31 July 2014

2nd Bunratty Banjo Pickers Festival, 26-28 Sept. 2014

Thanks to Brendan Walsh and his team from the Sixmilebridge Folk Club for bringing about the second Bunratty Banjo Pickers Festival, which will be held in the unique setting of the Castle (left), the Folk Park, and adjacent venues in Bunratty, Co. Clare, on the last September weekend - Friday 26 to Sunday 28 September. The complete schedule, hour by hour and venue by venue, can be seen here.

Special attractions for the bluegrass fan are the Moron Brothers from central Kentucky. The indefatigable John Nyhan is organising a tour for the Brothers, and we hope to be able to publish soon their full schedule in Ireland. Read more about them, and sample plenty of them on YouTube, through the links on the BIB post of 25 May 2014.

Also taking part are Limerick's own Banjaxed Bluegrass Band, old-time string bands, and other outfits using the banjo in its different forms and different genres of music.

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30 July 2014

Pe & Pe: last few days of this trip

Thanks to Alec and Pauline Somerville in Co. Donegal for more news of the Czech fiddle-and-banjo duo Pe & Pe (Petra and Petr), who have been in Ireland since earlier this month, travelling and playing in the north-west. Since last year, they have recorded a new CD, The valley of happiness. As well as playing a large part in jamming and other informal sessions at this year's Ardara Bluegrass Festival, they performed on the main concert in Nesbitt's Hotel on 26 July.

Alec sends this YouTube link to a video of Pe & Pe playing 'Arkansas traveller' in his kitchen last Sunday. The final week of their present trip to Ireland began on Monday in Moville, where they will be till tomorrow (31 July). The rest of their schedule is:

1 Aug.: Donegal town
2 Aug.: Dublin
3 Aug.: departure

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Woodbine now on Facebook

Thanks to Ray O'Brien and his 'Bluegrass in Ireland' Facebook page for the news that Woodbine, host band for the annual Athy Bluegrass Festival in Co. Kildare, is now on Facebook.

The band joined Facebook on Sunday last (27 July). Photos of Woodbine at different dates are being compiled; the one above, which appeared on the BIB on 2 Nov. 2011, shows the band the previous year on stage at the 2nd Balla Bluegrass Festival, with the help of Gerry Madden (left) on mandolin. No one planned what looks like a symmetrical coordination of clothing - it was a happy accident!

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August at Naul: last of the summer shows

Thanks to the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre, a good friend to bluegrass and related music in the Dublin region, for their latest e-newsletter, giving details of coming musical events at the Centre up to 23 August. All shows begin at 8.30 p.m.

This coming Saturday (2 August) the Hot Seats (USA) bring in their blend of bluegrass, old-time, and plain entertainment, drawn from sources including Homer & Jethro, the Skillet Lickers, George Formby, Harry Reser, Woody Guthrie, Gus Cannon, Phil Ochs, Tommy Jarrell, Arthur Smith, Uncle Dave Macon, Frank Zappa, and many more. As the Centre points out, 'band member Ben Belcher is no stranger to the Séamus Ennis Centre, having played here just last month with the terrific Corn Potato String Band.' Book here.

The final show of the summer season (Sat. 23 August) has no direct connection with bluegrass - though the video on the SEAC website (and also visible on YouTube) shows the band in question playing with Chris Thile on a Prairie Home Companion show. The band in question is the Swedish trio Väsen, and anyone who loves tradition-based string music should enjoy them. They are also performing the following night (Sun. 24 Aug.) in the Black Box, Belfast, and on Wed. 27 Aug. at the Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. Book for their Naul show here.

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29 July 2014

Amanda Rheaume Trio in Arklow, 26 Aug. 2014

Thanks to Brendan O'Regan, organiser of the Arklow Roots Music series at the Arklow Bay Hotel in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, for this news:

Next gig is with the Amanda Rheaume Trio. Amanda [above] is a rootsy singer/songwriter from Canada and 2014 Juno Award nominee. Venue is Arklow Bay Hotel, on Tuesday 26 August at 8.30 p.m. Cost 15/12 Euro. Pairs of tickets in advance 25 Euro. Fans can keep in touch on our new Facebook page.

Amanda Rheaume's larger ensembles usually seem to include a fiddle as well as drums and electric instruments. From the promo video on her website and also on YouTube, the Trio will include Marie-Josée Dandeneau (here last year with Oh My Darling) on bass and Fraser Holmes on acoustic guitar. The online tour schedule shows the Arklow Roots Music gig as the last of four shows in Ireland:

Fri. 22nd: The Bronte Centre, Rathfriland, Co. Down
Sat. 23rd: Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
Sun. 24th: Enler Delta Blues Club, Comber, Co. Down
Tues. 26th: Arklow Bay Hotel, Arklow, Co. Wicklow

The dates in Ireland are the first part of the tour, which continues with nine shows in Britain and eighteen on the Continent.

