14 August 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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12 August 2018

Sacred Harp Dublin to celebrate Isaac Watts Day, 24 Nov. 2018

Sacred Harp Dublin will be celebrating Isaac Watts Day with a singing on Saturday 24 November from 14.00 to 17.30, in the Robert Emmet Community Development Centre on Usher St., Dublin 8. Sacred Harp Dublin announce:

Come join us to celebrate 'The Godfather of English Hymnody'. Afterwards we will raise a glass to Isaac in a local hostelry (to be confirmed). All welcome, no experience necessary, and loaner books will be available.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) is credited with writing some 750 hymns. The celebration this year will be on the day before the 270th anniversary of his death.

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11 August 2018

Brothers Parker Bluegrass Band (USA) in Ireland, 24 Aug.-9 Sept. 2018

Thanks to the inexhaustible John Nyhan for these details, poster image, and tour schedule:

The Brothers Parker Bluegrass Band are a five-piece bluegrass band from Montana, USA. They cover classic and contemporary bluegrass, country, and gospel.

The band features John and Billy Parker (hence the name Brothers Parker), Billy on mandolin and vocals and John on bass and vocals. They both have forty years' experience playing bluegrass music.

Isaac Callender, a multi-instrumentalist, will be making his second appearance in Ireland. He previously toured with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, with whom he played bass. With the Brothers Parker he will be on guitar and vocals. He may also showcase on other instruments.

Tyler James, on banjo and vocals, is an award-winning banjo player, winning first place at the Rockygrass Banjo Championship in Colorado, the Arizona State Banjo Championship, and the Huck Finn Bluegrass Festival Banjo Championship.

Louise Steinway, on fiddle and vocals, completes the lineup. She has played for over twenty years with her family band.

AUGUST 2018

Fri. 24th-Sun. 26th: Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival, Dunmore East, Co. Waterford; tel. 087 256 2899
Mon. 27th: Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, 8.15 p.m.; tel. 087 792 1771
Wed. 29th: Merry's Bar and Restaurant (upstairs), Lower Main St., Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, 8.30 p.m.; tel. 087 064 0542
Thurs. 30th: Fleming's Bar, Scartaglen, Co. Kerry, 9.00 p.m.; tel. 087 781 4781
Fri. 31st: Spailpin Fanach Bar (upstairs), 29 South Main St., Cork city, 9.00 p.m.; tel. 087 792 1771

SEPTEMBER 2018

Sat. 1st: E. J. Morrissey's Pub, Dublin St., Carlow town, Co. Carlow, 10.00 p.m.; tel. 086 257 6343
Sun. 2nd: Glen Theatre, Banteer Co. Cork, 8.30 p.m.; tel. 087 792 1771
Mon. 3rd: Steamboat Music Shop, Steamboat Quay, Limerick city, 8.00 p.m.; tel. 086 165 2278
Tues. 4th: Clonmel Folk Club, Town Hall, Parnell St., Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, 8.00 p.m.; tel. 085 850 2289
Wed. 5th: St John's Theatre, The Square, Listowel, Co. Kerry, 8.00 p.m.; tel. 068 22 566
Fri. 7th: The Merry Monk Bar and Restaurant, Kilalla Road, Ballina, Co. Mayo, 9.00 p.m.; tel. 087 255 7188
Sat. 8th: The Beehive Bar, Main St., Ardara, Co. Donegal, 9.00 p.m.; tel. 087 690 0714
Sun. 9th: Mannion's Bar, Balla, Co. Mayo, 9.00 p.m.; tel. 087 229 6018

For further enquiries on any of the above, tel. 087 792 1771 or e-mail.

BIB editor's note: John adds: 'No shortage of bluegrass on the way.'

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IBMA Momentum Award nominations for Midnight Skyracer, Tabitha Agnew

Midnight Skyracer (photo: Allan Wilkinson)

The five-piece all-woman bluegrass band Midnight Skyracer (UK) have been nominated for a Momentum Award in the 29th International Bluegrass Music Awards, and their banjo-player Tabitha Agnew (left) from Co. Armagh has also been nominated in the Instrumentalist section of the Momentum Awards. Full details of the nominations are in this Bluegrass Today feature by John Lawless.

