30 July 2016

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog: alive as ever

Although the editor 'retired' from bluegrass blogging over three years ago, the Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) is as alive as ever, keeps its calendar updated, publishes news received, and is adding new features: since the beginning of 2016 the right-hand column 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'. Send in news by e-mail.

Thinking of touring in Ireland? Have a look at the BIB's THINKING OF TOURING IN IRELAND? page. Click on the 'Welcome' label below for more about the BIB's background and purpose and how to use it.


29 July 2016

Good times at Ballygally

We're delighted to learn that the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Folk Festival Bluegrass Evening last night (28 July) at the Halfway House Hotel, Ballygally, near Larne, Co. Antrim, appears to have been a great success for all concerned. The bands taking part were the Bluestack Mountain Boys (aka Dublin Bluegrass Collective), the Watery Hill Boys from Drogheda, and east Ulster's own Down and Out Bluegrass Band. For one of the most positive reports we've seen on a bluegrass event by a participating band, see this account on the Dublin Bluegrass Collective Facebook; from another source, we learn that it was a standing-room-only night.

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28 July 2016

The DBC in full swing!

Following yesterday's news from Patrick Simpson about the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Folk Festival Bluegrass Evening tonight in Ballygally, Co. Antrim, thanks to Aran Sheehan (second from right above) for the news that the Dublin Bluegrass Collective are playing the following dates, with more to be added:

Thurs. 28th July: Cairncastle Bluegrass Evening. Halfway House Hotel, Ballygally, from 7.30 p.m., entry £10. Bands for the night are the Bluestack Mountain Boys (aka the Dublin Bluegrass Collective), the Down and Out Bluegrass Band, and the Watery Hill Boys.

Sat. 30th: The Wiley Fox (formerly the Pint) on Eden Quay, Dublin, are having a special musical weekend, with a lovely craft beer involved! The Dublin Bluegrass Collective and Huegrass are doing a bluegrassy Saturday night gig, with an inter-band jam finale, doors are at 8.00 p.m. and entry on all nights is totally free of charge. Bru will be launching a brand new test batch for the first time. Spot prizes and Bru goodies will be up for grabs! [see poster image below]

Sat. 6th Aug.: 10th Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival, Headfort School, Kells, Co. Meath (same place as the recent Bluegrass Camp Ireland). Between and after films, there will be fine food, wine, and of course the Dublin Bluegrass Collective.

Sat. 13th: In Whelans, Dublin 2, from 7.00 to 9.00 p.m. at the Blues, Roots, & Brass Festival [see the BIB for 22 July]. Loads of great bands playing this event like Pine Marten, Niall Toner Jr., and many more. Free entry to this event too.

Thurs. 25th-Sun. 28th: Yet to be confirmed, as we are still in discussion with a couple of different events that weekend; so will update you when we have decided which one it is that we are going to play! It's a choice between two festivals or one city centre event. You know who you are, so if you are reading this, please help us make our minds up, cheers.

Then don't forget - every Tuesday in Sin É, Ormond Quay, Dublin, we host (now in our fifth year) an open bluegrass session that welcomes bluegrass musicians and listeners from all over the world to join us. Music usually gets started around 9.00 p.m. and it's totally free.

We will update you when we can confirm 100% some other dates and events that we are still in discussion with; however, in the mean time if anyone wishes to contact us, you can call Aran Sheehan on 085-7110826, or e-mail, or get through to us on Facebook, where we have a couple of videos, photos, and generally update as we go along, what is happening anyway.

The past couple of weeks have been very busy, with the honour of playing with We Banjo 3, as part of the Secret Sessions from Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale; Knockanstockan Festival, where we played about fifteen hours over the weekend around the site acoustically, rather than a 40-minute stage slot; and the Web Summit end-of-year party, which was an amazing sunny early-evening garden party with full pig on the spit, with bucking bronco and countless other fun things going on. I've gone on long enough now, but this does give you all a bit of an idea of what we are up to these days.

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Pieces of Bill Monroe's life - for sale

With the twentieth anniversary of the death of the Father of Bluegrass only six weeks away, we learn that a four-day sale of about a thousand items from the estate of Bill Monroe begins today in Gallatin, TN. Bluegrass Today reports that 'items to be offered for sale and at auction include musical instruments, clothing, mementos, photos, awards, pieces of furniture, and some audio equipment.' Photos of all items appear on the estate agent's website.


