18 February 2015

For visiting bands - finding places to play

From the BIB editor:

Wendy Connolly writes on 'Bluegrass in Ireland':

All too often this page's website is stuffed full of musicians looking for venues, festivals, and potential to add Ireland to their European tour itineraries. I know you all love to hear bluegrass and old time, and it seems people want to play here. What seems to be lacking is the means for them or their agents/managers to hook up with all of you. If there is a hub, website, data base, or directory of bluegrass/old time friendly places to play, I'd sure love to hear about it, and pass it on to those who can use it, put it here, or email to bluegrasseire@gmail.com.

The short answer is that no such database exists at present, but there are the makings of one:
  • The European Bluegrass Music Association Festival Network maintains a calendar of bluegrass festivals throughout Europe, with input from Ireland that includes the main annual events.
  • Closer to home, the Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) has a 'Thinking of touring in Ireland?' section (first published in 2010, updated in 2012). Our advice on venues is to check through the BIB's calendar and its recent archive and note the places where visiting bands play. The best places are easily identifiable, as the same locations will be found recurring many times.
  • Yes, that's a chore, we know, but if you really want a one-stop shop our advice is to e-mail John Nyhan and/ or Nigel Martyn, the two most experienced and successful tour organisers in this island for our kind of music.*
  • And for someone who'd like to compile a database (with some of the work already done), here's a real opportunity. Ten years or so ago, Niall Toner generously made available, to any band who applied for it, a list of all the places where he and his band had played throughout Ireland, which of course included the major festivals and many folk clubs, bars, hotels, and other music venues, with ample contact data. Such a list needs to be kept up to date and uniform; Niall and I had such a revision in hand five years ago but never completed it; the draft revised list still exists, but of course further updating is needed by now. Anyone who undertakes this task will be doing - as Wendy makes clear - a very good deed for bluegrass music in Ireland.
Finally, the example of Roger Green, leader of the fine US band Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition (and, incidentally, one of the first contributors to Bluegrass Unlimited magazine), should be mentioned. Roger brought his band to Ireland for several tours, making his own contacts and bookings and (in the process) bringing bluegrass music to places where it had never before been heard. So it can be done...

*Update 19 Feb.: We should also, of course, have mentioned the We Dig Roots agency, which exists for the primary purpose of bringing roots musicians and venues together.

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