29 June 2015

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog: still alive

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

Thinking of touring in Ireland? Have a look at the BIB's THINKING OF TOURING IN IRELAND? page. The BIB's background and purpose are explained here, and tips on using it are here. To reach both, click on the 'Welcome' label below.


Hot stuff from Patuxent

The BIB editor reports:

Hot stuff will of course be provided, on and off the stage, by the Patuxent Partners (USA) next month at the Athy and Ardara festivals and all the band's intervening shows (see the BIB calendar).

Hot stuff is also available in abundance and variety from Patuxent Music, the record company run by the Partners' leader and mandolinist, Tom Mindte, with a catalogue that includes bluegrass, old-time, country, blues, jazz, and swing. Bob Allen's article on the record label, published in Bluegrass Unlimited in Sept. 2012, quotes Tom:

l'm working with a lot of up-and-coming artists as well as artists [...] who have had long, successful careers, but aren't playing as much these days, but are still great.

Another side of Patuxent's catalogue is shown in the two historic releases pictured above. The 2-CD Patuxent banjo project comprises forty tracks by forty-two banjo players, all based in the Greater Washington/ Baltimore region - predominantly bluegrass, but on a spectrum ranging from old-time to classical. A treat for all banjo freaks, right down to the copious biographical notes, which often include details of the instruments played.

Red Allen & Frank Wakefield: the WDON recordings 1963 is a compilation of twenty-two songs and instrumentals originally broadcast live on radio station WDON in Wheaton, MD, by Allen, guitar; Wakefield, mandolin; Pete Kuykendall, banjo; and Tom Morgan, bass. It exemplifies hard-core bluegrass - and 'hard-core' does not mean 'fundamentalist'. This is bluegrass as it was made in its first twenty years - by musicians who had grown up hearing old-time music; the country music of Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Jimmie Skinner, Bob Wills, and Ted Dexter; and much more beside. As Mark Yacovone writes in the liner notes, 'Theirs was a music of passion and conviction.'

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28 June 2015

The sweet, sunny South (Spain, that is)

Three weeks ago, the BIB carried a very brief mention of the old-time-music workshop weeks, or 'learning holidays', presented by Kate Lissauer in the idyllic surroundings of La Fuente in south-eastern Spain. The evocative photo above is taken from those on the La Fuente website.

We're delighted to hear from Kate about the spring 2015 workshop week (23-30 May): '... a really good May week, with full attendance and a very nice crowd of people'. Booking is now open for the autumn workshop week (26 Sept.-3 Oct.), with Beverly Smith and John Grimm (USA) as the main tutors. Full details can be found here.

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27 June 2015

We Dig Roots! relaunches on a global scale

Eamonn Doyle drew his We Dig Roots! agency to the BIB's attention back in March 2014, when the Niall Toner Band, the Down and Out Bluegrass Band, and Rackhouse Pilfer were already on its books. Thanks to Wendy Connolly and 'Bluegrass in Ireland' for passing on news from Brian McNeal's Prescription Bluegrass Blog that We Dig Roots! is being relaunched with a greatly enhanced scope and a powerful directing team.

In addition to Eamonn Doyle, the new team includes Niall Toner, as consultant and network developer in the global roots scene; Johnny Lappin, music publisher and board member of IMRO, as Irish and international music industry consultant; Sean Mythen (business and legal affairs consultant); Jonathon O'Hanlon (customer liaison team); John Murphy, musician and event organiser (in charge of website and social media activity, bookings, and contracts); Basia Dunio, graphic design director (in charge of WDR's global brand identity); and Richie Cotter, event organiser (customer liaison team).

The official local launch will take place during the interval of the Niall Toner Band show during the Strawberry, Culture, & Food Fest in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, on Sunday 28 June. The show starts at 4.00 p.m. in the Bailey. An international launch is planned for later this year, when WDR will have an e-commerce website operating. The feature on the Prescription Bluegrass Blog says:

WDR is a growing booking agency for all Irish artists working in any roots music styles. They are creating an employment agency for all Irish part-time musicians. This will allow musicians to continue to work part-time in music and be revenue compliant but also retain access to social welfare payments for the days they are not working.

Also, in the near future they plan to have a full online store selling Irish roots music and merchandise to the world, with a particular focus on the Irish diaspora.

