22 August 2014

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog: still alive

Although the editor officially retired from bluegrass blogging on 15 February 2013, the Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) is still alive. Its calendar is kept updated, and occasional news is posted. Send in news for the calendar by e-mail, and please add a copy to Ray O'Brien, whose 'Bluegrass in Ireland' Facebook page is now the most interactive medium on bluegrass in Ireland.

The resources already on the BIB, including archives and links, remain accessible and may be improved for the convenience of readers. The BIB's background and purpose are explained here, and tips on using it are here. To reach both, click on the 'Welcome' label below.


Irish Steel Guitar Festival in Dublin, 18-19 Oct.

Thanks to Roger Ryan of the Country Music Association of Ireland for information on this year's Irish Steel Guitar Festival, which will take place on the weekend 18-19 October at the Green Isle Hotel, Newlands Cross, Dublin 22, and will feature Buck Reid (USA; photo) as the headliner, together with many other leading players from these islands and the Continent. Dobroists are included! More details, including directions and assistance for booking rooms at the Green Isle Hotel, can be found on the Irish Steel Guitar Association website.

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21 August 2014

Programme for 6th Balla Bluegrass Festival, 24-7 Oct. 2014

Thanks to Tom Lyons (second from right in this fine photo of the Rocky Top String Band at this year's Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival) for news of the 6th Balla Bluegrass Festival in Balla, Co. Mayo, coming two months from now, on the bank holiday weekend in late October. The venues are Mannions and the Olde Woods on Balla's main street.

Fri. 24th: Tall Pines String Band, Mannions, 8.00 p.m.; Down and Out Bluegrass Band, the Olde Woods, 10.30 p.m.

Sat. 25th: Hickory Wind, the Olde Woods, 8.00 p.m.; Tim Rogers & the Clew Bay Critters, Mannions, 10.30 p.m.

Sun. 26th: Band TBA in Mannion's, 3.00 p.m.; John Nyhan String Band, Mannions, 8.00 p.m.; the Bread Winners, the Olde Woods, 10.30 p.m.

Mon. 27th: Colonel Bullshot Rides Again, Mannions, 7.00 p.m.

Tom adds: 'As usual we will have a raffle over the weekend for a guitar.' More info from Chris Mannion (094 9365093) or Tom Lyons (087 2296018; 094 9365200; e-mail).

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Cabin Sessions in Dundrum, Dublin, 28 Aug. 2014

Gerry Fitzpatrick announces the next show in the Cabin Sessions series, 'Acoustic Music at its Finest', at Uncle Tom's Cabin in south Dublin (not far from Dundrum Luas station in the city direction):

The August edition of the Cabin Sessions will take place next week on Thursday 28th. In addition to the Cabin Crew - Spats (gtr), Con (bs), Gerry (dob), Cathy (fdl), Christian (hca) - our special guests will be Gary Fitzpatrick (alt.folk), Melina Malone (contemporary), and Nik Hennessy (folk/country). 9.30-11.30 p.m., adm. FREE. Hope to see you there!

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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20 August 2014

Photos from Mohill Festival

Ray O'Brien announces that eight photos taken by Des Butler at the Mohill Bluegrass Festival (8-10 Aug.), and showing participating bands on stage, in the bar, and in the 'jam marquee', can now be seen on Ray's Bluegrass in Ireland Facebook page. Plenty of positive comments about the weekend are also on the Festival's own Facebook page.

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19 August 2014

British Bluegrass News

The BIB editor reports:

The August 2014 issue of British Bluegrass News, the quarterly journal of the British Bluegrass Music Association, has just reached us, and as usual it's produced and edited to high standards and packed with good things - several of which have an Irish connection. The main features are interviews with Dolly Parton (with strong emphasis on the place of bluegrass in her life and work); British bluegrass pioneer Tom Travis (on the scene in England in the 1960s); and Bruce Molsky.

The Irish connections come in a feature on Dublin's Paddy Kiernan; a half-page letter from Christy Clements (also of Dublin) on the experience of Sore Fingers Week; and the latest article in an advisory series by master fiddler Ivor Ottley. This one is on playing in jams, with some essential tips on jam etiquette (e.g: 'above all, play less, look and listen more'). Ivor illustrates some points from his experiences in learning East Clare fiddle style some years ago.

Oh yes - and among the full-page colour ads for the Gower, Didmarton, and Moniaive festivals and the Shackleton banjo (a further Irish connection there), there's one for the Sons of Navarone, an award-winning Belgian band who've made a place for themselves on the circuit in Britain and would go down well over here too. And their banjo-player was born in Dublin...

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18 August 2014

More from Brookfield Knights

Another in the endless line of critically acclaimed new acoustic string bands that the States are producing and Brookfield Knights are bringing over: Betty and the Boy from Eugene, Oregon, are due to be in these islands for the whole of September 2015. Betty and the Boy (website and Facebook) consist of Josh Harvey (mandolin, banjo, harmonica, vocals), Bettreena Jaeger (guitar, vocals), Jon Conlon (upright bass), Michelle Whitlock (violin), and Nanci McDonald (cello).

They identify themselves as 'folk/minimalist/acoustic'; others use such words as 'folk/classical' and 'baroque pop'. There's no discernible link to bluegrass or old-time here, but many videos of them are on YouTube and two audio samples are on the Brookfield Knights web page for event organisers and venue owners who are looking for this kind of band.

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Ricky Skaggs in 'Masters of Tradition' festival, Bantry, 20 Aug. 2014

Thanks to Des Butler for the news that fourteen-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs is taking part in the Masters of Tradition festival held this week in Bantry, west Co. Cork. The festival extends from Wednesday 20 August to Sunday 24 August, and Ricky will be joined by fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill at the opening concert at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday in the Maritime Hotel. Tickets were €45; we say 'were', because the concert is now shown as sold out. As Des remarks, it seems a pity that this is the only show by Ricky Skaggs in Ireland on this trip.

Also on the Bantry programme is Virginia fiddler and flatfoot dancer Cleek Schrey, who is listed as appearing on the Wednesday concert with the Brock McGuire Band, and also on Friday 22nd with Iarla O Lionaird and Ivan Goff.

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17 August 2014

Open for bookings in Ireland, 3-8 Aug. 2015

Following on from the BIB post of 8 August, Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency reports that Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellies (USA) are already booked for four UK festivals in 2015.

The confirmed dates for their tour in these islands next summer include one in Belfast on Sunday 9 August 2015, and Loudon would like to be able to put together a full week of dates for them in Ireland, beginning on the previous Monday, 3 August. Promoters and event organisers should contact the agency by e-mail.

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Programme for Dunmore East

Thanks to Mick Daly for issuing (and Ray O'Brien for forwarding) the places, times, and other details of all shows at the coming weekend's 20th Guinness International Bluegrass Festival at Dunmore East, Co. Waterford - a powerful lineup headed by the Boxcar Preachers (USA) on a return visit to Dunmore East, supported by plenty of talent from this island. The brochure, in pdf format, can also be downloaded here.

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16 August 2014

Old-time music at the Glenside, 20 Aug. 2014

The 'Three Rock Mountain String Ensemble' on the open mic stage at Omagh, Sat. 1 Sept. 2012 (photo: Des Butler)

The BIB editor announces:

For anyone who's been to the weekly Old Time Music Dublin session at the Thomas House next Monday and still needs a hair of the dog 48 hours later - Cathal Cusack (guitar), Tim Hawkins (fiddle), and Richard Hawkins (banjo) will be playing upstairs at the Glenside, Landscape Road, Churchtown, Dublin 14, on Wednesday 20 August from about 8.30 to 10.30 p.m. We plan to do likewise on the third Wednesday of every month.

NB: (1) This is not a performance or gig (the photo above shows one of our rare public appearances). We've always enjoyed playing this music informally in private. Thanks to the Glenside, we can now play it (equally informally) where others who like old-time music can hear it if they wish.

(2) This is not an open jam. We'll be working through the titles on the following lists, usually by playing e.g. all the D tunes, then all the G tunes, etc.; not all will get played in any one evening! Pickers who know any of the tunes may like to try fitting in on them. From time to time tunes may be added to the lists - or dropped.

D tunes
Angeline the baker
Duck River
Ducks on the millpond
Over the waterfall
Polly put the kettle on
Soldier’s joy
Swannanoa waltz
Western country/ Old Susanannah

G tunes
Cotton-eyed Joe (Rayna Gellert version)
Flat Woods
Fly around my pretty little miss
Indian nation
Lazy John
Sail away ladies
Squirrel Hunters
Tombigbee waltz
Turkey in the straw

A tunes
Bill Cheatham
Billy Wilson
Buffalo gals
McLeod's reel
My own house (waltz)
Rabbit, where's your mammy (2 pt)
Sandy boys
Pretty little gal (Illinois tune)
Sugar in the gourd
Wolves a-howling

'A modal' tunes
Betsy Likens
Cold frosty morning
Kitchen girl
Santa Anna's retreat
Shady Grove

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15 August 2014

EBMA to receive IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award

On 13 August the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) announced the names of nominees for this year's Bluegrass Music Awards, and also the names of those who will receive Distinguished Achievement Awards. The five names in the latter list include Bill Keith, Deering Banjos - and the European Bluegrass Music Association.

The BIB congratulates the EBMA on this honour. IBMA Distinguished Achievement Awards are made for 'significant contributions to bluegrass music' and to those who have 'proven to be forerunners in their particular field of endeavor, and/or fostered bluegrass music's image with developments that will broaden the music's recognition and accessibility'.

The full list, with citations, can be seen here. The awards will be presented at a Special Awards luncheon at IBMA's World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC, on Thursday 2 October (the main IBMA awards show comes later that day). Present to receive the EBMA's award will be several of its board members - Angelika Torrie (CH), Rienk Janssen (NL), Christopher Howard-Williams (F), Chris Keenan (IRL), and Martino Coppo (I).

Two very minor points about the IBMA's press release: the EBMA was founded in 2001, not 1995 (the date of its predecessor, the European Bluegrass Network); and the citation for Bill Keith may not quite do justice to the man second only to Earl Scruggs as most influential 5-string banjo player of the late twentieth century. We also hope that it may be possible for Paolo Dettwiler (CH) - chairman of the EBMA 2001-8, and for years also the International representative on the IBMA board - to be at the award presentation, as without him there would probably be no EBMA.

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13 August 2014

NTB on RTÉ - and on stage in Carlow, 6 Sept. 2014

The NTB in Reception at the RTÉ Radio Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin 4: (l-r) Johnny Gleeson, Richie Foley, Niall Toner, Dick Gladney

Thanks to Niall Toner, who sends this news:

I am delighted to announce that RTÉ will be recording the Niall Toner Band gig at the Milford Room in the Seven Oaks Hotel in Carlow on Saturday 6 September, for broadcast as part of the 'In concert' series on Sunday nights on RTÉ Radio 1. Tickets are available in advance from Reception at the Seven Oaks Hotel.

We were guests yesterday on the Sean O'Rourke show on Radio 1 with Killan Shanley, and the reaction has been very good. We sang 'Bling' and played 'Burren backstep'.

Also, this week sees the release of 'Million dollar bill' [see the BIB for 10 July] to all radio and TV stations as the first single from Onwards and upwards. Anyone wishing to assist can now request the song from their local radio station. (Yes, they all have it!)

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Prison Love at the festivals, 16-30 Aug. 2014

Mark 'Marko' O'Mahony sends this news:

Howdy Folks,

Prison Love’s run of summer festivals continues this weekend from East Coast to West, capped off with the Electric Picnic at the end of the month… Catch us if you can!

Jack of Diamonds Rhythm & Roots Festival
Three days of free music this weekend with a great lineup of the country’s finest roots bands. See their facebook page for the lineup….
Date: Saturday 16 Aug.
Time: Prison Love start at midnight (five bands on from 9.00 p.m. to 3.00 a.m.)
Venue: The Button Factory, Dublin 1
Cost: Free

Fleadh Cheoil 2014
Delighted to get our first invite to the Fleadh Cheoil – the madness has been going all week in Sligo and we’ll be there to finish it off on Sunday….
Date: Sunday 17 Aug.
Time: 9.00 p.m.
Venue: The Velvet Room, Garden Stage, Sligo town
Cost: Free

Electric Picnic
The Big One, folks – catch us on Friday at the Salty Dog Stage, and Saturday for breakfast at the Trailer Park…
Date: Friday 29 Aug., 9.15 p.m. The Salty Dog
Saturday 30 Aug., 1.00 p.m. The Trailer Park (with the Larkfield Four)

Be good!

Marko, Prison Love

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Down and Out Bluegrass Band to make their Dunmore debut

Following on from the BIB post of 16 July, thanks again to Karen Cheever of B2B Communications for the news that one of the finest - and busiest - bands on the Irish bluegrass scene, the Down and Out Bluegrass Band (above), will this year make their first appearance at Ireland’s largest free bluegrass festival - the 20th Guinness International Bluegrass Festival (21-24 Aug.) at Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, where they will be playing at a total of six venues during the event. Festival organiser Mick Daly considers it a coup to secure the band for the twentieth year of bluegrass in Dunmore East:

The Down and Out Bluegrass band is a great group of talented musicians and have built up a massive following in Ireland and the UK. Their music is perfectly suited to the Dunmore East bluegrass festival, as their sound is heavily influenced by classic artists such as Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers.

They have been touring extensively this year, and the committee was delighted that they will be making their inaugural appearance during our twentieth year. With members hailing from Counties Armagh, Antrim, Down, and Dublin, the band plays traditional bluegrass straight out of the foothills of Tennessee and North Carolina, so visitors to Dunmore East are in for a real musical treat.

Richard Leeman, vocalist and guitar player with the Down and Outs, adds:

We’ve had a really busy schedule over the last few months, but we really wanted to play in Dunmore East. The festival draws a fantastic crowd of bluegrass and country music lovers, and it has endured so well. It’s particularly significant that we are making our debut in its twentieth year. We’ve only heard great things about the festival and are looking forward to a warm Waterford welcome.

The Festival kicks off on Thursday 21 August at the Azzurro Restaurant and heralds the start of three days of bands, playing almost fifty gigs in the village's pubs, restaurants, and hotels. The full 2014 lineup appears on the poster image below. There will also be family entertainment on offer including face painting, a bouncy castle, and food stalls in the village. More information about all free events at the 20th Guinness International Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival in Co. Waterford can be found here.

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Whitetop Mountain Band open their tour at Naul, 5 Sept. 2014

Thanks to Joanne Ryan of the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul, Co. Dublin, for the news that the Centre will release its new Autumn/Winter schedule shortly. The first show in the new season will be by the Whitetop Mountain Band on Friday 5 Sept. 2014. Tickets will be available to buy shortly online or by 'phone (01 802 0898).

Full details of the band can be seen on the Centre's event page and more links are on the BIB post for 27 July, where we also gave the three other dates in Ireland with which the band are opening their tour in these islands - the full list can be seen on the poster image (above). All four dates in this island are also on the BIB calendar.

The Whitetop Mountain Band preserve the musical traditions of their region of Virginia; the band originated in the 1940s with Albert Hash, a highly influential fiddler and instrument maker. One change from the lineup we announced in July: for the current tour, the band will be joined by multi-instrumentalist Chris Testerman in place of Thornton Spencer (fiddle).

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12 August 2014

Alert: stolen Gibson Mastertone banjo

From the midlands of England, Ron Stevens, organiser of the Heart of England Bluegrass Venue in Kenilworth, forwards this appeal from Terry Foster:

Just wondered if you could please keep an eye out for my 1972 Gibson Mastertone five-string banjo, stolen in Leicestershire on the 8th August. White curly maple, wreath inlay, Keith tuners. I would really appreciate it if you could please pass this on to anyone you might think could help, and post to any other sites you might think useful. Sorry about the photo but it's the best I can do.

Any sightings: please contact Market Harborough police station, crime number LA/02514/14-7v.

BIB readers whose memories go back to the 1970s will recall Terry as a member of George Kaye and the Real Country (George Kaye, fiddle; Thaddeus Kaye, guitar; Terry Foster, banjo; Bernie Fallon, bass), who brought the bluegrass sound to the Irish dancehall circuit of that time.

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Dublin Bluegrass Collective in Dame District, 17 Aug. 2014

Congratulations to the Dublin Bluegrass Collective: first, on having this splendid photo by Caroline Pim at the head of their Facebook page; and secondly, on their part in the Jack of Diamonds event this coming weekend in Dublin. As the poster image below shows, they will be on the Out Door Stage in the Dame District at 7.00 p.m. on Sunday 17 August.

Thanks to Patrick Simpson and Ray O'Brien for correction to the heading photo credit.

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11 August 2014

Bangor Culture Day, 23 Aug. 2014

Thanks to the Open House Festival team in Belfast for their latest e-newsletter on Bangor Culture Day, which will be held in Bangor, Co. Down, on Saturday 23 August. Events - including 'an open air tea dance, a record fair, a craft bazaar and creative emporium, iPhone photography workshops, a street market, open-air yoga and tai chi classes, a Reggae Sun Splash Sound System on the pier, flash dances, a campervan jam and dozens of other artistic delights' - start officially at 2.00 p.m. The team emphasise:

This is a last call for creatives to perform and get involved. Artists, musicians, crafters, bands, buskers, poets, writers, choirs, dancers, actors, drama groups, record collectors, DJs – Bangor needs you. We also want ukulele players of any standard for a ukulele happening! If you want to get involved, please e-mail by Wednesday 13 August

... or make contact via Facebook.


Monroe Mandolin Camp, 4-7 Sept. 2014: update

Thanks to Mike Compton (left), master mandolinist and leading interpreter of the music of the Father of Bluegrass, for further news of this year's Monroe Mandolin Camp, which will be held at Camp Marymount (photo below), just west of Nashville, TN, on 4-7 Sept. 2014. (The BIB carried a brief advance note on the Camp in June.)

Full details of the Camp, and much more, are on its website and Facebook. As an example of the instruction on offer, the newsletter includes a video demonstration by Mike of a Bill Monroe tune, 'Old Lonesome Waltz', using just two fingers of the left hand. This can also be seen on YouTube, where it is one of the videos on Mike's own YouTube channel.

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In memory: Vinny Baker

Thanks to Danny Slevin of the organising team for the gala concert commemorating the irreplaceable Vinny Baker. The concert was held on Tuesday 24 June in the Greville Arms Hotel, Pearse St., Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, began at 7.45 p.m., and went on well after midnight with a full and distinguished lineup, and a packed  and enthusiastic audience.

Danny reports that the evening raised £3,712 for St Camillus Nursing Centre at Killucan, Co. Westmeath. The handing-over of the cheque to Fr Monks took place early last month (see photo below from the concert's Facebook page).

A two-disc DVD of the whole show is now available for £5 plus postage. Contact Danny by e-mail.

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10 August 2014

Dunmore East 2014: brochure now downloadable

Thanks to Ray O'Brien and his Bluegrass in Ireland Facebook page for passing on these images from Mick Daly, organiser of the 20th Guinness International Bluegrass Festival (21-4 Aug. 2014) at Dunmore East, Co. Waterford. The full festival brochure, with more images, can be downloaded here or viewed on Ray's latest post.

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09 August 2014

Carter Family Fold Kickstarter campaign: deadline 26 Aug. 2014

Another worthy Kickstarter campaign: film-maker Ken White is seeking to raise $45,000 to produce a TV special celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Carter Family Fold, the rural non-profit music venue in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, created by Janette Carter and her brother and sister to honour the historic musical heritage of the Carter Family. Ken says:

The Carter Family Fold is a national treasure that preserves the deep historical significance of the Carter Family and their monumental impact on multiple music genres still heard in the songs we enjoy today. Even with regular packed houses, running a non-profit and meeting the bills is a constant challenge. This television special will bring awareness to the venue to help ensure the Carter Fold sees another forty years and beyond.

The campaign began on Monday 28 July 2014, with the deadline at Tuesday 26 August. For campaign details or to contribute to the project, visit its web page. Kickstarter’s projects range from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Since its launch in 2009, 6.3 million people have pledged $1 billion, funding 62,000 creative projects on Kickstarter.

BIB editor's note: A further reason for visiting the web page - it includes a YouTube video on the history of the Carter Family Fold. This is part of a playlist of twenty-one videos on old-time and bluegrass people and places in south-west Virginia, among whom are award-winning banjoist Sammy Shelor, fiddler Buddy Pendleton, and ballad singer Elizabeth LaPrelle (see the BIB for 7 Dec. 2012).

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08 August 2014

Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys (USA): update for summer 2015

Following the news on the BIB post of 28 July, Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency sends more about the projected tour in these islands in July-August 2015 for Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys (above) from Michigan, USA. Loudon writes:

Since we last e-mailed the circuit about this proposed tour, we now have three summer festivals confirmed for Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys. They will open the tour as one of the main headline acts at the big HebCeltFest event, play add-on dates in Scotland, England, and Wales, then travel to Ireland where we hope to have them on tour for a full week - 4th to 9th August.

We already have one or two venues keen to take the band but need to have a decent run in order to make the trip to Ireland worthwhile. So, we would be very grateful if you would let us know if you wanna grab them while they are available.

More about the band can be seen on our earlier post and the links there, especially their page of the BK website. This coming winter they will be part of the 6th Bluegrass Jamboree!, Rainer Zellner's 'touring bluegrass festival' package, which will play throughout Germany for three weeks in Nov.-Dec. 2014.

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