18 June 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.

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Evan Lyons Collective at Tamworth Bluegrass Festival this coming weekend

Thanks to Michael Lyons for this poster image from the Tamworth Bluegrass Festival, which will be held this coming weekend (22-4 June) in the heart of the English midlands. The lineup includes the outstanding young banjo player Evan Lyons of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, leading the Evan Lyons Collective (Noel Dashwood (dobro) and Max Vizard (guitar), both based in England). Evan's name is third on the list in the poster image. A link to a YouTube video of his trio playing at last year's Westport festival is on the Tamworth website.

G-runs 'n Roses (CZ) and the Buffalo Gals (USA/UK) will be playing at Tamworth (both bands were at the 12th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival eight days ago); so will premier English bands such as the Down County Boys, the New Essex Bluegrass Band (headliners at the 24th Athy festival in 2014), the Morris Boys, and many more. The full lineup is here.

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16 June 2018

Chris & Sally Jones (USA/CAN) in Ireland, 3 July 2018

Thanks again to John Nyhan for the very welcome news that Chris Jones (touring here last March with his Night Drivers band) and his wife Sally Jones (singer, songwriter, and bandleader in her own right) will be making a brief visit to Ireland early next month, as they will be attending a wedding in Scotland.

They will be doing only two shows in Ireland, both on 3 July, joined by their daughter Joanna, who will be making a guest appearance.

Tues. 3rd July: Mallow Library, Thomas Davis St., Mallow, Co. Cork, 3.00 p.m. Tel. 087 792 1771

House concert, Buttevant, Co. Cork, 8.30 p.m. (places limited). Tel. 087 792 1771

Support act at the house concert will be Pat Horgan of the Dizzy Blues Band, who will be doing a solo gig.

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Jeff Scroggins & Colorado (USA) in Ireland, 19-22 July 2018

July looks like being a rewarding month. Thanks again to John Nyhan for this news of a bonus visit from an outstanding band. John writes:

Jeff Scroggins & Colorado will also be here for a few days as they will be nearby playing England and Scotland. They could not miss out on the opportunity of coming to Ireland. Here are the details of their tour.

Thurs. 19th July: Clashmore, Co. Waterford, 8.00 p.m. Weather permitting, this will be an outdoor concert with barbecue in a beautiful area which has a seventh-century well. If weather not suitable, it will take place in the Old Schoolhouse. Tel. 087 414 8651

Fri. 20th: Mannion's Pub, Balla, Co. Mayo, 9.00 p.m., tel. 087 229 6018

Sat. 21st-Sun. 22nd: Ardara Bluegrass Festival, Ardara, Co. Donegal. Tel. 087 690 0714

Ardara Festival definitely has some heavy hitters. It should be great to see and hear the McLains and Jeff Scroggins and Co. performing in the headline concert on the Saturday of the festival. Also the jamming between them should be great.

The photo above shows Jeff Scroggins (banjo) and his son Tristan (mandolin), Greg Blake (guitar), Ellie Hakanson (fiddle), and Isaac Callendar (bass). Mark Schatz, who has recently played bass with the band, is currently caring for his wife Eileen Carson (see the BIB for 24 May 2018). John will confirm who will be on bass with the band as soon as possible. 

Jeff Scroggins & Colorado begin their tour in Norway on 10 July and will then play three dates in Britain before coming to Ireland.

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15 June 2018

McLain Family Band (USA) in Ireland, 15-21 July 2018

L-r: Daxon Lewis, Alice White, Raymond McLain, Ruth McLain,
Al White

Thanks to John Nyhan for this photo of the McLain Family Band from Berea, KY, and the following details of their tour in Ireland a month from now. This will be part of a tour in Europe throughout the whole of July, marking the fiftieth anniversary of when the band began playing as a family.

In those fifty years, the McLain Family Band have played in sixty-two countries, in all fifty states of the USA, and in some of the most prestigious venues. They have just released a book, The McLain Family Band: 50 years of music, a pictorial history, and their most recent album Celebrate life. Multi-instrumentalist Al White has played in Ireland before, as leader of the Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble. The McLains' full schedule in Ireland is as follows:

Sun. 15th: Church of Ireland, Bruff, Co. Limerick, 8.00 p.m., tel. 086 302 7976
Mon. 16th: Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, 8.15 p.m., tel. 087 792 1771
Tues. 17th: O Gliasan's Pub (concert room), Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, 8.30 p.m., tel. 086 846 4509 (A Sixmilebridge Folk Club Presentation)
Wed. 18th: St John's Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, 8.00 p.m., tel. 068 22566
Thurs. 19th: Market House, Miltown Malbay, Co .Clare, 9.00 p.m., tel. 087 688 1650
Fri. 20th-Sat. 21st: Ardara Bluegrass Festival, Ardara, Co. Donegal, tel. 087 690 0714

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12th Westport Festival: on photo and video

For everyone who was at last weekend's 12th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival and wants reminders, or who wasn't at it (or was, but couldn't get round to everything) and wants to find what they missed - photos and videos are being added to the Festival's Facebook page and YouTube channel. The latter includes footage from the official launch party on 28 April with music by Mules & Men. Official videos on the channel are by Pervege Free Films.