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Old Crow Medicine Show in Dublin and Belfast, 20-21 Oct. 2014

Old Crow Medicine Show (photo: Andrea Behrends)

Thanks again to Des Butler for the news that Old Crow Medicine Show (USA) will be performing at Vicar Street, Dublin, on Monday 20 October, admission €29.00. Last year the band's record 'Wagon wheel' went platinum, they won a Grammy award, and they became members of the Grand Ole Opry.

In late October this year, they will be in Europe on a tour that includes shows in Manchester, Glasgow, London, and Amsterdam as well as at Vicar Street and (on the following night, Tuesday 21 October) at the Mandela Hall, Belfast, where the online advance price will be £22.50. More information, together with online booking facilities, can be found through the band's tour schedule. Parker Millsap will also perform on all shows in the tour.
Des adds:

The Watery Hill Boys gig [see the BIB for 27 July] went very well. They gave a first-class performance to a full house. I would venture that a lot attending would not have been familiar with this music genre; but they warmed to it, and this was reflected in the very warm and extended applause given after each number.

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April Verch Band coming to Omagh 2014

L-r: Cody Walters, April Verch, Hayes Griffin (photo: Sandlin Gaither)

Thanks to Geraint and Deb Jones at G Promo PR for news of the forthcoming tour in these islands by the April Verch Band from Canada, in support of April's acclaimed ninth and current album, Bright like gold.

The band comprises April (vocals, fiddle, dance), Cody Walters (bass, banjo), and Hayes Griffin (guitar). Their online schedule shows that overall the band will be in Europe from 28 July to 14 September, beginning with festival workshops in the Czech Republic and continuing with three dates in Germany, five in the UK, two in Belgium, and eight in Sweden.

For fans in Ireland, the chance to see and hear them comes at this year's Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival (29-31 Aug. 2014) at the Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, Omagh, Co. Tyrone. The BIB strongly recommends readers not to miss the opportunity to see them live. As well as a singer and songwriter, April is an outstanding fiddler with a complete and imaginative command of bluegrass, swing, Appalachian old-time, and more, including the Ottawa Valley traditional style. She is also a stunning step-dancer.

G Promo PR recommend the band's official YouTube video of 'Broken' and the SoundCloud audio track 'Don't come home a-drinkin'', but there is plenty more of them to be found on the web. For further information, interview, session or guest list requests, etc., please contact Geraint or Deb Jones at G Promo PR or by e-mail.

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Don't try this at home

Left: a versatile kitchen utensil. The BIB editor reports:

A recent link sent from Bluegrass on the Tube was to this video (also on YouTube) of a performance of the Gordon Lightfoot song 'Steel rail blues' by the US band Rockin' Acoustic Circus, who are now known as Belfry Fellows.

Neither name suggests a straight bluegrass band; but the only unusual feature in the video is the presence of a carbon-fibre cello.* This led me first to the website of Luis and Clark instruments, and from there to the 'Viola-Matic commercial' which can also be seen on YouTube. Warning: however much you may believe that instruments built with traditional methods and materials are superior, don't use them for the same tasks.

* All instruments of the violin family are available in carbon fibre; Tim Stafford of Blue Highway has played a carbon fibre guitar for some years; New Millenium Acoustic Design have made highly regarded mandolins in carbon fibre; and banjo tone rings are already being made of it. Just a matter of time before the first all-carbon-fibre bluegrass band appears...

Update 30 July: This YouTube video shows the making of a Luis & Clark cello; note that the neck is moulded as a unit with the back and ribs of the instrument.

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28 July 2014

Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys - plus detached notes

Thanks to Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency for the news that Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys (above) from Michigan, USA, will be available for bookings in these islands from 17 July to 16 August 2015.

The text of his release about the band can be seen on their page of the BK website. In the last five years they have released two albums - A different tune (2010) and Release your shrouds (2012) - and a four-song EP, Here between (2014), with a further album in preparation. They will also be part of this year's 6th Bluegrass Jamboree!, Rainer Zellner's 'touring bluegrass festival' package, which will play throughout Germany for three weeks in Nov.-Dec. 2014.

Audio tracks from the band's existing recordings can be heard on their website, and Loudon also recommends these YouTube videos: 'The fix' and 'The power'. These skilfully composed and textured pieces give an impression of a cool, 'chamber bluegrass' approach; however, Loudon also emphasises that

... they have built a huge reputation as one of the hottest 'live' bands on the American circuit... There is something for everyone in the live performances - real passionate affairs that stir the blood and exhilarate... The 'live' show is something like an unstoppable train!

Event organisers and promoters should contact the agency for a share in next year's tour by Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys.
Thanks to Adam Butler of the ArtistWorks Academy of Bluegrass (the premier online instructional medium for all the bluegrass instruments) for the news that the Academy now has a new online address.

Adam writes that the old address will still redirect to the new location, but the Academy will be assisted if anyone with a link to its website would change to the new address. The BIB is happy to do so, and we've made the change; the Academy link in our right-hand column now leads to the new address.
Rachael Hardiman of the Athy area has left her comments on this year's Athy bluegrass festival at the end of the BIB post of 8 April 2014, and they're well worth reading right to the final words: 'Tony O'Brien you're brilliant... well done!'

