precedent

Five weeks ago Beneath the open sky, the new album from Nefesh Mountain, was released in the US. Nefesh Mountain comprises the married couple Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff, and their blend of bluegrass and old-time music with Jewish heritage and tradition has naturally attracted attention, as well as critical acclaim. A reviewer in No Depression is quoted: 'What seems initially to be a curious novelty combining bluegrass and traditional Jewish music, turns out to be an idea that makes absolute sense.'

There is a precedent - over fifty years old, but it carries some weight. Gene Lowinger, from a New York Jewish background, played fiddle for Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys in 1965-6. His memoir I hear a voice calling mentions a time when Bill Monroe accompanied him to a synagogue service. At the end Monroe shook hands with the rabbi, thanked him for the songs, and said 'I'm gonna find a way to use some of those notes in my music.' The result was 'Lonesome moonlight waltz'.

Update 24 Apr.: A video of the song 'The narrow bridge' by Nefesh Mountain can be seen here.


Fretboard Journal no. 41

The latest issue of Fretboard Journal magazine, like all its predecessors, is a treasure house for anyone who likes to know about stringed instruments and the people who make and play them. The most directly bluegrass-related item in this issue is Nick Monnin's article on Don MacRostie, whose Red Diamond mandolins are based on years of study of outstanding Lloyd Loar instruments, including those owned by David Grisman, Bobby Osborne, John Reischman, Herschel Sizemore, and Ricky Skaggs. Other features include a harp-guitar that may have been made by Orville Gibson.

Labels: , , ,

14 April 2018

2nd Old-Time Gathering planned for 22-24 Feb. 2019

The First Annual Irish Old Time Appalachian Music Gathering (16-18 Feb.) was such an enjoyable event that it's good to hear that Andrew Lambert in Clare and Bob Denton have already begun work on the second Gathering. It will again be held one week after the FOAOTMAD's Gainsborough old-time festival in England, which is scheduled for a week later than usual in 2019; so the next Gathering will be held on the last weekend in February, Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th. Details will be announced in due course on the Irish Old Time Facebook.

The photo at top shows (l-r) 'Mr Keith', Gid Tanner, A.A. Gray, and Henry West on Lookout Mountain, TN.


12 April 2018

Ken Perlman (USA): news, spring 2018

Ken Perlman (USA) sends his newsletter covering the second quarter of this year. Enthusiastic reviews of his latest record release, Frails & frolics: fiddle tunes from Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, & elsewhere on clawhammer banjo, are quoted, including Pat Kelleher's review that appeared on the BIB on 4 Mar. Ken will be launching the album at personal appearances in New England during the next couple of months.

Ken was one of the artists who helped to celebrate the legacy of fiddler and folklorist Alan Jabbour (1942-2017) at the Library of Congress on Thursday 18 January. At least fifty musicians jammed there, and a total of some 300 people attended. A video record of the event is on YouTube.* The old-time backup style that Ken developed while playing and touring with Alan Jabbour will be one of the fields covered in his forthcoming Mel Bay publication, Old-time Appalachian fiddle tunes for clawhammer banjo, which will include note-for-note settings of over 100 tunes. More news is on his website.

*Ken's contribution to the tribute to Alan Jabbour draws particular attention to the many tunes from the repertoire of Henry Reed which, through Alan, have become very widely played.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Country - and more - at Whelan's in the coming week

Bluegrassers who look for material in modern country music may like to know that Courtney Marie Andrews (USA) will be playing at Whelan's main venue in Dublin 2 on Friday 20 April. Tickets (€19) can be booked online at Whelan's website, where there is also a video. This will be her only show in Ireland in the course of a European tour that takes in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Britain.

Whelan's are also presenting this coming Monday (16 April) a musical tribute to Larry Roddy. Their website says:

Join us to celebrate renowned Irish promoter Larry Roddy on what would have been his 70th birthday. There’s a feast of musicians playing, with all proceeds going to the Dublin Simon Community.

