25 June 2019

Welcome to the BIB

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 (recently updated). Click on the 'Welcome' label below for more about the BIB's background, purpose, and uses.


23 June 2019

US bass player in Ireland, 4-12 Sept. 2019

Thanks to Gary Rinehart and his wife Betty, of Topeka, Kansas, USA, for the news that they will be visiting Ireland and staying in Mountrath, Co. Laois, from 4 September to 12 September, and would like to know of any bluegrass jams, events, or pub locations that they can visit or sit in with during their stay.

Gary is an upright bass player and founder member of the Tallgrass Express String Band, based in the Flint Hills area of the Tallgrass Prairie region of midwestern North America and reflecting the ranching culture of that country in their music. Gary can be contacted by e-mail.

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22 June 2019

NTB: 'Myles Walter Keogh' video released

Thanks to Niall Toner for the news that the video of the Niall Toner Band's new single, 'Myles Walter Keogh' (composed by Niall and Johnny Gleeson) can now be seen on YouTube. Full details of the song and the story behind it are on the BIB for 11 June.

The video - produced, directed, and filmed in black and white by Fiaz Farrelly - shows a run-through of the song by the Niall Toner Band: Niall (guitar, lead vocals), Johnny Gleeson (dobro, harmony vocals), Dick Gladney (upright bass), and Gerry Madden (mandolin).

NB: when the news of the impending release of the song and video was announced on Bluegrass Today, Donald Teplyske, freelance US roots and bluegrass music writer, commented: 'Niall Toner is one of the best!'

PS: Thanks to Niall for the information that the banjo-player on the recording is Keith Sewell, Nashville songwriter, multi-instrumental sideman, and longtime friend and collaborator with Niall.

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21 June 2019

Bluegrass, country, and a touch of Cajun at the 25th Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival

Thanks to Karen Cheevers of B2B Communications for this release on the 25th Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival. The picturesque Co. Waterford fishing village will play host to the Festival, which returns to its shores from 22 to 25 August:

Fans of bluegrass, honky-tonk, blues, country, Americana, and rhythm ‘n’ roots are in for a real musical treat as the festival will feature a host of artists playing almost forty free gigs throughout the village.

This year’s headline act reflects the broadened remit of the festival as the Sarah Savoy Band will bring a touch of Cajun to the festival. A talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Sarah’s vocal style has been compared to that of Patsy Cline, Patti Smith, and Wanda Jackson.

Born to Cajun ‘royalty’ in Louisiana, Sarah’s father Marc is a world-renowned accordion craftsman and her mother Ann wrote the reference on Cajun music, Cajun music: a reflection of a people. A move to France lead Sarah to become a certified chef, and her passion for Cajun food and flavours led to the publication of a cookbook, The Savoy kitchen: a family history of Cajun food.

Along with the 'Princess of Cajun' the festival lineup includes Irish, UK, and American big-name bluegrass and country acts.

Making their Dunmore East debut is the 19th Street Band. Hailing originally from Hollywood, Northern Ireland, Caolaidhe Davis moved to the US in 2005 to pursue a career in music. While establishing an earlier band, he found himself in need of a fiddle player and met Meghan, who auditioned for his band. What Caolaidhe didn’t know was that he was auditioning his future wife. Fast-forward a few months and the pair found themselves living on 19th St. in Arlington, Virginia, writing songs and creating the sound that would become the backbone of the 19th Street Band, an exciting fusion of Americana, country, and rock.

New acts appearing at this year’s festival include Liz Morionda, Raglan Rodeo, and Alfi, along with returning acts Lands End, Mons Wheeler Band, Pilgrim St, Kiss My Grass, Whistle, and Charlie Reader.

Mick Daly, Festival organiser, is looking forward to welcoming lots of new names and some old favourites back to the festival.

'Sarah Savoy is a wonderful addition to the lineup this year. She has been described as the Voice of Cajun by Rolling Stone magazine and she’ll bring an authentic Cajun vibe to the festival. Joining Sarah on the lineup is Missourian Liz Moriondo, a popular singer songwriter who is well known by her dynamic voice as a force of nature.

'While bluegrass remains at the heart of the festival, many of the new Irish and international acts are bringing a more eclectic offering to the festival. Pilgrim St bring a broad range of Americana, country, folk, and bluegrass to their concerts across the country, while Alfi is a fresh new trio combining American old-time, bluegrass and traditional Irish music.

'The festival appeals to die-hard bluegrass fans who have been visiting Dunmore for decades, but it also has a broader appeal to those who simply like good toe-tappin’ music, in a beautiful seaside setting, under the sun!'

The 25th Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival, Co. Waterford, kicks off on Thursday 22 August at the Strand Inn and heralds the start of four days of free gigs throughout the village. For more information visit www.discoverdunmore.com or keep up to date on the Discover Dunmore East Facebook page.

BIB editor's note: More about Sarah Savoy appeared on the BIB on 11 Mar. 2019. Longtime attenders at Omagh festivals will remember when Cajun bands took part to play for dancers, and the older Cajun music has much in common with anglophone old-time music - but all this aside, the Sarah Savoy Band make powerful, exciting, and tradition-based music.

