26 November 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 news received 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.

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25 November 2014

Big Saturday (29 Nov. 2014)


The coming Saturday (29 Nov.) will see plenty of varied bluegrass activity in three of the historic provinces of Ireland. From 10.00 a.m. to noon, the latest Dangem Bluegrass Get-Together will be held at the Lagan Valley Island Civic Centre, Lisburn, Co. Antrim. At 8.00 p.m. at Yard 401, Little Donegall St., Belfast, Wookalily will be launching the physical and digital release of their debut album All the waiting while.

The same evening Rackhouse Pilfer will have travelled down from Sligo to play at the Rockies GAA Club in Blackrock, Cork city; while quintessential Corkman Mick 'Black Dog' Daly will be opening for the UK duo My Darling Clementine at Leap Castle, on the Co. Offaly/Co. Tipperary border near Roscrea.

Last but not least, the new hard-driving, hardcore band KingBlue (shown at the head of this post in one of Michael Barbour's fine photos) will be playing at the GAA Centre, Dublin Rd, Athy, Co. Kildare, supported by Woodbine, host band for the annual Athy Bluegrass Festival.

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Bass player wanted

Thanks once more to Ray O'Brien and 'Bluegrass in Ireland' for sharing this appeal:

Bass player wanted for three-piece old-timey/bluegrass band, very familiar with touring the festivals both here and abroad, based in the north-east of Ireland. Double bass would be great, superb third-piece harmony singing a bonus.

If you are interested, please contact the band by e-mail.

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24 November 2014

I Draw Slow at Whelan's, Dublin, in aid of MIRT: 10 Dec. 2014

Thanks to Dave Holden of I Draw Slow (above) for the news that on Wednesday 10 December the band will play a gig in aid of life-saving blood cancer research in Whelan’s of Wexford St., Dublin 2. Tickets (€25) are available online, or call WAV Tickets (Lo-Call 1890 200 078). All proceeds go to MIRT Ireland - the Mater Institute for Research and Therapy in Blood Health Innovation. The band's press release announces:

I Draw Slow invite you to join them for a very special evening to raise funds to support the ground-breaking work of Professor Peter O’Gorman, consultant haematologist at the Mater Hospital, Dublin. Peter is the pioneering Irish doctor who is fighting the system and winning, working to save the lives of Irish blood cancer patients.

Incredibly, Irish cancer patients are dying because life-saving, non-invasive drug treatment is denied to them due to bureaucracy and red tape.

Two new cases of blood cancer are diagnosed every day in Ireland. In the past, Irish patients had to battle the system as well as the illness. Professor O’Gorman and his team looked beyond the Irish health system for answers and worked out a collaboration whereby Irish patients could participate in international drug trials at home in Ireland.

This proactive approach to patient care has doubled the survival rate of his patients in the last seven years. By reaching out to their fellow clinicians in the US, the MIRT team bring hope and health to Irish patients with cancer of the blood. So far 170 patients have participated in thirty-two blood cancer trials. These patients now have a fighting chance of beating the blood cancers - multiple myeloma, leukaemia and lymphoma.

This vital programme receives no state funding. This is a cause very close to the heart of I Draw Slow. ‘Irish people are dying because of our slow drug-licensing system. Life-saving drugs available in the US are not getting to us in time to save lives.’ Please join us on 10 December to help support this life-saving work for Irish blood cancer patients.


For more information regarding this show/images/interview requests, please contact Dave (e-mail or 'phone 086 325 7947).

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Still some bluegrass to be played before Christmas

Thanks to Derek Lockhart of Dangem Bluegrass for the latest e-newsletter, announcing that this month's Dangem Bluegrass Get-Together at the Lagan Valley Island, Island Civic Centre, Lisburn, Co. Antrim BT27 4RL, will be this coming Saturday (29 Nov. 2014) from 10.00 a.m. to noon.

Derek suggests: 'Why not drop your partner off to shop in the city of Lisburn this Saturday and play some bluegrass?', and he adds: 'Let everyone know. Bring along your banjos, guitars, mandolins, fiddles, dobros, and bass, or just come along and enjoy us make music. Look forward to seeing as many of you who can attend.'

The schedule will be as usual, except that the provision of banjo lessons is still awaiting funding (promised by the Centre); so things will go as follows:

10.00-10.30 Warm-up
10.30-11.00(ish) Breakout time for beginners; rest of players, jam time
11.00(ish) to 12.00(ish) All back together

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US picker looking for jams in and around Co. Wexford

Thanks again to Ray O'Brien for sharing the news that Wendy Connolly (photo) has just moved from the US, where she played and listened to bluegrass and old-time music, to the Gorey area of Co. Wexford. She is already missing the music, and is hoping to find some easy-going jams.

