27 May 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.


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.
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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Petr Brandejs in Dublin

The BIB editor writes:

It was my bad luck to be away from Dublin last week when Petr Brandejs (CZ) was in town and dropped in on the regular Tuesday Dublin Bluegrass Jam at Sin É on Ormond Quay. A photo from the evening (below) can be seen on Petr's Facebook.

Petr has been for many years one of the leading bluegrass people in Europe: longtime chairman of the Bluegrass Association of the Czech Republic and a mainstay of the European Bluegrass Music Association in its early years; one of the finest banjo-players anywhere, with long experience in leading workshops throughout Europe (he's a certified Wernick Method teacher); leader of his own adventurous Petr Brandejs Band, and also banjoist for the solidly traditional Bluegrass Cwrkot. And there's more. His website can be read in English using Google Translate.

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20 May 2018

Danny McCarthy

Gerry Fitzpatrick sends the sad news that Danny McCarthy, of Mentor Books, Sandyford, Dublin 18, and Kenmare, Co. Kerry, died suddenly on Thursday 18 May. Danny had a long and active history in trad, folk, and other acoustic music circles, which included his organising (together with Gerry and the BIB editor) the weekly sessions in Rosie O'Grady's bar at Harold's Cross, Dublin, in 2005-7.

Danny's body will be at the Larry Massey Funeral Home, Eden Centre, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, on Monday 21 May from 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m., followed by removal on Tuesday morning to the church of St John the Evangelist, Ballinteer, for 9.30 a.m. mass, and burial at Mount Venus cemetery, Rockbrook, Co. Dublin. Details are given here. The BIB extends every sympathy to his family, friends, and colleagues.


19 May 2018

Banjo books from the University of Illinois Press

A letter from George R. Gibson in The Old Time Herald (OTH) mentions that the University of Illinois Press's splendid 'Music in American Life' series will be publishing Banjo roots and branches: West African precursors, African-Caribbean origins, North American journeys later this year. Edited by Robert Winans, who like George R. Gibson is among the ten contributors, the book will have 344 pages, twenty color photos, twenty monochrome photo, and twenty-two music examples, at prices of $99.00 hardback and $32.95 paperback.

OTH also carries a review of another University of Illinois Press publication, this time in its 'Folklore Studies in a Multicultural World' series: Richard Jones-Bamman's Building new banjos for an old-time world, released last October at $95.00 (hardback), $27.95 (paper), and $25.16 (e-book).

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Who met Franklin George?

The BIB editor writes:

The latest issue (vol. 14, no. 9) of The Old Time Herald magazine includes (among many other good things) tributes by its founder Alice Gerrard to Pete Kuykendall and Bobby Patterson, who died a month apart last autumn. She writes: 'If it weren't for Bobby Patterson and Pete Kuykendall this magazine would never have gotten off the ground.'

An intriguing question for readers in Ireland is raised in Kim Johnson's tribute to West Virginia musician William Franklin 'Frank' George (1928-2017), reprinted from Goldenseal, the magazine of WV cultural history. Johnson recalls a meeting at the Clifftop old-time festival some twenty years ago: Frank George and other noted musicians were at lunch, and 'two men with thick Irish accents' sat down nearby, one of whom said: 'I'd love to meet Franklin George', whereupon -

Frank stood up and shook the man's hand. The Irishman, quivering from delight and nearly in tears, said 'I have a picture of you over my mantel in Ireland. I never thought I'd get to meet you in person.' Frank replied with his boyish enthusiasm, 'Well, here I am!'

We hope the two visitors are still around with their memories of this occasion. My own enduring gratitude to Franklin George is that I first heard 'Angeline' on his 1967 Kanawha album; it has been a favourite with me ever since.

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18 May 2018

Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay return to Ireland, 15-24 June 2018

Thanks to Uri Kohen of the Electric Cave Production and Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, who writes:

Last October, we were lucky enough to welcome Texas-based country/folk duo Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay for their first ever Irish tour. The duo played the Bunratty Banjo Festival, Balla Bluegrass Festival, and a number of extra dates around the country.

Based on the success of that tour, the Electric Cave Production and Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival are delighted to announce their next Irish tour. The tour will include nine shows around the Island (north and south).

Brennen & Noel are performing very high-quality country/ folk original songs, and it is a show that shouldn't be missed by any music fans.

