30 May 2017

American epic on TV - and a legend at the Olympia in October

Marty Stuart (photo: David McClister)

Thanks to Des Butler for the news that on Thursday 12 October 2017 Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives will be playing for one night only in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin. This is the sixth and last show in a tour of these islands, and the only show the band will be playing in Ireland - so, a unique opportunity to see and hear an artist who in his early teens played mandolin with Lester Flatt & the Nashville Grass, and who (whether playing acoustic or electric) has always championed bluegrass and the classic forms of country music.

Earlier this month the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre (SEAC) in Naul, Co. Dublin, showed (as part of this year’s Séamus Ennis commemorations) an exclusive preview screening of American epic: the Big Bang, a documentary of how roots music developed in the USA from the beginning of commercial recordings in the 1920s.

Thanks again to Des for sending word that American epic is now being broadcast as a three-part programme in the 'Arena' series on BBC4 TV, from 22.00 to 23.00 on Sunday evenings. It began on Sunday 21 May, so just one episode remains to be shown; but if BBC iPlayer is available to you, the details are here.

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Two Time Polka: June dates

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka sends news of the band's gigs for June:

Strings & Things Festival:
Fri. 2nd: Old School House, Clashmore, Co. Waterford. Adm. €15/12. Doors 8.00 p.m. 087 4148651

Strawberry Roots Festival:
Sat. 3rd: Holohans Bar, Slaney Place, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. Adm. free. Start 10.30 p.m. 0539235743

Ireland Bike Fest:
Sun. 4th: The Harley Bar, Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, Co. Kerry. Adm. free. Start 10.00 p.m. 064 6671554

Danny Boy Jazz & Blues Festival:
Sat. 10th: Masonic Hall, Linenhall St., Limavady, Co. Londonerry. Adm. free. Start 8.00 p.m.
Sun. 11th: Frank Owens Marquee, Main St., Limavady, Co. Londonerry. Adm. free. Start 2.00 p.m.

Cork Summer Show:
Sat. 17th: Cork Summer Show, Curaheen Rd., Entertainment Zone. Start 12.15 p.m.

Sat. 17th: The Blue Haven, Pearse St., Kinsale, Co. Cork. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free. 021 4772209

The Bluegrass And Nashville Dunfanaghy (BAND) Festival:
Fri. 23rd: The Shibeen at the Oyster Bar, Main St. Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Adm. free. Start 9.00 p.m. 074 9136039.
Sat. 24th: Arnolds Hotel, Main St. Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Adm. free. Start 7.00 p.m. 074 9136039
Sun. 25th: Mollys Bar, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Start 3.00 p.m. Adm. free. 074 9100050

[Update 21 June: the times of the Dunfanaghy sets have since been altered; the correct times can now be seen here.]

Regards & thanks,
Ray & TTP

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5th Annual Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, 20-22 Oct. 2017

This news was first published earlier today, giving last year's dates; so thanks to Brendan Walsh (organiser of the Shannonside Winter Music Festival) for sending the correct dates for this year's 5th Annual Bluegrass Festival in Bunratty, Co. Clare:

Confirmed acts include the Slocan Ramblers (CAN), Munich String Band (Germany), Propane Bros (UK), Malina Bros (CZ), some US visitors, and the perennial support of John Nyhan and the Kellehers plus local bluegrass enthusiasts Leo Hayes and Bill Forster along with pickers from Sixmilebridge Folk Club.

This Festival gains more momentum every year, so do consider putting the dates in your calendar - 20-22 October 2017.

The BIB last carried news of the Slocan Ramblers (photo above) on 1 Feb., and the Propane Brothers, who include Reuben and Benjamin Agnew from Cup O' Joe, on 8 Mar..

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Bluegrass mural in Co. Cork

Thanks to Jim Purtell in the USA, who sends this interesting query:

A few years ago, on my first trip to Ireland, I passed a pub, whose name I can’t remember, while going through a town, whose name I can not remember, and saw this painted on the side of the building [see image on left]. I do know that it was on a drive between Cork and West Cork.

It is the album cover from a bluegrass album, Old & in the way. I always wished that I had stopped and gotten a photo but alas did not.

I was telling someone about this recently and wanted to find out more about it. I came across your blog by Googling Bluegrass Ireland.

Have you ever seen or heard about this? I would have to assume that the owner would be a bluegrass fan.