The IBMA says: 'The Momentum Awards are given in recognition of an outstanding year by emerging bluegrass professionals and those who mentor them.' Midnight Skyracer and Tabitha are the only nominees from outside North America. The band's achievements this year include the release of their debut album Fire (given a Highlight review in the June issue of Bluegrass Unlimited) and a tour of Germany in May. The BIB's warm congratulations are added to the pile they've already received (see their Facebook). They are now considering how to get to IBMA's World of Bluegrass next month.

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10 August 2018

Kings of Celtgrass right behind Kings of Chambergrass

We Banjo 3 (above) announce in their latest e-newsletter that their new album Haven 'debuted at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart behind super group Punch Brothers. This is our first time to chart on the bluegrass chart and we're absolutely thrilled with #2.'

We Banjo 3 are now under way in a summer tour of the mid-western USA extending into early September, with three dates in Canada. In October they'll be moving into the western states, and in the first three months of 2019 they'll be all over - the South, West, Mid-West, and East Coast. More details are on the e-newsletter.

The Punch Brothers will be performing at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on Monday 19 November this year.

Punch Brothers: feeling the hot breath of the Celtic Tiger?

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Red Wine at 40: Venite a festeggiare con noi!

Our friends Red Wine (I) will be celebrating forty years of the band's continuous existence with their Tenth Bluegrass Party, to begin at 9.00 p.m. on Saturday 17 November at the Teatro Della Tosse, Piazza Renato Negri 4, 16123 Genova (Genoa), where they'll present their new CD Carolina red (recorded this past February in North Carolina and produced by Jens Kruger), together with guest artists.

A major feature on the band appears on Bluegrass Today in Lee Zimmerman's 'Bluegrass beyond borders' series, based largely on the words of Silvio Ferretti, Red Wine's banjo-player and founder-member. The feature includes a video (also on YouTube) of Red Wine singing 'Some day you will', written by the late Liz Meyer, with Martino Coppo playing his Giacomel mandola and Silvio playing clawhammer banjo.

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09 August 2018

The Often Herd come first at La Roche

The contemporary bluegrass band The Often Herd, based in Newcastle (UK), previously performed under the name 'The Kentucky Cow Tippers', and in June 2015 this configuration toured Ireland, playing at venues including the Red Room in Cookstown, the Cowboys and Heroes Festival in Drumcora, and the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.

Last autumn, after they had reformed as the Often Herd (Rupert Hughes, guitar, vocals; Evan Davies, mandolin, vocals; Niles Krieger, fiddle, vocals; Sam Quintana, bass), the BIB published news of the Kickstarter campaign they launched to fund their debut EP. That was successful, and the latest step in their progress came last weekend when they came first of eight contestants in the prestigious European Bluegrass Band competition at the La Roche Bluegrass Festival on the edge of the French Alps.

Second and third in the contest were Red Herring (NL) (with Loes van Schaijk, author of a splendid book about bluegrass in the Netherlands, on bass) and The Fretworkers (NOR). A feature by John Lawless on Bluegrass Today includes a photo of the presentation, which is also on the European Bluegrass Music Association Facebook.

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08 August 2018

Demolition String Band (USA) in Ireland, 23 Aug.-2 Sept. 2018

Thanks to Uri Kohen for this news of the latest tour presented by the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival:

Elena Skye and Boo Reiners, better known as the Demolition String Band (NY, USA), return to Ireland for the fifth time. The duo will play a string of gigs over the last weekend of August, including a number of performances at the Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival and the Omagh Bluegrass Festival, where they will be joined by Irish bass player Sammy Rohan (better known for playing with Hickory Wind).

Fuelled by a shared passion for classic country, rock ‘n roll, bluegrass, and mountain music, singer/ songwriter/mandolinist Elena Skye and multi-instrumentalist Boo Reiners have led their NYC-based Demolition String Band for almost two decades, marking their journey with numerous albums and countless miles on the road in the USA and Europe.