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The Honeycutters make a beeline for the 24th Dunmore East International Bluegrass Festival

Thanks to Karen Cheevers of B2B Communications for this press release:

Now in its 24th year, the Dunmore East International Bluegrass Festival is still proving as alluring as ever for top music acts, as some of the industry’s greatest bluegrass and country music acts line up for the free four-day festival in the Co. Waterford village from 23 to 26 August.

Fans of bluegrass, honky-tonk, blues, country, Americana and rhythm ‘n’ roots are in for a real musical treat as the picturesque village’s International Bluegrass Festival will feature fourteen artists playing almost forty free gigs throughout the village.

Headlining this year’s festival is Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters, an old-school country roots band that effortlessly blends rock, folk, and country. Hailing from North Carolina, Amanda Anne Platt has earned a reputation as an assertive yet gentle and unassuming singer whose 'voice and the interplay of the guitar and mandolin gives this band their unique complex sound, a clear-sounding mash-up of Americana, bluegrass, folk, and honky-tonk', according to Elmore magazine. At 2015 MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the US, the Honeycutters received fantastic reviews.

Making a return to Dunmore East is California’s Whiskey Deaf. Fiddle player Annie Staninec was born and bred on bluegrass music, has toured the world and featured on countless albums with renowned country, Cajun and blues artists, while John Kael, an established songwriter, has been playing bluegrass guitar, mandolin, banjo, and bass for over twenty years.

Having taught in some of the most prestigious music camps in the country, John and Annie will give two traditional bluegrass guitar and fiddle workshops on Friday 24 August. Places are €10 and pre-booking is essential.

Some perennial favourites returning to Dunmore East’s Bluegrass Festival include Demolition String Band, Woodbine, Mons Wheeler Band, and the Backyard Band. New acts to line up in 2018 are Brothers Parker, Pilgrim Street, Kiss My Grass, Bert and Henry, Charlie Reader, Vickers Vimy, and Whistle.

Mick Daly, festival organiser, is delighted with the calibre of both first-time and returning bands playing at the festival. 'We have a great lineup of bluegrass, country, rockabilly, roots, and Americana acts this year. We are excited about welcoming the Honeycutters to Dunmore for the first time, but also equally excited about the return of some of the big names that have appeared over the years. Many of the bands that play the Dunmore Bluegrass Festival feed off the fantastic energy of the crowd, and the fact that it is set to a stunning coastal backdrop is a bonus.'

'Over the past decade or so the festival has evolved organically and while bluegrass is still at the very heart of the festival there is a more eclectic offering of music, such as rockabilly, country, and Americana. A lot of the young, up-and-coming acts are making waves on the bluegrass scene and we’re thrilled to have an exciting line up bringing their energy and vibrancy to the festival.'

'The festival appeals to die-hard bluegrass fans who have been visiting Dunmore for decades, but it also has a broader appeal to those who simply like good toe-tappin’ music, in a beautiful seaside setting, under the sun!'

The 24th Dunmore East International Bluegrass Festival, Co. Waterford, kicks off on Thursday evening, 23 August, at the Spinnaker Bar and Restaurant, and heralds the start of fourteen bands, playing almost forty free gigs throughout the village.

For more information visit www.discoverdunmore.com or keep up to date on the Discover Dunmore East Facebook page.
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Mick Daly is available for interview on 051 878 832 / 087 256 2899 or e-mail.

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13 June 2018

Venue info for Ferguson, Henry, & Henry gig 11 July 2018

Thanks to singer/ songwriter Gary Gene Ferguson (USA) for new information on one of the shows in his tour next month with Colin Henry (dobro) and James Henry (banjo). The Roots Room gig on 11 July will be at the Bourbon Bar next to Kennedy's, Rockwood Parade, Sligo town, 8.00 to 11.00 p.m. More on the tour can be seen here.

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Hot Rock Pilgrims to Rotterdam

Following the BIB's feature three months ago about the free-admission 8th Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival, John Lawless has posted about the festival on Bluegrass Today, with special attention to the US headliners Tony Trischka and Mike Marshall. The many other acts taking part include the Hot Rock Pilgrims, now on tour in Ireland after wowing last weekend's Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.