Wendy's primary instrument is her voice, but she also plays three-finger banjo and Travis-style guitar. She can be contacted on Facebook or by phone (086-0857185).

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Special C. warming up

The Special C. in an informal moment. Eager Australian bluegrass fans are visible in the middle distance

It's now a mere month and a half till the Special Consensus (USA) will be in these islands for a three-week tour. They have been warming up in Australia this last week, thanks to an initiative by the Davidson Brothers - read the full story of the trip, as told by Special C. leader Greg Cahill, on Bluegrass Today.

Tonight (Mon. 24 Nov.) they're playing in Chicago; see the band's online schedule for other shows before the tour begins. Details of dates in Ireland will be posted on the BIB as soon as they become available - the band are already listed among the highlights of the Shannonside Winter Music Weekend at Bunratty and Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, in mid January.

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Another NTB triumph in Carlow

The NTB in action: (l-r) Richie Foley, Dick Gladney, Niall,
Johnny Gleeson

Thanks to Ray O'Brien and Bluegrass in Ireland for sharing the news that the Niall Toner Band show on Friday 21 Nov. at the Schoolhouse, Killoughternane, Co. Carlow, was a great success, with a full house and plenty of shifting of merchandise including the new album Working on love, which is due for its official release on St Valentine's day 2015. Read the full story on Ray's Facebook page, and of course on Niall's own blog.

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23 November 2014

The Wiyos available for July 2015?

Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency reports that the innovative US old-time band The Wiyos (Michael Farkas, Teddy Weber, and Sauerkraut Seth Travins) have just completed their most successful UK tour to date. As a couple of summer festivals in Britain have expressed interest in putting the band on in 2015, they could be available for bookings in the three weeks 4-24 July next year. For the benefit of event organisers, Loudon sends this link to a recent review, and says:

Please let us know if you would like to include them in programming - and, if possible, indicate which dates you have free in that timeframe to help us work out some sensible routing. They've gone back to basics as a three-piece but are no ordinary trio, given all of the instruments, percussion - and out-and-out versatility - on stage.

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22 November 2014

Mick Daly opens for My Darling Clementine at Roscrea, 29 Nov. 2014

Another 'on the edge/country' event: thanks to Tom Stapleton, veteran promoter of acoustic music in Ireland, for the news that the UK duo My Darling Clementine will be performing at Leap Castle, Co. Offaly, very near Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, on Saturday 29 Nov.

My Darling Clementine (Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish) specialise in classic country music duets; a sample of their work is on YouTube here. Having been in Ireland in May this year for the Kilkenny Roots Festival, they will be playing four shows here next week:

Thurs. 27th: Spirit Store, Dundalk, Co. Louth; 042-935269
Fri. 28th: DC Music Club, Dublin 2; 087-6825306
Sat. 29th: Leap Castle, Roscrea; info via e-mail.
Sun. 30th: Monroe's Live, Galway city; 091-583397

More details are on the duo's online schedule. A special interest in the Roscrea show for BIB readers is given by the fact that Mick 'Black Dog' Daly (photo), longtime linchpin of Cork's Lee Valley String Band and sometime member of numerous other groups including Four Men and a Dog, will be opening for the duo.

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21 November 2014

Rye River Band at DC Music Club TONIGHT

Thanks to Paul Lee of Musiclee.ie for the news that the eclectic and electric Rye River Band will be playing in the DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, tonight (21 Nov.), starting at 9.00 p.m. Tickets are €15 (€12 if reserved in advance). Paul's release announces:

Rye River Band play a blend of Americana and Roots standards and original material. The mix of predominantly electric guitar and fiddle provide a sound that travels across the American Roots spectrum. You will be regaled with old-time country ballads all the way to 'high charged' rhythm and blues.

The band consists of Pat Burgess (vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin), Patsy Tracey (lead electric guitar), Don Knox (fiddle, harmonica, vocals), Smithy (bass, vocals), and Eugene Burns (drums).

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18 November 2014

Ernie Evans - recovering from surgery

Just over five years ago (21 October 2009) the BIB carried news of Ernie and Debi Evans (photo), who were then about to launch a new radio show, 'Good morning Europe', over the internet. This followed their discovery at IBMA's World of Bluegrass how numerous, dedicated, and talented European bluegrass enthusiasts can be. Ernie and Debi are stalwarts of the bluegrass scene in Florida, playing in the Florida State Bluegrass Band, active in the North Florida Bluegrass Association, organising festivals, and running the Evans Bluegrass Journal blog.