Fri. 15th June: American Bar, Belfast
Sat. 16th: Leo's Tavern, Meenaleck, Co. Donegal
Sun. 17th: House concert, Derry
Tues. 19th: Finn's Bar, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary
Wed. 20th: Bridge St., Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Thurs. 21st: The White Horse, Ballincollig, Co. Cork
Fri. 22nd: Levis', Ballydehob, Co. Cork
Sat. 23rd: House concert, Westport, Co. Mayo
Sun. 24th: Campbell's Tavern, Headford, Co. Galway

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Woody Pines (USA) at Naul, Sat. 19 May 2018

Woody Pines have so far played three dates of their current tour in Ireland; tonight they are at the Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow; and the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre at Naul, Co. Dublin, sends word that the last show in the tour will be at the Centre tomorrow night (Sat. 19 May).

As always at the Centre's evening concerts, doors open at 8.00 p.m. and the show starts at 8.30 p.m. Tickets (€18 / €14 in advance; €20 / €16 on the door) can be booked online at the Centre's event web page, where there are more details, ample quotes from enthusiastic reviews, a performance video, and a link to the band's YouTube channel.

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13 May 2018

Cleaning house

The BIB editor writes:

The editorial chair will be under a dust-sheet for the next few days; so please keep sending in news, but after today don't expect it to appear on the BIB till Friday 18 May at the earliest.


12 May 2018

The power of music

The BIB editor reports:

Niall Toner, describing the concert by Molly Tuttle and Rachel Baiman at Kilkenny on Monday, calls it 'a superb example of the power, drive, and pure entertainment value that is to be found in acoustic music performed with passion, love and conviction and outright talent, to a LISTENING audience'. Niall's full account is on his band's Facebook.

Last night (11 May) I was at the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre at Naul, seeing and hearing Brittany and Natalie Haas. I won't try to match Niall's words; but if I should have another musical experience that is anywhere near as good in what remains of 2018, I shall consider myself undeservedly lucky.

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Blue Sky Boys 4-CD set on Patuxent (correction)

Following the BIB post of 3 April on the news of Dick Spottswood's new book on Bill and Earl Bolick, the Blue Sky Boys - Tom Mindte's Patuxent Music record label has released a 4-CD set comprising 128 tracks of radio broadcasts by the Blue Sky Boys during 1939-49, a period of great changes in country music during which the Bolicks held fast to older styles and values.

Dick Spottswood's notes on the Patuxent website include a quote from Dr Ralph Stanley, showing how important the Blue Sky Boys were to him and his brother Carter. The 4-CD set can be bought for $23.50, or as a download for $19.99. The cover photo above shows the brothers with fiddler Curly Parker. More details are in Richard Thompson's feature on Bluegrass Today.

CORRECTION: This post was originally published with the Bluegrass Today feature ascribed to John Lawless. Apologies to its author, Richard Thompson.

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11 May 2018

Old-time music in the Celtic Fringe

Judging by the news blog issued by FOAOTMAD, the UK organisation promoting American old-time music and dance, Cornwall is becoming a hotbed of old-time.

There is an Old Time Music Cornwall website, giving details and links to (among others) the two events mentioned in yesterday's FOAOTMAD blog: the first Ghost Hill American Old Time Picking & Fiddling Weekend (18-20 May) and the Alsia Fest nine weeks later (12-16 July), both in west Cornwall and near the sea.

FOAOTMAD says the latter is 'primarily old time music but with a healthy slice of Americana music on the side'. The Alsia Fest Facebook says: 'We play mainly old time (everything from Skillet Lickers to Holy Modal Rounders). There is also a separate Bluegrass & Americana marquee which is hosted by Flats & Sharps...'

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Americana news from Tom Stapleton

Tom Stapleton, veteran promoter of acoustic music, sends word of two Americana duos who will be in Ireland in the near future in the course of European tours, and playing several of the same venues here. Both acts have plenty of their music on YouTube.