The artists taking part include I Draw Slow, Mick Hanly, Kevin Conneff, Paul Kelly, Frankie Lane, John Murphy, Niall Toner, John Spillane, Roy Thompson, Clive Barnes, Niamh Parsons and Caoimhe Hogarty. Tickets are €15. And the following night (Tues. 17 Apr.) Whelan's present We Banjo 3, the Kings of Celtgrass.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Bluegrass discography

The BIB editor writes:

Another link is being added to the list in the BIB's right-hand column, thanks to Walter V. Saunders and his 'Notes & queries' pages in Bluegrass Unlimited magazine; this month he mentions 'Charley Pennell's comprehensive bluegrass discography (a website I refer to often)'.

The website 'Bluegrass discography' is here. As explained on the home page, it is 'maintained by Charley Pennell in Cary, NC, with an awful lot of technical help from his sons, Ben & Daniel, and content help from Tom Payne, John Boothroyd, Dave Freeman, Frank Godbey, Donald Wermuth, Willem Agenant, C.P. Heaton, Tony Fuld, Thieu van de Vorst, and YOU.'

The graphic design is by David Lynch of Asheville, NC; the site was launched just over twenty-two years ago (24 March 1996) and was last updated two days ago (10 April 2018). The Discography also has a Facebook, from which the image above is taken.

Labels: ,

11 April 2018

A good time was had by all (update)

Thanks to East of Monroe's Facebook for this atmospheric picture of the jam last night at at Sin É, Ormond Quay, Dublin, at which they were guests of honour - a very enjoyable night for everyone taking part. No poll was taken of audience reactions, but the house did seem specially full...

PS: The picture above will be clearer if you click on it to enlarge it. A colour shot from a similar angle is on the Dublin Bluegrass Facebook.

PPS: The second major instalment of East of Monroe's travel stories can now be read on Bluegrass Today and also on their own Facebook. On the subject of Tuesday night they write:

Jamming with so many talented Irish musicians was a definite highlight of our trip so far. We had a fabulous time swapping tunes, instruments, and stories with folks of all ages and backgrounds. Bluegrass is certainly alive and well here in Dublin!

Labels: , ,

10 April 2018

Red Hat Acoustic Music club at Naas, 13 Apr. 2018

Thanks to Paul and Anne McEvoy, organisers of the Red Hat Acoustic Music Club, for the news that the Club's next meeting will be held this coming Friday (13 April).

The Red Hat meets on the second Friday of every month at the Harbour Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare. Music starts around 8.30 p.m.; a donation of €3.00 covers coffee/ tea and sandwiches at the interval.

Labels: , ,

Lineup for Dunmore East 2018

Thanks to Mick Daly, head of the organising team of the Dunmore East Festival in Co. Waterford, for a short update on this year's event (23-6 Aug. 2018). Four US acts are on the bill, together with three from this island and one from the UK, and more are to be announced. The current confirmed lineup is:

Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters (USA)
The Brothers Parker (USA)
Whiskey Deaf (4-piece) (USA)
Demolition String Band (USA)
Pilgrim St
Mons Wheeler Big Band
Custer's Last Band (Paul Nolan)
Bert & Henry (UK)

It's welcome news that Whiskey Deaf are back in a four-piece configuration; the duo version (John Kael, guitar; Annie Staninec, fiddle) were here three years ago (see the BIB for 5 June 2015).

Contact Mick Daly at Crossland Digital Ltd, Westgate Retail Park, Tramore Rd, Waterford city; phone 00353 51 878832.

Labels: , ,

East of Monroe (USA) settling in to Ireland (UPDATE)

East of Monroe have begun the chronicle of their current tour in Ireland. The first instalment to appear on Bluegrass Today was sent on Sunday, when their first two shows had clearly gone off very enjoyably and they were about to play the Red Room in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. The Red Room reported yesterday:

A big thank you to East of Monroe, last night's Virginia/Maryland based bluegrass band, for a fabulous night in the barn. I think everyone who turned out will be eagerly awaiting a return trip!