Or maybe a Deadhead - the 1975 release owed its status as best-selling bluegrass album, held for many years, to the fact that the banjo player was Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Other members included Vassar Clements (fiddle), David Grisman (mandolin, vocals), John Kahn (bass), and Peter Rowan (guitar, vocals). More about the band and the album is on Wikipedia.

Can any BIB reader identify the location of this splendid image and give more information about it?

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29 May 2017

The Horsenecks in Ireland, 8-19 June 2017

Thanks to the FOAOTMAD news blog for a list of dates that will be played in these islands by the Horsenecks - purveyors of 'hard-hitting and heartfelt old-time and classic bluegrass music' - over the next few months. The Horsenecks comprise Gabrielle Macrae (fiddle, banjo, guitar), Barry Southern (banjo, fiddle, guitar), Chris Marshal (bass), and Dave Searson (guitar). Their upcoming shows in Ireland are:

Thurs. 8th: Myles McCann's Bar, 7 John St., Omagh, Co. Tyrone, 9.00 p.m.
Fri. 9th-Sun. 11th: Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, Westport, Co. Mayo (various times)
Wed. 14th-Thurs. 15th: Joe Wattys Bar, Kilronan, Inishmore, Co. Galway, 7.00 p.m.
Fri. 16th: Kenny's Bar, Main St., Lahinch, Co. Clare, 7.00 p.m.
Sat. 17th: The Greyhound, O'Curry St., Kilrush, Co. Clare, 9.00 p.m.
Sun. 18th: Doolin Folk Festival, Doolin, Co. Clare, 7.00 p.m.
Mon. 19th: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, 8.30 p.m.

NB: The band's online tour schedule erroneously shows this last date as at 'the Redroom, Bray' - apparently because the 'Cookstown cottages' can be found between Enniskerry and Bray on the Dublin-Wicklow border. Times are as shown in the links on the tour schedule, so readers should check with the venue before attending.

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Cardboard Fox (GB): changes in schedule, 5/6 June 2017

Thanks to Sharon Loughrin of the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, for the news that Cardboard Fox (GB; above) have changed the sequence of two of their dates in Ireland early next month.

The gig that Cardboard Fox will share with Cup O' Joe will be in the Sunflower Folk Club, 65 Union St., Belfast, on Monday 5 June; and their show at the Red Room will be on Tuesday 6 June. The change was made as Cup O' Joe discovered the original arrangement of Tuesday for the dual concert would be impossible for them.

The change has the added advantage that it avoids a clash with the regular monthly Belfast Bluegrass session on Tuesday 6 June.

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15 May 2017

May e-newsletter from EBMA


The second issue of the new European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA) monthly newsletter is now out. A good third of it consists of the first half of a very long and substantial interview with mandolin maestro Mike Marshall (USA) who now lives in Germany with his wife, classical mandolinist Caterina Lichtenberg. Gig schedules are contributed by leading European musicians and tour schedules are given for visiting artists, together with festival dates throughout Europe for May, June, and July.

There's a 'bluegrass royalty auction' - two wooden wall ornaments, with the outlines of a fiddle and an F-style mandolin, bearing the signatures of the members of the Earls of Leicester, the Steeldrivers, the Del McCoury Band, and other notable figures of the bluegrass world. Bids start at €30; you can place your bid by e-mailing the EBMA board.

Three CDs are reviewed, one of which is Cup O' Joe's six-track EP Bluebirds. The review opens with 'Over the last few years this family band from Northern Ireland have been recognised as one of the best talents around the European bluegrass scene', and ends with 'This CD is a tour de force that shows the best from the band... there should be more to come'.

You can sign up to receive the EBMA newsletter via the EBMA website; members get it automatically. For anything concerned with the newsletter, contact the EBMA by e-mail.

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14 May 2017

Band news

Two weeks ago Dublin's Blue Light Smugglers added to their Facebook a video of the highly progressive (by BIB standards) instrumental 'Spicy bean burger', which is also on YouTube. The musicians are Niall Hughes (electric bass, playing a lead break), Dan Egan (guitar), Gab Faure (fiddle), and Luke Coffey (banjo). Stimulating watching!
Was any BIB reader at the April Verch Band (CAN) concert in the Market Place Theatre in Armagh city last night? April was hoping beforehand that their friends Cup O' Joe would be joining them for a tune or two...
The Watery Hill Boys (right) updated their cover photo earlier this week. On the other side of the island Erdini have similarly been updating their Facebook photos and information.
Greenshine will be playing 'Back to black' at the Schoolyard Theatre, Charleville, Co. Cork, on their double-header concert tonight with Thunder and Rain (USA). See their Facebook for a video of the song.
Rackhouse Pilfer are playing three gigs each weekend from now into June; all dates are on the BIB calendar. The nearest is tonight (Sun. 14th) in John the Miners, Carrick, Co. Sligo, at 7.00 p.m. On Sat. 27th inst. they'll be playing at the Killarney Beerfest in Co. Kerry, where the Whileaways will be playing the following day. Later this summer the Whileaways will be special guests opening for the folk legend Donovan at Naul, Co. Dublin, in the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre's 'Gigs in the Garden' series (Sat. 12th Aug.).