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20 June 2019

Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa (USA) - for Ireland this October?

Halfway through 2019, this is already a classic year for great visiting bands, and the second half begins with a powerful double helping: Sideline (USA) and Alecia Nugent (USA) and her band. who will be followed by outstanding festival lineups.

Thanks now to Wayne Taylor and his band Appaloosa (above) for this prospect of keeping up the heat (and the standard) into the autumn. Wayne writes:

I am Wayne Taylor, former band mate of Bill Emerson, and band leader for Appaloosa. Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa is comprised of Emory Lester, mandolin, Kene Hyatt on bass, Donnie Little on banjo and myself on lead vocals and guitar. We performed at the European World of Bluegrass in 2010, and have performed in Scotland, Norway, Holland in previous occasions. We are trying to get more performance venues during our tour starting 27 Sept. and returning to the US on 4 Oct. 2019.

We are scheduled to perform at the Moniave Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival in Moniave, Scotland, on 27-29 September. We plan on traveling to Ireland on the 30th, and are open to perform in Ireland on the 1st and 2nd of October, travel back to Scotland in the morning of Oct. 3rd, scheduled to perform again at Macmerry Primary School in Scotland in the evening, and travel back to USA on the 4th.

Any help in securing performances on the 1st and 2nd of October would be greatly appreciated. Please visit our website for more information.

The highly respected bluegrass DJ Dennis Jones (see Bluegrass Today) wrote: 'Whether singing one of his own great songs or a carefully selected cover, Wayne Taylor delivers it with heart and soul. His feel for the tradition and the incredible band Appaloosa show bluegrass in a fantastic modern light. Go see them... and buy two CDs.' The BIB hopes this fine band will be performing in Ireland in October.

NB: The photo above shows Keith Arneson on banjo. Donnie Little, who will be with the band on the tour, is highly regarded both for playing and for setting up banjos, and can be seen in many YouTube videos.

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Mississippi River Suite now available for download - and more

In his latest e-newsletter, Michael J. Miles (USA) - the man who showed that Bach could be beautifully played on the clawhammer banjo - announces that
  • his 22-minute 'Mississippi River Suite' is now available for download on Bandcamp
  • in this year of the centenary of Pete Seeger's birth the show '100 years of protest' is preparing to go on the road; 
  • Gold mine for banjo: 100 banjo lessons has now been published by Hal Leonard and will soon be available from Michael's own website; and more.

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19 June 2019

'The North began' - Ireland's first bluegrass festival, Nov. 1990

The title of Eoin MacNeill's epoch-making 1913 article is appropriate to introduce the following historic document. Many thanks to John Kinsella for a facsimile of a feature published in the Donegal News on 3 November 1990. John draws attention to some familiar names, and recalls that the festival subsequently 'ran for six or seven years in a few small pubs in Donegal. Nice memories.'

Donegal News feature is transcribed faithfully below; none of the BIB's editorial conventions have been applied, apart from the correction of one typo.


McGinley's Bar, Letterkenny, is the venue for a major celebration of Bluegrass Music on the week-end of November 15th to 18th.

The first North-West Bluegrass Festival, sponsored by Budweiser, promises to be a fabulous non stop session with the best of Irish Bluegrass talent.

Special guests of the Festival will be the Dublin based Texas Kellys, featuring Jimmy Kelly, late of Sackville String Band, on banjo, Steve Wickham, formerly of the Waterboys, on fiddle, one time "In Tua Nua" member, Paul Byrne, on drums, Frank Gleeson and Alan Johnston on guitars, with Martin O'Keefe on double bass. They play McGinley's on Saturday night, November 17th.

Donegal's own, The Whunbushes, open the Festival on Thursday night and close it again on Sunday.

Other features include the Wild Duck Bluegrass Club, who meet once a month in the Wild Duck Bar, Portglenone, on the shores of Lough Neagh. This dedicated gat[h]ering of musicians from all over the North and Donegal represents some of the finest Bluegrass talent in the country. The Club will meet in McGinley's Bar on Friday night, November 16th, and Saturday afternoon, November 17th.

Derry guitar players, Frankie Robinson and Ray Jordan, have brought music from the Foyle to the very heartlands of Bluegrass on their regular tours Stateside. They play McGinley's on Sunday afternoon, November 18th, and will be joined by friends and neighbours.

McGinley's, 25 Lower Main St., Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, and the Wild Duck, 93 Main St., Portglenone, Co. Antrim, shown in recent photos

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18 June 2019

BAND festival opening night, Thurs. 20 June 2019

Thanks to the organisers of the BAND (Bluegrass And Nashville Dunfanaghy) festival in Co. Donegal for the latest news of this year's event:

With only a few days to go to BAND 2019, the excitement is mounting. We are very happy to say that the festival will kick off with an Opening Night in Arnolds Hotel on Thursday 20 June. Donegal's very own Hillbilly Rednecks will be on stage from about 8.00 p.m. - the perfect start to a weekend jammed packed of top notch music. Some of the international musicians are arriving on Thursday, so you never know who might join the Hillibillies for a tune or two!