Five photos from that evening (including the one above) are on the Red Room's Facebook, and two videos from earlier in the tour are on the Bluegrass Today feature, where there are also links to the band's posts on Instagram and Twitter. East of Monroe write:

We were struck immediately by how warm, welcoming, and attentive everyone is over here – and this has continued throughout our trip so far! Our event hosts, along with the crowds, have just been wonderful.

STOP PRESS: Thanks to Aran Sheehan for the news that the Dublin Bluegrass Jam at Sin E on Ormond Quay tonight may be augmented by members of East of Monroe relaxing.

Labels: , , , ,

08 April 2018

Banjo instruction wanted in Cork city

Damian O'Connell in Cork would be glad to know of any 5-string banjo teachers in the city who would be interested in teaching a 50-year-old man who is an absolute beginner.

There are certainly several excellent 5-string players in Cork who would be fully capable of doing so. Would any who are prepared to give instruction please either let the BIB know, or contact Damian directly by e-mail?

Update 9 Apr.: See comment below from Betty Foley (no contact details), who would also be interested.

Labels: , ,

Midnight Run (USA) en route to Moniaive, Sept. 2018

L-r: Colton Powers, Seth Mulder, Jasper Lorentzen, Jereme Brown

Just two months ago the BIB learned with regret that the Po' Ramblin' Boys from east Tennessee (strongly recommended by Jan Michielsen of 4 Wheel Drive, who is not easily satisfied) would not, after all, be coming to Ireland in 2017 - though a tour by them is still expected next year. It's now a pleasure to learn that as far as fifty per cent of the Po' Ramblin' Boys is concerned, we may not have to wait that long.

Seth Mulder (mandolin, vocals), Jereme Brown (guitar, vocals), Colton Powers (banjo, vocals), and Jasper Lorentzen (upright bass) are Midnight Run, also from east Tennessee; and as it happens, Jasper and Jereme are also members of the Po' Ramblin' Boys, playing bass and banjo respectively.

Midnight Run (also on Facebook) are the headliners for the 10th Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival, to be held in Moniaive, south-west Scotland, this coming autumn (28-30 Sept. 2018). Thanks to Seth Mulder for the news that they are looking for a few support dates to make their tour a success, and would like to spend the week prior to the Moniaive festival touring in Ireland, working their way up to Northern Ireland. Seth sends this excerpt from the band's press kit:

Midnight Run is a high-energy, high-lonesome, Tennessee-based bluegrass band, set out to keep tradition alive by creating a band that’s steeped in the rich roots of bluegrass music, all while including influences from outside the genre.

Originating in the Gateway of the Great Smoky Mountains, Midnight Run began its journey in February of 2015, as a house band for Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Now, with over 200 shows a year, they find themselves playing to audiences from all over the world.

Two videos from Midnight Run's live performances at the Distillery are on their press kit web page, and more are on YouTube. For bookings and more information, contact Midnight Run through their website. They should not be confused with the Midnight Run Band, a wedding band based in north Kilkenny.

Labels: , ,

07 April 2018

David Davis tribute to Charlie Poole

David Davis, Robert Montgomery, Marty Hays

Thanks to Richard Thompson (who knows the BIB likes old-time music) for his Bluegrass Today feature on Didn't he ramble, the new album by David Davis & the Warrior River Boys. As the title implies, it consists of songs recorded by Charlie Poole (1892-1931). Of special interest is the part played by Ken Irwin of Rounder Records, who heard the band's 2005 recording of 'Milwaukee blues' and suggested that Davis record an album of Charlie's songs - though it took time for the suggestion to bear fruit. A video recording last month of the band performing the same song can be seen on the BT feature and on YouTube.
A propos of nothing in particular, here's a video of 'Milwaukee blues' by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, with Dom Flemons's very nice fingerpicking on a 4-string 'plectrum' banjo.