Their Woody Guthrie song collaboration 'Go Coney Island, roll on the sand' (words by Woody Guthrie, music by Elena Skye) was featured on the 2014 Grammy-nominated My name is New York: Ramblin’ around Woody Guthrie’s town, which featured song collaborations with Billy Bragg, Wilco, and Del McCoury.

The full tour dates, as shown in the image below, are:

Thurs. 23rd: Matt Molloy's, Bridge St., Westport, Co. Mayo
Fri. 24th: Moy River B&B, Sligo, Co. Sligo
Sat. 25th: 24th Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival, Co. Waterford
Sun. 26th: 24th Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival, Co. Waterford
Mon. 27th: The Sky and the Ground, 112 South Main St., Wexford town, 8.00 p.m.
Tues. 28th: Finn's Bar, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary
Wed. 29th: Bridge Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Thurs. 30th: Matt Molloy's, Bridge St., Westport, Co. Mayo
Fri. 31st: 27th Annual Bluegrass Music Festival, Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, Omagh, Co. Tyrone
Sat. 1st Sept.: 27th Annual Bluegrass Music Festival, Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, Omagh, Co. Tyrone
Sun. 2nd: 27th Annual Bluegrass Music Festival, Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, Omagh, Co. Tyrone

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07 August 2018

Cup O' Joe on 'Hame'

Congratulations to Cup O' Joe (Ben, Reuben, and Tabitha Agnew) on their appearance in tonight's issue of the BBC2 TV series 'Hame', concentrating on Scottish and Ulster Scots traditions in the Markethill and Hamiltonsbawn districts of Co. Atmagh.

In between features on the revival of Scottish country dancing, the Lambeg drum, and the Markethill Fiddle Orchestra, Cup O' Joe played 'Billy in the low ground' and 'A land where we'll never grow old', and were interviewed on the common ground of Ulster and American traditions by Mark Thomson, who drew attention to their growing place on the international bluegrass scene.

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Banjo history from the Bitter Southerner

The BIB editor writes:

The Bitter Southerner online magazine (now five* years old) has just published 'So you think you know the banjo?', an article by Jenna Strucko designed to correct misconceptions about the origins of the banjo and its music, and their relationship to the image of the South.

The article is based on interviews with the members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops (below: photo by Whitney Neal), all of whom came to the band from different backgrounds. There are plenty of audio links giving the musicians' views in their own voices. Strucko writes: 'In all honesty, this project may have affected me more deeply than any other I've had the chance to work on. [...] I felt more aware and challenged than ever, but also exhilarated and inspired.'

Worth reading? Yes! Our only quibble comes near the beginning, where it's alleged that Taylor Swift 'has unapologetically traded in her five-string'. All the images we've seen of her with a 'banjo' show what looks like a 6-string Deering banjo-guitar, played with a plectrum. But no hard feelings - the last words of the article are 'the banjo is the friendliest of all instruments'.

*'Three' appeared erroneously when this post was first published, owing to misreading on our part.

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06 August 2018

Belfast Bluegrass Session, 7 Aug. 2018


As tomorrow is the first Tuesday of the month, the monthly Belfast Bluegrass Session will be held as usual upstairs at the Errigle Inn, 312-320 Ormeau Rd, Belfast BT7 2GE, from 9.00 p.m.

At the time of writing, there is no apprehension of interference from the broadcasting of major sports events (cf. last month).

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05 August 2018

Traditional bluegrass releases from the Mother Country

The Po' Ramblin' Boys from North Carolina, who, we hope, will be touring Ireland next year, have just released their first single for Rounder Records, and the song is 'Next train south', recorded by Dub Crouch, Norman Ford, & the Bluegrass Rounders in 1974. You can hear the Boys' new recording on Friday's feature by John Lawless.