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Gary Ferguson (USA) in Ireland, 19-26 July 2019

Thanks to singer/ songwriter Gary Gene Ferguson (USA) for news of his forthcoming tour of Ireland, due to begin a month from now.

Gary has toured Ireland almost every year since 2005, and the coming thirteenth tour, we learn with regret, may be his last visit. The unifying theme will be evenings in concert with fellow songwriters Johnny Tanner (South Carolina), Niall Toner (Co. Carlow), Roy Thompson (Co. Kildare), Colin Henry (Belfast), Thomas Copeland (Belfast), and Joseph Murray (Castledawson, Co. Londonderry). The dates shown on his website are:

Fri. 19th: Roy Thompson, Johnny Tanner, and Gary Ferguson, 'Songwriters in the Round', DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, 9.00 p.m. +353 87 682 5306, €13 (€15)

Sat. 20th: Roy Thompson, Johnny Tanner, and Gary Ferguson, 'Songwriters in the Round', Moy River Folk Club, Moy River B&B, near Cloonacool, Co. Sligo, 8.00 p.m.; 071 9121903 or 087 2512030 (hosts Pat and Rita; bring your own beer!)

Sun. 21st: Roy Thompson, Johnny Tanner, and Gary Ferguson, 'Songwriters in the Round', Dorney Bridge, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, 6.00 p.m., 077 1626 7625; minimum donation of £12.50; contact John at dorneybridge@gmail.com

Mon. 22nd: Thomas Copeland, Johnny Tanner, and Gary Ferguson, 'Songwriters in the Round', the Old Forge, 8 John St., Randalstown, Co. Antrim BT41 3AD; 028 9447 9777

Wed. 24th: Tanner, Ferguson, Murray, and Henry, Sessions in the House Listeners Club, Castledawson, Co. Londonderry, 07927900171/ 07565273265; info@sessionsinthehouse.com

Thurs. 25th: Tanner, Ferguson, Murray, and Henry, the Red Room, Cookstown, Co, Tyrone, BT80 9UR, 8.00 p.m.; contact Sharon Loughrin (sharonloughrin05@yahoo.co.uk, 077 36837779)

Fri. 26th: Niall Toner, Gary Ferguson, and Colin Henry, 'Songwriters in the Round', Art Bank, 88 Main St, Ballinapark, Bunclody, Co. Wexford, 8.00 p.m., €15; +353 53 937 5200
Earlier this year Gary started a songwriter network, 'for gigs, co-writing, and anything song-related'. The roster of writers taking part includes several from Ireland.

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Visiting old-time players, July and Nov. 2019

Thanks to the FOAOTMAD news blog for the news that old-time maestro Riley Baugus will be on a three-week tour in these islands from the end of October this year. The Alan Bearman Music agency, organising the tour, write:

Riley Baugus represents the very best of old time American banjo and song. His powerful singing voice and his expert musicianship place him squarely in the next generation of the quality American roots tradition.

The tour includes these three dates in Ireland:

Wed. 13th Nov.: Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
Thurs. 14th: The White Horse, Ballincollig, Co. Cork
Fri. 15th: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
Nearer the present, FOAOTMAD also announce that Canadian neo-old-time duo Mama's Broke (Lisa Maria, vocals, fiddle. mandolin, guitar, feet; Amy Lou, vocals, banjo, guitar, mandolin) will be touring these islands from 21 July to 18 Aug., in the course of which they will play one date in Ireland - on Fri. 26 July in the Cobblestone, Dublin. Their powerful and complex music can be heard, for instance, on Bandcamp. The Cobblestone website includes a link for online booking and a video (also on YouTube).

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12 June 2019

Omagh 2019: foundations for a stellar lineup

As many people already know from flyers issued by the Ulster American Folk Park at Omagh, Co. Tyrone, there will be a stellar lineup at the Folk Park's Bluegrass Festival (30 Aug.-1 Sept.) this year. The international acts alone include Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers (USA; photo), Front Country (USA), Chris Jones & the Night Drivers (USA), Bill and the Belles (USA), Hoot and Holler (USA), Buffalo Gals (GB/USA), Paris Texas - the band (B), and - marking a welcome return for what was always a valued part of former festivals - the Bailey Mountain Cloggers (USA) from Mars Hill, NC.

A few notes: Joe Mullins can make the stock phrases of bluegrass banjo sound as if they had just come fresh from his inspiration. His father, fiddler and radio presenter Paul 'Moon' Mullins, created the text of 'Come down the mountain, Katie Daly' in the form everyone knows. Front Country, from the West Coast, are the spearhead of 'string-band pop'. Bill and the Belles are the 'house band' of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, TN/VA. The Buffalo Gals, led by Kate Lissauer, are the premier old-time string band in Britain, with the virtuoso dancing of Sibylle Riesen. And Paris Texas, from Belgium, include on mandolin Jan Michielsen of 4 Wheel Drive (NL/D/B).

Details on homegrown talent, online booking, and more, will be coming shortly.

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Two Time Polka: June gigs

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka announces:

Here are the details of our June gigs.