Bluegrass Today reports that Ernie underwent major surgery yesterday for a potentially life-threatening condition. The good news is that the surgery was successful, and Ernie - though in pain - is recovering, waiting for the next medical steps, and appreciating the messages that he and Debi have received. Debi writes on Bluegrass Today:

Ernie wants everyone to know that regardless of what the lab results say on Friday, he is full steam ahead and intends to get back on track recording, producing shows, touring, and radio. I may need help holding him down this week so he gets the rest he needs to allow himself to heal.

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17 November 2014

Niall Toner: lyrics and more from Working on love

Niall Toner's complete sleeve notes for his forthcoming album Working on love, including accounts of how each of the compositions came about and full lyrics to all songs, are now on his blog. More about the album, which was recorded in Nashville earlier this year, is on the BIB for 13 and 14 Oct.

Seen above are pickers who took part in the project: (l-r) Samson Grisman (bass), Scott Vestal (banjo), Niall (vocals, mandolin, guitar), Keith Sewell (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, vocals, production), Justin Weaver (mandolin, guitar, slide guitar), and John Mock (harmonium, percussion, whistle). Wendy Buckner (not shown) contributed harmony vocals.

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Deadline for EWOB 2015 is 1 Dec. 2014

The European World of Bluegrass Festival Official EWOB Page on Facebook reminds bands and artists who want to take part in the next EWOB festival in the Netherlands in May 2015 that there are now only two weeks left to the deadline for applications.

Forms can be downloaded from the EWOB website (now being rebuilt, but the application page is fully operational), and applications must be in by 1 December 2014.

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16 November 2014

Old-time music at the Cabin Sessions, Dundrum, Dublin, 27 Nov. 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):

We're back again on Thursday 27 November. We'll have the usual Cabin Crew, hopefully including Dave Hardy (clt/sax). Special guests are Stomptown Brass (brass band), the Hat Trick String Band (Bill Whelan, Sheila Sullivan, Nora Artola), and all the way from California singer/ guitarist Caitlin Jemma. 9.30-11.30 p.m. as usual, and admission 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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John Edward Dopyera, 1929-2014

The European Bluegrass Music Association Facebook page passes on the sad news that Dr John Edward Dopyera, retired research social psychologist, died last Wednesday (12 November 2014). He was born in California on 16 August 1929. His father and uncle, the brothers John and Rudolph Dopyera, were born in Slovakia (then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire) and emigrated with their parents and siblings in 1908 to the USA, where they later developed the resonator guitar, now known under the generic title of 'dobro', derived from Dopyera Brothers.

Dr Dopyera (whose outline of the history of his family can be found here) made several trips to Slovakia from 1990 onwards to support the development of the celebrated Dobrofest at Trnava. In 2005 he received, on behalf of his father and uncle, a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. An obituary can be seen here or via a link on the EBMA Facebook page.

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15 November 2014

Old-time at the Glenside resumes, 19 Nov. 2014

Cathal Cusack (guitar), Tim Hawkins (fiddle), and Richard Hawkins (banjo) are glad to announce that their plan to play old-time music on the third Wednesday of every month, upstairs at the Glenside, Landscape Road, Churchtown, Dublin 14, will resume on 19 November 2014.

October's session was prevented by the pressure of other commitments on Cathal, who now says he intends to 'be there hell or high water'. Well, the nearby Dodder river had plenty of high water in the past week, but it didn't rise to the Glenside; and few old-time musicians seem to be bothered by hell... However, suitable libations will be made to Helen Highwater, revered by the US band of that name as 'the tough, whimsical goddess of string band music'.

For the format of the session, see the BIB of 20 Aug., where a list of tunes is given.

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14 November 2014

Wookalily - All the waiting while release, 29 Nov. 2014

Thanks to Wookalily for their latest newsletter, announcing the long awaited launch of their first album:

We will be performing one very special show at Yard 401, Little Donegall St., Belfast, on Saturday 29 November 2014 to launch the physical and digital release of our debut album All the waiting while. The aim was to record a debut album with past and present members of the band. It’s therefore a snapshot of the life and times of Wookalily and now the waiting is over! We had lots of fun making the album and we hope you can join us at the launch to celebrate its release.

The launch in Belfast will be our last concert in the city this year. It will showcase various guitars, banjos, percussion instruments, djembe, mandolin, and much more. There will also be special guest performances from well known singers Elaine McConaghie, Nina Armstrong, Rowena Cairns, Catherine Grehan and much-sought-after musicians Suzanne Savage on fiddle, Rohan Armstrong on double bass, and Colin Henry on dobro, all who have contributed their talents to the album.

Read more in the newsletter, where you can also pre-order the album, read a track list, see the official video of 'Banjo blues' (also on YouTube), and read many of the very positive reviews of the music of Wookalily (also on Facebook).