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Editorial not-business

Please note that the BIB editor will be out of the office (for reasons of pleasure) from Tuesday 16 May to Sunday 28 May inclusive. All news is still welcome, but if received after 15 May will not appear on the BIB till Monday 29 May at the earliest.

13 May 2017

The Original Five - date free for 11 June 2017

Thanks to Ola Persson, mandolinist of The Original Five from Malmö, Sweden - who will be in Ireland early next month for a tour that includes the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival - for this news. The band's confirmed dates are:

Wed. 7th: Campbell’s Tavern, Cloughanover, Headford, Co. Galway
Thurs. 8th: Black Gate Cultural Centre, Francis St., Galway city, 12.00 noon
Thurs. 8th: Mullarkeys Bar, Clifden, Co. Galway, 9.30 p.m.
Fri. 9th and Sat. 10th: Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, Westport, Co. Mayo
Sun. 11th: TBA

The band would be happy to find a gig for Sunday 11 June, anywhere between Galway and Dublin, and any help will be highly appreciated. For more information and bookings, Ola can be contacted by e-mail or mobile (0722967177).

[Update 3 June: the full revised schedule, including dates for 11 June, is now on the BIB calendar]

Just to make clear the high quality of this band: The Original Five have played over 250 gigs in Sweden, Europe, and USA and released three albums: Greetings from Möllevången (2014), Across the deep blue sea (2015), and their latest, Happy landing (2016), which have received positive reviews in (among others) Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Today. Last year the band was invited to play the Bluegrass Ramble showcase circuit at IBMA’s World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, North Carolina, an inspiring event for them. At the European World of Bluegrass 2016 in the Netherlands the band was voted #2 in the audience popularity awards. A year ago John Lawless wrote on Bluegrass Today:

In covering the Swedish bluegrass scene this past few years, we’ve been struck by the depth and maturity of the music made there. In particular, the songwriting stands out as fresh and original [...]. A perfect example comes to us today from The Original Five...

The Original Five comprise Dan Englund (bass, vocals), Johan Malmberg (banjo, fiddle, vocals), Daniel Olsson (dobro), Jonas Svahn (guitar, vocals), and Ola (mandolin, vocals). Their powerful music and imaginative videos are on Youtube - a few examples are
'Wrong turn right', 'Tomorrow’s just another night away', and the dobro-led instrumental 'The big Swede'.

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11 May 2017

Duets: a unique banjo combination

On 10 Feb. the BIB carried news of a collaboration between US banjo-players Mark Olitsky and Cary Moskowitz, on 5-string 'minstrel' banjo and 4-string plectrum banjo respectively. Thanks to Cary Moskowitz for the news that their CD Duets is now available from Bandcamp.com, where the seventeen tracks can be heard in full. All are tunes from the old-time repertoire, except 'Somewhere over the rainbow'.

The digital album costs $10.00, including unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. A limited-edition CD in a gatefold jacket, plus streaming and download, can be bought for $15, and will be shipped out within seven days.

More info about the project and live shows are at https://olitskymoskovitz.wordpress.com/. This is a banjo duet record like no other, because of the way the deep rumble of the minstrel banjo blends with the plectrum's crisp steel-string sound. Warmly recommended.

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Tim O'Brien and Jan Fabricius in Sligo (12 May) and Naul (13 May)

A reminder from the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul, Co. Dublin, that Tim O'Brien & Jan Fabricius will be playing in concert there on this coming Saturday (13 May). Doors open at 8.00 p.m. and the show starts at 8.30; tickets are €20 / €16 (booked in advance) and €22 / €18 (on the door). The event web page includes a performance video and online booking link. They will be playing the previous night (Friday 12 May) at the Hawk's Well Theatre in Sligo town, at 8.00 p.m.; tickets are €18 (under 18s half price).

