28 October 2016

A work in progress

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) is as alive as ever, keeps its calendar updated, publishes news received, and adds new features: in 2016 the right-hand sidebar has been enhanced by a slice of the calendar, a list of known bands, links to readers' comments, visual images, and (most recently) 'New releases' and regular jams. Send in news by e-mail.

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.


27 October 2016

Tennessee Mafia Jug Band tour begins THIS SATURDAY!

The Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul, Co. Dublin, announces that the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band from Goodlettsville, TN, will be playing at the Centre this coming Saturday, 29 October. The band (also on Facebook) features the unique Leroy Troy (on the left in the front row), heir to the banjo acrobatics and other performance skills of the late Uncle Dave Macon via Cordell Kemp, and a firm favourite at the much-missed Johnny Keenan Banjo Festivals. Doors at Naul open at 8.00 p.m., and the show starts at 8.30. More details, including a performance video and online booking facility, are here.

The Naul show is the first in a two-week tour of Ireland this autumn. The schedule, as shown on the band's website, appeared on the BIB for 22 September, and the dates are all on the BIB calendar. Some shows appear as beginning at 7.00 p.m., which seems unusually early; so please check with the venue before going to the show.

Labels: , , ,

26 October 2016

A special start to a special Special C. tour

Thanks to Nigel Martyn for this news (his Old Flattop agency has been organising bigger and better tours for the Special Consensus each time they come, for nearly twenty years now):

Special Consensus are gearing up for their most ambitious Irish gig to date; they kick off the 2017 tour in the Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, on Thursday 12 January. Tickets go on sale today from the venue box office (01 231 2929) and online from here.

Perhaps you would make a special mention of this gig on the BIB?

I have also attached the flyer for their most ambitious and longest tour of Ireland and the UK to date!

Happy to oblige, Nigel! Congratulations and thanks on this latest achievement. 

IBMA award winners, Grammy nominees, and Compass Records recording artists, the Special C., led by Greg Cahill, have been coming to Ireland since 1995 and will have their latest CD, Long I ride, with them. All the dates in the 2017 tour can be seen on the flyer image (click to enlarge) and on the BIB calendar.

Labels: , , ,

Bunratty 2016 - on the up and up

Barry & Holly Tashin and the E5 Bluegrass Band in concert

Thanks to Des Butler for this report and photos from the past weekend's Bunratty Bluegrass Festival in Co. Clare:

What a great atmospheric bluegrass festival this fledgling event is turning out to be, all thanks to Brendan Walsh and his committee and the indefatigable John Nyhan. For such a small geographical but very atmospheric location to provide such a wealth of local talent plus importing bands from the US, Eastern Europe, as well as from various parts of the island of Ireland, is a credit to those involved in its undertaking.

Cup O' Joe in the Folk Park
The Festival culminated with a Sunday evening concert incorporating Barry & Holly Tashin and the E5 Bluegrass Band from the US, supported by Cup O' Joe from Co. Armagh. Both of these bands treated all attendees to some excellent bluegrass, folk, and swing in equal measures. The sound at this concert, in my opinion, was flawless with John Nyhan doing the honours at the control board.

Monogram: session in the Creamery

The concerts on the Friday and Saturday nights were equally sprinkled, with the talents of Monogram from the Czech Republic, Demolition String Band from the US, and the local and home-grown talents of Greenshine from Cork, local band Blue Country, Leo Hayes & Friends, John Nyhan and his multitalented and multi-instrumentalist friends, not least of which Mike Power who among playing fiddle and resonator guitar also owned and played a resonator mandolin (photo below).

This was a new one on me, having never seen or heard of such an instrument, but what a sound from this 'Dobro', and what talent this man possesses.

Demolition String Band in the Folk Park

Amy Lyons, Leo Hayes, Evan Lyons

Blue Country
Last but by no means least we were entertained at concert and at many sessions throughout the weekend festival by the very dependable, enjoyable, and always very entertaining Woodbine from Athy.

All bluegrass fans and musicians should make an effort to support this festival.

BIB editor's note: Des's photo above shows Woodbine trying for the Performance in Confined Space record; there is, however, serious competition, as can be seen here.