Anna & Elizabeth in Castlebar, 25 Aug. 2016

Thanks to the FOAOTMAD news blog, which announces this week a tour of the UK, Norway, and Ireland by Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt (USA). The tour began on Tuesday this week in Anglesey, and comprises twenty dates including the big folk festivals at Cambridge and Sidmouth. According to their online tour schedule, the very last show in the tour - and the only one in Ireland - will be on Thursday 25 August at 8.00 p.m. in the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo. On returning to the US, they will be touring with Uncle Earl.

We can't do better than quote a previous FOAOTMAD release:

Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt are two young women from rural Virginia, steeped in traditional Appalachian culture. Elizabeth is a superb singer with a rich powerful mountain voice, she excels at ballads as well as lighter songs. Hear 'Pretty Saro'.

Since 2010 she has been working creatively with singer/ instrumentalist Anna. They engage themselves and their audience with traditional art in all the forms it can take: songs, storytelling, fiddle, banjo, guitar, ballads, puppets, poetry, and moving scrolls called 'crankies'.

The photo above shows them behind one of the 'crankies'. Plenty of their work can be found on YouTube, and we advise checking their website and Facebook as well.

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27 July 2016

Jim Rooney to receive IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award

John Lawless has just published on Bluegrass Today a list of the nominees for this year's International Bluegrass Music Awards. Many of the names are well known to bluegrass fans in Ireland from performances here: 'Fireball', from the latest CD by the Special Consensus (who will be here early next year), is nominated for Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year, while Band of Rukhs (headliners at this year's Omagh festival) are nominated for the Emerging Artist award.

A specially significant award for Ireland, though, is the Distinguished Achievement Award that will be given to Jim Rooney (photo above). Jim's career in music has been too full and varied to begin describing here; we'll just mention that he was at the first Athy Bluegrass Music Festival in 1991 as a member of the New Blue Velvet Band, produced the first CD by the Lee Valley String Band, and has toured Ireland in recent years with Mick Daly and Artie McGlynn.

Jim's autobiography, In it for the long run: a musical odyssey, was published in 2014 by the University of Illinois Press. Read the blog on his website for memoirs of such friends as Bill Keith, Jean Ritchie, or Tex Logan - or if you want to see a photo of Pete Seeger at the age of two.

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Dublin Bluegrass Collective at Cairncastle Ulster Scots Bluegrass Evening, 28 July 2016

Thanks to Patrick Simpson (above, extreme left) for this news:

Just a short note to let you know that the Blue Stack Mountain Boys a.k.a Dublin Bluegrass Collective are playing the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Bluegrass Evening on Thursday 28 July at the Halfway House Hotel, Ballygally, Co. Antrim, at 8.00 p.m. Should be a great gig!

Also if you could mention on the Blog that our regular Tuesday night jam session in Sin É Bar, Dublin, is continuing to flourish with up to a dozen musicians each week including members of bands the New Breadwinners, Well Enough Alone, Navá, and Fresh Start. It is an open session and we welcome new musicians and bluegrass enthusiasts to come join us.

BIB editor's note: Also playing at the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Bluegrass Evening are the Watery Hill Boys from Drogheda and the Down and Out Bluegrass Band from east Ulster.

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Betse & Clarke (USA): tour schedule and new CD

The BIB announced three weeks ago that a full schedule for the coming visit by Betse & Clarke (USA) would be published as soon as possible. The new duo combines the exuberant old-time fiddling and singing of Betse Ellis (formerly of The Wilders) with Clarke Wyatt's precise, thoughtful three-finger-style banjo playing. Their new fifteen-track album, River still rise, is now available. The Banjo Cafe considers it to be

... one of the very finest releases of 2016, and one that should be a part of every music lover’s collection. A stunning collection that forces old-time music to take a fresh look at where it's been and where it's headed.