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The Cabin Sessions, Dundrum, 25 May 2017 - last before July

Gerry Fitzpatrick, organiser of the Cabin Sessions series, 'Acoustic Music at its Finest', announces the Session for this month:

Hey Y'all!

We're back on Thursday 25 May with special guests Sarah Something (contemporary), Sarah Buckley (contemporary), and Clarksville (acoustic pop). Hope you can make it down.

PS: There will be no Cabin Sessions in June. We'll be back to ya in July.

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 May 2017

Danny Jones, 3 June 1939-3 Feb. 2017

The Bluegrass Alliance c.1969: (l-r) Buddy Spurlock, Ebo Walker, Dan Crary, Danny Jones, Lonnie Peerce

We learn with regret of the death earlier this year of Danny Lee Jones of Kentucky at the age of 77 from cancer. His musical career included spells on guitar with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys and on mandolin and guitar with the Bluegrass Alliance - a band that made a powerful impact on the US scene in the late '60s and '70s and provided a launch pad for the careers of Sam Bush, Tony Rice, and Vince Gill. A feature by Richard Thompson is on Bluegrass Today, including a substantial memoir and tribute by Danny Jones's fellow Alliance member Dan Crary.

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Simon on Sore Fingers - now in the latest BBN

The BIB editor writes:

Congratulations to Simon Humphries, co-organiser of Bluegrass Camp Ireland (right) - Simon's report on this year's Sore Fingers Summer School was first published on the Bluegrass Camp Ireland Facebook and appeared on the BIB on 27 April (with a very few cosmetic changes to suit the BIB's house style).

Simon's full original text has now been published in British Bluegrass News, no. 80 (spring 2017) as a two-page spread (pp 10-11) with seven photos, and it looks great - except that Simon's name is not mentioned, and the article appears over the byline 'Bluegrass Camp Ireland' with no contact data. In all other respects BBN is produced to extremely high standards; while it is a model of an association journal, its content ranges far beyond the British bluegrass scene (e.g. the feature on the two-millionth Martin guitar), and all contributors seem happy to write at considerable length.

The BBN appears quarterly and is sent free to everyone with BBMA membership.

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09 May 2017

Almost superhuman

Now, an artist who crosses the boundaries of bluegrass, old-time, and traditional music but undeniably belongs in all of them: Moving On Music (MOM) send a reminder that the Northern Ireland section of an imminent tour by the April Verch Band (CAN) begins tomorrow in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. MOM write:

We are delighted to welcome back the incredibly talented April Verch Band as they tour NI. On stage, Verch is almost superhuman. She stepdances while fiddling, sings while stepdancing, and sometimes sings, steps, and fiddles all at once (with apparent ease). It’s hard to believe unless you’ve seen it. Come along and leave astonished! Tickets £13, no booking fee.

The NI dates include Omagh (10th), Portaferry (11th), Antrim (12th), Armagh (13th), and Belfast (14th). MOM's full information on their part of the tour is here. All the band's dates, including those in the rest of Ireland, are on the BIB calendar.

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Not bluegrass - but...

From time to time the BIB receives news from venues or agencies about visiting artists from outside the categories of bluegrass or old-time music. In putting such news on the BIB, we try to indicate any common ground or link between what the artists may be doing and the BIB's primary concerns - usually if their material could be arranged or performed in bluegrass style.

Singer/ songwriter Krista Detor (USA) is an artist of this kind. She plays keyboard instruments and is accompanied on guitar by her husband and producer David Weber. Among other shows (see below), they will be at Ballymore Acoustic Gigs on Monday 15 May; the blurb on the Ballymore Acoustic Gigs blog indicates the high regard in which she is held. The videos that can be seen here show her as a powerful and moving singer; and yes, her songs would lend themselves to a bluegrass treatment, but only a very good band could do them justice. The full schedule in this island is:

Fri. 12th: White Horse Inn, West Village, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, 9.00 p.m.
Sat. 13th: Croc An Oir, Ballycullen, Co. Tipperary, 8.00 p.m. (Croc an Oir Concert Series)
Mon. 15th: Mick Murphy's Bar, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare; doors 8.30 p.m., €12 (Ballymore Acoustic Gigs)
Fri. 19th-Sun. 28th: 10-day songwriting residence retreat - 'Music in the Mournes with Krista Detor & Rod C. Taylor, Ph.D.', Rostrevor Cottages, Rostrevor, Co. Down
Mon. 22nd: 'An evening with Krista Detor & friends', The Rostrevor Inn, 33-35 Bridge St., Rostrevor, Co. Down, 8.00 p.m.