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27 July 2014

Watery Hill Boys in Drogheda Arts Festival, 26 July 2014

The BIB editor reports:

Thanks and apologies to Des Butler, who sent on Friday the news that Drogheda’s own Watery Hill Boys (above) would be playing in the Tholsel building, West St., Drogheda, Co. Meath, on Saturday 26 July from 1.00 p.m. till 2.00 p.m. as part of the town's 2014 arts festival.

Unfortunately, I was incommunicado from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, so this news did not appear on the BIB till over 24 hours after the show ended. However, it's unlikely that attendance suffered as a result: Des had been warned to be there early, as a full house was expected.

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Whitetop Mountain Band in Ireland, 5-9 Sept. 2014

The Whitetop Mountain Band: (l-r) Thornton Spencer, Emily Spencer, Martha Spencer, Debbie Bramer, Ersel Fletcher

Thanks to the FOAOTMAD blog for the news that the Whitetop Mountain Band from Virginia, USA, will be in these islands for three weeks of next month, beginning their tour with four dates in Ireland.

The WMB are one of the most popular dance bands of the Appalachian region, and their own shows, 'well known for the high energy and charisma on stage', feature flatfoot dancing as well as fiddle/banjo instrumentals and powerful solos and harmony vocals on blues, classic country, honky-tonk, traditional bluegrass numbers, old-timey ballads, originals, and four-part mountain gospel songs.

Their dates in Ireland are:

Fri. Sept. 5th: Séamus Ennis Arts Centre, Naul, Fingal, Co. Dublin
Sat. 6th: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
Sun. 7th: Roadside Tavern, Kincora Rd, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare
Tues. 9th: St John’s Theatre, the Square, Listowel, Co. Kerry

Their subsequent dates in Britain include performing at the Cornish Bluegrass Festival (12-14 Sept.) and the Moniaive Michaelmas Bluegrass Festival (26-8 Sept.) in Scotland.

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24 July 2014

Si Kahn at the 4th Cork Mother Jones Festival, 27 July-2 Aug. 2014

'Mother Jones' in her mid sixties (photo from Wikipedia article)

US singer, songwriter, activist, and organiser Si Kahn will be in Cork city from this coming Sunday (27 July) to 2 August, taking part in the 4th annual Cork Mother Jones Festival, which begins in Shandon on 29 July.

The festival commemorates Mary Harris 'Mother' Jones (1837-1930), born in Cork city, who emigrated to North America with her family as a teenager, married there, and (after major personal misfortunes) devoted herself to labour organisation and agitation, being very active in the Industrial Workers of the World, the United Mine Workers, and the Socialist Party of America. In 1902 an opposing lawyer labelled her 'the most dangerous woman in America'. Much of her work was done in the mining districts of Appalachia. She has been commemorated in many songs, including one by Andy Irvine.

Si Kahn himself has a distinguished record of activism in social, political, and environmental causes, as well as performing and recording many times in bluegrass settings. He has written a musical drama, 'Mother Jones in Heaven', which has earned strongly enthusiastic reviews, including acclaim for actor/singer Mary Gannon Graham in the title role. The action is set in a celestial bar, with plenty of drink, Irish music, and topical comment.

Si's schedule at Cork is as follows: 

Sun. 27 July: Singalong of US labour and civil rights songs, Maldron Hotel, 8.00 p.m. Free songsheets provided.

Mon. 28 July: Songwriting workshop, Maldron Hotel, 8.00 p.m. Si adds: 'We won’t be able to work on more than two or three songs, but if you want to take the chance that we’ll work on one of yours, please bring 20 copies of the lyrics. Don’t bring your best song or a song you consider finished - only one that you’re still working on and/or are having trouble with.'

Thurs. 31 July: Grand Concert (fundraiser for the Cork Mother Jones Festival) with US labour/folk musician Anne Feeney, hailed by the late great Utah Phillips as 'the best labour singer in America'. Firkin Crane Theatre, 8.30 p.m.

Fri. 1 Aug.: Presentation: 'A life of activism', Firkin Crane Theatre, 2.00 p.m.

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22 July 2014

Vincent Cross: July newsletter

Thanks to Vincent Cross (on the left in the above photo) in New York for his 'Oh My July' global newsletter, which includes a link to details of his Australian tour this month; images from the 'Notes for Notes' roots writing workshop in Santa Barbara; another to Vincent's 'Tools of the trade' blog on songwriters and their guitars; and another to a brief clip of Vincent singing 'The cuckoo' (also visible on YouTube) from the recent EuroGrass show at the Jalopy Theater, Brooklyn, which Vincent considers 'quite frankly the best room for acoustic music in New York City'.

Anyone interested in taking part in Vincent's roots writing workshops can contact him directly on his website.