Labels: , , , , ,

25 October 2016

Bluegrass at Mohill, Co. Leitrim, Sun. 30 Oct. 2016

Welcome news announced by Mohill Bluegrass Festival on Facebook:

The Mohill Bluegrass Festival, in conjunction with the annual Mohill Horse Fair and O'Brien's Tavern, bring you the Down and Out Bluegrass Band, playing on the street on Sunday 30th Oct. and that night in O'Briens @ 10.00 p.m. We're looking for as many bluegrassers as possible on the day and night. We aim to keep the bluegrass going all day in O'Briens. Strings or no strings, you're very welcome to come and listen or play the best music in town. Don't forget - Sunday 30th Oct. (BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND)

O'Brien's Tavern (photo below) is part of the Traveller's Rest B&B in Glebe St., Mohill.

Labels: , ,

24 October 2016

A new face at the Cobblestone

Jim MacArdle (far left) and Donal Black of the Watery Hill Boys

The Saturday-afternoon session (from about 4.00 to about 7.00 p.m.) every week at the Cobblestone in Smithfield has been the bedrock of old-time music in Dublin for many years now, with Bill Whelan, Ben Keogh, and other masters of the genre in residence.

This coming Saturday (29 Oct.) Ben will be away, and his place (on guitar and vocals) will be taken by Jim MacArdle from the Watery Hill Boys of Drogheda.

Labels: , , ,

Slocan Ramblers (CAN) to tour Ireland, 20-29 Oct. 2017

A month ago the BIB published news from Loudon Temple of the Brookfield Knights agency in the UK, on the up-and-coming Slocan Ramblers bluegrass band from Toronto, Canada, who are due to tour in these islands from 20 October to 18 November 2017. Loudon now confirms that the tour will begin with ten days in Ireland, from 20 to 29 October, including one night at next year's Sligo Live (27/28 Oct.). Loudon writes:

We would very much appreciate it if venues and promoters could provide a steer on what availability they have in that timeframe so we can start to have a close look at some sensible routing.

After Ireland, the band will proceed to Scotland and end the tour in England and Wales.

The Slocan Ramblers (also on Facebook) consist of Adrian Gross, Alastair Whitehead, Darryl Poulsen, and Frank Evans. They have appeared on such prestigious festivals as Rockygrass in Colorado and MerleFest in North Carolina, and they showcased at this year's IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC (see the BIB for 28 Sept.). They have been nominated in the prestigious Canadian Folk Awards in the Traditional Album of the Year category for their CD Coffee Creek which attracted much attention in 2016. The winners will be announced at the start of December 2016. Links to YouTube videos and to the Ramblers' website and Facebook can be found here.

Labels: , , , ,

23 October 2016

Two Time Polka gigs in the next two weeks

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka sends news of the band's gigs for the next two weeks:

Cork Jazz Festival

Fri. 28th: Hamlets Bar, The Blue Haven, Pearse St., Kinsale, Co. Cork. Start 6.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4772209
Fri. 28th: The South County Bar, West Village, Douglas, Cork. Start 10.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel: 021 4891574

Sat. 29th: The Blue Haven, Pearse St., Kinsale, Co. Cork. Start 4.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4772209

Sun. 30th: The Blue Haven, Pearse St., Kinsale, Co. Cork. Start 4.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4772209
Sun. 30th: The Briar Rose Bar, Douglas Rd, Cork. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm free. Tel. 021 4291686

Mon. 31st: The Briar Rose Bar, Douglas Rd., Cork. Start 6.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4291686

Henchys 10th Art Exhibition in aid of Anitas Orphanage Cambodia
Sat. 5th Nov.: Henchys Bar, St Lukes, Cork. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4507833

Ray & TTP

Two Time Polka's new CD, New road, is available at their gigs and from Music Zone, Douglas, Cork, and Custys Music, Ennis, Co. Clare; or on line from both outlets, www.musiczone.ie and www.custysmusic.com. You can also contact Ray directly.

Labels: , , , ,

21 October 2016

Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, 21-3 Oct. 2016

A reminder (as if it were needed) that the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival begins today in Bunratty, Co. Clare, with the main concerts headed by the Demolition String Band (USA) at 8.30 p.m. tonight, Monogram (CZ) tomorrow night at 8.00 p.m., and Barry and Holly Tashian & the E-5 Band (USA) at 5.00 p.m. on Sunday.

Also working hard in the concerts and venue sessions over the weekend will be Cup O’ Joe, Woodbine, Greenshine, John Nyhan & Friends, Leo Hayes & Bill Forster, and Blue Country. Full details of the lineup and timetable are on the Festival web page. See also the BIB post from last week.