Cork Summer Show
Sun. 16th: Entertainment Zone, Cork Summer Show, Curaheen Rd, Cork city. Start 12.00 noon

Bluegrass And Nashville Dunfanaghy (BAND) Festival
Fri. 21st: Arnolds Hotel, Main St. Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Adm. free. Start 10.00 p.m. Tel. 074 9136208
Sat. 22nd: Roonies Nightclub, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Adm. free. Start 9.00 p.m. Tel. 074 9136101

Italian Folkest (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region)
Thurs. 27th: Cassacco, Parco Europa. Open air. Start 9.15 p.m
Sat. 29th: Flaibano, Piazza Monumento. Open air. Start 9.15 p.m
Sund. 30th: Aquileia, Piazza Capitolo. Open air. Start 9.15 p.m

Our next mail will have details of our gigs at the Charlotte St. Festival in Wexford and at the Phil Murphy Festival in Carrig-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford.

Regards & thanks,
Ray & TTP

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A marriage is announced

'It's been a while', writes John Lawless on Bluegrass Today, 'since we’ve seen a bluegrass wedding as star-studded as this one'.

Alluded to by the BIB on 22 May, the marriage of David Benedict, mandolinist with Boston's Mile Twelve, and Tabitha Agnew, banjoist with Cup O' Joe and Midnight Skyracer, was celebrated (with plenty of music) on 31 May at Ballylane Reformed Presbyterian Church, Clady Milltown, near Markethill, Co. Armagh.

More details and more photos are on the Bluegrass Today feature. Congratulations to the happy couple, who will by now have returned from their honeymoon on the Isle of Skye.

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Red Hat Acoustic Music Club at Naas, 14 June 2019

Thanks to Paul and Anne McEvoy, organisers of the Red Hat Acoustic Music Club, for a reminder that the Club's sixth meeting of 2019 will be held this coming Friday (14 June).

The Red Hat meets on the second Friday of every month at the Harbour Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare. Music starts around 8.30 p.m.; a donation of €3.00 covers coffee/ tea and sandwiches at the interval.

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Editorial relaxation

The BIB editor will be out of the editorial chair on pleasure bent for a few days, starting tomorrow (Thursday 13 June); so please keep sending in news, but don't expect it to appear before Tuesday 18 June at the earliest.

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11 June 2019

Sideline (USA) tour - only a month away!

Thanks to mygrassisblue.com for this release and video (also on YouTube) on the approaching tour by Sideline, one of the most respected and powerful US bands:

Here it is, the official #sidelineireland2019 pre-tour 'y'all come out and see us' shout-out video from the Sideline guys, recorded from the tour bus while on the road in the US.

There's only 32 days to go, so mark your summer diary for some pedigree bluegrass and to meet the guys in person. The tour kicks off in An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny, on July 9, followed by Andersons Live, Sligo, on July 10; Mullingar Arts Centre on July 11; the INEC, Killarney, on July 12; Theatre Royal, Waterford, on July 13; and Dublin Unitarian Church on July 14.

This sort of awesomeness doesn't come along very often, so don't miss this oppertunity to catch chart-toppin' North Carolina bluegrass right here in Ireland. As the Big Man himself says herein, 'it's gonna be something!'

Full tour details & tickets available at 💻 http://mygrassisblue.com/sideline-2019/. And a big thanks to BarryzProductions, our multimedia production company of choice, for helping to put the video together.

Go to the mygrassisblue.com Facebook for links to venues and more. Venue links are also on the BIB calendar.

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NTB to release new single 'Myles Walter Keogh', 25 June 2019 (update)

Thanks to Niall Toner (above) for this news of his latest recording:

The Niall Toner Band (NTB) release their new single 'Myles Walter Keogh' on 25 June 2019, to coincide with the 143rd anniversary of the battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

This original song, composed by Niall Toner and Johnny Gleeson, tells the tragic story of Myles Keogh from Leighlinbridge (pronounced 'Loughlinbridge') in County Carlow, who emigrated to America, fought on the Union side in the American civil war, subsequently joined the ill-fated 7th Cavalry under General Custer, and died, along with almost 400 of his comrades and an unknown number of Native Americans, at the battle of the Little Bighorn on 25/26 June 1876. The only known survivor was Keogh's horse, named (ironically) 'Comanche'.

A performance video of 'Myles Walter Keogh', featuring Niall and the band, directed and filmed by Fiaz Farrelly, is being simultaneously released on YouTube.

The song tells the story in simple verse, neither glorifying or condemming the action, but rather pointing to the futility of war in any, and all, circumstances.

'Myles Walter Keogh' is just one of the new songs and tunes taken from the upcoming sixth all-original album from Niall and the band, Between the stone fox and the culm crusher, on Avalon Records, due for release in late 2019.

Further information: 087-2877299/ 059-9157570

Niall adds a personal note: 'We may get arrested by the Bluegrass Police for the use of some non-bluegrass rhythm instrument on this track, but a short spell of incarceration might be good for a few new prison songs!'

Update 18 June: A feature by Richard Thompson, with illustrations, audio track, and a video on Myles Walter Keogh's military career (also on YouTube) is now on Bluegrass Today.