Jon Dee Graham (USA) is the only musician to have been inducted three times into the Austin Music Hall of Fame. Accompanied by his son William Harries Graham on electric guitar, he will be playing these gigs:

Wed. 23rd May: Monroe's Tavern, Galway city
Thurs. 24th: Coughlan's Bar, Cork city
Sat. 26th: Cleere's Bar & Theatre, 28 Parliament St., Kilkenny city, €15
Sun. 27th: Harbour Bar, Bray, Co. Wicklow
Mon. 28th: Whelan's, Wexford St., Dublin 2

Folk powerhouse pair The Small Glories (CAN) comprise Cara Luft (clawhammer banjo, guitar) and J.D. Edwards (guitar, harmonica). Their Irish gigs come at the end of a tour including Germany, the Netherlands, and Britain. Their shows in Ireland 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.

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10 May 2018

Gold Tone sale

Gold Tone Musical Instruments announce a sale, with wholesale pricing on instruments in discontinued lines or having dents or scratches, and reductions on B-list stock and accessories with minor blemishes. This is probably of most direct interest to people in the USA, but if you have friends there it might be possible to get a bargain. Details are here.

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Mother Maybelle

Thanks to Richard Thompson for a reminder that Maybelle Addington Carter ('Mother Maybelle') was born 109 years ago today, near Nickelsville, Scott county, VA. Her influence as a member of the Carter Family, and individually as an innovator on guitar and autoharp, is immeasurable. The BIB will carry more information later this year to mark the anniversary of her death (23 Oct. 1978), and next year on the anniversary of her birth.

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Cairncastle Festival: Bluegrass Evening, Fri. 27 July 2018

Thanks to Adrian Rolston of Cairncastle Ulster Scots for these photos and details of the Bluegrass Evening in this year's Cairncastle Ulster Scots Bluegrass & Folk Cross-Community Festival. The concert will be held on Friday 27 July, beginning at 7.30 p.m., in the Halfway House Hotel, Ballygally, Co. Antrim, about eight miles north of Larne.

Mules & Men (l-r:) Mark Corry, John Denby, Lily Sheehan, Luke Coffey

Mules & Men, based in Dublin, are Mark Corry (double bass, vocals), Luke Coffey (banjo, vocals), John Denby (mandolin, vocals), and Lily Sheehan (guitar, vocals). Bound together by a shared love of folk and bluegrass, Mules & Men have been reinterpreting these classic sounds into a unique and contemporary style of their own, drawing on influences that are wide-ranging. With three-part harmonies, blazing string playing, and inspired original material, this band has been bringing audiences to a standstill all over the country.

The band has more than twenty years of combined bluegrass experience, and has played at all major Irish bluegrass festivals including Omagh, as well as touring France twice. Members of the band have performed as far and wide as China, Canada, Germany, Italy, Holland, and the Czech Republic, and are in demand as teachers for guitar, banjo, and mandolin in Dublin and further afield.

They are in the process of releasing their self-funded debut studio album, Looking sideways, which is due for release in April 2018, and which is comprised entirely of original material. The band is made up of members of other established acts such as the Down and Out Bluegrass Band and the Dublin Bluegrass Collective.

Prairie Jaywalkers: (l-r) Cian Gill, Kevin Gill, Dave Riordan,
Geraldine Gill

The Prairie Jaywalkers, based in Cork, are Geraldine Gill (guitar, vocals), Dave Riordan (mandolin, vocals), Cian Gill (double bass, vocals), and Kevin Gill (dobro, 5-string banjo, vocals). Their main repertoire is a mix of straight-ahead bluegrass in the style of the originators of bluegrass music, such as Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, and the Stanley Brothers, with influences from some of the more contemporary bluegrass bands such as Alison Krauss, the Bluegrass Album Band, and the Seldom Scene.

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09 May 2018

Brittany & Natalie Haas (USA) at Naul, 11 May 2018

Thanks to the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul, Co. Dublin, for the news (just received) that Brittany & Natalie Haas (USA) will be performing there this coming Friday, 11 May, playing music from Appalachian and other traditions on fiddle and cello. As usual for the Centre, doors open at 8.00 p.m. and the show starts at 8.30 p.m. Tickets (€13 / €10 in advance, €15 / €12 at the door) can be booked online through the Centre's website.

They will also be playing over the weekend at the Baltimore Fiddle Fair in Co. Cork, which begins tomorrow (10 May).

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08 May 2018

Red Hat Acoustic Music Club at Naas, 11 May 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 (11 May).