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'Dobroman' on the air

Thanks to C. Paul 'Dobroman' Lyttle (left), artistic director of the Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival in Scotland, for this link to the playlist for his 'Criffel Creek' radio show to be broadcast tomorrow (28 June), plus a link to Europe’s first ever 24-hour 7x7 Bluegrass Radio Station - Radio Velvet. A recent Bluegrass Today feature on Radio Velvet can be seen here. Paul adds:

My new show ‘Blue Waves’ will commence on 16 July at 18.00-19.00 Central European Time. Plenty of good music streaming your way these days - enjoy!

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25 June 2015

Athy festival - updates

Tony O'Brien, organiser of the Athy Bluegrass Festival, announces that the complete programme for this year's event (10-12 July) is now on the Festival website. Athy is the oldest annual bluegrass festival in Ireland, and this year's festival will be the twenty-fifth since it began in 1991.

The concerts this year will move into the large hall in the GAA Centre, and the club has informed Tony that no children under 14 will be allowed at the night concerts. Also, camper vans are welcome but will be strictly supervised this year. Tony adds that tickets are selling fast, so people should book now to avoid disappointment. Admission to each of the main concerts is €15, and a full weekend ticket is €35. Bookings can be made by 'phone (085 1656685) or e-mail. The Athy Bluegrass Festival Facebook adds that tickets for concerts must be pre-booked and paid for on arrival.

The website gives full details of all bands on the concert schedule - 4 Wheel Drive (NL/D/B), the Patuxent Partners (USA), The Plough (AUS), KingBlue, and the host band, Woodbine. The Patuxent Partners will be playing on all three days; 4 Wheel Drive on Friday and Saturday; KingBlue on Saturday and Sunday; and Woodbine on Friday and Sunday.

The additional free programme includes an 'Absent Friends' concert from 2.00 to 4.00 p.m. at the Athy Community Arts Centre on Saturday, featuring 4 Wheel Drive, The Plough, and Tony with guests, to commemorate friends who have passed over in the 25 years since the Festival began; and acoustic sessions in Pat Dunne's bar - at 10.00 p.m. on Saturday with The Plough, and at 8.30 p.m. on Sunday as the Festival finale.

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Vincent Cross in Europe, 5 July-21 Aug. 2015

Vincent Cross (photo: Vera Hoar)

Vincent Cross, the Irish bluegrass scene's resident envoy in New York, sends his latest e-newsletter, looking forward to his extensive seven-week tour in Europe from early next month. Vincent writes:

This summer I embark on my first European tour in many years, and I'm extremely excited. I see these tours as more a pilgrimage rather than some kind of musical marketing plan... Music has allowed me to meet people I would never have met based around where and when I was born. It also seems to help break down barriers and remove the plaque that forms around the foundations of ourselves. I believe that it is necessary for survival.

I'd like to meet as many people as possible on this run, and hope that my friends will share the details below through e-mail or other social media. Come and connect with me through the Facebook invite, and we'll share a story or two.

All the schedule appears in the e-newsletter, both as a straightforward list and in a poster image. Vincent advises checking his website for changes and details. His dates in Ireland are:

Tues. 21st July: Abner Brown's Barber Shop, Rathmines, Dublin 6
Wed. 22nd: The Sitting Room Session, De Barra's, Clonakilty, Co. Cork
Thurs. 23rd: De Burgo's, Galway city (Galway Fringe Festival)
Sat. 25th: The Little Blue Room, Longford town
Sun. 26th: McGing's, Westport, Co. Mayo
Wed. 29th: Anchorage Bar, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim
Thurs. 30th: The Lansdowne Session, Belfast
Fri. 31st: The Cobblestone, Smithfield, Dublin
Sat. Aug. 1st: Venue 4, Americana Music Workshop, Athlone
Sun. 2nd: House concert, Galway

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Conceiving IBMA

Yesterday (24 June) was the thirtieth anniversary of the first of a series of meetings in the summer of 1985 that resulted later that year in the setting up of the International Bluegrass Music Association, the trade association of the bluegrass world.

Read Richard Thompson's account on Bluegrass Today, drawing on the memories of Art Menius, who recalls 'the potent mixture of energy, skepticism, commitment, distrust, and enthusiasm', and much more.

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24 June 2015

Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly at DC Music Club, 26 June 2015

Thanks to Paul Lee of the Musiclee.ie agency for a reminder that Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly will be playing at the DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, this coming Friday (26 June), starting at 9.00 p.m. Tickets €15 (€13 reserved).

The Musiclee.ie blurb on this well known duo says: 'Frankie and Paul’s live performances are frequently sublime, sometimes bizarre, but always totally entertaining.' A sample of their work as part of the 'Folk the Recession' troupe can be seen here. Tributes by visiting artists to the DC Music Club as a venue can be seen on the Musiclee.ie website.

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Willie Watson back in Ireland, 7-9 Aug. 2015

Thanks to Tom Stapleton for the news that Willie Watson (USA), formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show, will be playing at Leap Castle in Offaly, very near Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, on Saturday 8 August 2015 at 9.00 p.m. The capacity is 60, so book by phoning or texting Tom at 087 2238040. A video of Willie Watson singing 'Rock salt and nails' can be seen here.

His previous appearance at Leap Castle was in the last show of a tour in Sept. 2014. This year, it's the middle show of a brief tour, as follows:

Fri. 7th: Queens Parade Methodist Church, 4 Queens Parade, Bangor, Co. Down
Sat. 8th: Leap Castle, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary (NB: Willie Watson's website gives the time as 8.00 p.m.)
Sun. 9th: Coughlan’s Live, 7 Douglas St., Cork city

Tickets for the Bangor and Cork dates can be bought through Willie Watson's online tour schedule. Tom Stapleton adds that bluesman Guy Davis (USA) will also be playing Leap Castle in the course of a tour in August, as follows:

Tues. 11th: Real Music Club, Belfast
Wed. 12th: Ryans, Friary St., Kilkenny
Thurs. 13th: Coughlan's Live, Cork city
Fri. 14th: Leap Castle, Roscrea

Guy Davis's ragtime blues version of 'Rolling in my sweet baby's arms' can be heard here. For more info and bookings, contact Tom Stapleton, Mountheaton, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary; e-mail; mobile 087 2238040.

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Wookalily looking for a permanent fiddle player

Thanks to Google Plus for forwarding an announcement from Adele Ingram of Wookalily that the band are looking for a permanent fiddle player - preferably one who can sing backing vocals as well. Adele (who also runs One-A-Chord Music Promotions) adds that Wookalily are based in Belfast, rehearse once a week outside Belfast, and are gigging quite a lot.

Wookalily, who describe themselves as a 'female-led Americana folk band', have also taken part in the 'Daughters of Bluegrass' recording project. They can be contacted through their website.

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23 June 2015

Old-time duos - news from Dublin

Thanks to Gerry H[ogan?], who reports:

The two young musicians who do the excellent 'Drunkard's Hiccups' session on Mondays in the Thomas House [86 Thomas St., Dublin 8] have a new short EP album that I've really been enjoying! You can download it for free at this Bandcamp URL if you're interested. It's pretty strict oldtime to my ear anyway.

Don't know if they play any gigs, but they're in the Thomas House on Monday evenings and are regular guests at the Cobblestone session on Saturday afternoons.

The musicians are Anna Lisberg (vocals, fiddle) and Brian Flanagan (vocals, banjo), and their recording, I fell with vehemence a-thinkin' (cover art shown above), released yesterday, has seven tracks with a total playing time of over twenty minutes. The hard-copy CD with 'cool recycled cardboard sleeve, offset printed at Stumptown Printers in Portland, Oregon' (home of the Foghorn Stringband and many other groups) costs €6. The 'Drunkard's Hiccups' sessions, founded in Sept. 2013, start each Monday at 9.00 p.m.

Complete track listing: Up jumped Joe in the middle of it; Train on the island; I fell with vehemence a-thinkin'; Rove Riley; Liza Jane; Chasing the squirrel; Poor Ellen Smith / Chinquapin Pie.
Tim Hawkins (fiddle) and Richard Hawkins (banjo) no longer have the inestimable musical companionship of Cathal Cusack (guitar), owing to Cathal's domestic and professional commitments. If there's anyone out there who plays guitar (ideally in old-time styles, but Cathal's bluegrass-style backup worked very well), can lay down a groove, and loves old-time songs and tunes, they'd be glad to hear from him or her by e-mail.

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Can't take the country from the boys

Thanks to Niall Toner for this new photo of the Niall Toner Band, taken by Bryan Meade before their show at the DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, last Friday (19 June), presented by Musiclee.ie.

Pictured (l-r) are Dick Gladney, Richie Foley, Niall, Paddy Kiernan, and Johnny Gleeson. Niall gives the location as 'Graffiti Lane behind Whelans. A little of the Urban meets Suburban, or whatever...'

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20 June 2015

British Bluegrass News, June 2015

Yes, the BIB does seem to keep mentioning British Bluegrass News, the magazine of the British Bluegrass Music Association, but it's really just four times a year. Each issue deserves mention, because (a) BBN's a consistently excellent quarterly, and (b) there are frequent items of interest to readers in Ireland. For example, in this issue:

There's a two-page feature by Hubert Murray of Lands End (whose members include Paddy Kiernan and Richie Foley, both of the Niall Toner Band) on the making of their CD Border sessions. There's a feature on bluegrass festivals in Ireland, focussing on the Westport festival but also mentioning those at Athy and Omagh (and the BIB). The cover story is about the Jaywalkers, who played at Omagh in 2013. And in the feature on London's all-girl band The Jolenes, bassist and lead singer Sarah Freeman says: 'I'm always listening to the Watery Hill Boys'.

Not to mention the interview with guitar maestro Russ Barenberg (USA), the 1990s instalment of Tom Travis's ongoing chronicle of bluegrass in Britain, and much more, including ads for top-quality instruments by luthiers in England. Oh yes - and there's a column on bluegrass affairs in Europe by Dublin-born Eugene O'Brien, the present chairman of the EBMA.

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19 June 2015

Railsplitters at Naul tomorrow night (20 June 2015)

Thanks to the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre at Naul, Co. Dublin, for a reminder that tomorrow night (Saturday 20 June) they will be presenting as part of their special Summer Solstice Session a concert that combines the Colorado band The Railsplitters (photo above) with the ecstatic world music band Kíla.

Naul is the last show for the Railsplitters in a brief tour of Ireland - last night they were in Clonmel, and tonight in Ballybofey. An impression of both bands can be formed from the performance videos on the Centre website, where bookings can be made online. The Centre's e-newsletter on events there up to 11 July can be read here.

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The SMB Folk Club - onward and upward!

Thanks to Brendan Walsh and his organising team from the Sixmilebridge Folk Club in Co. Clare for news of two major coming events of interest to BIB readers.

Since 2000 the Club - which among its many activities runs monthly and seasonal sessions, concerts, and classes in traditional music - has presented the annual Shannonside Winter Music Weekend, with its unique combination of musical genres. Next year's event (enlarged from 'Weekend' to 'Festival') will be held from Thursday 21st to Tuesday 26th January 2016, with over seventy musical events, plus set-dancing and poetry, in the villages of Sixmilebridge and Bunratty, including the Castle (photo) and Folk Park. Look out for further details: on the website or Facebook, and on the BIB as soon as we receive them. Brendan, as festival director, can be contacted at 086 8464509.

Three months before then, moreover, the Club will present (9-11 October 2015) the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, with twenty-five sessions, gigs, or concerts, and an international lineup. This is a development from the Bunratty Banjo Pickers Festival which has been held with success over the last two years in the Castle, the Folk Park, and adjacent venues in Bunratty, Co. Clare. Note the change of date this year, from late September to early October. More details will be released soon.

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NTB at DC Music Club TONIGHT - plus great things to come

The NTB in the Round Room at Killashee, Co. Kildare, 30 Mar. 2015
(l-r): Dick Gladney, Johnny Gleeson, Niall Toner, Richie Foley, Paddy Kiernan (photo: Kyle O'Neill)

Thanks to Paul Lee and his Musiclee.ie agency for a reminder that the Niall Toner Band - Niall (vocals, guitar), Richie Foley (mandolin), Paddy Kiernan (5-string banjo), Richard Gladney (double bass), and Johnny Gleeson (dobro) - will be playing tonight (Friday 19 June) at the DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2.

The show, which starts at 9.00 p.m., marks the release earlier this year of Niall's album Working on love. Tickets are €15 (€13 if booked in advance). Paul's blurb quotes Maverick magazine's 5-star review: 'Toner writes bluegrass and country songs that ring true, and would not be out of place on any bluegrass master's albums. This Irishman knows his stuff.'
Other acts on the Musiclee.ie roster that should interest BIB readers are Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly a week from now, and later Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys (USA), Tim Eriksen (USA), and - yes - the Claire Lynch Band (see our post yesterday on this year's Omagh lineup). All shows are at the DC Music Club. More names and more details are on the Musiclee.ie website.

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18 June 2015

Full lineup for 24th Omagh Festival (4-6 Sept. 2015)

Thanks to Wendy Connolly and 'Bluegrass in Ireland' for the news that the 24th Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, has announced the lineup and programme for this year's event (4-6 Sept. 2015).

Headliners are the Claire Lynch Band (USA) - this opportunity to see them should not be missed, as earlier this year Claire announced her intention of cutting back on touring. Other visiting bands include the Demolition String Band (USA), Viper Central (CAN), the CC Smugglers (GB), and the very hot Bill Faster band from Slovakia (photo below).

Bands from this island include KingBlue, Geordie McAdam & Friends, Wookalily, the Broken String Band, Northern Exposure, and Tom Sweeney, 'Songs for all the family' (all from Northern Ireland),  and the Niall Toner Band, Prison Love,  and the Watery Hill Boys (all from south of the border). Also performing are the Bluegrass Festival Choir.

Most bands will be playing on all three days; details of who's on on which day are on the Folk Park website. A full weekend pass is £35.00, and can now be booked online.

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North Wales 2015 - tickets going quickly!

Thanks to Gill Williams (seen above right, with John Les) for a reminder about the 27th International North Wales Bluegrass Festival, now only two weeks away. The BIB attempted without success to reproduce the e-newsletter in a size that will fit our blog format; so instead here's a link to it.


17 June 2015

Beppe Gambetta guitar workshop in Slovenia, 26 July-2 Aug. 2015

For guitarists who'd like a continental-holiday-cum-learning-experience in spectacular scenery: Italian guitar wizard Beppe Gambetta (who has toured here more than once) will hold his 23rd International Acoustic Guitar Workshop from 26 July to 2 August 2015 at the Hotel Slatnar, Ambroz pod Krvavcem, Slovenia. The teachers will be Beppe himself (flatpicking) and Tim Williams (USA) (fingerpicking blues, ragtime, and more).

Ambroz pod Krvavcem is at c.1080 m altitude, about 35 km north of Ljubljana (which has an international airport) and approximately 45 km south of Klagenfurt, Austria. It looks out over the Alps, the Karawanks mountains, and the cities of Kranj and Ljubljana. The Hotel Slatnar is a small mountain hotel; the dormitory-style rooms contain 2-4 beds with showers on each floor.

Registrations and inquiries: Stane Svigelj, phone +386 4188 6460, e-mail (also here). Visitors, friends, and jamming enthusiasts are welcome from Thursday evening (30 July). Reservation is required.

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15 June 2015

'Danny Boy' revisited

On 13 Nov. 2013 the BIB commented on the broadcasting of 'Danny Boy: the ballad that bewitched the world' on RTÉ One TV two nights earlier. Viewers could hear at one point the voice of the Father of Bluegrass singing the song, and at the same time see film footage of Roscoe Holcomb of Daisy, KY, playing a dance tune on banjo on his porch. One speaker in the programme suggested that this recording of the song illustrated the affinities between Ireland and hillbillies. As the programme is scheduled for repeat on RTÉ One TV tonight (15 June 2015), it may be worth recalling our comments of nineteen months ago.

As to the appeal of the song for 'hillbillies', a check on Tony Russell's Country music records: a discography, 1921-1942 gave no indication that any country artist recorded it in that period. The idea that Bill Monroe should record 'Danny Boy' seems to have come from the Decca producer Owen Bradley. Pop recordings of the song by Conway Twitty and Andy Williams had already sold well, and Bradley apparently thought that Monroe's intense, high voice would be right for a country version. Bill Monroe recorded 'Danny Boy' on 30 Nov. 1961, and it was first released in June 1962 on the LP Bluegrass ramble.

Although Rachel Liebling used it in the soundtrack of her film High lonesome about Bill Monroe, it remains something of an oddity among his recorded work and is not generally seen as part of bluegrass repertoire. It serves, however, as an example of how to use the discography in Neil V. Rosenberg and Charles K. Wolfe, The music of Bill Monroe (University of Illinois Press, 2007). The photo on the jacket of this book (above left) was taken at the session at which 'Danny Boy' was recorded.

The Somerset man Frederic Weatherly (1848-1929), who wrote the words of the song, lived in the same village as Henry John 'Harry' Patch (1898-2009), one of whose uncles was a banjo-player.

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Candid camera

Two weeks ago today, the Down and Out Bluegrass Band adopted this as the new cover photo for their Facebook. Comments by fans and band members can be read here.

Shown (l-r) are Mal 'The Red Bull' Duffin, John 'Francois' Denby, Howard 'The Highway' Walker, Roy 'Papa Smurf' Brown, and Richard 'Leerun' Leeman.

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The Lilly tradition - very much alive

Following the BIB post of 11 June on the prospective visit to Ireland next year by Dr Everett Alan Lilly and his daughter Ashley (photo left), here's a link to a post on the Southwest Bluegrass Association (US) website. Announcing a show to be played by Everett and Ashley next week, the post gives more information on the Lilly tradition and its latest incarnation - including Ashley's new CD, Baby blue eyes (above right) - and concludes:

The audience is taken back to a special time in early country music and still the sounds are remarkably progressive and contemporary. This group is the 'real deal' and their heartwarming show is reaffirming and uplifting. The stage is transformed as they take you on a musical journey you will not soon forget.

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A hot time in the old town (and environs)

Thanks to Aran Sheehan of the Dublin Bluegrass Collective for news of a busy month-and-a-half ahead for the DBC at events and venues in and around the Big City, all of which is in addition to the DBC-hosted open bluegrass session every Tuesday in Sin É, Ormond Quay:

Sat. 20th: With Mala & FyrMoon (CH) at the Cobblestone, Smithfield
Sat. 27th: The Secret Garden Music Festival, Kilpoole Hill, Wicklow town
Sun. 28th: McLoughlin's, Dun Laoghaire, 5.00-8.00 p.m. (open bluegrass session)

Sat. 4th: My Meat Wagon, Smithfield, 8.00 p.m.
Fri. 24-Sat. 25th: Knockanstockan Festival, Blessington Lakes, Co. Wicklow
Fri. 31st: With Vincent Cross at the Cobblestone, Smithfield

On the DBC Facebook page, Aran adds about the Knockanstockan Festival: 'Closest thing to Glastonbury and Blessington Lake in the entire world... We love it, delighted and honoured, to be bringing some Stonking Bluegrass Long Haired Love Vibes Again...'

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Open House Festival 2015 August programme: update

On 5 June the BIB published the following news, which is now updated - see below:

Thanks to Kieran Gilmore, director of the Open House Festival, based in Belfast, for news of the Open House Festival 2015 summer programme, which will run throughout August in the seaside town of Bangor, Co. Down, with more than 100 events in thirty-six venues and locations. Full information is on the Open House Festival website and in the (we quote) 'rather gorgeous' 130-page printed programme, which will be available in Bangor and Belfast.

Thanks also to Sharon Loughrin of the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone - Sharon writes:

Open House have announced their festival lineup this morning - and I've already booked tickets for one gig!!! It's worth a look on the full gig listings: Willie Watson is my first choice, but Tim Eriksen is playing, as are Prison Love, Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, and Rackhouse Pilfer... Still have to get a good look through it all, but there's definitely plenty to keep old time/ bluegrass fans happy!

We agree. Check out the Bangor programme yourself.

Update 14 June: The programme is now available from participating venues, shops, cafes, and pubs throughout Bangor, and supplies will reach other towns in the coming weeks. Copies can be dropped to a business or public point near you if ordered by e-mail; or can be collected from the Open House office in the Lilac Pod, Project 24, on Bangor seafront. Tickets are selling fast: seven events are already sold out.

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14 June 2015

The Green Grass Hooley Boys: gigs on 4 July weekend

Thanks to a valued correspondent for this press release:

New bluegrass band The Green Grass Hooley Boys play their first weekend of bluegrass on 4 and 5 July in the following venues (below). The band play a huge array of bluegrass from the likes of Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Dr Ralph Stanley, Flatt & Scruggs, to name just a few. Their bluegrass is nestled deep in the roots of the old traditional playing. A real treat for your ears.