Labels: , , ,

Barn-burner on video from Mile Twelve

Boston's Mile Twelve, who were over here two years ago and have added Bronwyn Keith-Hynes on fiddle since then, have released a live video recording of 'Ace of hearts', originally recorded by Alan Jackson but delivered here in unmistakably bluegrass style. It can be seen on this Bluegrass Today feature by John Lawless, or on YouTube.

Labels: ,

06 April 2018

Quote of the month

Somebody said to me [...] 'You play traditional bluegrass, right?' and I turned around and I said 'I play bluegrass' - you know, 'why do you have to call it traditional bluegrass?'

Update 8 Apr.: See Denis McCarthy's comment below.


05 April 2018

By the river's edge from East of Monroe

Thanks to Roger Ryan for forwarding a copy of By the river's edge, the latest CD from East of Monroe (USA), whose first tour of Ireland begins tomorrow (6 Apr.) with a private engagement. It's an impressive piece of work both in content and in presentation, and much credit for this must go to Gary Alan Ferguson, who not only contributed his vocals and lyrical guitar work but produced, recorded, and mixed the album, wrote six of the twelve numbers, and took the cover photo (above).

Personnel on the album is almost exactly the same as on the tour, though Wally Hughes stays on fiddle throughout (dobro being played by the late Dave Giegerich), Richard Ward is on banjo, and Emily Timberlake sings lead and harmony on six songs, and wrote/ co-wrote five of the numbers. On this evidence, we can look forward to hearing some fine contemporary bluegrass from East of Monroe. The album will no doubt be on sale at their shows, as well as online.

Labels: , ,

03 April 2018

Dick Spottswood, The Blue Sky Boys

Richard Thompson on Bluegrass Today gives a helpful preview and general description of The Blue Sky Boys by Dick Spottswood. The book, published on 15 March by the University Press of Mississippi, is an in-depth study of the life and work of one of the leading 'brother duets' of early country music, who were an important influence on the emerging genre of bluegrass and also on the revivers of old-time music.

The Blue Sky Boys belonged to the generations for whom music was an alternative to work on the farm, in the mine, or in the cotton mill. Dick Spottswood is a musicologist, historian, online broadcaster, a founder of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, and one of its most constant contributors.

Labels: , , ,

02 April 2018

An Irish contribution to the new IBMM?

Thanks again to Deborah Fillman of the International Bluegrass Music Museum and Hall of Fame (IBMM) located in Owensboro, Kentucky, for exciting news. As previously announced, this coming autumn the IBMM will complete construction on a $15-million, state-of-the-art museum dedicated solely to the preservation and history of bluegrass music.

The Grand Opening for the new centre has now been scheduled for the three days 18-20 October 2018. Details will be announced in due course. The IBMM has always placed a strong emphasis on the 'International' in its title, so bluegrass supporters from outside the USA will be welcome.

Individuals, companies, associations, industry, and other donors who wish to contribute to the new IBMM can do so through the Museum's website. The simplest and most direct way for an individual is through this link. Another option, under the title 'Take Your Seat!', allows the donor's name or that of their organisation to be engraved on a permanent brass plate on a seat in the IBMM theatre. The price tag on this is $1,000.

Think of the possibilities: if a hundred supporters of the music in this island were each to put in ten dollars, there could be a plate in the IBMM theatre with an inscription commemorating Ireland's support. Or (another option) it might commemorate the late Rodney McElrea of Omagh, Co. Tyrone, one of whose many achievements was to ensure that Charlie Poole had a proper memorial. The BIB editor would be glad to learn, through e-mail, how readers feel about this.

Update 4 Apr.: See this feature on Bluegrass Today by John Curtis Goad on the new IBMM.

Labels: , , , ,

01 April 2018

Good advice from the Birthplace of Country Music Museum

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum (BCMM) in Bristol, TN/VA, has just added to its website a useful article by Charlene Baker, 'Band aids: helpful tips for the gigless'. From her experience as a band member, artist manager, booking agent, and festival organiser, she puts forward eleven helpings of detailed advice on presentation, promotion, networking, and other areas that any band needs to bear in mind, ranging all the way from 'Get real' to 'Don't blow it'.

The BCMM also sends a reminder of its special exhibition of photos from the song-collecting trip by Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles in Appalachia a century ago. This exhibition began on St Patrick's day and will run to 31 May. For a UK event commemorating the trip, see here.

Labels: , , ,

East of Monroe (USA): tour less than a week away

L-r: Wally Hughes, Billy Budd, Terry Wittenberg, Gary Alan Ferguson, Lisa Kay Howard, Jackie Frost

A week from now East of Monroe (Facebook), will have begun their debut tour of Ireland. Three of the band's members have already been here in different circumstances - Gary Alan Ferguson together with Gary Gene Ferguson (who'll be touring in July with Colin and James Henry), and Lisa Kay Howard and Wally Hughes last year with Brooksie Wells - and they're all looking forward to renewing their acquaintances with people and country. Lisa Kay has some particularly nice things to say about Irish audiences.

Thanks to Maggie Rainwater, East of Monroe's publicist and social media manager, for the press release for the tour, which has also been featured on Bluegrass Today, with quotes from the band members. Maggie herself is a singer, guitarist - and granddaughter of Jody Rainwater, the bass player, bass singer, comedian, and booking agent for Flatt & Scruggs from 1949 to 1952. She is also the daughter of Billy Budd, bass player in East of Monroe. The press release adds:

The band encourages everyone to follow along with the trip on their website, Facebook, and Instagram, where they will be sharing frequent updates.

East of Monroe's full schedule is:

Fri. 6th Apr.: Private engagement
Sat. 7th: Moy River B&B Folk Club, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, 8.00 p.m. (tickets on 071 9121902)
Sun. 8th: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, 8.30 p.m.
Mon. 9th-Wed. 11th: Off (sightseeing)
Thurs. 12th: Matt Molloy's Acoustic Yard, Bridge St., Westport, Co. Mayo, 8.00 p.m.
Fri. 13th: St John’s Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, 8.00 p.m.
Sat. 14th: Rockies GAA Club, Church Rd, Blackrock, Cork city, 9.00 p.m.

Terry, Gary, Billy, Lisa Kay, Jackie, Wally

Labels: , , , , ,

30 March 2018

'Early' video by the Special C. on YouTube (updates)

The BIB editor writes:

As announced on the BIB on 15 Mar., Rivers and roads, the latest album by the Special Consensus, has been released today by Compass Records. To mark the release, Compass have issued a YouTube video of the band singing the fourth track on the album: the Greg Brown song 'Early'. The video gives the complete lyrics, against a background of evocative photos sent in by friends and fans of the Special C.

I first heard this song about twenty years ago and it became at once a favourite with me, though my home town doesn't obviously resemble the one in the song. John Brophy, who served through the first world war as a British infantryman, would understand: he wrote that to the troops (who might have very little idea where Texas or Tennessee were but liked songs about them) 'any name sung with feeling was synonymous with home'. This song has a great deal of feeling in it, and the Special C. do it justice.

L-r: Rick Faris, Greg Cahill, Dan Eubanks, Nick Dumas

Update 3 Apr.: The Special Consensus are not letting themselves coast after the album: they're among the guest pickers on Raising the bar, the new CD by dobroist Chad Darou, along with Valerie Smith, Donna Schacher, Alecia Nugent, Ryan Paisley, Dave Adkins, Jim VanCleve, Merl Johnson, Cia Cherryholmes, and others. The CD can be bought from Chad Darou's website.

They'll also be playing on Fri. 20 Apr. at Randy Wood's Pickin' Parlor in Bloomingdale, GA, run by world-class luthier Randy Wood; details are here.

Labels: , , ,