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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Benny Martin, born 8 May 1928

Benjamin Edward 'Benny' Martin, one of the most influential fiddle players of the first generation of bluegrass, was born ninety years ago today, on 8 May 1928, in Sparta, TN, and died in Nashville on 13 Mar. 2001. If you've heard Joost van Es of 4 Wheel Drive playing and singing 'Me and my fiddle' - that was Benny's first recorded composition, released about the time of his first Grand Ole Opry appearance while still in his teens.

An account of Benny Martin's life, written by Gary Reid for the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, is here. His own account of how he came to hear of the death of his friend and rival Calvin Scott 'Scotty' Stoneman appears in Roni Stoneman's book Pressing on.

Benny Martin (left) with Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, and Curly Seckler, c.1952-3 (photo from Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame archives)

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05 May 2018

Traction for the Bühl Bluegrass Festival (updates and correction)

Further to the BIB post of last Monday about the 16th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival next Friday and Saturday (11-12 May) - thanks to our good friend Walter Fuchs for the press photo above, taken to mark the festival launch. Those present include Walter (extreme right) and his son Patrick (second from left, in light blue), the present festival director. The big John Deere tractor represents sponsorship by the Josef Oechsle firm - very appropriate for a bluegrass festival, in view of Larry Sparks's 2002 hit recording of 'John Deere tractor'.

[See Roger Green's much appreciated comment below, correcting the date of the recording.]

The festival's Facebook now has at its head the photo below, showing Peter Rowan backed by our Italian friends Red Wine. Update: see this feature by Richard Thompson on the long connection between Peter Rowan and Red Wine, and their upcoming tour, on Bluegrass Today.

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04 May 2018

For Stanley fans

Anyone who loves the music of Carter and Ralph Stanley is recommended to read Chris Smith's article 'A visit to the Stanley Brothers' birthplace' on Bluegrass Today. You'll know why when you get there.

Chris Smith is guitarist and lead singer with the Ohio band Caney Creek. Although the video section of the band's website is still in the making, there is enough of their music on YouTube to reassure anyone that the Stanley spirit is alive and kicking.


03 May 2018

Gary Ferguson in 'Songwriters in the Round', 15 July 2018

Thanks to singer/ songwriter Gary Gene Ferguson (USA) for news of an addition to the tour dates shown in the BIB post of 24 April. As announced there (and previously) he will be making his twelfth annual tour of Ireland, together with Colin Henry (dobro) and James Henry (banjo) from 5 July to 14 July, after which Colin and James return to Belfast.

Gary reports that he will follow this with a one-off gig in Dublin on Sunday 15 July at Paul Lee's DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, in a 'Songwriters in the Round' evening together with Mary Greene, Hank Wedel, and Roy Thompson. Similar songwriters' evenings have been a familiar feature of Gary's previous tours.

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02 May 2018

JigJam (and other familiar names) on IBMA WOB showcase schedule

The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) announces its official showcase schedule for this year's World of Bluegrass (25-9 Sept.) in Raleigh, NC. The roster of artists playing the showcases can be seen on this e-newsletter, and it includes several names familiar to audiences in Ireland.

Among the US groups who have been here several times - such as the Special Consensus, Cedar Hill, and Jeff Scroggins & Colorado - are Tullamore's* own JigJam (below). Also taking part are the hot UK band Flats & Sharps from Cornwall, who (we believe) were on the same evening concert with JigJam at a past Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.


*Bluegrass Today says they're from Fermoy, Cork, but pay no attention to that. JigJam's own website says plainly that all four members are from Tullamore.

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Bluegrass, newgrass, old-time, and Americana music just published

Thanks to Richard Thompson for drawing our attention to a new book released on 1 May: Bluegrass, newgrass, old-time, and Americana music, written by Craig Harris and published by Pelican Press in the USA.

[This post was first published with the statement (based on the image, shown left, from the publisher's website) that Pete Wernick edited the book. We learn now that this is not the case.]

Craig Harris has followed bluegrass music for fifty years and has written extensively on it and other music for most of that time, and the sixty-three photos in the book were all taken by him as staff photographer at many festivals. The list of musicians he has interviewed is too long to reproduce here; for more details, see Richard's feature on Bluegrass Today, where there is an exhilarating twelve-minute music video about the book (also on YouTube).

This looks like an indispensable complement to Neil Rosenberg's classic history of bluegrass. The Pelican website gives the list price as $24.95 but also offers it at $19.96 (or $16.95 and $13.56 as an e-publication).

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01 May 2018

Darin and Brooke Aldridge (USA) for Omagh 2018

Thanks to the May issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine for the news that Darin and Brooke Aldridge will be in Ireland later this year. They are on the cover of the May BU, with a substantial article on them inside by Ted Lehmann.

Their online tour schedule shows that for their first visit to Ireland they will be performing at the 27th Annual Bluegrass Festival in the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh, Co. Tyrone, on Saturday and Sunday, 1-2 September. The BU feature also mentions trips this year to the Czech Republic and France.

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John Caulfield's recovery: update

In late March the BIB reported that John Caulfield (right), fiddler in Dublin's Sackville String Band in the late 1970s and since resident in the USA, had recently suffered a stroke and needed prolonged convalescence and continued treatment. A GoFundMe scheme was set up by his US friends with a target sum of $10,000, which was raised inside three weeks.

Ingrid Scozzafava, the appeal organiser, now reports that John is making heroic efforts in his recovery; however, as he will be needing more care for a long time, the target has been raised to $25,000, of which about half has been raised in a month. Donations can be made through the GoFundMe website.

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30 April 2018

Two Time Polka: gigs in May and June 2018

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka announces:

Here are our gigs in May:

Kilkenny Roots Festival
Sat. 5th: Left Bank Bar, The Parade, Kilkenny. Start 4.00 p.m. Adm. free.
Sat. 5th: Billy Byrne's Bar, John St., Kilkenny. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free.

Cahersiveen Mountain Roots Festival
Sun. 6th: Ring of Kerry Hotel, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry. Doors 11.00 p.m. Adm. €15

We’re playing a number of festivals in June. Here’s a synopsis:-

Ireland Biker Festival, Killarney, Co. Kerry: Fri. 1st
Enniscorthy Roots Festival, Co. Wexford: Sat. 2nd, Sun. 3rd
Strings & Things Festival, Clashmore, Co. Waterford: Sun. 3rd
Michael Dwyer Festival, Allihies, Co. Cork: Fri. 8th
Irish Bayrisch Festival, Munich, Germany: Weekend starting Wed. 13th
Dunfanaghy BAND Festival, Co. Donegal: Weekend starting Fri. 22nd

Dates, venues, times, etc. for some of these gigs are already available on this link. As soon as details for the others are confirmed we will update the site.

Ray & TTP

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Bluegrass Weekend at Bob's Bar, Durrow, 12-13 May 2018

Thanks to Tony O'Brien for the news that Bobby Campion is presenting a Bluegrass Weekend at Bob's Bar, Durrow, Co. Laois, on Saturday 12 May and Sunday 13 May, featuring two bands: the Prairie Jaywalkers (above) from Cork city on Saturday, and Woodbine (below) from Athy, Co. Kildare, on Sunday. Music begins at 9.00 p.m. on both nights, with an 'Early Bird' pickin' session on Sunday afternoon.
Bob's Bar (below), beside the River Erkina at the north end of Durrow, is also the focal point for rallies of the traditional 'High Nelly' upright bicycles, and anyone interested in local history should visit its unique museum.

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16th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival, 11-12 May 2018

On 16 Dec. 2017 the BIB published details of the 16th International Bühl Bluegrass Festival, which will be held in the city of Bühl, south-west Germany, on the weekend after next. Thanks to Matthias Buschert of the Bühl press office for the latest press release on the Festival and for these images of some of the artists taking part.

Peter Rowan (photo: Amanda Rowan)
Sierra Hull
Heading the bill will be Peter Rowan (USA), backed by one of Ireland's favourite Continental bands, Red Wine (I). Peter Rowan's latest album, Carter Stanley's eyes, was released by Rebel Records ten days ago - see this press release from Rebel.

Also on the Saturday night concert will be Sierra Hull (USA), St Beaufort (D/CAN/USA) - who played two shows in Ireland in October 2016 - and the award-winning Norwegian band Ila Auto.

On the Friday night concert the featured artists are Pert' Near Sandstone (USA; below); and Murder Murder (CAN; bottom), who played several dates in Ireland in May 2016.

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