Labels: , , , ,

18 October 2016

Underhill Rose (USA) in Ireland, 2-6 Nov. 2016

Thanks to Geraint and Deb Jones of G Promo PR (UK) for the news that the acclaimed North Carolina 'folk-Americana' trio Underhill Rose, 'Asheville’s pre-eminent female trinity', will be touring in these islands early next month, opening with five dates in Ireland before proceeding to Britain for their second tour there this year.

Underhill Rose consists of Molly Rose (guitar, vocals), Eleanor Underhill (banjo, vocals), and Salley Williamson (bass, vocals). They'll be touring with their latest album, The great tomorrow; this has had very positive reviews from Country Music People, the Irish Post, Maverick, and R2, which gave it four stars and called it

simply top-class country music, seasoned beautifully and seamlessly with earworm hooks and bluesy edges, all delivered with instrumental panache and supremely confident singing.

A new single, 'One time a year', will also be released. A portion of the proceeds from its sales will go to Women for Women International. The tour schedule on the band's Facebook shows the following dates over here:

Wed. 2nd Nov.: The Ivy, 33 Main St., Naas, Co. Kildare
Thurs. 3rd: Strule Arts Centre, Townhall Square, Omagh, Co. Tyrone
Fri. 4th: Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, Co. Antrim
Sat. 5th: Bronte Music Club, 1 Church Hill, Rathfriland, Co. Down
Sun. 6th: Colfer's, Carrig-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford

The location map on the Bandsintown.com website erroneously shows Colfer's as in the centre of Wexford town. The BIB also (at first publication of this post) believed the same website when it located the Strule Arts Centre in Drumquin; but we've now corrected that.

Plenty of Underhill Rose's music can be found on YouTube. A video of a live performance of ‘One time a year’ is here, and another live performance, of ‘Not gonna worry’, is here. Audio recordings on SoundCloud include ‘Our time is done’ and ‘Love looks good on you’ from the current album.

Underhill Rose are also on Facebook and Twitter. For further information, interview, session or guest list requests, please contact Geraint or Deb Jones at G Promo PR by 'phone (+44 (0) 1584 873211; mobile + 44 (0) 7855 724798) or e-mail.

Labels: , , , ,

17 October 2016

New Breadwinners at the Cabin, 27 Oct. 2016

Gerry Fitzpatrick, organiser of the Cabin Sessions series, 'Acoustic Music at its Finest', announces the Session for this month (Thursday 27 October):

We're back again on 27 October with guests Angel Hannigan (contemporary), Sacre Blues Band (French), New Breadwinners (bluegrass). Also a special appearance by the Gram International Dublin All-Stars. See 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.

Labels: , , ,

Band news

The Cat's Meow, from Mohill, Co. Leitrim, recently lost their longtime bass player, who had to withdraw owing to pressure of other commitments. Call the band at (071) 963 1790 if you are, or know of, a prospective new bass player.
Ten days ago Cup O' Joe posted on their Facebook a video of them playing 'Just the way it is' and 'Stuck in the middle with you' with Niall Murphy on fiddle.
The Henry Girls announce that this coming Sunday (23 Oct.) at 1.00 p.m. they have been invited to perform at the Seamus Heaney Home Place (45 Main St., Bellaghy, Co. Londonderry), where they will be singing songs linked to the area and the poetry alongside the talented chef Emmett McCourt, who will be making a selection of dishes inspired by Heaney's 'Death of a naturalist' collection.
Dublin's Prairie Dawgs announce their third and latest album, Time is, their most personal collection of songs yet. It will be launched on Friday 25 November in the Grand Social, Dublin, with special guests (TBA). Doors open at 8.00 p.m.
The Whileaways have also been recording, and fans look forward to hearing some of the new material live at the end of this month, when they will be playing (Sat. 29 Oct.) in the Foxford Woollen Mills, Foxford, Co. Mayo, from 8.30 p.m. Their forthcoming shows include:

Sat. 12th Nov.: The Gig Room, Kinvara Community Centre, Co. Galway, 8.00 p.m. (presented by KAM Concerts)
Fri. 18th: The Glens Centre, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim, 8.00 p.m.
Fri. 25th: Support for the Saw Doctors (SOLD OUT), Olympia Theatre, Dublin 2, 8.00 p.m.
Sat. 21st Jan. 2017: Duncairn Cultural Centre, Duncairn Avenue, Co. Antrim BT14 6BP
Wookalily add these upcoming shows:

Sat. 5th Nov.: The Alley Theatre, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, 8.00 p.m.
Fri. 20th Jan. 2017: Clubeo, Leo's Tavern, Crolly, Co. Donegal, 10.00 p.m.
Fri. 26 May: Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, 8.00 p.m.