That particular Saturday will also be a lively night for bluegrass in Cork and Athy (see the BIB for 5 Nov.). Has anyone organised anything for Connacht?

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13 November 2014

Greenshine at the DMC, 14 Nov. 2014

Thanks to Paul Lee of Musiclee.ie for the news that the acclaimed duo Greenshine (Mary Greene and Noel Shine, left) will be playing at the DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, tomorrow night (Fri. 14 Nov.). Tickets are €15 at the door, €13 reserved in advance.

The music sample given on the YouTube link in Paul's newsletter is to their recording of 'Slow lane' by US singer/songwriter Gary Ferguson, who this year completed his tenth consecutive annual tour of Ireland. The DC Music Club is at no. 20 (black door) on the corner directly opposite the entrance to the Meath Hospital.

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11 November 2014

The New Breadwinners hit the scene

Thanks to John Denby, who announces a new three-piece Dublin-based bluegrass band - the New Breadwinners, consisting of John (mandolin), Luke Coffey (banjo), and Niall Hughes (guitar). John writes:

Following our appearances at the Cruthú Arts Festival in Longford and the Balla Bluegrass Festival, we are pleased to announce the new band and have launched our Facebook page and YouTube channel and are now available for bookings.

There are two live videos from Longford on our Facebook page, which can also be viewed at our YouTube channel.

The videos show the trio on stage at Longford, making a big impression with their deft arrangement of 'Beaumont Rag' and the original song 'John Keavney'. Full details of the band, including contact data, can be found here. NB: John is still a member of the Down and Out Bluegrass Band, and Luke and Niall are still members of Well Enough Alone.

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Bluegrass Weekend in Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, 14-16 Nov. 2014

Thanks to Ray O'Brien and 'Bluegrass in Ireland' for sharing this news from Peter Larkin:

Bluegrass Weekend in Rafterys Rest, Kilcolgan, Co, Galway, starting Friday night (14 Nov.), ending Sunday afternoon (16th): Co. Louth-based Della Belle [photo] will be the resident band for the weekend, along with the House Band, P.J. Power, and other players from Dublin and the midlands. If you like bluegrass, it's the place to be.

All welcome and it's free, so come on out - the winter will be long enough.

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Niall Toner on stage, on disc, on the air, Nov.-Dec. 2014 - and on T-shirts

On the Niall Toner Band blog, Niall writes:

Tickets for the New Niall Toner Band show at Killoughternane [Co. Carlow; in the Schoolhouse] on Friday 21 November are going like hot cakes, I'm delighted to say. I met a man in Bunclody yesterday who had just booked six seats, so don't leave it till the last moment. I also hope to have a limited number of special copies of my new album, Working on love, available on the night.

I'm also delighted to say that the Niall Toner Band gig which was recorded live at the Milford Room in Carlow [see the BIB for 4 Sept. 2014] will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 in the 'In concert' series on Sunday 30 November. Produced by Aidan Butler.

I'll be back on RTÉ Radio 1 myself with 'Roots Freeway' on 6 December for another three-month run. Expect to hear lots of great new roots music from the USA and from the home front, and if you're a performer/singer-songwriter/band in this genre, please send your CDs and/or links to me at Roots Freeway, RTÉ Radio 1, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

For some details of the new album, see the BIB for 13 and 14 Oct. The T-shirts (shown above) were featured on Niall's blog on 29 Sept.

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10 November 2014

Prison Love at Bray, 14 Nov. 2014: update

The Mermaid Arts Centre, Main St., Bray, Co. Wicklow, sends a reminder that Ireland's favourite Americana misdemeanants, Prison Love, are playing at the Mermaid this coming Friday (14 November) at 8.00 p.m. The Centre adds: 'This is a seated gig.' Tickets (€12/10) are available online or by calling the Mermaid's box office (01 2724030).

Thanks also to Mark 'Marko' O'Mahony (second from left in the photo) for his own message:

... We haven't togged out in north Wicklow since our run-in with Luan Parle and a biker rally in the Harbour Bar back in '11. Going to be an evening of great music and craic in a terrific venue with unbelievable sound. We'll be on our best behaviour, throwing a few new tunes in there including something from Bray's finest, the Cujo Family...

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Free bluegrass practice tracks

Thanks to Hugh Taggart, lead singer and guitarist of Well Enough Alone, for sharing this news of a valuable aid for practising pickers:

Saw this on Bluegrass Today and thought it might be nice to share it with anyone who's interested. It's a site with free bluegrass practice tracks that include the option of slowing them down.

The site is set up by banjoist Simon Mitchinson, who describes it fully here. At present the list comprises over eighty tunes with a range of different keys and chord sequences, and Simon is prepared to add tunes in response to requests.

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