It can be sampled on cdbaby, and more detail is on the 'New music' section of their website. Their schedule, as it stands at present, is:

Fri. 26th-Sat. 27th Aug.: 22nd Guiness International Bluegrass Festival, Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
Wed. 31st: Bronte Music Club, Rathfriland, Co. Down

Thurs. 1st-Sun. 4th Sept.: 25th Bluegrass Music Festival, Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone
Thurs. 8th: Belfast American Folk and Roots Club, Black Box Green Room, Hill St., Belfast
Fri. 9th: Beehive Bar, Ardara, Co. Donegal
Sat. 10th: Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, Naul, Co. Dublin

Sixteen videos of their music can be seen and heard on YouTube and Facebook, and some are also on the website.

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26 July 2016


The BIB editor writes:

Thanks to everyone for their concern and good wishes over my recently being 'in hospital'. I'm almost ashamed to reveal that the episode was very undramatic. If I'd been at the Ardara festival (15-17 July), neither I nor anyone else would have thought anything was particularly amiss.

However, on 14 July I had an appointment at the hospital for a heart checkup, and would have been out the same day except that it was discovered that a completely different part of the body needed treatment. That began at once, and I ended up staying in hospital, in comfort, being treated very well, and reading Lew Stern's new biography of Dwight Diller of West Virginia, and Tim Newby's book Bluegrass in Baltimore.

Since then, I've felt a lot livelier than I have for months - though I was, and am, very sorry at missing Ardara. The banjos are getting a lot of attention, and I'm looking forward to being back with Woodbine for the Bunratty and Balla festivals, if not sooner.

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22 July 2016

Two Time Polka: new CD, new gigs

Thanks to Ray Barron of Two Time Polka for this news:

Just to let you know we've finished our new CD, New road. It's available at our gigs. Also available from the following shops: Music Zone, Douglas, Cork; Custys Music, Ennis, Co. Clare; and on line from both outlets, www.musiczone.ie and www.custysmusic.com.

If you wish you can also contact me directly.

Here are our gigs for the next few weeks.

Spraoi Festival, Waterford city
Fri. July 29th: The Tower Hotel, The Mall, Start 10.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 051 870129
Sat. 30th: The Three Shippes, William St. Start 10.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 051 843178

Clonmel Busking Festival
Sat. 6th Aug.: The Eldon Bar, Dillon St., Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Start 10.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 052 6122961

Fri. 19th: Ballydehob Summer Festival, Ballydehob, Co. Cork. Open air. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free.

Canal Quarter Festival
Sun. 21st: Hugh Lynch's Bar, Kilbride St., Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Start 8.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 087 2505422

The next mail will include details of our gigs in September at Omagh Bluegrass Festival; Sandinos Bar, Derry; Dunfanaghy Jazz & Blues Festival, Donegal; Coughlan's Live Music Festival, Cork; and Che do Bheatha Festival, Kilkee, Co. Clare.

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Lands End Dunmore East bound!

Lands End at the 2012 Didmarton Bluegrass Festival (UK)

Thanks to Karen Cheevers of B2B Communications for this press release on a welcome addition to the lineup for this year's 22nd Guinness International Bluegrass Festival:

Lands End, a group of young talented musicians with origins in five countries, return to the coastal village of Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, for the 22nd International Bluegrass Festival, which takes place from 25 to 28 August.

The band was formed in 2012, when its members met at the Sore Fingers bluegrass workshop in Oxfordshire and got together for a one-off show. However, the impact they made dictated that they couldn’t possibly stop there and have been gigging throughout Ireland, the UK, and the US ever since.

Whilst their music is strongly embedded in the bluegrass tradition, each member brings a distinctive sound of their own to the musical arrangements of the band. Playing a mix of original material alongside bluegrass standards and the odd hint of Celtic and Baltic tastes, Lands End proved hugely popular at the Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival when they debuted in 2012.

Mick Daly, Festival organiser, is delighted to welcome the band back to the festival this year. 'Lands End made a great impression when the played the festival in 2012. Their sound appeals to both young and old, they gel well on stage, have a great energy and presence, and are hugely talented musicians in their own right.'

'Even though the members are relatively young, they are a real success story on the bluegrass landscape. They got together for a one-off gig four years ago, but the reaction to their sound was so positive they stayed together and have grown in popularity with a string of concerts throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe.'

Richie Foley of Lands End is looking forward to returning to Dunmore East later in the summer. 'Dunmore East is a fantastic weekend of bluegrass in Ireland. People come just to hear good music. We've made some great friends there and really looking forward to being back in August.'