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08 May 2017

More international acts at Rotterdam, 23-5 June 2017

On 28 Mar. 2017 the BIB forwarded news from the organising team of the Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival in the Netherlands, announcing that this year's event (23-5 June 2017) will feature Sierra Hull (USA) in her only appearance in Europe on this trip.

The team now announces that more international acts will be on the Festival lineup, including Bob Wayne (USA), the Legendary Shack Shakers (USA), Los Hermanos Cubero (ES), the Pete Allen Family Band (USA), Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy (USA), the Pine Street Ramblers (USA), Flats & Sharps (UK), Leadbeaters (NL), Picking Ivy (NL), and the famous Belgian writer Christophe Vekeman. At least two of these names will be familiar to Irish fans from their Westport appearances. More details, including links to performance videos, are on the Festival's latest e-newsletter.

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07 May 2017

Riley Puckett, born 7 May 1894

George Riley Puckett, born on this day in 1894 in Georgia, was one of the first generation of American rural musicians to be heard through radio and recordings.

Many of us know of him primarily as the guitar player of one of the archetypal old-time string bands, Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, with their image of hell-for-leather, rough-and-ready, moonshine-making Georgia 'crackers', and a repertoire of older songs and tunes. Puckett, however, like his bandmate Clayton McMichen (a crooner and swing violinist in his solo career), foreshadowed the future course of country music with his smooth singing, wide-ranging repertoire, and adventurous guitar work. He may have been the first country singer to yodel on records.

Much of his recorded work can be heard on the BBYMRLCCOTN YouTube channel. An example of his solo singing is Old Joe Clark.

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06 May 2017

Thunder and Rain (USA) in Ireland, 11-22 May 2017

The BIB labelled May 2015 a mensis mirabilis (wonderful month) for the number of American acts in Ireland during the month. May 2017 is not yet level with it, but is coming up fast. Thanks to John Nyhan for this news:

Thunder and Rain from Colorado will be touring here from Thursday 11 May to Monday 22 May - a Colorado invasion hot on the heels of High Plains Tradition and Jeff Scroggins & Colorado. Also we had Martin Gilmore for a few days. All acts were superb.

Thunder and Rain are a four-piece country /bluegrass band. They got a fine write-up in Bluegrass Today. They feature Errin Peet-Lukes (guitar, vocals), Pete Weber (mandolin, vocals), Chris Herbst (dobro), and Ian Haggle (bass, vocals; previously here with the Martin Gilmore Trio). They play the following shows:

May 2017
Thurs. 11th: McGregor's Bar (upstairs), Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, 8.30 p.m. (Sixmilebridge Folk Club presentation), 086 8464509

Fri. 12th: Central Hotel, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, 8.30 p.m. (Clonbony GAA fundraiser), 087 6881650

Sat. 13th: The Old Still, Clashmore, Co. Waterford, 10.00 p.m., 086 0454458

Sun. 14th: The Schoolyard Theatre, Charleville, Co. Cork (double act with Greenshine), 8.30 p.m., 087 7921771

Mon. 15th: Merry Bar and Restaurant, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford (upstairs), 9.00 p.m. (Dungarvan Singers Club presentation), 087 064 0542

Tues. 16th: Mitchelstown Library, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, 11.00 a.m., 025 41939; Mallow Library, Mallow, Co. Cork, @ 3.00 p.m., 022 21821

Wed. 17th: Charleville Library, Charleville, Co. Cork, @ 11.00 a.m., 063 89769; Kanturk Library, Kanturk, Co. Cork, 3.00 p.m., 029 51384; O'Donovan's Hotel, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, 9.30 p.m., 023 8833250

Thurs. 18th: Spailpin Fanach, South Main St., Cork city, 9.00 p.m. Support act Venetian Blue. 087 7921771

Fri. 19th: Millstreet Library, Millstreet, Co. Cork, 11.30 a.m., 029-21920; Newmarket Library, Newmarket, Co. Cork, 3.30 p.m., 087 7921771; Nosh and Coffee Restaurant, Ballincollig Shopping Centre, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, 8.00 p.m.