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21 July 2014

The crossing: new CD from the White Mansions

Thanks again to Sharon Loughrin of the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, for the news that The crossing, the new CD by The White Mansions, is available for digital download from iTunes.

As reported on the BIB on 18 July, The White Mansions are among the bands taking part in this year's Bluegrass Weekend section (2-3 Aug. 2014) of the Maiden City Festival in Derry city.

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18 July 2014

In memory: Jimmy Quinn, Tommy Ramone

Thanks again to Ray O'Brien and 'Bluegrass in Ireland' for sharing an item published today on the Mohill Bluegrass Festival Facebook page: a three-minute video by Cinny McAdam of Jimmy Quinn, singing lead on 'Carolina Star' in a barroom jam - a reminder of what the scene lost with Jimmy's death in February this year.

Tommy Ramone, born Tamas Erdelyi in Budapest, Hungary, in 1949, died last Friday (11 July). He was the drummer and last surviving founder-member of the Ramones, the pioneering New York punk-rock band who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 Grammies.

By that time he had become the most notable of the growing number of pickers making the transition from punk rock to old-time music, and performed on vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo, and dobro as a member of the duo Uncle Monk with Claudia Tienan (see photo). They toured in Ireland in late April and early May 2010.

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Ulster news: two festivals, two concerts, plenty of bluegrass

Thanks to Sharon Loughrin of the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, for this news:

This coming Tuesday, 22 July, the Count Me In bluegrass band [above] will be playing at Jonny the Jug in Holywood, Co. Down, at 9 o'clock.

The Count Me Ins are then on stage at the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Festival on Wednesday 23rd; also appearing are Colin Henry and Janet Holmes, also the Down And Out Bluegrass Band [see the BIB for 2 July 2014].

On the same night [23 July], the two Gary Fergusons will be at the Red Room, all welcome as usual!

Details are now on the web for the Maiden City Festival, Londonderry. Saturday 2 August is of most interest, with the usual 'Bluegrass on the Walls' sessions at various places in the city. There is also a Saturday evening concert with Cup o' Joe, No Oil Paintings, and Noriana Kennedy. Sunday afternoon also has a bluegrass brunch session, so lots to hear over the weekend.

Full details of the Bluegrass Weekend section of the Maiden City Festival can be seen here in downloadable form. 'Bluegrass on the Walls' presents the Tennessee Hennessees, the Down and Outs, Wookalily, Count Me In, the Broken String Band (with John Fitzpatrick on fiddle), and the Murder Balladeers. The lineup for the 'Youngtime Bluegrass' evening concert in the Craft Village is as given by Sharon above. The Bluegrass Brunch on Sunday presents Janet Holmes and Colin Henry, Wookalily, White Mansions, and the Murder Balladeers in the Craft Village.

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Westport goes to the Opry, and Dublin Goes Country

Thanks to Ray O'Brien and 'Bluegrass in Ireland' for sharing two items. The first of these comes from the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival Facebook page, and includes two photos showing Des and Pat Butler at the Grand Ole Opry, with Des wearing his Westport Festival T-shirt.

(By the way, there is plenty of other good things on the Westport page, including many photos from this year's Festival.)

The second item is a message from Karl Deeter of the Tin Box Company, urging bluegrassers not to miss any opportunities offered by the Dublin Goes Country initiative, which has arisen to fill the void caused by a lack of Garth Brooks. Note specially the Whelan's Bluegrass, Country, and Roots Festival (25-27 July), 8.00 p.m. each night, and free admission.

The BIB adds: Brush up your versions of 'Baton Rouge' and get in there! NB: on the Dublin Goes Country and Whelan's festival pages you can see a six-string banjo, apparently being clawhammered.

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16 July 2014

Dunmore East set to celebrate twenty years of bluegrass

Thanks to Karen Cheevers of B2B Communications for this press release under the title '20th Guinness International Bluegrass Festival attracts international acts to Co. Waterford coastal town':

Bluegrass makes a welcome return to Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, as the Guinness International Bluegrass Festival celebrates twenty years of great bluegrass, blues, country, and honky-tonk music. This year the 20th Guinness International Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival will take place on 21, 22, 23, and 24 August 2014, and American quartet Boxcar Preachers is set to headline one of Europe’s biggest free bluegrass festivals.

The Boxcar Preachers from Austin, Texas, first played at the Bluegrass Festival back in 2006, and festival founder Mick Daly is delighted that the old-time outlaw country band is back for the twentieth festival: 'The Boxcar Preachers created a great buzz in Dunmore East back in 2006 so we felt it would be apt to have them back as the Bluegrass Festival celebrates twenty great years.'

Bruce Gardner (co-founder of the band) and Craig High got together almost thirteen years ago when they realised they came from similar musical stock. The music they play is perhaps more reminiscent of the era of Bonnie and Clyde or John Dillinger, but their outlaw connection goes back to the romantic days of the Wild West when train robberies began to spread like an epidemic.

According to Mick, 'Since the Bluegrass Festival started back in 1994 the committee has been dedicated to growing the event and making it a fantastic weekend for music lovers, tourists, locals, and families. This year we plan to have more high-calibre local and international bluegrass, country, and blues acts playing throughout the village over the three-day festival. The pubs and hotels in Dunmore will have a full live-music schedule from afternoon to nightfall, with all gigs absolutely free.'

The festival will also feature plenty of family-focused fun with food stalls, children’s entertainment in the Park, and lots of activity throughout the village.

Mr Daly was also pleased to confirm that some great UK and Irish acts will be performing over the Festival, with the return of Southern Welfare, the Mons Wheeler Band, and Land’s End. Land’s End is an edgy bluegrass combo that debuted in Dunmore East in 2012 and returned in 2013. The band, made up of members from Cork, Galway, Dublin, Munich, Liverpool and Canada, performs music strongly embedded in the bluegrass tradition, but each member brings a distinctive sound of their own musical tradition to the musical arrangements of the band.

'It’s a great line up befitting of our twentieth year of bringing great bluegrass music to Dunmore East. Visitors can expect to hear a wide mix of bluegrass, country, blues, rhythm, swing, and honky-tonk over the three-day festival.'

The 20th Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival kicks off on Thursday 21 August at Azzurro Restaurant and heralds the start of three days of bands playing almost fifty gigs in the villages’ pubs, restaurants, and hotels. For more information about all free events at the 20th Guinness International Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival in Co. Waterford, visit www.discoverdunmore.com.

BIB editor's note: In addition to the bands named above, the Down and Out Bluegrass Band, Black Bottle String Band, Newfoundland, Greasy Coat String BandDublin City Rounders, and Barefoot Jenny are on the Festival programme.

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15 July 2014

Stelling banjo for sale

First-class professional bluegrass banjos don't often come on to the market, so thanks to Ray O'Brien and Tony Wall in Waterford for sharing this from Denis Hayes of Cork city. Denis writes:

I have had this banjo for about two years. I bought it from Brian, the banjo player from the Thunderbridge Bluegrass band in the UK. It is in pristine condition and has been well looked after.

I have fitted a Renaissance head, a new Stelling birch bridge, and had the tension hooks re-plated. Phil Davidson had done an excellent re-fret job shortly before I acquired the banjo. As far as I am aware everything else is original. It is a powerful instrument and you don't see many around.

The original case has clearly seen some action but it is structurally OK. Railroad spikes installed at the 7th, 9th, 10th, and 12th frets.

Looking for €2000 for it. I will be in Dublin this Thursday if anyone would care to try it.

BIB editor's note: Contact Denis on 086-3111011. As new Stelling banjos begin at over $5,000, this seems a real bargain. Grahame Turner of the New Essex Bluegrass Band was playing a Stelling at last weekend's Athy festival.

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Sarah Jarosz in Ireland this week

Thanks to Tom Stapleton for a further reminder that this week is when multi-talented singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and 2014 double Grammy nominee Sarah Jarosz (USA) will be playing four dates in Ireland, supporting her latest release, Build me up from bones.

Tom is presenting the first of these, tomorrow (16 July) - see the poster image. The full schedule is on the BIB calendar and the BIB post for 1 June, together with Tom's own contact data.
Thanks also to the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul, Co. Dublin, for their latest e-newsletter, with reminders of three musical events in the next three weeks: the Mae Trio (AUS) on Fri. 18 July; Charlie McGettigan and Ferguson & Ferguson (USA) on Sat. 26 July, the penultimate show in the Fergusons' tour; and on Sat. 2 August the Hot Seats (USA).

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14 July 2014

Calling all bluegrassers in Galway

Seán Óg McKiernan (far right in the above photo of the Old Town Rounders of Galway city) would be glad to make contact with

... any serious bluegrass fiddlers - or, indeed, any serious bluegrass players - in the Galway area, as they are very difficult to come across. I meet a lot of trad players who have the odd bluegrass tune but it's hard to beat the real deal!

There's a nationwide shortage of that commodity... Any members of the bluegrass tribe in or around the City of Tribes who might be interested in jamming should contact Seán Óg by e-mail or mobile (087 6362248).

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13 July 2014

The Hot Seats in Britain and Ireland, 17 July-3 Aug. 2014

Thanks to Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knight agency for the news that one of the best US string bands on the circuit, the five-piece Hot Seats from Virginia, will be arriving in these islands in this coming week for their sixth tour, a two-and-a-half-week one that will culminate in three dates in Ireland. They have played major festivals on previous tours of Britain, and will be bringing their brand new album, Grandpa’s favourite - their eighth or tenth, depending on who's counting - which will be officially released on their arrival.

The tour dates begin on 17 July, with shows mostly in Scotland; full details are on their website. Irish fans will have a chance to renew acquaintance with Ben Belcher (second from right in above photo), banjo- and guitar-player with the Corn Potato String Band on their tour in Ireland last month. The three Hot Seats shows in Ireland are as follows:

Sat. 2 Aug.: Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, Naul, Co. Dublin
Sun. 3 Aug.: Beach House BBQ, Bangor, Co. Down (afternoon); Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone (evening)

Media presenters who would like to access or download a broadcast-quality copy of Grandpa’s favourite should contact Loudon by e-mail.

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Gear needed for US band at Dunmore East 2014

Aran Sheehan of Dublin Bluegrass sends this appeal to the community:

... regarding some equipment that we need for the Boxcar Preachers (USA) in Dunmore East [the Guinness International Bluegrass Festival at Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, 21-24 Aug.], this year.

Looking for an amp - not a terrible one, but a good Peavy 112 or the like and a volume pedal for lend or rent for the visiting bluegrass band's pedal steel (20-27 August).

Also if by some slim chance someone has a pedal steel (GFI, Ultra, or similar, as pictured) that would be amazing, as it's tricky getting that over from the US.

Anyone who can help should contact Aran by mobile (085-7110826), land line (01-6584615), e-mail, or Facebook.

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10 July 2014

Niall and 'Million dollar bill' on YouTube

Thanks to Niall Toner for this link to his latest YouTube video, which shows Niall singing his song 'Million dollar bill' (from his latest Pinecastle album, Onwards and upwards). As the image above shows, you get Niall's genial countenance as he sings (and some shots of nifty fingerwork on the mandolin), plus a running display of the lyrics below the 'MILLION DOLLAR BILL' line.

The song itself is the kind that Charlie Poole might have been happy to sing. The video can also be seen on Niall's own YouTube channel.

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Ferguson & Ferguson (USA) in Ireland from today!

Thanks again to Ray O'Brien for passing on the news that Ferguson & Ferguson (above) arrive in Ireland today for their sixteen-day tour beginning at this weekend's Athy Bluegrass Festival.

Singer/songwriter Gary Gene Ferguson (seated, in the photo) is on his tenth consecutive annual tour in Ireland, with multi-instrumentalist Gary Alan Ferguson (standing) as his musical partner this year. For more on the duo, see the BIB post of 11 Nov. 2013. All dates are on the BIB calendar; more tour details, including contact data for individual venues, are on Gary's online calendar.

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4th Mohill Bluegrass Festival (8-10 Aug. 2014) announces lineup

Thanks to Ray O'Brien for passing on news from festival organiser Tommy Kelleher at Mohill, Co. Leitrim, who announces:

This year's Mohill Bluegrass Festival kicks off on Friday 8 August at Planxty Maguire's, Hill St., Mohill, with music by the Down & Out Bluegrass Band. The band lineup for the weekend is:

Down & Out Bluegrass Band
Count Me In
Cool Hand Dukes
The Cat's Meow

You will find more info on our Facebook page, which is currently being updated.

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09 July 2014

Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival announces dates for 2015

Thanks to Uri Kohen (above) in Westport, Co. Mayo, for this news:

The 9th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival will take place on 12-14 June 2015, and the organising team are already in talk with some major international acts alongside some very popular Irish acts.

For those who enjoyed the 2014 festival, a new set of videos from the Friday night are now available on the festival website. More videos will be posted in the coming weeks on the festival official YouTube channel.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank once again all the bluegrass fans who made their way to Westport, and we are looking forward to seeing them next year.

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Prison Love in Merrion Square, Dublin, 12 July - and I Draw Slow CD out in the USA

Thanks to Mark 'Marko' O'Mahony (second from left above) for this news:

The Festivals keep coming for Prison Love... After a storming late-night show at Body&Soul, we are back at the more reasonable time of 2.00 p.m. Saturday 12 July for the City Spectacular Festival in Merrion Square. Three great days of free entertainment await, including the legendary Street Performer World Championships and lots of other family and foodie attractions.

Prison Love will be on the Go Metro music stage from 2.00 to 2.45 p.m. on Saturday the 12th, so swap your marching boots for dancing shoes and join the party. Be good!


As announced on the BIB on 11 Feb. this year, White Wave Chapel - the second album by I Draw Slow, Dublin's premier 'neo-old-time' band, to appear on the US Pinecastle label - was released in the USA yesterday (8 July).

Thanks to Kim Fowler of Two Dog Media for this online press release, which includes bio information on the band and links to their video 'Valentine' and to audio streaming of the whole album.

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08 July 2014

Wookalily at the DC Music Club, Dublin, 11 July 2014

Thanks to Adele Ingram for news about the concert by Wookalily (left) at the DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2, this coming Friday (11 July). The show starts at 9.00 p.m., and admission is €15, or €13 pre-booked.

The DC Music Club (in the premises of the Dublin Conservative Club, a few yards from Whelan's) has become the main Dublin venue for Paul Lee's Musiclee.ie productions, and more about the Wookalily concert can be read here and on Facebook.