Here also is a list of upcoming events for Niall and the band:

Sun. 16th June: Niall Toner Band, Club D'Art, Carlow, 6.30 p.m., €15
Sun. 23rd: Niall Toner Band, the Wild Duck, 17/20 Sycamore St., Temple Bar, Dublin 2, 6.30 p.m., €15
Tues. 25th: Niall Toner Band, release of single and video 'Myles Walter Keogh'

Sat. 6th July: 'Roots Freeway' returns to RTE Radio One, 1.00 p.m.
Fri. 26th: Niall Toner/ Solo/ Guest/ Gary Ferguson/ Artbank, Bunclody, 8.00 p.m., €15
Mon. 29th: Niall Toner and Richie Foley with Ray Barron and Hank Wedel, Cork (details TBA)

Sun. 4th Aug.: Niall Toner Band, St Enda's, Rathfarnham, Dublin, 3.00-5.00 p.m.; admission free
Sat. 10th: Niall Toner Band, Codys, Rahanna (private party)

Sat. 5th-Sun. 6th Oct.: Niall Toner, solo, Cork Folk Festival

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Westport 2019 in retrospect

Blouser's session, early Friday evening

Thanks to Des Butler for this report and photos:

Just got back on Monday afternoon from the 13th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, and what a great weekend of music was to be had at Westport. Having attended all of the Westport festivals since its inception I had thought that it doesn't get better than last year's 12th festival, but this year it was exceptional.

The Friday night concert in Holy Trinity Church opened with a splendid performance from the Local Honeys from the US [above] who explained about and then sang some truly angst-filled ballads about the destruction caused by and then the demise of the coal mining industry in Kentucky. They were followed by Big Chimney Barn Dance [below], and they performed exactly as it said on the tin with some great old-time Appalachian dance tunes.

Saturday night's concert in the Town Hall Theatre was opened by a very talented and the youngest bluegrass band that I have ever seen perform, their ages ranging from 16 to 20 years. They were followed by A.J. Lee & Blue Summit [above, at the Wyatt Hotel on Friday night] who were for me 'band of the festival'. This band blew me away with their strong vocals and harmonies and great instrumentation. I couldn't wait to buy one of their CDs.

They were followed by McKay & Leigh [above, at the Clew Bay Hotel on Friday night], a duo who sing and play most of their own material and whose songs are full of wit, irony, and basic logic concerning the human condition, accompanied by some great guitar playing by both. A thoroughly enjoyable performance. The concert ended with the three bands taking the stage together for a rousing finale.

The Sunday night concert, which is Folk Night in Matt Molloy's Yard Bar, commenced with local talent giving great interpretations of songs of ancient lore, and the final official performance of the festival was given by Niall Hanna & Rachel McGarrity [above] performing some heart-rending ballads of unrequited love. A very talented duo on guitar and fiddle, and a truly enjoyable performance.

The entire weekend had some very talented bands playing in many hostelries throughout the town - Red Herring [above], the Rocky Top String Band, and Bluegrass 43, to name just a few. Add to all of that some great jamming sessions ably led by Tim Rogers, Bill Forster, Leo Hayes, Sean McGarr, and Dessie from Donegal on fiddle (to mention just some of the performers), and it all added up to a great bluegrass, old-time, and folk weekend.

The Lowly Strung, Sunday lunchtime show

All thanks for organising this extravaganza goes to Uri Kohen and his team who were working tirelessly throughout the weekend to ensure the smooth running and the excellent sound for our enjoyment.

BIB editor's note: The weekend's highlights for me (apart from meeting so many good people) were the old-time jam at the Clew Bay Hotel after the Friday concert; the astounding power and clarity of Bill Forster's Saratoga Star banjo; and the moving force of 'Amazing grace' sung by everyone in Holy Trinity church on Sunday morning, 'lined out' in traditional style by Linda Jean Stokley of the Local Honeys.

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The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 27 June 2019

Gerry Fitzpatrick, organiser of the Cabin Sessions series, announces the sixth Session of 2019:

We're back with you on Thursday 27 June. Special guests are: Sarah Buckley, Elva MacGowan. Hope to see you there!
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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10 June 2019

The Brothers Blue (USA) in Dublin and Cork, late June 2019

Benny Haravitch (banjo), Matthew Sperber (guitar), and Charlie Coughlin (fiddle) are The Brothers Blue, an American folk trio from New York State, basing their sound in southern Appalachian old-time fiddle music, and incorporating country and bluegrass sounds as well. You can hear their music on their own YouTube channel. Towards the end of this month they'll be in Dublin and Cork in (their words) 'a half vacation/ half play-as-much-OT-music-in-Ireland-as-we-can for a week'.

The Brothers Blue (also on Facebook) will be at the venerable old-time jam in the Cobblestone on Saturday 22 June, and are playing a gig later that evening at the Patriots Inn, Kilmainham, Dublin 8. They’re in Dublin just for that weekend before proceeding to Cork, which has long been a stronghold of old-time and bluegrass music in this island. They can be contacted by e-mail.

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Nic Gareiss at An Chúirt Chruitireachta 2019

For fans of percussive dance, Nick Gareiss (USA) will be taking part in An Chúirt Chruitireachta (30 June-5 July), the annual international harp festival at An Grianán, Termonfechin, Co. Louth. Nick Gareiss will be involved in workshops on 3 and 4 July and an 8.00 p.m. concert on 4 July with harpist Maeve Gilchrist and the RTÉ Con Tempo Quartet.