The Rotterdam festival will be held on 22-4 June on the Pijnackerplein in Rotterdam-Noord, the Netherlands. The founder and chief organiser is Guido de Groot, shown (right) in Marieke Odekerken's photo published in High lonesome below sea level: faces and stories of bluegrass music in the Netherlands (2015; text by Loes van Schaijk).

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The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 28 June 2018

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

We're back with you on Thursday 28 June. Special guests are Elga Fox, Gillian Tuite, and the Blue Light Smugglers. Hope to see you there!
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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.

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12 June 2018

Another great weekend in Westport

Gold Heart Sisters (USA) at the Clew Bay Hotel, Friday night

Thanks to Des Butler for this report and photos of last weekend's 12th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival:

Well, another Westport Festival has come and sadly gone for another year, leaving us begging for more. From the opening sessions in Blouser's bar to the final folk concert in Matt Molloy's, attendees were treated to some great bluegrass, old-time, swing, and folk ballads throughout the three days and nights of the festival.

The bluegrass and swing being provided by the very talented Tennessee Hennessees, the Thunderbridge Bluegrass Band, the Gold Heart Sisters, and many more very talented and enjoyable bands.

Old time was provided by the Buffalo Gals, Ben Paley, Tab Hunter, and Ben Edwards, and numerous other musicians at the many jamming sessions throughout the weekend. The folk and ballads were provided at the final concert on Sunday night by the excellent balladeer and masterly bouzouki playing of Daoiri Farrell.

This festival's popularity speaks for itself, as I understand that all official concerts were booked out and all venues practically full to capacity. Well done to Uri Kohen and his team for developing this festival to be one of the many enjoyable bluegrass festivals taking place annually in the country. Can't wait for next year's Festival, Uri!

Saturday afternoon session at McGing's, here led by the
Invisible Jug Band (left) and G-runs 'n Roses (CZ)

Tennessee Hennessees get down to it

Hot Rock Pilgrims open the Saturday night concert...

... followed by the Gold Heart Sisters,

... and G-runs 'n Roses top the bill

Saturday concert finale with all three bands taking part

Jammed! Sunday afternoon old-time jam in Blouser's: Kate Lissauer
and Tim Rogers with fiddles, right of centre; Ben Keogh, guitar

Daoiri Farrell in Matt Molloy's

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11 June 2018

News of past visitors

Mountain Home Music Company announces that Chris Jones & the Night Drivers (USA), who were here on tour in the bad weather of early March, have released an optimistic new single, Chris's song 'Bend in the road' (not to be confused with his 'Fork in the road', IBMA Song of the Year in 2007). Hear the new song and see the related video here.
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The Slocan Ramblers (CAN), who toured Ireland last October, will release a new album, Queen City jubilee, this week. The track 'Through and through' can be heard on Bluegrass Today.
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Tony Williamson of Mandolin Central has received a 2018 North Carolina Heritage Award. Richard Thompson's feature on Bluegrass Today gives ample details on Williamson's life in music, his development as a mandolinist, the influence of Bill Monroe, and much more. There is a five-and-a-half-minute video about his life and values (also on YouTube), the last part of which shows him picking with our friends from Red Wine (I).

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Mean Mary (USA) in Ireland, 10-19 Aug. 2018

Thanks to Geraint and Deb Jones of GPromo PR for the news that multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and author 'Mean Mary' James (left) from Alabama, who toured in Ulster in April 2016, will be back in Ireland in mid August this year with her new album Blazing, which is due for release in Europe on 6 July. Videos can be seen on YouTube of the title track, 'Harlequin', and 'I face somewhere', among more of her music.

The dates in Ireland will be part of a tour of these islands and continental Europe lasting till early October and including eighteen shows in Britain, four in the Netherlands, three in Denmark, three in the Czech Republic, and two in France. Her full schedule in Ireland is:

Fri. 10th-Sat. 11th Aug.: Limavady, Co. Londonderry (part of Stendhal Festival)
Wed. 15th: Bridge St., Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Thurs. 16th: The Cobblestone, Smithfield, Dublin
Fri. 17th: Crusoe's Coffee Shop, Castlerock, Co. Londonderry
Sat. 18th: Market Place Theatre, Armagh city
Sun. 19th: Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

For further information, interview, session or guest list requests, please contact Geraint or Deb Jones at GPromo PR by phone (01584 873211), mobile (07855 724798), or e-mail.

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The Archduke and the accidental dobroist

Thanks to Colin Henry, Belfast dobro maestro, for this memory of Stacy Phillips (left: photo by Marcia Goodman), who died last week:

I owe my existence as a dobro player to two people. The first is our own Frankie Lane and the second is Stacy Phillips, the 'Archduke of the Dobro'. I used to play the banjo (badly) and I was heading into town one day in the distant past to buy banjo strings. The car radio was playing and on came the sound of a wonderful slide instrument being expertly played. I was immediately taken by the sound. When the tune finished the announcer said that it was a track from Frankie Lane's new CD Dobro. Of course I had heard a dobro before on Flatt & Scruggs recordings, but I didn't really pay much attention. Frankie's playing, however, completely captivated me.

I went into the shop to buy the banjo strings and on the way out I stopped at the books. I was going through the banjo section when I came across The dobro book by Stacy Phillips, the 'Green Book' as it is known. I thought 'well, that is that instrument Frankie Lane was playing', so I bought the book. I went home, converted an old guitar, and began to go through the book. Within a very short space of time I realised that I understood this instrument better than the banjo or the guitar. You could play fast tunes like a banjo and you could play the slow tunes with plenty of feeling, and it allowed me to express the sounds in my head that refused point blank to emerge from my throat and mouth!

Roll on six months. I had been practising hard and trying (with varying degrees of success) to copy the tunes off Frankie's CD. I bought a recorder and recorded myself for the first time. Oh dear! Every note was slightly off - all just a bit flat. I was totally disheartened and concluded that, try as I might, I just did not have the musical ear to play the dobro. As it happened I had just got a computer with internet access for the first time. On the back of the Green Book was an e-mail address for Stacy Phillips, so I thought I would just e-mail him. I doubted if I would get a response, but I said in the e-mail that I was starting out playing and that I had just heard myself recorded and all the notes were out of tune. I asked if it was worth continuing, or did I just not have the aptitude for the instrument?

Within half an hour he replied - all the way from New York - and his words have been with me ever since. He said: 'You are half way there; you know you are out of tune! Practise, practise, practise and you will get there.' He went on to explain the issue (a story for another time). So I did practise, and then some, and he was right, it came good. If anything I'm obsessed with being in tune now!

Stacy Phillips literally wrote the book on learning the dobro; in fact he wrote several classic books. He was a unique player and from all reports a unique character. I have thanked Frankie Lane in person, but I never had the chance to meet Stacy and thank him; but without his sage words I would still be trying to master the banjo. (I leave that to my son James now!) So thank you Frankie but, on this occasion, a particular thank you to Stacy. I tried in tribute to do a couple of his complex slant/pulls at Westport over the weekend and failed miserably; as he said, practise, practise, practise!

Colin and James Henry will be joining singer/songwriter Gary Ferguson (USA) for a ten-day tour of Ireland in the first half of next month. All dates are on the BIB calendar.

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07 June 2018

Punch Brothers at the NCH, Dublin, 19 Nov. 2018

The National Concert Hall (NCH) in Dublin announces as part of its 2018/19 schedule that the Punch Brothers (USA) - Chris Thile, Chris Eldridge, Paul Kowert, Noam Pikelny, Gabe Witcher - will be in concert at the NCH on 19 November 2018, at 8.00 p.m. in the Main Auditorium. Tickets (€30, €27.50, and €25, with 10% discount for Friends of the NCH) will be on pre-sale from tomorrow, 8 June. Full details, together with bio notes on the band and the projects of individual members, and a 21-minute performance video, are on the NCH event page.

The concert in Dublin will come as part of a tour in Europe; they will have played in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, and the UK beforehand.

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Stacy Phillips

Stacy Phillips (photo: Marcia Goodman)

The BIB learns with great regret of the death of Stacy Phillips (73), performer, teacher, and prolific writer on the dobro and fiddle in American traditional music, bluegrass, and a range of other genres. From the urban north-eastern USA like such banjoists as Pete Wernick and Tony Trischka, he also (like them) was not only a master of the instruments but an expert, industrious, scholarly, and humorous communicator of knowledge about them.

More details are on his website and on Bluegrass Today.

Update 10 June: See these details of memorial celebrations today, as shown on Bluegrass Today.

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06 June 2018

The Small Glories at Leap, Sat. 9 June 2018

A second reminder from Tom Stapleton that Canadian folk powerhouse pair The Small Glories - Cara Luft (clawhammer banjo, guitar) and J.D. Edwards (guitar, harmonica) - will be playing at Leap Castle, Co. Offaly (near Roscrea, Co. Tipperary) this coming Saturday (9 June).

Seats can be reserved by phoning or texting 087 2238040. Eight videos are on the Small Glories website. Tom draws the show specially to the attention of lovers of Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, the Wailin' Jennys, and Shovels & Rope.

The Small Glories' tour in Ireland, which begins tonight (6 June), comes at the end of a tour including Germany, the Netherlands, and Britain. All dates are on the BIB calendar.