14 October 2016

Guitar improvisation workshop in Kerry, 17-21 Oct. 2016

After the banjo treat yesterday, thanks to Cathal Cusack for drawing attention to this event in the very near future at Valentia Island, Co. Kerry, organised by the Gitarrenzentrum of Remscheid (in the Ruhr district of Germany).

The Gitarrenzentrum specialises in acoustic guitars, with an emphasis on classical, flamenco, and gipsy swing - bluegrass is not mentioned. However, their big-body Calliope-brand guitars, on display at the brand new Dingle Folk Fest in Kerry tomorrow (Sat. 15 Oct.), will be of interest to luthiers and instrument freaks generally. The workshop on swing guitar, improvisation, and composition will be given by Kai Heumann at the Lighthouse, Valentia, from Monday to Friday next week, for five hours each day. Full details, including participation fee, are here. A quote:

Kai’s workshops have a clear message: music must be fun because then learning is much easier.

Labels: , , , ,

13 October 2016

Bob Carlin's Banjo: an illustrated history

The BIB mentioned in March one book on banjo history that has already appeared this year, and in July Bob Carlin, well known as musician and writer, brought out Banjo: an illustrated history, a 256-page hardback.

Published by Backbeat Books (ISBN 9781495011245), it is distributed by Hal Leonard and should therefore be widely available through music stores. Banjo NewsLetter's review calls it 'a major achievement and should be accorded a prominent place on every banjo player's bookshelf or coffee table.' The BIB learned of this from the Banjo Gathering website.

Bob Carlin's publications include The birth of the banjo: Joel Walker Sweeney and early minstrelsy, String bands in the North Carolina Piedmont, and (with Dan Levenson) tab books of the music of Kyle Creed, Wade Ward, and Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham. His name is on several models of open-back banjos from Gold Tone.

Labels: , ,

12 October 2016

Bunratty Bluegrass Festival: full timetable and band details now online

A full timetable of events for this year's Bunratty Bluegrass Festival is now online (as shown in the image on the right) and gives the times of the main concerts (8.30 p.m. on Friday 21 Oct., 8.00 p.m. on Saturday 22 Oct., and 5.00 p.m. on Sunday 23 Oct.) and of all sessions and gigs.

A notable feature: the seven sessions to be held before Saturday's evening concert will be on a 'mix and match' basis, 'with musicians from the different groups teaming up with each other to form trios who will anchor sessions at the various venues'.

Eight of the sessions on Sunday afternoon will be held in the Bunratty Folk Park, where normal seasonal entry rates will apply. Booking is essential for the Saturday night concert, and advised for the Sunday evening concert; entry to all three concerts can be bought for the price of two. Details of all nine groups taking part are also on the Festival web page.

Labels: , , , , ,

Red Hat Acoustic Music Club - 4th birthday at Naas THIS FRIDAY

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 (14 October). It will be a special occasion, as this marks four years of the Club's existence.

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: , , ,

11 October 2016

DanGem cease sessions and lessons

DanGem Bluegrass in Craigavon, Co. Armagh,  announce with regret that they are no longer holding monthly Bluegrass Get-Togethers, with jam session and banjo lessons. The last of a long series of Get-Togethers was held on 28 May in the usual place (the Lagan Valley Island Civic Centre, Lisburn, Co. Antrim BT27 4RL) and the usual time, from 9.30/10.00 a.m. to noon.

DanGem still offer the largest range of banjos for sale on this island, both 5-string and tenor, together with spare parts and strings, and ship them all over the world. They also stock guitars, fiddles, resonator guitars, and mandolins. Derek Lockhart of DanGem (also bass player with the Harpers Hollow Bluegrass Band) writes:

We may not always be able to take your call, but if you leave your details we will get back to you. Best time to catch us is 7.00 p.m. (GMT) most nights. You are welcome to come and see us but please check or even better make an appointment first: (0044) 07521464125 or (0044) 02838329091.

Derek can also be contacted by e-mail.

Labels: , , ,

Get off to a good start with the dobro!

Bluegrass Camp Ireland, as they announce on their Facebook, are not usually in the business of advertising. The BIB has no such scruples; and anyhow, Bluegrass Camp Ireland admit that this is a special case.