In his appearances with This Is How We Fly, the freer rhythms of the group display his artistry very well, but perhaps at the expense of the excitement generated when he responds to traditional tunes - for instance, in these YouTube videos of him dancing to the fiddling of Brittany Haas and Bruce Molsky.

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4th Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree - book now!

The Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree Facebook gives a reminder that this year's Jamboree (12-13 July) is only five weeks away, so: 'If you have not booked already it's time to do so.'

Details of the programme, the lineup, the distinguished members of Alecia Nugent's band, and the schedule for her tour in Ireland (culminating in the Ardara Bluegrass Festival in Co. Donegal a week after Athy) appeared on the BIB on 11 April, 2 May, and 14 May. Tour dates are all on the BIB calendar.

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09 June 2019

Ophelia Trio open Irish tour in Dublin, 13, 16 June 2019 (update)

Ophelia Trio: (l-r) Gab, Luke, Lily

Thanks to Luke Coffey for this news:

Ophelia Trio is a musical project consisting of Luke Coffey (banjo, vocals), Lily Sheehan (guitar, vocals) and Gab Faure (fiddle). The music is a synergy of Breton folk, Irish traditional music, and old-time. It takes a different direction from the music of the members' other projects, to create something a bit different. The songs are written collaboratively and have an appreciation of nature and music ingrained in the lyrics.

Here is a video of a song recorded in Brittany, France.

We are playing in
  • The Blue Light Pub, Barnacullia, Co. Dublin, Thursday 13 June, 6.00-9.00 p.m. (free entry)
  • The Leeson Lounge, 148 Upper Leeson St., Dublin 4, Sunday 16 June, 6.00 p.m. (free entry)
BIB editor's note: Ophelia Trio performed at the Crossover Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival in England last month, having won a place in the showcase competition.

Update 11 June: NB - the Blue Light gig on 13 June runs from 6.00 to 9.00 p.m., instead of starting at 9.00 as first shown here.

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JigJam interviewed at John Hartford Memorial Festival

Tullamore's JigJam took part in the 'most laid-back festival in America' - the 9th Annual John Hartford Memorial Festival (29 May-1 June) at Bean Blossom, Indiana, USA, the location of Bill Monroe's Music Park & Campground.

The report by Dave Berry on Bluegrass Today includes many fine photos (one is of our old friends Special Consensus on stage), and eight audio recordings of interviews with artists taking part in the festival - and one of these is a two-minute clip of an interview with the members of JigJam, talking about their US tour and their favorite bands.

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Second single from Rick Faris

On 29 March Rick Faris, who was here as guitarist with the Special Consensus (USA) early this year, released a debut solo on Dark Shadow Recording - the title track of his coming album Breaking in lonesome.

On Friday (7 June) Rick's second single, 'If the Kansas River can', was released. It can be bought on the Dark Shadow website. A clip is also featured in John Lawless's post on Bluegrass Today.

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06 June 2019

10 String Symphony (USA) for Ireland, 6-17 May 2020

Music Network announce that as part of their 2019/20 touring programme, 10 String Symphony (Christian Sedelmyer and Rachel Baiman) will be touring here from 6 to 17 May 2020.

The duo (formed in 2012) took part in the recording of 'Squirrel Hunters' on the last Special Consensus album, the track that won the IBMA's 2018 Instrumental Recorded Performance award. They have at present a busy touring schedule with their own latest album, Generation frustration. A video of their 'I can't have you anymore' can be seen on their Music Network web page and on YouTube. Details of the Irish tour are to be released in August 2019.

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More old-time news

The latest issue (vol. 14, no. 11) of the Old Time Herald includes - among many other good things - its '2019 festival and camp guide', in which the only entry for Ireland is the traditional Willie Clancy Summer School in Co. Clare (6-14 July). No dates earlier than March are in the guide; so FOAOTMAD's Gainsborough festival in England, and the Annual Irish Old Time Appalachian Music Gathering, both in February, do not appear. In 2020 the 26th Gainsborough festival will begin on St Valentine's day (14 Feb.) and the 3rd Gathering a week later (21-23 Feb.).
Murphy Henry's 'General store' column in the latest issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine reports the publication of Tommy Thompson: new-timey string band musician by Lew Stern, the author of the exemplary biography of Dwight Diller.

Lew Stern, together with David Brooks, has already published 'He could surely make a banjo talk' - 109 clawhammer banjo tabs by Tommy Thompson (£13.95 in paperback and £3.83 in Kindle from Amazon.co.uk). He is currently preparing a book on a Tommy Thompson bandmate, the late Bill Hicks (see the BIB for 26 Nov. 2018)

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05 June 2019

Appalachian singing workshop in Dublin, 12 June 2019

Thanks to Derek Copley of the Dublin old-time-music community for the news that Elizabeth LaPrelle and her mother Sandy (above) will be giving a singing workshop in the Cobblestone, 77 King St. North, Dublin D07 TP22, a week from now (Wednesday 12 June) from 6.00 to 7.00 p.m. The event Facebook page says:

For all singing enthusiasts, an opportunity to learn from two experts in the Old Time and Appalachian singing traditions, mother and daughter Elizabeth LaPrelle and Sandy Newlin LaPrelle from Rural Retreat, Virginia. Entry is €10. ***No reservation necessary - payment will be taken on arrival.***

The workshop will be followed by a special off-schedule session with The Night Before Larry Got Stretched, featuring Elizabeth and Sandy as guests (free admission).