Sat. 20th: House concert plus workshops. Workshops start 7.00 p.m., followed by concert. For details tel. John (087 7921771) or Susanne (087 6913980)

Sun. 21st: The Welcome Inn, Garryspillane, Co. Limerick, 5.00 p.m., 087 7921771

Mon. 22nd: Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, 8.15 p.m. Support act The Pioneers. 087 7921771

BIB editor's note: Previous Colorado bands to visit Ireland include (as well as those John mentions) Hot Rize, the Bluegrass Patriots, and the Railsplitters. Thunder and Rain are also on Facebook.

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Latest BAND Festival news

Thanks to Riona McGrath of the BAND Festival (also on Facebook), coming in Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal (23-25 June), for these updates:

Our lineup has been expanding: we have not announced everyone yet but there's a good few added to the website since we last spoke. A few points of interest may be a young bluegrass group coming over from Scotland, the Dirty Beggars; Erdini; Geordie McAdam & Co; and Alec Somerville.

We also now have a few ticketed events. They are:
  • a Niall Toner full band show,
  • a Niall Toner solo show in the Holy Trinity Church in Dunfanaghy (it's a really beautiful place and has been used for a couple of music events in the past),
  • and finally a duo that is more along the Nashville route - Brian Willoughby & Cathryn Craig, who will be doing two early evening events.
There's more info. on each of these on www.thebandfestival.com/special-performances.

Each of those four performances are €10 each, but we're selling festival passes for €25 that mean you can access all of these performances.

There will be a mix of music throughout the weekend, we're adding updates to the lineup at www.thebandfestival.com/bands. It's all coming around pretty quickly but we're really excited about it all!

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04 May 2017

11th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival: official launch 13 May 2017; tickets on sale online

Thanks to Uri Kohen for the news that the 11th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival will be officially launched at 9.30 p.m. next Saturday (13 May) in McGing's, High St., Westport, Co. Mayo, by Ann McCarthy, arts officer of Mayo county council.

The night will be hosted by Westport Community Radio and MCed by Liam McNamara. Guest speakers: Uri (as festival producer) and Councillor Tereasa McGuire. Music on the night will be provided by the hot young Dublin band, the Breadwinners (photo below).

The new festival poster (top right), designed by Desmond Downes, and programme (below) will also be on display. Both can also be seen on the Festival Facebook.

Tickets for the festival are now available online via the festival's website. There are five different options:
  • individual ticket for the main shows of each night of the festival (Friday €20, Saturday €20, Sunday €12)
  • weekend pass covering all three concerts, €45
  • Friday & Saturday combo, €35
Uri adds: 'Tickets are limited and it is very much advised to purchase them in advance. Note that the combo ticket and the weekend pass are much better value for money. Looking forward to see all bluegrass fans in Westport on 9 June!'

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03 May 2017

Bill Bryson

The Bluegrass Cardinals: Don Parmley, Bill Bryson, Dennis Fetchet,
David Parmley, Randy Graham

We learn with great regret of the death on Sunday (30 April) of Bill Bryson from cancer, at the age of 70. A brief feature by Richard Thompson appears on Bluegrass Today. Among the many accomplishments of his career, he was the bass player of the original Bluegrass Cardinals, shown in the photo above from a Cardinals discography. The Cardinals' powerful 1976 debut album had a strong influence in reasserting the vitality of 'traditional' bluegrass.

The link to Bill's name in the Wikipedia article on the band erroneously leads to an article on Bill Bryson the author (b. 1951).

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Rhiannon Giddens at Vicar Street, Dublin, 25 Nov. 2017

Rhiannon Giddens, founder member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops (USA), will be performing in Dublin six months from now during a series of shows in these islands (17-28 Nov. 2017), as part of a world tour with her latest album, Freedom highway.

The album was produced in Dirk Powell's studio and released on 24 Feb. 2017. It can be bought (CD or digital download) from Rhiannon Giddens's website. The show will be at Vicar Street, Dublin; tickets can be booked through her online tour schedule. A video of 'Come love come', from the album, is on YouTube.
A reminder that at the end of this month (27 May) Aoife O'Donovan will be in concert at Whelan's, 25 Wexford St., Dublin 2. Seats can be booked here.

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Proposed tour by Rebecca Pronsky, July 2018

Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency draws our attention to yet another artist from outside bluegrass, Rebecca Pronsky from Brooklyn, NY, who with her husband and accompanist Rich Bennett is planning a tour in these islands for 7-22 July 2018. Two YouTube links are given for samples of their work. Both songs could well be played by a bluegrass band; indeed, the official video of 'