18 April 2015

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog: still alive

Although the editor retired from proactive bluegrass blogging on 15 February 2013, the Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) is still alive, keeps its calendar updated, and publishes news received. Send in news by e-mail; and please also e-mail it to Wendy Connolly for publication on the 'Bluegrass in Ireland' Facebook page, which is the interactive medium in Ireland for bluegrass news.

Thinking of touring in Ireland? Have a look at the BIB's THINKING OF TOURING IN IRELAND? page. 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.

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17 April 2015

Harpers Hollow at Ballygally, 27 May 2015

Thanks to Adrian Rolston of the Cairncastle Ulster Scots organisation for this news:

At our monthly soiree on Wednesday 27 May 2015, we are having Harpers Hollow Bluegrass Band playing. They will be on stage for approximately one hour. The soiree commences at 8.00 p.m. in Halfway House, Ballygally, four miles north of Larne [Co. Antrim].

The band photo above shows Derek Lockhart (bass, vocals), Derek Norwood (guitar, vocals), William Duddy (mandolin, clawhammer banjo, vocals), and Colin Allen (banjo, vocals).

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Belle election!

No, that's not a message from the French electorate to their counterparts in the UK; but it similarly relates to next month, when the April Verch Band (CAN) will be back in Ireland for a tour beginning at Carrick-on-Shannon on 6 May. Dates are on the BIB calendar.

'Belle election' is an instrumental track from the band's new album The Newpart, released ten days ago (7 April). There's also a video to go with it, which you can see on Bluegrass Today - or on YouTube, where April also has a trio of videos on the making of the album.

As Bluegrass Today says, the 'Belle election' video 'combines all the familiar elements of a Verch performance: tasty fiddle and precision step-dancing along with her giant smile and close-cropped ginger coif'.

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16 April 2015

Dermot O'Connor

Readers who recall the scene in Ireland in the 1970s will be sad to learn that Dermot O'Connor (left), who was in several highly talented and popular bands, has had intensive treatment over the past year for a life-threatening condition, and has decided against further medical procedures.

In this situation, Dermot is keeping upbeat: last month he went on a three-week cruise with his Sicilian wife Scina, and he has invited friends to join him in a picking session tomorrow (17 April) at his home in northern Italy. The sympathies and good wishes of all who know Dermot will be with him. Among those taking part will be the legendary fiddler George Kaye.

In the '70s Dermot played mandolin and guitar in the electric folk group Spud, and later with George in Permanent Cure, as well as other groups. About 1980 he and George moved to London and played on different circuits till relaunching Permanent Cure on a successful new career in Germany in the 1990s. They last played together at Dermot's birthday celebration at Brunswick in 2006.

The BIB editor writes:

I very much regret being unable to take this chance of picking with Dermot again. His musicianship - for instance, on such tunes as 'Fisher's hornpipe' - would be intimidating if he weren't at the same time such good company; and I have special reason to be grateful to him for filling, with his customary joie de vivre, the mandolin role on an ersatz version of the Sackville String Band that went up to Belfast c.1978 to support Bill Grant & Delia Bell. Dermot - here's hoping to see you some time, somehow.

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Detached notes

This disturbing 'face' is part of the body of a three-stringed halam from Senegal, a relative of the banjo. It appears in the latest e-newsletter from banjo virtuoso Michael J. Miles. Among his many other active projects, Michael will be playing a classical concert in Chicago next week, which will be filmed live for his 'Existential banjo' YouTube series. His fellow teachers at Midwest Banjo Camp in June will include Tony Trischka, Greg Cahill, Bill Evans, and Ken Perlman - all of whom, like himself, have played in Ireland. All this, and much more, can be read here.
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Thanks to the Prescription Bluegrass Blog for the news that the National Fiddler Hall of Fame will hold its 2015 Inductee Gala on 28 May at the Broken Arrow PAC, 701 S. Main St., Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Those honoured are drawn from a wide range of styles - Bob Wills was the first in 2007 - and this year's inductees are Charlie Daniels, Stuart Duncan, Howdy Forrester, Jana Jae, and Jay Ungar. A full list to 2014 is here.
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Many mandolinists will already know about this record, as it's been out for some time: Rags, breakdowns, stomps and blues: vintage mandolin music 1927-1946. The music presented in the twenty-four tracks comes from a range of blues, jug-band, and string-band numbers by black and white artists - including, of course, 'Hawkins Rag', led by Ted Hawkins of Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers. This is a field that Mike Compton has been exploring for some years. Mike's 2015 Monroe Mandolin Camp will be held in early September in Kingston Springs, TN.
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Finally, for anyone in the Dublin area who enjoys classic country music, Gerry Fitzpatrick, dobroist and impresario of the Cabin Sessions in Dundrum, writes:

Many of you will have enjoyed Alan Begley, Joe Ryan, and Mick O'Doherty perform at the Cabin Sessions. Well, here's a chance to spend a late Sunday afternoon listening to their full band - Spirit Riders - on 10 May in Toners [Baggot St., Dublin 2].

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15 April 2015

Broken String Band - every Thursday in Belfast, and...

The BIB learns that the Broken String Band, comprising some of the Belfast area's most experienced and respected pickers, play every Thursday night at the Dirty Onion, 3 Hill St., Belfast BT1 2LA - a regular venue for traditional music, set in one of the oldest buildings in the city.

The band are always on the bill at the annual Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival at the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh, Co. Tyrone, and are booked this year (not for the first time) for the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Folk Festival near Larne, Co. Antrim. More details on the latter as soon as the BIB receives them.

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The Cabin Sessions - next on 30 Apr. 2015

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

We're back on Thursday 30 April, featuring the all-star house band The Cabin Crew [Spats (guitar), Con (bass), Gerry (dobro), Christian (harmonica), Cathy (fiddle), Richard Hawkins (banjo), Dave Hardy (sax/clarinet),] with special guests Liam & Mary (Americana), Clare Dunne (contemporary), and DK Tuesdays (acoustic rock). 9.30-11.30 p.m., and admission is 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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Update on the Chuck Nation Band - updated

Thanks to Susan Nation (second from right, above) for an update on the Chuck Nation Band from Georgia, who toured Ireland in 2012 and early last year with former Blue Grass Boy Curtis Blackwell on guitar and lead vocals. Curtis Blackwell has gone back to leading his own Dixie Bluegrass Boys (in which Chuck, above centre, plays fiddle), and the current Chuck Nation Band lineup includes Jody Hughes (vocals, banjo), Libby Nation-Whitehead (vocals, mandolin, guitar) and percussionist Steve Vincent.

The band has a busy schedule coming up: the imminent dates can be seen on their Facebook page, but one outstanding event is that on 22 May they will be playing at Carnegie Hall, in the New York premiere of Dr Tim Sharp's 'Come away to the skies: a high, lonesome mass'. BIB readers may recall a performance of it in Dec. 2013 in Taney church, Dundrum, Dublin 14, with members of the Dublin bluegrass fraternity taking part.

Update 16 Apr.: Susan writes further -

We have such a special place in our hearts for Ireland and have been fortunate enough to retain some good friendships with many of the folks we met... We've had two great Ireland tours and created some wonderful memories. We hope to bring the Chuck Nation Band over some time as well. Chuck has assembled a top-notch group of award-winning musicians who play with creative innovation and flair. We're preparing material now for a new CD which will be out in the fall.

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14 April 2015

Hank Wedel Band at the Rockies Club. Cork, 25 Apr. 2015

Thanks to Roger Ryan of the Country Music Association of Ireland and the Blackrock 'Rockies' GAA Club of Church Rd, Cork, for this news of US-born and Cork-resident singer/ songwriter Hank Wedel:

The Hank Wedel Band will make a welcome return to the Rockies Club on Saturday 25 April. Now considered one of the most popular entertainers on the Cork scene, Hank and his band always put on a great show. The music kicks off at around 9.30 p.m. and admission is free. So why not join us at the Rockies for a great night's entertainment?

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Concert lineup for Athy 2015

The Athy Bluegrass Festival Facebook publishes this image of the lineup for concerts at this year's festival (10-12 July), the twenty-fifth in the series. It's a truly international lineup as well as being a pretty high-powered one, with 4 Wheel Drive (NL/D/B), the top bluegrass talent in Europe in one perfectly coordinated package; the Patuxent Partners (USA), from one of the historic hotbeds of bluegrass in the Mother Country; The Plough, from Sydney, Australia; and from Ireland, KingBlue and the host band, Woodbine.

More details of the weekend will be announced. A video of the Patuxent Partners in action can be viewed here on the festival Facebook, and also on YouTube. The 25th Athy Bluegrass Festival will be held at the GAA Centre, Dublin Road, Athy, Co. Kildare.

PS: A 28-minute TV set that the Patuxent Partners played two and a half years ago can be seen here; they were in fine form, and the cameras caught the individual members well.

PPS: While you're on the web, look up the YouTube channel of Jürgen Biller, 4WD's banjo maestro - plenty of hardcore bluegrass there, including several videos of Jürgen's earlier band, Helmut & the Hillbillies.

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11 April 2015

Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly at the DC Music Club, 24 Apr. 2015

Thanks to Paul Lee for the news that among forthcoming Musiclee.ie shows, in two weeks' time Frankie Lane (guitar, dobro) and Paul Kelly (fiddle, mandolin) will be playing at the DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, on Friday 24 Apr., starting at 9.00 p.m. Tickets are €15 (€13 if booked in advance). The Musiclee.ie blurb reads, with impressive truthfulness:

They are one of the best-known duos touring in Ireland for many years. Traditional tunes and songs, American Folk, Western Swing, Jazz, Classical, Bluegrass, and anything else that pops up. Entertaining and talented. It's just not fair. (As for looks, well, you can't have everything.)

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New faces on an old song

The BIB editor reports:

One of the many tonic effects of going to the monthly Cabin Sessions at Uncle Tom's Cabin in Dundrum is getting to hear and see the multi-talented Kevin 'Spats' Davenport (above), front man of the Sessions' house band. Spats is also an instrument freak whose repertoire draws heavily on a wide range of music of the 1920s to 1940s, including blues, early jazz, and swing, especially Western Swing - a very similar mixture to what can be found in old-time music of the same period.

Spats's latest video (on his own and the Cabin Sessions' Facebook pages, as well as on YouTube) is his 'western/horror-themed take' on the classic blues song 'Jack of Diamonds'. Old-time and bluegrass fans will recognise this as the twin of what may be the oldest banjo song in America, with roots in West Africa - known, with varying texts, under the names 'Old Reuben', 'Reuben's train', 'Train 45', 'Ruby', etc.

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10 April 2015

Tut Taylor, 1923-2015

Robert Arthur 'Tut' Taylor - musician, luthier, instrument collector, master sign-painter, raconteur, and much more - died yesterday (9 Apr. 2015) at the age of 91. Appreciations have already appeared on Bluegrass Today, the Prescription Bluegrass Blog, and Bluegrass in Ireland, where Pat Kelleher of Co. Cork shares his personal memory of Tut.

Tut Taylor became involved with music as a teenager in Milledgeville, Georgia, and kept throughout his life a love of the old sounds of country music and bluegrass, while also taking part in ground-breaking recordings with John Hartford and many others. Anyone interested in bluegrass history should see the photos and stories on his website, not forgetting the gallery of his remarkable paintings on instrument cases. More on his life and music can be found at the Steam Powered Preservation Society website.

Tut was associated most closely with the dobro (which he played with a flat pick) and the mandolin. The photo above (taken c.1970?) shows him (centre) playing mandolin with Bill Monroe and Norman Blake; Joe Zinkan is on bass, and the English bluegrass pioneer Pete Sayers (who was working at WSM about that time) is on guitar at right centre. Partly hidden are Vassar Clements on fiddle (far left), Rual Yarborough on banjo, and another guitarist behind Sayers.

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Gareiss & Gilchrist show at Naul POSTPONED

The Séamus Ennis Arts Centre (SEAC) at Naul, Co. Dublin, announces that the events scheduled for today (Friday 10 April) have been postponed. These were to be a 'Dance the tune' workshop (3.00 p.m.) and a concert (8.30 p.m.), both given by percussive dancer Nic Gareiss (USA) and Edinburgh harpist Maeve Gilchrist. We have no info at present on a future date for them to play at Naul - this was the last show in a tour that began on 1 April (see the BIB for 26 Mar.).

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09 April 2015

Vincent Cross: Spring newsletter

Vincent Cross, the Irish bluegrass scene's ambassador in New York City, sends his spring e-newsletter with reflections on the music scene there, past and present, and some memorable events in the company of compatriots. Vincent also sends this poster image (right) and explains:

Years back, not too many, I was involved with a wonderful crew of musicians who loved to breathe life into classic bluegrass tunes (they referred to this as 'rescued music'). These fine muscians have histories longer than I could possibly cover here, but if you're on Staten Island, NYC for April, May, and June, check these guys out.

Vincent himself will be in Ireland in three months' time in the course of a European tour. Contact him for bookings by e-mail.