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Pe & Pe back in Ireland with a new CD, 13 July-3 Aug. 2014

Thanks to Alec and Pauline Somerville in Co. Donegal for the news that the Czech fiddle-and-banjo duo Pe & Pe (Petra and Petr) will return to Ireland this summer, travelling and playing in the north-west. Since last year, they have recorded a new CD, The valley of happiness. Their schedule is:

13-17 July: Donegal town
18-20 July: Ardara (for the 7th Ardara Bluegrass Festival)
21-24 July: Killybegs
25-27 July: Donegal town
28-31 July: Moville
1 Aug.: Donegal
2 Aug.: Dublin
3 Aug.: departure

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The Gibson Brothers sign with Rounder

Fans of the Gibson Brothers in this island will be glad to hear that they have signed up with Rounder Records. Music from Rounder albums played a large part in the brothers' bluegrass education, and joining the label's artist roster is an achievement for them that ranks beside their other recent achievements. The above photo by Ted Lehmann shows (l-r) Leigh and Eric Gibson, and Ken Irwin and Marian Levy, Rounder's founders. Read more on Bluegrass Today.

A Ted Lehmann photo with a different view of Eric Gibson can be found on Ted's 'Bluegrass, books, and brainstorms' blog, which the BIB admires and thoroughly recommends. Ted (now retired) and his wife spend about 200 days a year travelling to bluegrass events in North America, and the result is a blog full of comprehensive reports and innumerable splendid photos and videos. On 1 July Ted's report from the Jenny Brook Festival in Vermont began; and about an eighth of the way down that webpage you can see Eric Gibson playing electric country lead guitar in the Clem Hawkins Revival Band, a classic country outfit.

PS: Dobro enthusiasts may already be aware that a week ago Rounder announced what will be a historic album of dobro music: Three bells, a collaboration of Jerry Douglas, Rob Ickes, and the late Mike Auldridge. This is scheduled for release on 16 September.

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Woodbine show moved forward from 23 to 16 Aug. 2014

Tony O'Brien sends word that in the schedule of forthcoming performances by Woodbine (left) that appeared on the BIB on 29 June, there has been a change in the last one on the list. The show at Killybegs, Co. Donegal, originally announced for 23 August, has been moved forward a week to 16 August. Other details of this show will be announced as soon as possible.

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07 July 2014

Traditional and contemporary bluegrass, weekly in Galway from the Oldtown Rounders

Good news: new young bluegrass bands seem to be emerging in Ireland at an exponential rate. Thanks to Ray O'Brien for publishing this news from Seán Óg McKiernan on his 'Bluegrass in Ireland' Facebook page:

The Oldtown Rounders are playing in An Púcán every Friday for the summer from 7.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.

The group play traditional and contemporary bluegrass inspired by the likes of Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Bryan Sutton, etc. Check out a few of our recordings of some classics on MySpace.

Seán Óg, the band's guitarist, has also posted five mp3s on Banjo Hangout (are guitarists allowed to do that?). An Púcán is in central Galway city (on Forster St. just off Eyre Square) and it hosts live traditional Irish music seven nights a week, plus occasional Irish dancing displays.

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05 July 2014

Pilgrim St - debut in Navan, 3 Aug. 2014

Thanks again to Eugene Donegan, who earlier this year sent news of the launch of the Royal Roots sessions (see the BIB for 15 April), which have since been held weekly in Navan, Co. Meath, and have now given birth to a new tradition-oriented bluegrass band. Eugene writes:

We are launching our new band Pilgrim St in Swan Lane (Ardboyne Hotel, Navan) on Bank Holiday Sunday (3 August), admission €10.

The band lineup is Peadar Farrelly (guitar, vocals), Richie Farrelly (guitar, vocals), Eugene Donegan (banjo, vocals), Cathal McQuaid (fiddle), Eoin McDonnell (mandolin), Mack Lynch (dobro), and Francis McGinn (bass). Our music includes songs from Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs & Lester Flatt, and Hank Williams.

We will hopefully have a website up and running before the gig. Here is a link to our Facebook page.

The BIB wishes Pilgrim St every success.

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04 July 2014

A lively evening for American Independence Day

A lot of bluegrass will be heard this evening and up to midnight to mark American Independence Day. First (and in the most prestigious location), the Dublin Bluegrass Collective are playing in the U.S. Ambassador's Residence, Phoenix Park, Dublin, from 5.00 to 6.00 p.m. Later, in south Leinster, Woodbine are returning to Tuohy's Bar, Pound St., Rathdowney, Co. Laois, starting their show at 10.00 p.m.. On the other side of Ireland, Peter Larkin invites all to join the Bluegrass House Band at Raftery's Rest, Kilcolgan, Co. Galway.

And now: thanks to Hugh Taggart for the news that Well Enough Alone (above, with Hugh in the centre) are playing in the Living Room Bar of the Residents' Hotel, Ashbourne, Co. Meath, from 10.00 p.m. to midnight.

Update 6 July: We've since learned from Ray O'Brien's Facebook page that the Blood Red Mountain Band were also playing in Harry's on the Green in Dublin on Friday night from 7.30 to 9.30.