Who are the Green Grass Hooley Boys? Well!!!!
  • Long-established bluegrass singer/songwriter Ray O’Brien from Waterford takes up vocals/harmonies and guitar. Ray has been playing on the bluegrass trail in Ireland for many years and makes a very welcome return after a short absence.
  • Possibly one of the best bass players in the country (if not the best), Tony McCabe from Co. Wexford takes up vocals/harmonies as well as bass. Tony is a fine singer and guitar player in his own right and plays in a number of different bands of a different genre.
  • A fantastic mandolin and 5-string banjo player Joseph Ó Faoláín from Kilkenny has been playing banjo and mandolin all his life and can adapt to any style of playing.
This band is set to take the Irish bluegrass world by storm over the next while. These guys are really worth getting out to see - with their hard-driving playing and fantastic vocals, these guys are a real treat.

4th July: Eugene’s Bar, Tullamore, Co. Offaly, 10.00 p.m.
5th July: Durty Nelly's, Bunratty, Co. Clare,* 10.00 p.m.

*See the BIB for 26 May 2015.

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Arklow Roots Music presents Michelle Lewis, 22 June 2015

Thanks to Brendan O'Regan of Arklow Roots Music in Co. Wicklow, who writes:

I’m glad to say Arklow Roots Music returns to the music scene on Mon. 22 June, with a concert by Michelle Lewis [photo], a singer-songwriter from Boston, USA, in roots/Americana vein. Lewis is on a short tour of Ireland to promote her new album The parts of us that still remain, an album that is receiving very positive reviews as can be seen from a visit to her website, where album tracks and videos are also available. Lewis’s music could be described as ‘Americana’, ‘acoustic rock’, ‘contemporary folk’ or ‘alt.country’, but is also unique in its own way. The concert takes place at the Upper Room, Harbour Bar, Lr Main St., Arklow.

A video of Michelle Lewis in performance is on the Arklow Roots Music Facebook. According to her online tour schedule, the show starts at 8.30 p.m. and tickets are €12 (€10 with student ID). Other shows during her tour are:
  • Tues. 23th: Town Hall Theatre, the Octagon, Westport, Co. Mayo, 9.00 p.m; €15
  • Wed. 24th: Ardhowen Theatre, 97 Dublin Rd, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, BT74 6FZ, 8.00 p.m; £10; 028 6632 5440
  • Thurs. 25th: Colfer's Pub, Main St., Carrig-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford, 8.00 p.m; €10
  • Fri. 26th: Tony Roma's Upstairs, 13/14 South Main St., Naas, Co. Kildare, 8.00 p.m; €10
  • Sat. 27th: Bronte Music Club, 1 Church Hill Rd, Rathfriland, Co. Down, 8.00 p.m; £10; 028 4062 3322
  • Sun. 28th: Enler Delta Blues Club, Comber Rec F.C. at Park Way, Comber, Newtownards, Co. Down, 3.00 p.m.; £10; 078 66687177 Norman

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11 June 2015

Patuxent Partners - full schedule, 10-19 July 2015

Following the BIB post of a week ago, thanks to John Nyhan and Tony O'Brien for further details of the return to Ireland next month by Tom Mindte and his Patuxent Partners (USA). The new show for Wednesday 15 July is at the Schoolyard Theatre, Charleville, Co. Cork, starting at 8.15 p.m. The Partners' complete schedule will therefore be:

Fri. 10th-Sun. 12th July: 25th Athy Bluegrass Festival (10-12 July),
Mon. 13th: Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork
Tues. 14th: St John's Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry
Wed. 15th: Schoolyard Theatre, Charleville, Co. Cork, 8.15 p.m.
Fri. 17th-Sun. 19th: Ardara Bluegrass Festival, Ardara, Co. Donegal

In addition to Tom (mandolin), Bryan Deere (guitar), and John Brunschwyler (banjo), as shown in the photo above, the Partners coming over will include Daniel Greeson and Nate Leath on twin fiddles (photos on the EBB) and Neil Knicely on bass.

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Niall Toner at the DC Music Club, 19 June 2015

The online magazine Broadsheet publishes today 'A Toner refill':

Free Friday week?

A rare night in Dublin with guitar- and mandolin-wielding bluegrass singing legend Niall Toner at the DC Music Club on Camden Row, on Friday 19 June.

Niall is noted for his dextrous plucking as witnessed (above)* performing with his band an original composition, Burren Backstep. He also remains the only Irish bluegrass artist to have their music appear in the Grand Theft Auto series.