Lands End will play a number of free gigs throughout Dunmore East on 26, 27, and 28 August. They will be in good company, performing alongside acts such as Betse & Clarke, Cup O’ Joe, the Mons Wheeler Band, Rackhouse Pilfer, and many more which will play free gigs at the Strand Inn, the Three Sisters, the Spinnaker, Powers Bar, and Azzurro.

Grammy nominees Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley will play two ticketed gigs at the Marquee at the Lighthouse Bistro, Dunmore East, on 27 and 28 August.

For more information about the 22nd Guinness International Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival in Co. Waterford, visit www.discoverdunmore.com. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Tickets for Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley are available on www.ticketmaster.ie.

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Kentucky band in Dublin on 12, 13 Aug. 2016

Thanks to Michael Freeman for the news that the 2nd Blues, Roots, & Brass Festival, to be held in Whelan's on Camden St., Dublin 2, on the weekend 12-14 Aug. 2016, will feature the Bluegrass Collective. No, not the Dublin Bluegrass Collective - the band (above) is from Lexington, KY, and consists of Brandon Bowlds (banjo), Dove Gevedon (guitar), Roddy Puckett (bass), Danny Williams (mandolin), and Don Rogers (fiddle).

They are scheduled to play on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 August; on both days Pine Marten are also on the bill, and on Saturday Niall Toner Jr will be playing too, among the many artists taking part in this completely free event. At present we have no information of any other performances by the Bluegrass Collective in Ireland. BIB readers can judge their music from the three audio tracks and a video on ReverbNation.

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21 July 2016

Bluegrass on the Walls, Derry city, 6-7 Aug. 2016

Many thanks to Frank Galligan for this welcome news:

I'm delighted to be back organising the 'Bluegrass on the Walls' in Derry. Hopefully, next year, if the budget then permits, we'll have the pleasure of the company of more of the great bands who graced the city for many years at the inception and subsequent years of the original festival.

That being said, there's a great lineup who will play on the Walls on Saturday afternoon, 6 August, and in the Foyleside Shopping Centre on the afternoon of Sunday 7 August. The bands are:

Tennessee Hennessees (Armagh)
Cool Hand String Band (Omagh)
Cup O' Joe (Armagh)
Erdini (Donegal)
The Swilly Blue Boys (Donegal) (Des Crerand, leader)

BIB editor's note: Frank, the original organiser of 'Bluegrass on the Walls', is - among his many other talents and interests - the doyen of bluegrass MCs in this island.

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Ricky Skaggs - and more - at Kilkenny Arts Festival

Thanks to Paul McEvoy for the news that Ricky Skaggs is scheduled to give a ninety-minute concert entitled 'Those ancient airs' at St Canice's cathedral, Kilkenny city, starting at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 10 August 2016, as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival (5-14 Aug.). At present the Skaggs website shows no other appearances scheduled in Ireland. The Festival website says:

For this one-off collaboration Skaggs is joined by a wealth of leading American and Irish musicians (including Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill, David Power, Cleek Schrey, Liz Knowles, Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill) to explore the connections between Skaggs’s Appalachian roots and traditional Irish music. Blending Skaggs’s soulful country voice and unrivalled mastery of the mandolin with the haunting sounds of fiddle and uilleann pipes, 'Those ancient airs' offers a rich celebration of the global influence of traditional Irish music.

We hope there'll be a little room for American music in there somewhere. Tickets (€33/€30/€27, depending on the seating zone) can be booked on the event web page.

The Festival programme also includes Virginia fiddler Cleek Schrey, who'll be playing a sixty-minute set on Monday 8 Aug. at 10.30 p.m. in the Rothe House, Kilkenny (tickets €16/€14), and Loudon Wainwright III, who'll play three 'Surviving twin' concerts at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny, on Friday 12 Aug. (7.30 p.m.), Sat. 13 Aug. (7.30 p.m.), and Sun. 14 Aug. (3.00 p.m.).

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Foghorn Stringband: back in Ireland, 17-28 Aug. 2016!

Thanks to Nadine Landry, bass player and singer with the Foghorn Stringband of Portland, OR, for the news that the Foghorns are excited to be coming to Ireland for the second time this summer. The BIB has no doubt at all that their many friends and fans here are just as excited. This is not only the premier band playing old-time music today, but a band that seems capable of playing (as at Westport last month) for a solid weekend, whether they're scheduled to do so or not.

Nadine sends a list of the dates they'll be playing next month, in two forms: a poster (above) that appears on the Foghorns' website, and this schedule:

Wed. 17th: Riverside Cafe, Skibbereen, Co. Cork
Sat. 20th: The Cobblestone, 77 King St. North, Smithfield, Dublin 7
Sun. 21st: Ballyholme Yacht Club, Bangor, Co. Down
Mon. 22nd: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
Tues. 23rd: Matt Molloy's, Bridge St., Westport, Co. Mayo
Fri. 26th: Five Glens Arts Festival, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim
Sun. 28th: 22nd Guinness International Bluegrass Festival, Dunmore East, Co. Waterford

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20 July 2016

A Doolin reminder

Thanks to Raquel Noboa of the Hotel Doolin at Doolin, Co. Clare, for a reminder of the 4th Doolin Craft Beer and Roots Festival (Friday 26 Aug.-Sunday 28 Aug.), which we first mentioned ten days ago.

The full lineup of live music over the three days is on the Festival home page, and stage times are shown here. Most directly interesting to BIB readers are I Draw Slow, the Whileaways, and the Tom Portman Trio (multi-instrumentalist Tom also plays dobro with Gone to Grass). For more details, see the Festival website and the BIB post of 10 July.

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19 July 2016

Paddy Kiernan at the Cabin Sessions, Dundrum, 28 July 2016

Gerry Fitzpatrick, organiser of the Cabin Sessions series, 'Acoustic Music at its Finest', announces the Session for Thursday next week (28 July):

We'll be back on Thursday 28th with a great lineup of guests: Paddy Kiernan (banjo), Mick McNally (accordion/Cajun), David Burke (contemporary), Tom Horan (country). Hope you can make it along; we're taking a break in August so next session will be September. Enjoy the summer!

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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18 July 2016

News from Jeff Scroggins & Colorado

Everyone who saw or heard Jeff Scroggins & Colorado in Ireland at the beginning of this year will be glad to learn from Bluegrass Today that they have a new single out, 'Sometimes dig for taters', which can be heard via a link on the Bluegrass Today feature. The dynamic band has the same personnel as on the tour, with powerful lead singing by Greg Blake.

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13 July 2016

First Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree - a great success

Last weekend's Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree surpassed all expectations. Neil O'Rahilly writes:

Just had to write a 'thank you' to Woodbine and all in Athy for the great weekend Bluegrass Jamboree and the great concert on Saturday night with outstanding performances from both Woodbine and the Hamilton County Ramblers. As always, the welcome Joan and I get in Athy is truly humbling.

And thanks to Des Butler for this report on the weekend, and his photos:

It's great to know that bluegrass music is still alive and well at its oldest festival venue in this country, and that while the 'Athy in July' Bluegrass Festival might have ended in 2015, it has morphed into a 'Bluegrass Jamboree' that delivered a great two days and nights of solid bluegrass music entertainment last weekend - all down to Tony O'Brien and his family keeping a great show on the road.

The opening performance, by two highly talented teenagers, Evan and Amy Lyons, demonstrates that bluegrass music's future here is assured, with both giving excellent performances with cover versions of some bluegrass classics, and both of whom also contributed greatly to the jam session after the show on the Friday night.

Friday late jam: Amy Lyons, Liam Wright, Evan Lyons, P.J. Power

Friday late jam: pickers include Dessie Crerand (fiddle), Tony O'Brien (guitar)

Amy Lyons (foreground)
The Chanders Family (Robert and two sons) contributed greatly with some excellent folk ballads, culminating with Robert doing two Valerie Smith covers that he is able to interpret so well. Woodbine followed with a performance that I personally consider to be one of their finest, all members playing out of their skin, ably assisted with the exceptional fiddle playing of Martin Cooney on the Friday night and Dessie Crerand on Saturday night.

Early Saturday afternoon in Pat Dunne's (the bar was packed by the end of the session)

The Hamilton County Ramblers lay down their powerful sound

Saturday afternoon saw solid entertainment for all comers with a jam session in Pat Dunne's Bar with no less than thirteen musicians, all playing in unison, by close of session. Saturday night had 'top of the bill' The Hamilton Country Ramblers from Tennessee bringing the full-to-capacity house down with some hard-driving bluegrass. Long may the Athy Bluegrass Jamboree continue.

Finally, from Tony O'Brien himself (whose birthday fell on the second day of the Jamboree):

Just to say Woodbine are delighted with the support for our first Jamboree. It was a fantastic success all round and we look forward to making it an annual event.

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BU: half a century of building bluegrass

With the current issue, Bluegrass Unlimited magazine celebrates fifty years of continuous publication. In the lead feature, Derek Halsey compiles the responses of twenty-six leading figures in bluegrass (including Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, and Rhonda Vincent), all explaining how important BU has been to the music and to them personally.

Other features include a detailed look back at the very first issue; the no. 1 hit songs that BU has listed every month since the beginning of 1990; and an account by Richard D. Smith (biographer of Bill Monroe) of why the first album from the rock supergroup Cream did a great deal to put BU on a firm foundation.

And of course there's a message from the Father of the Mother of Bluegrass Magazines, Pete Kuykendall himself. Not to mention the CD reviews, nine of which can be read on the website.


12 July 2016

9th Annual Ardara Bluegrass Festival, 15-17 July 2016

Thanks to Tony O'Brien for passing on this news from Pat McGill of the Beehive Bar, Ardara, Co. Donegal, organiser of the annual Ardara Bluegrass Festival:

Ardara Bluegrass Festival this weekend (15-17 July) featuring the Hamilton County Ramblers (USA), Woodbine, Janet Holmes & Colin Henry, plus many guest pickers.

Friday night: Monster pickin' session in the Beehive Bar.

Saturday concert: Nesbitt Arms Hotel - Janet & Colin and the Hamilton County Ramblers.

Sunday: 'Live in the Hive' concert, upstairs in the Beehive Bar with Woodbine and the Hamilton County Ramblers.

NB: There will be sessions in the Beehive on Saturday afternoon and after the main concert. The Beehive, on the main street in central Ardara, serves as the festival club and has hosted many memorable sessions in its bar, yard, and upstairs function room.

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11 July 2016

Tom Nechville: an hour on video

Early last year, thanks to Bluegrass Today, the BIB was able to pass on news of a series of unmissable video interviews with Butch Robins (27 Jan., 14 Feb. 2015), Sammy Shelor (20 Mar. 2015), and Jens Kruger (3 June 2015). These were recorded by Bud Bennett of Radford University, VA, for his Appalachian Music and Culture blog.

On Friday last (8 July) Bluegrass Today reported that Bud Bennett has now added an hour's footage of the most innovative banjo maker of the present day, Tom Nechville (photo), designer of the revolutionary Heli-Mount banjo pot system and much more. For an overview of his extensive range of acoustic and electric banjos, bridges, armrests, and other equally well conceived and engineered accessories, see the Nechville Musical Products website. The video can be seen here, and a little of Tom's philosophy can be read here.

Nechville Musical Products
9700 Humboldt Ave. South, Bloomington, MN 55431
Office +1 952-888-9710; mobile +1 612-275-6602

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10 July 2016

First Bluegrass Camp Ireland, 22-4 July 2016

Headfort School, Kells, Co. Meath

On 9 May this year, the BIB first carried news of the first Bluegrass Camp Ireland, organised by T.J. Screene and Simon Humphries. Following the news last Monday that a course by Niall Toner on songwriting will also be available, Simon and T.J. issue their latest release:

We would like to introduce you to the first ever Bluegrass Camp in Ireland, which will take place this summer from July 22nd to 24th in Headfort School, Kells, Co. Meath. These Camps are popular all over the world, in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Spain, France, Holland, Belgium, and the UK. We aim to make Ireland's one of the best.

Bluegrass music evolved from the rich mix of different nationalities in the Appalachian mountain regions of the US. It has strong tinges of Irish, Scottish, and English traditional and folk music, mixed with some blues and gospel. It really emerged in the 1940s as a separate entity from these influences, with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys.