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Sore Fingers: new developments before the Jubilee

John and Moira Wirtz, organisers of Sore Fingers Summer Schools in England, announce that the Easter 2020 Sore Fingers Week will be the twenty-fifth event of the series. Before that takes place, however, there will be other Sore Fingers events:
  • the annual October weekend (25-27 Oct. this year), in which the teaching staff will include Bill Forster on banjo, and there will be a special new course on improvisation;
  • a new week-long course on Monroe-style mandolin (3-9 Nov. 2019), taught by the uniquely qualified Mike Compton and held in Andalusia, Spain*;
  • the selection of tutors for Easter 2020 is in progress.
With a glance at the uncertainties of many aspects of contemporary life, John and Moira announce: 'We are determined to see SF through these difficult times and continue to offer the best value-for-money, high-quality learning opportunities over here in Britain and Europe.' Read more in the latest Sore Fingers news release.

* BIB editor's note: Not to be confused with Kate Lissauer's old-time music learning holidays, also in Andalusia.

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04 June 2019

JigJam: new single, new dates in Ireland

Ten days ago the BIB reported that JigJam will be on the bill at this year's Winfield festival in Kansas. The Tullamore band, who are just back from 'a fantastic week' in the Mid-West USA and are about to set off for festivals in Britain, now announce that from 9.00 a.m. tomorrow (5 June) their new single 'Bluebird' will be available from all the usual outlets worldwide, the last release before their album Phoenix comes out on 17 June. For ordering and more details, see their website. JigJam's next dates in Ireland will be:

Fri. 14th June: Buddy's Big Shed, Thurles, Co. Tipperary
Sat. 15th: Luker's Pub, Main St., Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly (part of RiverFest 2019)

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In the June 2019 BU

The June 2019 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine includes, among many other good things, a feature by Derek Halsey on John Hartford's mammoth collection of fiddle tunes ($34.95), a compilation by Matt Combs, Katie Harford Hogue, and Greg Reish, of 176 original fiddle tunes composed by the late John Hartford.

The review section includes a review by Bill Foster of North country, the debut album by Danny Burns, born and raised in the north of Ireland (see the BIB for 27 Feb. 2019), with an impressive list of guest musicians. Foster concludes: '... all good songs that feature Burns’ strong lead, and the accompanying musicians make the overall project a fine listening experience'.

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03 June 2019

Local Honeys (USA) on OTC's Baltimore festival report

The Local Honeys (left) - who will be among the ten acts from overseas on the lineup of this weekend's Westport festival, playing in the Friday night concert - were also part of the Inaugural Baltimore Old Time Music Festival, held on March 22-23 this year. Brad Kolodner's report on the festival on Old Time Central says: 'The Local Honeys hypnotized everyone with their powerful originals and stunning harmonies.' They're visible in a video (also on YouTube) about the festival.

Other artists at Baltimore included some who have played in Ireland: Molsky's Mountain Drifters and the Corn Potato String Band. The second Baltimore festival is scheduled for 13-14 Mar. 2020.

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New single from McKay & Leigh

Voxhall Records of Nashville, TN, have released the single 'Analog' by McKay & Leigh (USA), whose current tour of Ireland began last Friday and will continue up to and including this coming weekend's Westport festival.

'Analog', written by Brennen Leigh, is the follow-up to their debut single 'New cut road', and is available for airplay by radio presenters through AirPlay Direct. Musicians on the recording are Brennen Leigh (lead vocal, mandolin), Noel McKay (acoustic guitar, background vocals), Jenee Fleenor (fiddle, background vocals), and Simon Flory (upright bass).

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02 June 2019

Che Apalache (RA) - kings of Latingrass

With the latest news from We Banjo 3 fresh in our minds, thanks to Devon Léger of Hearth Music/ HearthPR for news of another fusion of bluegrass methods with native traditions.

Che Apalache (photo) is a four-piece band (banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle) formed in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by multi-instrumentalist Joe Troop from North Carolina and three of his former music students. Starting with straight bluegrass (in a continent not always friendly to American cultural influences), they now have more Latin-American idiom and feeling in their original material. Nonetheless, they won the Neo-Traditional Band contest at the 2017 Clifftop, WV, festival.

A feature on them by Lee Zimmerman appeared on Bluegrass Today in May 2018. In April this year they signed with Free Dirt Records, as announced by John Lawless on Bluegrass Today with a promo video (also on YouTube) to raise funds for their twelve-track second album, Rearrange my heart. This was produced by Béla Fleck and is due for release on 8 Aug. 2019.

The BIB editor writes:

From an advance hearing of the new album (and earlier material on YouTube), I like the music of Che Apalache a lot - their close harmonies, Joe Troop's lead singing, and especially the banjo work of Pau Barjau from Mexico. I can imagine this band getting a particularly good reception at the annual Al Ras Bluegrass & Old Time Festival at Barcelona.

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01 June 2019

We Banjo 3: new album available for pre-order

Galway's We Banjo 3, the Kings of Celtgrass, announce:

Now you can experience the legendary sound of a live We Banjo 3 show from the comfort of your own home, in sparkling high-definition audio. Recorded in front of a live audience at the world famous music venue The Ark, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Roots to rise LIVE is the perfect sound track to summer 2019 - high energy, joyful, and exhilarating. This is rock'n'roll - banjofied.

The new fourteen-track album will be released on 19 July. Fans can now:
  • pre-order the CD and vinyl bundles and get 20% off all We Banjo 3 shirts and hoodies;
  • pre-save on Spotify and get access to a secret live video, and/or
  • pre-order on iTunes and get an instant download track.

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Red Herring tour of Britain and Ireland

Red Herring (NL) are about to set off on their 2019 tour of these islands, with a schedule - shown in the poster image - that includes the Westport weekend and two other dates in Ireland (all on the BIB calendar).

The band invite bookers, reviewers, radio DJs, fellow musicians, and people who have helped them in booking the tour, to attend a show of their choice and have their names put on the guest list. Red Herring can be contacted by e-mail. They add:

Potential bookers we have not met yet - please use this offer to check out if you like our music and our live performance, in case you might consider booking us in the future.

We would be very happy for any live concert reviews or media coverage. If you could help us promote the tour in advance or write/ broadcast a report after the fact, we would be very grateful. If you know of any media who would be interested, please forward this message to them - of course the guest list invitation applies to them as well.

Musicians - please let us know if you'd like to meet us at one of these gigs and if you'd be up for a little after-gig jamming!

Red Herring (also on Facebook) consists of Loes van Schaijk, Arthur Deighton, Joram Peeters, and Paul van Vlodrop, all of them among the most capable and experienced bluegrass musicians this side of the Atlantic. Paul, a former member of 4 Wheel Drive, has been called 'the best mandolin player in Europe' by no less than Martino Coppo of Red Wine. Loes is the author of the outstanding book High lonesome below sea level on bluegrass in the Netherlands. Don't miss their unique a cappella version of the 'Wedding dress song' on YouTube.

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31 May 2019

Uri Kohen and Westport festival featured on Bluegrass Situation

With the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival now only a week away, the Bluegrass Situation (the US-based 'hub for all things roots') published two days ago a major feature and interview by Emma John - 'Uri Kohen unites a world of music at Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival in Ireland' as part of a summer campaign of

celebrating the festival makers – the men and women who put their time, their finances, and their sanity on the line to bring us the music we love.

It's an excellent interview for information about Uri himself, his musical background, what brought him to Westport; the genesis, growth, and character of the Festival; and the accessibility (and stamina) of bluegrass and old-time artists. Several fine photos from Westport's ample collection are included, plus a video (also on YouTube) from the launch party on 11 May. And there are some memorable quotes. Pay special attention to the very last paragraph.

Update 6 June: The BIB apologises to all for putting 'Bluegrass Standard' in the title when this post first appeared, instead of 'Bluegrass Situation'.

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'Crash course in the blues' from Sideline (USA)

Sideline: (l-r) Bailey Coe, Jason Moore, Skip Cherryholmes, Troy Boone, Steve Dilling, Daniel Greeson (photo: Kelly Hammonds)

The Mountain Home Music Company announce in their latest e-newsletter that 'Crash course in the blues'. the latest single recorded by Sideline, is released today. The song, a Steve Wariner composition, is delivered by Sideline as 'a fast-paced, blues-rock inspired ballad'.

Update 1 June: The release has now been featured on Bluegrass Today, with an audio clip.

Sideline will be playing in Ireland from 9 July to 14 July, with the tour fully organised by the Mygrassisblue.com agency. Full details of the band and the tour are on the Mygrassisblue.com website, which also has online booking facilities. All dates are on the BIB calendar.

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29 May 2019

Bands wanted for Durty Nelly's, Bunratty, 4-5 July 2019

The BIB has just received a message to say that bluegrass bands are wanted to play at the world-famous Durty Nelly's at Bunratty, Co. Clare, on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 July, marking American Independence Day.

Durty Nelly's has been an important and welcoming venue in the many splendid musical events organised in previous years in that area by the Sixmilebridge Folk Club. Bands who are interested in performing there on 4-5 July should contact Durty Nelly's through its website contact page or Facebook.

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BAND Box launch and dress rehearsal, 1 June 2019

Following on from the BIB news on 18 May, the organising team of the BAND (Bluegrass And Nashville Dunfanaghy) festival (21-3 June 2019) in Co. Donegal announce that there will be an official launch and dress rehearsal of the new stage in the BAND Box at Roonie's, Dunfanaghy, the venue for this year's special ticketed sessions, this coming Saturday (1 June). Local musicians will launch the new stage, and there will be raffles, pints, and tunes.

Tickets for the special 'Year of the Guitar' sessions can be booked here. Videos from last year's BAND Festival can be seen on Facebook.

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