(Robert 'Dub' Crouch died at the beginning of last year: see this obituary on Bluegrass Today by C.J. Lewandowski, the Po' Ramblin' Boys' mandolinist.)
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Lorraine Jordan, who appeared with the Garrett Newton Band at last year's Ardara festival, is releasing a CD, True grass, with her own band and some very special guests. A video for the release party, with the title song as sound track, is on a Bluegrass Today feature, and also on YouTube.
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And if you need still more of bluegrass the way it sounded in the '50s and '60s, go to the young Nashville-based band High Fidelity (also on Facebook), who released their 14-track Rebel album Hills and home on Friday last. A video of one track, 'The hills of home', can be seen on YouTube; more details are on the Rebel press release.

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02 August 2018

Darin and Brooke Aldridge and the memory of 9/11

More news on Bluegrass Today of Darin and Brooke Aldridge (USA), who are headliners at this year's 27th Annual Bluegrass Festival in the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh, Co. Tyrone, on Saturday and Sunday, 1-2 September. The BT feature, by David Morris, describes their experiences at the Pennsylvania chapel commemorating one episode in the events of 11 September 2001, and includes a video of Brooke singing 'Sacred Lamb' to Darin's guitar accompaniment.

Longtime Omagh attenders will remember the shock of 9/11, coming directly after that year's Omagh festival, and the anxiety and confusion that hindered American performers in returning home.

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BBN: the new issue

The BIB editor writes:

The latest issue (no. 84, summer 2018) of British Bluegrass News, the journal of the British Bluegrass Music Association (BBMA), has just reached me and (as always) it combines high production values, loads of information, and well-balanced content. The cover alone would brighten anyone's day! There are several features on artists who've played in Ireland recently - G-runs 'n Roses (CZ), Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, and the Price Sisters - and a substantial festival report ends with praise for the Hot Rock Pilgrims, who shared the concert stage with G-runs 'n Roses at Westport in June.

BBN has plenty of news from the Mother Country: the cover feature is an interview with Rhonda Vincent by Chris A. Courogen, fully as good as you'd find in Bluegrass Unlimited or on Bluegrass Today; the series on Virginia luthiers concludes with Wayne Henderson; a travel journal chronicles a trip to IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2017; and many of the excellent reviews are of US records. Brian Dowdell has this to say of the latest album from the Special Consensus (who'll be here early in 2019):

This is one of the finest from Greg Cahill and Special Consensus. Every concert of theirs that I attend I think I don't need another of their albums, but every concert I buy one!

That being said, BBN is a model for any journal of a national bluegrass association. The BBMA has a team of a doxen officers and twenty-nine area representatives, including Sharon Loughrin for Northern Ireland.

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An atmosphere full of spirit

Thanks to Ronnie Norton for permission to use this photo, taken at the concert given last Sunday (29 July) by Raymond McLain, the Price Sisters, and the Woodsheep at the Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery on James St., Dublin - an impressive venue. Ronnie's photo, showing the ensemble playing in the choir loft, has already appeared on the Price Sisters' Facebook, where there are now other photos taken by the Woodsheep. This one shows how high the musicians were above the audience; though for the concert finale they came down so that everyone could join in a moving 'Will the circle be unbroken'.

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01 August 2018

I Draw Slow in Whelan's Trad & Folk Festival 2018

Dublin's I Draw Slow (who played a sold-out last concert of their summer US tour last Sunday in Colorado) are scheduled to play at Whelan's of Wexford St., Dublin 2, on this coming Saturday (4 Aug.) as part of Whelan's Trad & Folk Festival 2018, which will last four days in all (2-5 Aug.); all events are free. Over twenty acts on three stages will be appearing, some of which have yet to be announced; so keep an eye on the Whelan's website.

I Draw Slow's return from Colorado to Dublin will be broken in La Roche-sur-Foron, France, where they will be performing tomorrow (2 Aug.), the second day of the great free-admission La Roche Bluegrass Festival.

In two weeks' time (17-19 Aug.) Whelan's will be holding this year's Dublin Blues, Roots, & Brass Festival, in which Mules & Men will be taking part.

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31 July 2018

High Country hits the half-century

(L-r) Jim Mintun, Butch Waller, Larry Cohea, Bob Waller,
Glenn Dauphin, Tom Bekeny

John Lawless announces on Bluegrass Today that in the coming month the supreme hard-core California band High Country, led by mandolinist Butch Waller, will notch up fifty years of music since the band was founded. Bluegrass fans in this island will want to raise an appropriate glass: High Country took part in the early years of the Athy festival (1991, 1993), and last played at Athy in 2008. Time for another visit?

A writer in Bluegrass Unlimited magazine is quoted: '...One of the lonesomest, hard-drivingest traditional bluegrass bands alive... High Country manages to be fresh and exciting without even the merest nod to modern music.' No exaggeration. 'Montana cowboy' has been one of the BIB editor's favourites since High Country sang it at Athy in 1991, when Sunset on the prairie was their latest album. Their more recent recordings can be seen and ordered here.

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30 July 2018

Bluegrass in the Park: Phantompickers at Marlay Park, 4 Aug. 2018

The Phantompickers at Marlay Park, 2017: (l-r) T.J. Screene, Grainne 
Quinlan, Conor Daly, Léo Guillot (F), Patrick Simpson, Aran Sheehan

Thanks to Patrick Simpson for this news from the Dublin bluegrass community:

There will be 'Bluegrass in the Park' this Saturday (4 Aug. 2018) in Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin, with our band the Phantompickers. We are performing as part of the CoCo Markets 'Summer of Music' from 2.00 to 3.30 p.m. The event has been posted on the DLR events website with a band description, and more information can be found on the Bluestack Mountain Boys page on FaceBook. We're hoping that the rain will hold off to give us a chance to play our material, as it is a beautiful location and we are looking forward to picking a few classics and beyond. Hope y'all can make it.

For more information or bookings, contact Patrick Simpson: tel. (+353 87 6622362) or e-mail.

The photo above shows the band and its audience in the refreshments area of the market in 2017. The lineup for 2018 is the same, except for Léo Guillot (from France) and Conor Daly; so the Phantompickers this year will be a five-piece with Stephen Wright on banjo.

And this recent photo shows T.J., Aran, Patrick, and Conor with Greg Blake and Jeff Scroggins after the successful tour in July by Jeff Scroggins & Colorado (USA).

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Historic mandolin for sale

This Bluegrass Today feature by John Lawless on Banjo Ben's General Store in Washburn, Missouri, shows how the store offers instruments, accessories, and instruction. Ben Clark, Robbie Boone, and Jake Stogdill emphasise (in the accompanying video) that they don't sell anything they would not want to own themselves.

While one of the store's main aims is to help people who are new to playing, the present stock includes the custom F-style 'Gibson' mandolin (see photo) made for Dean Webb of the Dillards, who died exactly a month ago today (see the BIB for 5 July). This historic instrument is offered for $4,995 with hard shell case.

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Two Time Polka: gigs in August

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka announces:

Here are our gigs for the next few weeks.

Spraoi Festival, Waterford city
Sat. 4th: Bailey's, New St. Open air. Start 4.30-6.00 p.m. Adm. free.
Sat. 4th: Tully's Bar, O'Connell St. Start 11.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 051 301639
Sun. 5th: The Three Shippes, William St, Start 10.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 051 843178

Clonmel Busking Festival, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
Fri. 10th: Mitchell St. Open air. Start 2.00-2.45 p.m. Adm. free.
Fri. 10th: Moran's Bar, Parnell St. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 052 6122294

7 Hills Blues Festival, Armagh city
Sat. 11th: Charlemont Arms Hotel, Upper English St. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 0044 283752 2028
Sun. 12th: Armagh City Hotel, Friary St. Start 9.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 0044 283751 8888

Sun. 26th: The Haven Hotel, Dock Rd., Dunmore East, Co. Waterford. Start 6.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 051 383150

The next mail will include our September gigs at the Omagh Bluegrass Festival, Co. Tyrone, Dunfanaghy Blues & Jazz Festival, Co. Donegal, and Che Do Bheatha Festival, Kilkee, Co. Clare. We will also be sharing the bill with De Danann at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Little Island, Cork. This is a fundraiser in aid of the IMNDA.

Regards,
Ray & TTP

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28 July 2018

California Feetwarmers - catch them while you can

The BIB has already recommended the California Feetwarmers (USA) - their sound, though strictly jazz, should appeal to many BIB readers. Since 8 July the Feetwarmers have played eleven dates here in eleven days, then five dates in Britain, including the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, and returned to Ireland this week. Most of their dates over here are part of the north-west's Earagail Arts Festival. Alec Somerville, who saw them in Ballybofey, writes:

Pauline and I just got home from a concert by them - two and a half hours of solid New Orleans and Chicago Jazz. They were short of their clarinet player for some reason, but still did 'High society' and the cornet player did the Alphonse Picou clarinet solo (obligato) on his cornet - which was startling, but very good. The rhythm section of sousaphone, drums, guitar, and (plectrum) banjo was just a solid platform for the interwoven melodies and harmonies of cornet and trombone. They know their stuff, from Jelly Roll Morton to Kid Ory to Louis Armstrong, and 'strutted it'. The audience, at Balleybofey's Balor Theatre, was 'sold out', and no wonder...

Their remaining dates here, both in Donegal, are:

Sat. 28th (tonight): Teach Hiudai Beag, Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore, Co. Donegal), 11.00 p.m., €10
Sun. 29th: The Mountain Stage, Arranmore Island, 10.00 p.m. (part of Swell Festival)

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This Is How We Fly at Dun Laoghaire, 15 Nov. 2018

Nic Gareiss

The Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire (which has previously presented the Special Consensus and Chris Jones & the Night Drivers) announces that on Thursday 15 Nov. 2018 it will present a 75-minute show by This Is How We Fly (IRL/USA/SE). The group consists of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (fiddle, hardanger d’amour), Seán Mac Erlaine (clarinets, live electronics), Nic Gareiss (percussive dance), and Petter Berndalen (percussion).

Nic Gareiss is a superlative dancer in Appalachian and other traditions - see his duet with Bruce Molsky on the tune 'Jeff Sturgeon'. The music of This Is How We Fly puts his dancing in a very different context. See the Pavilion's website for more details, a performance video, and online booking.

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27 July 2018

Wookalily to tour Britain, 28 July-5 Aug.. 2018

Wookalily announce their eight-day tour in Britain, beginning tomorrow (28 July) and ranging from north Yorkshire to south London and from Soho to south Wales. Full details are on their website, and you can also follow the tour on social media (#wookasontour2018).

Wookalily will be playing some of their classics from their folk/ bluegrass-inspired debut album, All the waiting while, and also promoting their soon-to-be-released somewhat darker second album, Everything is normal… Except the little things inside my head.

'The all-female band, four Irish and one Welsh, make a glorious noise guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a skip in your step.' (Midge Ure)

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MerleFest assessed

On 18 Apr. 2017 the BIB drew its readers' attention to the online magazine The Bitter Southerner, which is dedicated to combatting both the negative preconceptions outside the South and the negative realities within it - and making a lot of good things known at the same time.

One of the latest articles to appear on it is 'The real reason MerleFest matters', by Lee Zimmerman, a frequent contributor to Bluegrass Today. In fact, it covers a wide range of reasons why the festival matters; read more and find out.

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26 July 2018

Pete Goble, R.I.P.; Europe recognised in IBMA award

Thanks to Richard Thompson for drawing attention to two news items on Bluegrass Today, beginning with the sad news of the death of Pete Goble yesterday at the age of 86. John Lawless writes: 'Excluding Bill Monroe, Carter Stanley, and Flatt & Scruggs, it is unlikely that anyone has contributed as many songs to the bluegrass canon as Pete.' At the age of 80, by his own account, he had written over 700 songs, and was writing more (and better) than ever before. Listen to his 'When I'm knee deep in bluegrass', an indirect tribute to Bill Monroe - and keep listening when the music stops.

[Update 28 July: see also this feature by David Morris, including funeral arrangements.]

In the second item John Lawless reports the nominees for this year's IBMA awards, inductees into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and recipients of Distinguished Achievement Awards (Pete Goble received one in 2002). Among the latter it's a pleasure to see the name of a leading figure on the European bluegrass scene: Christopher Howard-Williams, co-founder and organiser of the outstanding La Roche Bluegrass Festival, held since 2006 at La Roche-sur-Foron, on the edge of the French Alps.

The photo below, taken by Carol Hawkins, shows a historic event in 2009 on the La Roche main stage: the public reconciliation of the two main European bluegrass organisations. (L-r) the mayor of La Roche, M. Thabuis (in Western outfit to present awards); Christopher Howard-Williams, in cap; Dennis Schut of the European World of Bluegrass Association (EWOBA); and Angelika Torrie, treasurer of the European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA).

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Kentucky and Ohio come to Dublin, 29 July 2018

The Price Sisters, Lauren and Leanna (see the BIB for two days ago), are keeping busy while in Ireland. Yesterday their free matinee concert in the Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena with Raymond McLain and Kentucky Center for Traditional Music (KCTM) students was followed by a session in the Adair Arms Hotel at 8.30 p.m.; today the ensemble are giving a free evening concert at the Braid.

And thanks to Ronnie Norton for the news that the ensemble - Raymond McLain, the Price Sisters, and the Woodsheep, four KCTM students - will be giving the Summer Choral Concert of the Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery, 121-2 James St., Dublin, at 5.30 p.m. on Sunday 29 July. As in Ballymena, the performance will be free but ticketed; tickets can be booked here. There will be a raffle in aid of St Vincent de Paul, The Liberties, Dublin; and the Distillery's 'Summer cocktail' will be available at the bar. Full details of the artists and the event are on the Distillery's website.

PS: After the Highlight review for the Price Sisters' album in the latest issue of Bluegrass Unlimited, mandolin maestro Mike Compton has commented 'Very nice review in BU, ladies. Well deserved' on their Facebook.

NB: Thanks to Eilis Boland for pointing out that our careless 'Adare House Hotel' was not the correct name.

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25 July 2018

The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 26 July 2018

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

A few last-minute changes to guests. In addition to Aine Holland we look forward to welcoming Finbar O'Brien and Terrie Grey.
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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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A new old-time band: Dublin's Atlantic Stringband

The Atlantic Stringband at the Grand Social: (l-r) T.J., 
Conor, Patrick, Cáolan, Ryan

Thanks to T.J. Screene, co-organiser of Bluegrass Camp Ireland, for the exciting news that five young Dublin pickers (including T.J.) have just formed a traditional old-time string band - the Atlantic Stringband, with its own Facebook page.

They played their first gig together at McNeill's of Capel St. (a video of them playing 'Greasy coat' is on McNeill's Facebook), followed that with others including the Dublin Goes Country event ten days ago, and are already receiving inquiries for gigs and festivals. The Grand Social's live video of the Atlantic Stringband performing during 'Dublin Goes Country' can also be seen on the band's Facebook.

For bookings and more information, contact the band by mobile (087 2477487) or e-mail.

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'Mean Mary' (USA) in Ireland, mid Aug. 2018

A reminder from Geraint and Deb Jones of GPromo PR 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 less than three weeks with her new album Blazing, released 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. A full bio is here.

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

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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24 July 2018

Bluegrass fiddle and mandolin workshops in Co. Antrim, 30 July-3 Aug. 2018

Thanks to Stan Hair for this news and the flyer image (left):

My wife, Heidi Carson-Hair, is holding Bluegrass Fiddle and Mandolin Workshops in the North Coast at White Park Bay Bothy, Co. Antrim, next week.

Heidi completed a course with Mark O'Connor and will be sharing the O'Connor Method during these sessions. She is one of only four O’Connor Method approved teachers on the island of Ireland.

As shown on the flyer image, workshops are held from 4.00 to 5.30 p.m. each day from Mon. 30 July to Fri. 3 Aug., at £60 for the week or £15 per session. Registration forms must be filled out beforehand and can be picked up from the Bothy. Phone Heidi Carson-Hair at 07739026811 for further details.

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Ardara: a great weekend

Thanks once again to Des Butler for this report and photos on the 11th Ardara Bluegrass Festival, held in Ardara, Co. Donegal, last weekend (20-22 July):

I've just had my first experience of the Ardara Bluegrass Festival and I realise what I've been missing for the last ten years by way of some great bluegrass music.The Friday night concert opened with Janet, Colin, and James Henry [below] delivering some of their own material as Janet was launching her new album at the festival - and what sweet sounds they were making! The emotional resonance of these songs lingers.

They were followed by the McLain Family who delivered what I would describe as pure unadulterated bluegrass mountain music, straight out of the Appalachians. I could listen to this band all night. These performances took place in Pat McGill's upstairs lounge in the Beehive.

The Saturday afternoon jam in the Beehive [above] was a sight and sound to behold. I counted fourteen musicians at one stage all playing in harmony tirelessly for the entire afternoon with all the old bluegrass classics getting an airing. This was augmented from time to time by one local guy who had one of the best country 'cheatin' song' voices to be heard, and sang to his own guitar accompaniment.

The Saturday night concert in the Nesbitt Arms Hotel opened to the gentle sounds of a couple from the Czech Republic [Pe & Pe, above]. This was followed by the band Mules & Men [below], the genre of whose music I find hard to define; it sounded to me a cross between bluegrass and Americana, but it must be said it was most interesting and enjoyable with some fine musicianship being displayed.

There followed a further helping from the McLain Family. This band just blew me away, as did the next one on stage i.e. Jeff Scroggins & Colorado [both below].


Listening to both of these bands in succession I felt that it doesn't get much better than this. The Saturday night audience were treated to four solid hours of some fantastic music followed by another jam session in the hotel which I left at 3.10 in the morning and it was still going strong.

Sunday saw another jam [above] starting at 12.00 noon and continuing for the entire afternoon. The Sunday concert was hosted by Tony O'Brien of Woodbine and Athy Festival fame in the Beehive lounge, who with Liam Wright invited a host of musicians on stage to give a great performance [below]. The formalities continued with a one-hour performance by Jeff Scroggins & Colorado to close the official festival. But this wasn't the real closure, as the ubiquitous jamming session took place downstairs afterwards in the bar and went on into the early hours.



All kudos and thanks for this great weekend of bluegrass goes to Pat McGill of the Beehive Bar for organising the festival and to John Nyhan for organising and supplying some of the best bluegrass bands ever to grace this country.

On a personal note I want to give John Nyhan a big 'thank you' as I would have missed the festival only for him. When he heard I would not be attending the festival as I could not secure accommodation, due to my own tardiness in not seeking same in good time, John came back to me within an hour with a room secured for me, which turned out to be very comfortable indeed. Many thanks, John; I owe you one.

BIB editor's note: As the McLains announced during the Saturday concert, John Nyhan's actions on their behalf went far beyond what would be expected from the average tour promoter. The scene here in Ireland owes a great deal to John and his boundless energy and resourcefulness.

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The Price Sisters in Ireland (update)

The Price Sisters (right of centre) with the Mayor of Mid and East
Antrim, Councillor Lindsay Millar (centre, seated)

The BIB reported two days ago on the two free concerts that will be given at The Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, tomorrow and Thursday, by Raymond McLain with students of his from the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music in Morehead, KY, and the Price Sisters - whose motto on their website is 'Traditional Bluegrass music inspired by Bill Monroe'.

The Price Sisters, unfortunately, don't seem to be scheduled for any other formal dates in Ireland, but as their Facebook reveals, they haven't been idle since flying into Dublin. The photo below shows them at the Crosskeys Inn (est. 1654) in Co. Antrim.

A video shows them playing 'Road to Columbus' with Brendan Hendry and Jonathan Toman, among others; and the latest post (at the time of this writing) on their Facebook speaks of a master class at the Braid tonight.

Update 25 July: In the August edition of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, the Price Sisters' album A heart never knows receives a Highlight Review from David J. McCarty. The review is not yet on BU's website, but look out for it.

Further update: The review can now be read online here.

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