It is a residential weekend for acoustic musicians of all levels, from beginners to professional-level players. In-depth tuition on banjo, fiddle, mandolin, double bass, guitar, and vocals will be provided by world-class bluegrass performing artists from the US, UK and Ireland. The tuition provides a wonderful opportunity for musicians to learn, and grow in confidence performing at sessions with world class players. There will be hosted jam sessions to help guide novice musicians.

Headfort school provides accommodation for up to 80 people. You can either book full board that includes tuition, food, and accommodation for €380, or tuition only for €280. In addition to food, there will be a snack bar, decent coffee, and a bar available.

You can get more details and book on www.bluegrass.ie. It's going to be a lot of fun. Come and join us.

Bluegrass Camp Ireland is also on Facebook.

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Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, 21-3 Oct. 2016

The E-5 Band: (l-r) Emily Cantrell, Al Cantrell, Al Goll,
Holly Tashian, Barry Tashian

Thanks to Brendan Walsh of the Sixmilebridge Folk Club in Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, for this initial press release for the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, which will be held in Bunratty village, Co. Clare, on the weekend 21-3 October 2016.

2016 is the year that this fledging bluegrass festival develops wings and competes on the national bluegrass events calendar. With an international lineup that features Barry & Holly Tashian and the E5 Bluegrass Band from the US, the Demolition String Band (US), and Monogram from the Czech Republic, you can expect the best of concerts.

Cup O’ Joe, a young family trio from Armagh who are making a name for themselves on the international stage, will also feature in the concerts, along with Irish bluegrass veterans Woodbine and another family bluegrass band, Greenshine, from Cork.

Legendary pickers and session motivators John Nyhan and the Kellehers will further enhance the Cork connections. Add to the mix the local bluegrass supporters Leo Hayes and Bill Forster, along with visiting musicians, and you have the makings of a top-quality bluegrass festival.

With Friday, Saturday, and Sunday concerts priced at €15 and over twenty free pub sessions, you’ll be spoilt for choice without breaking the bank. Weekend concert tickets are available at €30 from Brendan at 086 8464509; please text to book.

Once again the Bunratty Folk Park will take centre stage on Sunday 23 October. There will be eight scheduled one-hour performances by most of the bands taking part in the festival. A great way to walk off the excesses of Saturday night, while still enjoying the best of bluegrass!

Sixmilebridge Folk Club, who promote the festival, will be catering for those who are interested in where all this bluegrass started, so there’s two Irish trad sessions thrown in for good measure. Full program will be posted on the Sixmilebridge Folk Club website ASAP; for inquiries in the meantime, e-mail the Club.

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Doolin Craft Beer and Roots Festival, 26-8 Aug. 2016

Thanks to Raquel Noboa of the Hotel Doolin at Doolin, Co. Clare, for news of the 4th Doolin Craft Beer and Roots Festival, to be held six weeks from now (Friday 26 Aug.-Sunday 28 Aug.). The Festival is the largest event of its kind outside Dublin, with a marquee on the grounds of Hotel Doolin as its HQ. Over fifty different beers from micro-breweries in Ireland will be featured this year, including Dooliner Beer, an Irish red ale brewed for the hotel by the Clare craft brewery Western Herd.

Donal Minihane, the festival organiser, points out that craft brewing has grown threefold since 2011; microbreweries are increasing in size and number; and the industry is seen as having the potential to grow to 10 per cent of the overall beer market in Ireland. 'Our festival is an ideal opportunity for these businesses to showcase their products in one of the most scenic and fun settings in the entire country, a setting too that is renowned for its rich musical heritage.'

Live music will be provided over the three days by 'an eclectic mix of bluegrass and roots music', with the full lineup shown on the Festival home page and stage times shown here. Most directly interesting to BIB readers are I Draw Slow, the Whileaways, and the Tom Portman Trio (multi-instrumentalist Tom also plays dobro with Gone to Grass).

Day tickets are €10-€15, and a weekend ticket €25, available from www.tickets.ie. The Festival (also on Facebook) is announced as 'ideally timed for people who want one last blast of fun before they head into the dark evenings of the late autumn and winter'. The BIB has to point out that for bluegrass enthusiasts there is yet another chance of a blast of their kind of fun, and without even leaving the Banner County - look out for our coming post on the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival (21-3 Oct. 2016).

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