The night celebrates the launch of Niall’s fifth album, Working on love. Tickets via e-mail.

*The video can be seen on the Broadsheet post, which also includes a link to Niall's Facebook.

Update: The Musiclee concert schedule announces that as well as Niall (vocals, guitar) the Niall Toner Band will include Richie Foley (mandolin), Paddy Kiernan (5-string banjo), Richard Gladney (double bass), and Johnny Gleeson (Dobro). The show starts at 9.00 p.m.; tickets are €15 (€13).

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The Lilly tradition - coming to Ireland!

The Lilly Brothers, Bea (1921-2005) and Everett (1924-2012) are among the most respected figures in bluegrass history; some of the reasons can be heard from their many recordings. Together with their fellow West Virginian, banjoist Don Stover, they were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2002 as 'pioneers in bringing professionally performed southern Appalachian music to the upper northeastern region of the United States', often with the late Tex Logan playing fiddle.

A description of their long-running regular gig at the Hillbilly Ranch in Boston (written in 1965 by pioneer historian of the blues Sam Charters, who died recently) can be read in Thomas Goldsmith (ed.), The bluegrass reader (2004). In this account, one of Everett's sons, Everett jr, appears as a boy, playing bass with the band.

Dr Everett Alan Lilly of Mountain State University is now leader of the Songcatchers band. In the photo above, he and his daughter Ashley are standing with elbows on the upright guitar case. In the past few years it has become clear that Ashley, still only in her mid teens, is shaping up as a powerful and gifted vocalist - see these articles by Richard Thompson on Bluegrass Today, one from 2013 and especially this one from six weeks ago, on the release of the band's new CD, Baby blue eyes. She has previously sung on other recordings, including those of the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.

Dr Lilly is now making plans for a visit to Ireland in summer 2016 by himself and Ashley, possibly accompanied by other members of the Songcatchers. Arrangements are flexible, including the date - July is contemplated. This combination of a major bluegrass family tradition with the emergence of a talented young singer should attract much attention; and anyone who would be interested in helping to make the visit into a tour should contact Dr Lilly by e-mail and/ or mobile phone (001-304-673-1389).

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The Hot Seats - due back in July/ Aug. 2016

Thanks to Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency for the news that the Hot Seats from Virginia, who played three shows in Ireland last August as part of a three-week tour in these islands, have just ended another tour in Britain which included the Orkney Folk Festival. Loudon offers this link to a podcast of a studio session they recorded for BBC Radio 3's 'World on 3'; unfortunately, it seems to be unavailable for listeners outside the UK, but plenty of the Hot Seats can be seen and heard on YouTube. He also adds, for promoters and event organisers:

The band will be back over again in July/ August next year. Do let us know if you think your audience might benefit from a tonic as good as this!

Contact Loudon by e-mail.

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Two Time Polka: June gigs

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka announces:

Here are our gigs over the next few weeks -

Sat. 13th: Courtneys Bar, Plunkett St., Killarney, Co. Kerry. Doors 9.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 064 6632689

Sat. 20th: Shandon St. Festival & Food Fair, Shandon, Cork. Open air. Start 4.15 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 086 1651356

Ray & TTP

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09 June 2015

Attention, festival organisers

The European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA) Facebook draws attention to the calendar of European bluegrass festivals on the EBMA Festival Network web page, and requests:

If you have a festival, please check the data given below and let us know [by e-mail] if something needs correction or update. To include your dates in our google-based calendar, please complete the respective form.

However, please note that owing to spam abuse, the respective forms are no longer available; so the BIB suggests that you should use the same e-mail link as is given above.

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Bluegrass in Baltimore release party, 2 Aug. 2015

Following on news items on the BIB in February and March, thanks to Curley Street Media for the news that on 2 August the Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival 2015 will present the book release party for Tim Newby's new book, Bluegrass in Baltimore: the hard drivin' sound and its legacy, at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, MD, where tickets are now available online.

Tim Newby will be at the release party, where there will be discussions and music from leading musicians on the Baltimore bluegrass scene. Bluegrass in Baltimore is published by McFarland Books and can be bought from their website for $35.00.

A note from a Dublin perspective: I Draw Slow will be playing at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore on 15 July as part of their coming US tour.

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