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All-day Sacred Harp singing in Dublin, 2 May 2015

Thanks to Sacred Harp Singers of Dublin for this news:

Sacred Harp Singers of Dublin warmly invite you to sing with us on Saturday 2 May, 10.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m., in the Franciscan Friary on Merchant's Quay, Dublin 8.

We will have a pot-luck lunch in the middle of the day, so feel free to bring along something tasty ; )

All welcome, hope to see you there!

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Quote of the month

Sonny Osborne told me one time: 'If you're not learning something new every time you get that banjo out of the case and play it, then something's not right.' I've always taken that to heart.

Rob McCoury, quoted in Bill Conger's article on him in the Apr. 2015 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited. (The advice probably works for other instruments as well.)

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07 April 2015

More of KingBlue at the Red Room

Following from our post of 30 Mar. about the KingBlue concert at the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, on 21 Mar.: KingBlue have just posted a further video from the evening, with Clem O'Brien singing the Bill Monroe composition 'Stay away from me', followed by the classic instrumental 'Shuckin' the corn'.

Thanks to Tony O'Brien for passing on sad news - our sympathies and condolence go out to Sean McKerr, KingBlue's mandolinist, on the death of his father.

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05 April 2015

Red Hat Acoustic Music Club at Naas, 10 Apr. 2015

Thanks to Paul and Anne McEvoy, curators of the Red Hat Acoustic Music Club, meeting every month at the Harbour Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare, for the news that the fourth Red Hat meeting of 2015 will be held this coming Friday (10 Apr.). Music is expected to start around 8.30 p.m., and a donation of €3.00 covers coffee/tea and sandwiches at the interval.

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Bluedust at Moniaive in September

C. Paul 'Dobroman' Lyttle sends Easter greetings and the playlist link for his Criffel Creek radio show this morning, and announces that the Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival has now completed its 2015 lineup by adding Bluedust from Milan, Italy, as top of the bill on Saturday night.

Your editor saw and heard Bluedust at the European World of Bluegrass Festival (EWOB) in the Netherlands two years ago, and enjoyed them very much indeed. The band consists of Perry Meroni (guitar, lead vocals), Dino Barbè (banjo), Josh Villa (mandolin, vocals), Tony Spezzano (guitar, vocals), and Marco 'Fisherman' Centemeri (double bass, vocals), and they're a very solid and driving band whose music comes from Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Jim & Jesse, Jimmy Martin, and others of the founding generation of bluegrass. BIB readers who enjoy that vintage of bluegrass might consider a trip to hear them at Moniaive. Any details of other shows by them in these islands will appear on the BIB as soon as we get them.

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03 April 2015

Calling all mountain dulcimer players

Thanks to the secretary of FOAOTMAD, the UK's premier old-time music association, for this questionnaire - note that players in Ireland are specifically included:

Having spent the weekend at the Palestine Dulcimer and Old Time festival in Texas surrounded by hundreds of dulcimer players, I am curious to know how popular the mountain/Appalachian/lap dulcimer is in the UK. It certainly features prominently in our logo [above left].

So here’s a bit of research. It’s for my personal interest although the results summary will be passed on to the FOAOTMAD committee in case they are able to use it to justify a bit of promotion. I’m specifically after UK- and Ireland-based responses, but elsewhere is fine too. Non-FOAOTMAD members are also welcome to respond.

So, remembering that I’m only interested in mountain/ Appalachian/ lap dulcimer players here, what I need to know – e-mailed to info@foaotmad.org.uk – is:

Name (optional – I’ll already have an e-mail from the response)

Home area – in a general form e.g. south-west England, County Cork, that sort of thing. I don’t want actual addresses.

1 – I play (a) often (b) sometimes (C) it looks good on the wall
2 – I use (a) tab/numbered frets (b) music notation (c) play by ear (d) a mix
3 – I play mainly (a) oldtime (b) bluegrass (c) folk (d) a mix
4 – I am a member of a dulcimer organisation – yes/no
5 – if yes, what is the organisation name
6 – I am a FOAOTMAD member – yes/no

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Two Time Polka: Easter weekend gigs

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka announces:

Here are our gigs for the Easter weekend.

Sat. 4th: The Blue Haven, Pearse St., Kinsale, Co. Cork. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4772209.

Sun. 5th: Henchy's Bar, St Luke's, Cork. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4507833.

Regards,
Ray & TTP

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02 April 2015

Bog Standard Stringband at the Folk Park, Omagh, over Easter

L-r: Derek Copley, Ben Keogh, Tim Rogers, Aisling Conway Keogh (photo: Des Butler)

Thanks again to Sharon Loughrin, who spotted on the Ulster American Folk Park's Facebook page that the Bog Standard Stringband will be playing in the Park's Pennsylvania Log Barn at 2.00 and 4.00 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday as part of the Easter weekend celebrations. Sharon adds:

I know you featured the band lineup on the BIB a while back, so you know the pedigree's good!

Couldn't be better! On 4 Sept. 2014 the BIB published a preview of the 2nd Bunratty Banjo Pickers Festival, in which we called the Bog Standard Stringband

a misleading name for Tim Rogers and Ben Keogh of the old Rough Deal Stringband, combined with Derek Copley and Aisling Conway Keogh of the Greasy Coat Stringband.

The photo above, showing them at a Bunratty outdoor session, appeared on the BIB on 1 Oct. 2014 as part of Des Butler's report on the Festival.

Update 7 Apr.: a nice photo by John Watson of the band playing in the Log Barn appeared on the Red Room Facebook on Sunday.

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Bologna and bluegrass


Three weeks ago the BIB carried the news that the Moron Brothers (USA) - who toured in Ireland last September (including the Bunratty Banjo Festival), and about whom much more can be seen on the BIB post for 25 May 2014 - have started their own Video Channel with Carbon TV.

We now learn from the Prescription Bluegrass Blog (PBB) that the success of the Brothers' 'Bologna song' and video have led to their joining forces with the PBB to launch a School of Bologna: every Friday a lecture in 'Bologna 101 - A lighter look at life' will appear on the PBB. An introductory release explains the importance of bologna sausage in the Southern lifestyle.

There must be some way of forging a transatlantic connection with our friends in 0039 Bluegrass Made In Italy (also on Facebook), composed of former members of Red Wine (Luca Bartolini and Maria Grazia Branca), one present member of Red Wine (Marco Ferretti), and two founder members (Gianni Stefanini and Paolo Ercoli) of Bononia Grass, centred on Bologna in northern Italy. All right, so one Bologna is a sausage and the other is an ancient regional capital and university city, but...

0039 Bluegrass Made In Italy: (l-r) Maria Grazia Branca (bass), Luca Bartolini (guitar), Gianni Stefanini (mandolin), Marco Ferretti (banjo, guitar), Paolo Ercoli (resonator guitar)

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01 April 2015

New Facebook links

Thanks to Tony O'Brien for the news that Woodbine, the Athy Bluegrass Festival, and Tony himself, now have new addresses on Facebook. The new links are:

Woodbine
Athy Bluegrass Festival
Tony O'Brien

The old pages are now out of action, so you may wish to renew your 'Likes' on the new ones.

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Bob Wright celebrates fifty years of performing

Bob Wright (photo) of Staten Island, NY, who was at more than one of the early Dunmore East bluegrass festivals, sends word that on 4 April he will be celebrating fifty years 'of insanity and mayhem' as a performer of bluegrass, folk, Americana, and other acoustic music, by playing from 8.00 to 10.00 p.m. at the ETG Cafe on Staten Island - 'with my buddy Bill Doerge helping to try and make some sense of it, to offer homage to the players, songs, and songwriters who inspired and continue to inspire me'.

Read Bob's full manifesto here; there's also a link to it on his Facebook page, and a live feed from the cafe's website.

Update 3 Apr.: Also, read below Bob's comment, just received.

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Artists coming to Ireland: update

Near North Music is a Canadian agency for roots musicians, and the artists on their roster include fiddler/ dancer/ singer/ songwriter April Verch (left), who will be touring in Ireland next month (dates are on the BIB calendar). April and her band impressed a lot of people at last year's Omagh festival, and she'll be back here between 6 and 22 May with her trio and her new album The Newpart, due for release next week.

Other Near North artists likely to interest BIB readers are Annie Lou (Anne Louise Genest), who leads a string band; her album Grandma's rules for drinking was reviewed on Bluegrass Today a couple of years ago. The band's fiddler is the astounding John Showman, founder member of the Creaking Tree String Quartet, who was at Omagh with the Foggy Hogtown Boys a few years back and now leads his own group, New Country Rehab.

Pharis & Jason Romero have not yet toured in Ireland, but have got as close as Britain. So near, and yet so far...
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The BIB, a blog for bluegrass and old-time music, occasionally mentions folk and country artists. Give country music an inch, and it'll take a country mile - but we're happy to pass on the news from Nigel Martyn and his Old Flattop agency that singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier will be touring in Ireland next month with special guest Ben Glover. The dates are:

Sun. 10th May: Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast; 028 90 232403
Mon. 11th: Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, Co. Londonderry; 028 70 831400
Wed. 13th: Coughlan's, Cork city; 021 496 1751
Thurs. 14th: The Button Factory, Dublin; 01 670 9105
Fri. 15th: Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal; 074 912 0777
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Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency sends Easter greetings and announces:

... we will be working with the one and only Fred Eaglesmith next year and plan to bring him in for a run of UK/Ireland dates in duo format with Tif Ginn from his band (she is also a successful Texas singer-songwriter). It's a great show - hugely entertaining, as those who have experienced the man will testify! The tour period will be March (actual dates not yet known) but we are inviting declarations of interest at this point. We look forward to hearing from you.

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31 March 2015

Niall Toner receives Songwriter of the Year award

The NTB in the Round Room at Killashee (l-r): Dick Gladney, bass; Johnny Gleeson, dobro, vocals; Niall Toner, guitar, vocals; Richie Foley, mandolin; Paddy Kiernan, 5-string banjo (photo: Kyle O'Neill)

Congratulations to Niall Toner on winning fresh laurels: last night (30 Mar.) at the Killashee House Hotel in Naas, Co. Kildare, Niall was presented with the award for Songwriter of the Year 2015 by Kildare FM radio station and the Leinster Entertainment Awards. Nine hundred people attended the event, which was a great success as a fundraiser for local charities.

The new five-piece Niall Toner Band (above) played songs and tunes from Niall's latest album, Working on love, which was released on St Valentine's day this year (see the BIB for 9 Feb. 2015). A photo of Niall receiving the award can be found on the Leinster Entertainment Awards Facebook.

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Roger Ryan's 'Country Cuts', Apr. 2015

Thanks to Roger Ryan of the Country Music Association of Ireland for the April 2015 issue of his e-mail newsletter 'Country Cuts', which can be seen here or through the other links on the BIB - in the headnote to the BIB calendar, and near the end of the 'Links' section in our right-hand column. This issue includes details of the Martin Gilmore Trio tour in May, the 25th Athy Bluegrass Festival in July, and other news of interest to BIB readers.

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Coming to the Red Room this spring

Thanks, as always, to Arnie and Sharon Loughrin for creating and running the premier house-concert venue in this island - the Red Room at Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. The Red Room already has seven shows lined up into the autumn of 2015, with more awaiting final confirmation. In the near future, east Ulster's Down and Out Bluegrass Band will be at the Red Room on Saturday 25 April, while the show by the Foghorn Stringband (USA) on Saturday 16 May is already fully booked out: a waiting list is in operation.

At the very end of that month (Sunday 31 May) the Red Room will present J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices from Nashville, playing (as Sharon says) 'proper country and honky-tonk' - that is, tough music of a kind that many bluegrass fans enjoy. With steel guitar and fiddle to the fore (and the photo at the head of his website includes an open-back 5-string with what looks like at least a 12" pot), J.P. Harris's world is one in which the 'Murder on Music Row' of Larry Cordle's song has not been committed. Several videos from live shows are on his website.

The show at the Red Room is the last in a European tour that begins on 22 April in Barcelona, and continues with four further dates in Spain, two in Switzerland, three in Germany, five in the Netherlands, one in Belgium, two in Denmark, five in Sweden, one in Norway, and four in Britain. The band's schedule in Ireland is:

Mon. 25th: Ubangi Stomp Club, Dublin
Tues. 26th: St John's Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry
Wed. 27th: Crane Lane Theatre, Cork city
Thurs. 28th: Raheen House Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary (Clonmel World Music)
Fri. 29th: High Tide Club, Castletown Bearhaven, Co. Cork
Sat. 30th: Balor Arts Centre, Main St., Ballybofey, Co. Donegal
Sun. 31st: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone (not in Bray, Co. Wicklow, as the internet will tell you...)

NB: Sharon also reports having seen the Friday night show of last weekend's 'Spring into bluegrass' by the Harpers Hollow Bluegrass Band at Moira, Co. Down: 'they're sounding great, really enjoyed the night.'

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