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11th Ardara Bluegrass Festival, 20-22 July 2018

Pat McGill has again assembled a very strong programme for the 11th Ardara Bluegrass Festival in Ardara, Co. Donegal, on the weekend Friday 20th-Sunday 22nd July 2018, with two powerful and respected American bands - Jeff Scroggins & Colorado from Colorado, and the McLain Family Band from Kentucky - and a rapidly rising young Dublin-based band, Mules & Men, who are launching their debut single 'Procrastination blues' in Belfast next week (see the last post on the BIB).

The McLain Family Band are scheduled to tour in Europe throughout July. The BIB hopes to publish as soon as possible the dates that they and Jeff Scroggins & Colorado will be playing in Ireland.

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'Procrastination blues' from Mules & Men: launch 13 June in Belfast

Thanks to Mules & Men for this press release:

Acid Celtgrass band Mules & Men are pleased to announce the release of their debut single 'Procrastination blues' on 13 June. The offical video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpIV8v7OzVE.

To celebrate their introduction to the world proper, they will be performing a show at the American Bar, Belfast, on 13 June at 8.30 p.m. June also sees them performing at the Dunfanaghy BAND Festival, and July at the Ardara Bluegrass Festival.

'See you on the road folks. Keep up to date on our Facebook page' - John Denby 2018

'Mules & Men have been reinterpreting bluegrass and folk styles into a style of their own. With three-part harmonies, blazing string playing, and solid songwriting, this band has been bringing audiences to a standstill all over the country.'

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The deep secrets of bluegrass music

The BIB editor writes:

Watching short films of Jimmy Martin in later life from the SkitRichards YouTube channel brought me to another channel and the video 'Carlton Haney, Jimmy Martin, and Bluegrass Pythagoras', made c.1998.

In this video the legendary bluegrass promoter Carlton Haney talks for almost a solid twenty minutes, with interjections by Jimmy Martin, about the features that make the music of Bill Monroe unique, and the occasion that inspired the idea of the first three-day bluegrass festival.

Just to watch the faces of these two future members of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame is worth the time in itself, but one can also get some feel of the cement, gravel, and iron that went into the foundations of the music.

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05 June 2018

Red Hat Acoustic Music Club at Naas, 8 June 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 (8 June).

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.

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More spill-off benefits from Westport

The cornucopia of talent presented by this year's Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival is spilling over to the benefit of bluegrass and old-time enthusiasts in other parts of the country. The Hot Rock Pilgrims (see the BIB's last post) are not the only visiting band who will be playing other dates while they're in Ireland. The Gold Heart Sisters from Virginia (above), in addition to performing on all three days of the Westport festival, will be playing at St John's Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, on Thursday 7 June, and at the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, on Monday 11 June, before going on to play four dates in Scotland.

The Buffalo Gals (UK) - who recently hosted the Old Time Music Week at La Fuente, Andalusia, southern Spain - will headline the Friday night (8 June) concert at Westport. Their leader Kate Lissauer will present an introduction to square dance on 9 June from 2.30 to 4.30 p.m., leading up to Westport's First Ever Square Dance, hosted by the Buffalo Gals, at 5.00 p.m. on Sunday 10 June in the Westport Town Hall Theatre.

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Hot Rock PIlgrims in Kilworth, 12 June 2018 - and full tour schedule

Thanks to the indispensable John Nyhan for the news that the Hot Rock Pilgrims are playing at the Village Arts Centre in Kilworth, Co. Cork, on Tuesday 12 June, starting at 8.15 p.m. Enquiries: tel. 087 792 1771 or e-mail.

The Hot Rock Pilgrims are Hubert Murray (lead vocals, guitar), Bruno Pichler (dobro), Kieran Towers (fiddle), Dan Edwards (banjo), and Sam Rose (bass). Their complete tour in Ireland, as shown on their online schedule, is:

Thurs. 7th: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, 8.30 p.m.
Fri. 8th: Cobblers Bar, Westport, Co. Mayo, doors 9.30 p.m. (part of Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival)
Sat. 9th: Town Hall Theatre, Westport, Co. Mayo (part of Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival)
Sun. 10th: Spells Bar, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon, doors 8.00 p.m.
Tues. 12th: Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, 8.15 p.m.
Thurs. 14th: The Secret Garden, Galway city, doors 7.00 p.m.
Fri. 15th: Levis's Bar, Ballydehob, Co. Cork
Sat. 16th: The Strand Bar, Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, 10.00 p.m.
Sun. 17th: The Blue Light, Sandyford, Dublin, 8.00 p.m.

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03 June 2018

Blogger's problem with e-mails

The BIB editor writes:

If you've been used to receiving by e-mail copies of newly published items on the BIB, you may have noticed that none have reached you over the last eight or ten days. Similarly, if you have sent in comments on posts during that time, you may notice that they have only today been published.

This has happened because for some unknown reason Blogger (the publisher of the BIB and innumerable other blogs) has had a problem with sending out e-mail notifications - so you have not been notified that posts have been published on the BIB, and I have not been notified that comments have been sent in. Many blog writers seem to be affected by this, and it is hoped that Blogger will be able to solve the problem.

Meanwhile, please keep checking the BIB to see if any new posts have been published; and I'll keep checking my 'Awaiting moderation' box to see if any comments have been received.

02 June 2018

Porter McClister (USA) in BAND Festival 2018

Garry McGrath, organiser of the 2nd BAND Festival, announces that ace country guitarist and singer Porter McClister, from Chapel Hill, NC, and now based in Nashville, will be headlining the festival, which takes place at Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal, less than three weeks from now (22-4 June 2018).

Porter McClister trained first as a classical pianist, attended Boston's Berklee School of Music, and has since played in the bands of Don Kelley, Tanya Tucker, and Gretchen Wilson, and sung on the soundtrack of O brother where art thou?. Dunfanaghy will be his first time in Europe. More information, together with performance videos, are on the BAND website, and more again here. Garry McGrath states that seeing him perform in Nashville 'was the original inspiration for the BAND Festival'.

The Festival also includes Mules & Men, the Knotty Pine String Band, Wookalily, Two Time Polka, Erdini, Hillbilly Rednecks, and much more.

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31 May 2018

Thunder and Rain (USA) available for bookings in Mar. 2019

A year ago (see the BIB for 5 May 2017) the young Colorado country/ folk/ bluegrass band Thunder and Rain toured Ireland on a crowded twelve-day schedule organised for them by the indispensable John Nyhan.

Now Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency announces that Thunder and Rain will be touring in the UK and Ireland early next year for a three-week run (6-27 Mar. 2019). A bio of the band is on the Brookfield Knights website, where links to the band's own website and Facebook, and to audio recordings and YouTube videos, can be found.

Thunder and Rain form a collective, drawing on a pool of strong players from their region. They toured last year with a four-piece configuration of Errin Peet-Lukes (guitar, vocals), Peter Weber (mandolin, vocals), Chris Herbst (dobro), and Ian Haegele (bass, vocals; previously here with the Martin Gilmore Trio). They have since added Natalie Padilla (fiddle) to their core group; Brookfield Knights' artists page shows founder-member Weber still on mandolin, while the band's online bio puts Dylan McCarthy in that spot. Loudon adds:

Please let us know if you would like to grab them for a slot in your programme and if possible, indicate if you have more than one option available in that timeframe to give us some wiggle room when planning sensible routing.

Contact Loudon via the agency website or direct by e-mail.

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29 May 2018

Two Time Polka: details of June gigs

Ray Barron (centre above, with mandolin) of Two Time Polka announces the band's June gigs:

Ireland Bike Fest
Fri. 1st: The Harley Bar, Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, Co. Kerry. Adm. free. Start 9.30 p.m. Tel. 064 6671554

Strawberry Roots Festival
Sat. 2nd: Holohan's Bar, Slaney Place, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. Adm. free. Start 10.30 p.m. Tel: 0539235743

Strings & Things Festival
Sun. 3rd: Main stage (open air), Clashmore, Co. Waterford. Adm. free. Start 7.00 p.m. Tel. 087 4148651

Strawberry Roots Festival
Sun. 3rd: Treacy's Hotel, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. Adm. free. Start 11.00 p.m. Tel. 0539237798

Michael Dwyer Festival
Fri. 8th: Lighthouse Bar, Allihies, Co, Cork. Adm. free. Start 10.00 p.m. Tel. 02773000

Munich, Germany:
Thurs. 14th: Kennedy's Bar, Sendlinger-Tor-Platz 11, 80336 Munich. Adm. free. Start 10.00 p.m.
Fri. 15th: Kilian's Bar, Frauenplatz 11, 80331 Munich. Adm. free. Start 9.00 p.m.

Irish Bayrisch Festival
Sat. 16th: Main stage (open air), Rindermarkt, 80331 Munich. Adm. free. Start 9.00 p.m.
Sun. 17th: Main stage (open air), Rindermarkt, 80331 Munich. Adm. free. Start 3.00 p.m.

Bluegrass and Nashville Dunfanaghy (BAND) Festival
Fri. 22nd: The Shibeen at the Oyster Bar, Main St. Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Adm. free. Start 10.00 p.m. Tel. 074 9136039.
Sat. 23rd: Roonie's Nightclub, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Adm. free. Start 8.00 p.m. Tel. 074 9136101.
Sun. 24th: Molly's Bar, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Start 2.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 074 9100050

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Highlight review in BU for Midnight Skyracer album

In the June issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine (not yet shown on BU's website), Michael K. Brantley gives a Highlight review to Fire, the 'lightning in a bottle' debut album by the UK's 'girl power' band Midnight Skyracer, with Tabitha Agnew of Co. Armagh on banjo - 'super-clean', says the reviewer about her playing, adding that Ron Block offers a hearty endorsement of the album.

Congratulations to Midnight Skyracer! Fire is available from the band's website at £12 (inc. UK P&P) or £14 (worldwide).

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28 May 2018

12th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival - not long now!

Thanks to Uri Kohen, head of the organising team of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, for this announcement:

It is now less than two weeks till the 12th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival in Westport, Co. Mayo. Over the weekend, the Festival was voted as one of the top 25 small festivals in Ireland.

The Festival will start on 8 June at 12.30 at the Creel Café with the fabulous Ben Paley and Tab Hunter and continue for three all-days with over twenty-five concerts, pub gigs, sessions, square dance, kids' show, luthiers showcase, record fair, and much more. Tickets for the main events are selling fast and it is highly recommended to purchase them online in advance of travelling to Westport.

The organising committee want to remind the many people who will travel to Westport to book accommodation in advance, as Westport is going to be very busy over the festival weekend.

Looking forward to see you all in Westport - June 8-10!


The schedule shown above can be downloaded here. It is also available in print, in full colour and headed by the image shown at top.

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27 May 2018

The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 31 May 2018

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

We're back with you on Thursday 31 May. Guests are Mick Brady & Chris Burke; Mick McNally; Lucas & Hennessy. Y'all welcome !
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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.

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For bassists

Thanks to A & R Marketing and GHS Strings for the news that GHS have become the US distributors for Innovation double-bass strings, made in the UK. The strings have a unique non-metallic core, designed to sound like gut strings without the problems or expense of gut.

Innovation intend their strings to suit bassists in all genres: the packaging (above left) mentions orchestral, jazz, rockabilly, psychobilly, and bluegrass music.

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25 May 2018

New Lost City Ramblers - sixty years on

Sixty years ago today (25 May 1958) a thirty-minute session on a radio show was the first public performance by the New Lost City Ramblers (NLCR). It's almost impossible to overstate the importance of this group, both in demonstrating the richness and variety of American rural music, and in bridging the gap between 'folk revival' adherents and the original makers of old-time and early bluegrass music. The Oct. 2003 issue of the Bluegrass Ireland print newsletter reported:

A historic reunion took place in London on 7 June when the legendary New Lost City Ramblers (Mike Seeger, John Cohen, Tom Paley, and Tracey Schwarz, giving both their 'early' (Paley) and 'late' (Schwarz) configurations) played a concert at the Shaw Theatre, Euston Road, NW1, organised by the Institute of United States Studies at the University of London.

The NLCR formed in 1958, performed together for the best part of twenty years, and have been the single most important force in revivifying old-time music, both by their own example and by their work in making traditional performers more widely known. They also did a lot to make bluegrass, cajun, and early western swing known to the folk audience. Their single most radical policy was to base a repertoire on what country people chose to put on record in the 1920s and 1930s, rather than what scholars classified as 'folk music'. They backed this up with mastery of an amazing range of instruments and styles, learned either from the original recordings or from the musicians themselves.

In the often frothy atmosphere of the folk revival, the NLCR therefore stood as a model of vigorous, many-faceted, and humorous authenticity. It was so strong a model that for a time many revival bands copied their eclectic, multi-instrumental sound; but their basic emphasis on what rural musicians actually do eventually produced a new generation of bands with strong individual styles. They have recorded over twenty albums, and been nominated for two Grammy awards.


Goin' to Cade's Cove, a short film about them made in 1968, can be seen on YouTube. To mark their fiftieth anniversary, Yasha Aginsky made the one-hour documentary Always been a rambler, issued on DVD by Arhoolie; a three-minute trailer can be seen here. And in 2010 the University of Illinois Press published Ray Allen's Gone to the country: the New Lost City Ramblers and the folk music revival (328 pages, 24 black & white photos), still available at $95.00 (hardback, unjacketed), $25.00 (paperback), and $22.50 (e-book).

Update: For much more detail, see Richard Thompson's feature on Bluegrass Today.

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24 May 2018

Small Glories (CAN) in Ireland, 6-10 June 2018

A reminder from Tom Stapleton of the BIB post of two weeks ago, with special reference to folk powerhouse pair The Small Glories (CAN) - Cara Luft (clawhammer banjo, guitar) and J.D. Edwards (guitar, harmonica). Their gigs in Ireland, which come at the end of a tour including Germany, the Netherlands, and Britain, are:

Wed. 6th June: Colfer's Pub, Carrig-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford
Thurs. 7th: Coughlan's Bar, Cork city, 9.00 p.m.
Fri. 8th: Cleere's Bar & Theatre, 28 Parliament St., Kilkenny city, 9.30 p.m., €15
Sat. 9th: Leap Castle, Co. Offaly (near Roscrea, Co. Tipperary)
Sun. 10th: Monroe's Tavern, Galway city, 8.30 p.m.

Tom draws attention to the Leap Castle show on 9 June, for which seats can be reserved by phoning or texting 087 2238040. Eight videos are on the Small Glories website.

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News of previous Omagh stars

As announced on the BIB on 10 Aug. last year, Dale Ann Bradley, headliner at the 2017 Bluegrass Music Festival at Omagh, Co. Tyrone, and more than one previous Omagh festival, was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame two weeks ago (11 May 2018). She joins a distinguished company of musicians in bluegrass and other fields who have previously been inducted.
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Mark Schatz has often performed for audiences at Omagh and elsewhere in this island, most recently early this year as bassist in the Greg Blake Band tour (with dancing, 'hambone', and clawhammer banjo thrown in). His wife Eileen Carson was here in 2011 as leader of the magnificent Footworks dance team at that year's Omagh festival. The two of them appear in the photo below.

John Lawless now reports on Bluegrass Today that Eileen has been diagnosed with an aggressive pancreatic cancer, which will mean both large medical expenses and loss of performing income for both of them. Friends have set up a GoFundMe site with a target of $50,000, of which over $21,000 has so far been donated. John Lawless adds:

If you have enjoyed the music and the movement these two have provided over the last 40 years, and are in a position to help, donations can be accepted online. The Schatzes will also be grateful for your prayers and well wishes. Mark can be reached via his web site.

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23 May 2018

A great American tapestry

Diversity was the theme of the Keynote Address* by Rhiannon Giddens at last year's IBMA World of Bluegrass. The theme is further developed in A great American tapestry: the many strands of mountain music, a new film by David Weintraub, presented on DVD by the Center for Cultural Preservation in North Carolina.

Rhiannon Giddens is among the many musicians taking part, along with other members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops; ballad singers Sheila Kay Adams, Joe Penland, Betty Smith, Bobby McMillon, Donna Ray Norton and more; members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee; Appalachian music experts Phil Jamison, Cece Conway, and Doug Orr; and many more.

The seventy-minute film will be shown at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (BCMM) in Bristol, TN/VA, on 30 June, with the director present for questions. A three-minute trailer can be seen on the BCMM website and on YouTube. The DVD is available from the Center for Cultural Preservation for $18.00.

*A twenty-four-and-a-half-minute video of the Keynote Address is on Vimeo.

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22 May 2018

New book on Uncle Dave Macon

Good news continues to come from the University of Illinois Press: Michael D. Doubler's book Dixie Dewdrop: the Uncle Dave Macon story is scheduled to appear in September 2018 in the Press's 'Music in American Life' series.

This should be a significant publication, and not just because of the importance of Uncle Dave as a subject. The author is his great-grandson; is a scholar and historian by profession; and (though Macon died sixty-six years ago) has been able to interview people who knew him, as well as using many primary sources and assessing the numerous stories about him. More details, including an interview with the author and a YouTube video of Uncle Dave's 'Sail away ladies', are given by Richard Thompson on Bluegrass Today.

Dixie Dewdrop: the Uncle Dave Macon story will have 288 pages, thirty-six black & white photos, and two charts, and will appear in paperback at $19.95. Views of a Gibson banjo made for Uncle Dave in 1940 are on pp 162-3 of Bob Carlin's Banjo: an illustrated history (2016).

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21 May 2018

Franklin George - and Alec Somerville

Following the BIB post of 19 May, Alec Somerville (left) writes:

Your blog story re Frank George intrigues me, because I met him at Clifftop twenty or more years ago, but as you know, I don't have a 'thick Irish accent' (yet). I remember a young man, I think his grandson, was Irish dancing in the big building, and Frank George's wife was there as well, and some others. I had heard him from the Cedar Creek Stringband, and so got introduced. The other Cedar Creek veteran I met later was David O'Dell, who played with some of the Bing Brothers and one of the Blizards at a small festival in Donegal since I came to live here. Great musicians, all of 'em...

Alec adds:

I am 'appearing' in concert at the Dalbeattie Acoustic Club, Maxwell Arms, Dalbeattie, Scotland, at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 25th, for any local blog-readers who are wondering what to do Friday evening...

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