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03 July 2014

'Evolving through preservation' - and more

Thanks to Ken Irwin of Rounder Records for drawing attention to this link to an eighteen-minute video of an address, under the title 'Evolving through preservation', delivered by Pokey LaFarge at Maryville University, St Louis.

Pokey (who has played several times in Ireland with his band the South City Three) gives his views on American music (especially varieties of roots music) and the way past and present interact in culture and society - plus four minutes of singing with his arch-top guitar.
The Open House Festival team in Belfast mention that tickets for some of the events at their Bangor festival throughout the coming August are already close to selling out.
Thanks to Aoife Concannon for the news that the Emily Portman Trio (Emily Portman, vocals, concertina, 5-string banjo; Lucy Farrell, vocals, viola, cello, saw; Rachel Newton (The Shee), vocals, harp) will be playing at the Earagail Arts Festival, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, on 14 July at 7.30 p.m., and the following night (15 July) at the Odessa Club, 13-14 Dame Court, Dublin 2, at 8.00 p.m. More details, including online booking facilities, are on the trio's website.

Emily Portman is the 2013 holder of the BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Original Song. If you were drawn to the BIB mention of the Mae Trio a few days ago, this could be for you.

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02 July 2014

Bluegrass Evening at Cairncastle Festival, 23 July 2014

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

Cairncastle festival committee are again holding a Bluegrass Evening on the Wednesday of their festival, which is on 23 July 2014 in the Halfway House Hotel (above), Coast Road, Ballygally, four miles north of Larne town, Co. Antrim.

In addition to the musical evening, workshops will be held in Cairncastle village on the history of bluegrass music (Wednesday 23 July) and fiddle manufacture (Friday 25 July).

The evening commences with the Count Me In Bluegrass Band from Co. Down (above), having established a reputation as one of Ireland’s finest up-and-coming traditional bluegrass bands, and comprising Philip Steel (double bass), Brian Crawford (rhythm guitar, vocal), Noel Campbell (mandolin, lead vocal), Colin Henry (dobro, vocal), John Savage (guitar), Geordie McAdam (fiddle), Alan McAdam (banjo) and Olivia Henry, who is Colin’s teenage daughter and an excellent singer. The band has performed widely throughout Northern Ireland - e.g. Omagh bluegrass festival 2013, and Ownies bluegrass night at Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim.

They will be followed by Janet Holmes, accompanied by Colin Henry (left; photo by Richie Tindall). Janet is one of Northern Ireland’s finest solo female bluegrass artists; her strong melodies and thought-provoking lyrics encompass bluegrass and Americana music with a voice that has been described as true, soulful, and simply beautiful.

The evening will end with the Down and Out Bluegrass Band (below) from Co. Antrim, who have established a reputation as one of Ireland’s finest bluegrass bands, playing traditional bluegrass heavily influenced by classic artists such as Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and the Stanley Brothers. Comprising Richard Leeman (guitar, banjo, mandolin), Mal Duffin (fiddle), Howard Walker (banjo, guitar, mandolin), John Denby (mandolin, guitar), and Roy Brown (guitar, bass), they have performed at festivals in Ireland (Omagh, Athy, Westport, and more), England (Cornish Bluegrass Festival), and Scotland (Guildtown, Moniaive), including television and radio appearances, and released their first album in 2013.

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01 July 2014

Win tickets to the 24th Athy Bluegrass Festival!

Go to Ray O'Brien's 'Bluegrass in Ireland' Facebook page right away and try your luck! Tony O'Brien has donated two full weekend passes for the Festival (11-13 July) and all you have to do is to Share this post and and be the last person to post the comment 'ATHY IN JULY'.

Well, go on, then...

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Music in July-Aug. 2014 at the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre

Thanks to the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre, a good friend to bluegrass and related music in the Dublin region, for their latest e-newsletter, giving details of coming musical events at the Centre up to 26 July. The Centre also issues a more general bulletin extending up to 2 August. Both of these include material of interest to BIB readers; all shows begin at 8.30 p.m.

The Mae Trio, three young women from Australia on their first Irish tour, using three-part harmonies over 5-string banjo, ukelele, guitar, bass, mandolin, and fiddle, will be in concert at the Centre on Friday 18 July. Classed as 'folk', they write songs that would also work very well as bluegrass. Book tickets here, where you can also see a YouTube video.

On Saturday 26 July Charlie McGettigan will be joined by Ferguson & Ferguson (USA) on the penultimate show in the Fergusons' tour, which begins on 12 July - all dates are on the BIB calendar. The last McGettigan-Ferguson collaboration at the Centre was sold out, so book tickets here.

On Saturday 2 August the Hot Seats (USA) bring in their blend of bluegrass, old-time, and plain entertainment, drawn from sources including Homer & Jethro, the Skillet Lickers, George Formby, Harry Reser, Woody Guthrie, Gus Cannon, Phil Ochs, Tommy Jarrell, Arthur Smith, Uncle Dave Macon, Frank Zappa, and many more. Book here.

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