David Hawkins,* who plays dobro at the weekly Dublin bluegrass jam, has built himself a better instrument and so wishes to sell his previous one, a Cort square-neck. This has itself been substantially upgraded: a new cone, spider, soundhole covers, new strings, bone nut, and ebony capped saddles, making it more playable. In addition, it comes with a Dunlop 'lap dawg' tone bar and pick set, a leather pouch to keep these safe, a Beard USA capo, and a dobro tuition book with CD.

At €360 all in, this seems a good way to begin a dobro career. More details and a photo of the instrument David has for sale are here (click on the image to see the whole package). As Bluegrass Camp Ireland says: 'Contact him please, not us!'

* No relation of your editor, as far as either of us know.

Labels: , , ,

10 October 2016

The Blue Light Smugglers - every Monday on the mountain

The Blue Light Smugglers trio (above) play in the Blue Light pub at Barnacullia, high in the Dublin mountains, every Monday night from 9.30 p.m. When it comes to mountain music, this is probably the highest bluegrass venue above sea level in this island, as far as we know - see the view from the pub, below.

The Smugglers also operate at lower altitudes, having taken part in the Bruff Bluegrass Music Festival in Co. Limerick at the beginning of this month. More news from them will appear on the BIB in the near future.

Labels: , , ,

Product improvement

Readers who have previously found that the section 'Links' in the right-hand sidebar was little more than a jumble, with no indication of where to look for anything in particular, may find using it easier now: links that relate to the same general subject have been grouped together, and cross headings have been introduced. In the process of doing this, some further links have been added and more additions may follow. Suggestions for further improvements will be welcome.


08 October 2016

The Unseen Strangers (CAN) - more talent from Toronto

Thanks to Adam Shier, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and driving force behind an up-and-coming Toronto-based band, the Unseen Strangers, for this news. The band - who come from the same vibrant bluegrass scene as the Slocan Ramblers and Foggy Hogtown Boys - were recently playing showcases during IBMA's World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC. In addition, Adam writes,

The band won the Bluegrass Band Competition at Delfest in 2014 and the band's new album Stranger places has been charting really strong Relix/Jambands.com, reaching #3 in the summer. The flatpick guitar instrumental 'Buster' (track 5) has received over 220,000 streams.

Adam supplies links to the Unseen Strangers' bio, photos, and videos; many more videos of them and their punchy newgrass style can be seen and heard on YouTube. Adam ends:

We have never toured Ireland but I think the Unseen Strangers would be a good fit for one of your future events!

The Unseen Strangers (also on Facebook) can be seen below, relaxing:

and ready to go to work:

The Unseen Strangers: (l-r): Matt Elwood, Adam Shier, 
Mike Mezzatesta, James McEleney

Labels: , , , , ,

07 October 2016

Your festival - in BU

It's that time of year again, and the October issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine includes (p. 65) an entry form for BU's 2017 festival list. Festival organisers are requested to submit completed entry forms by 3 November for publication in the January 2017 issue.

If you already get BU, you've probably completed your form and sent it in by post (P.O. Box 771, Warrenton, VA 20188), e-mail, or fax (1-800-258-4727). If you don't subscribe (and why not?), the website unfortunately doesn't have a facility for completing and submitting a form online. However, here's what should be entered about your event:

  • CITY of Event
  • STATE of Event
  • DATES in 2017
  • Name of Event
  • Location (name of park, brief directions)
  • CITY.................STATE.................ZIP....
  • Phone (1 only)
  • E-mail (1 only)
  • Web (1 only)

These categories are devised for the USA, of course, but giving equivalent information for here shouldn't be hard. If you run more than one event, a separate entry should be made out for each of them.

PS: Please also let the BIB know your 2017 dates!

Labels: ,

8th Balla Bluegrass Festival, 28-31 Oct. 2016: full programme

Following the BIB post of 2 Oct. giving the full lineup (with links to band websites), the organising team of the 8th Balla Bluegrass Festival are delighted to present the full programme and these poster images (click to enlarge):

Fri. 28th
Mannion's, 8.00 pm: Demolition String Band
The Olde Woods, 10.00 pm: The Raines

Sat. 29th
The Olde Woods, 8.00 pm: Demolition String Band
Mannion's, 10.00 pm: Barry & Holly Tashian & the E-5 Band

Sun. 30th
The Olde Woods, 8.00 pm: The Rocky Top String Band
Mannion's, 10.00 pm: Woodbine

Mon. 31st
Mannion's, 8.00 pm: Colonel Bullshot Rides Again

Labels: , , ,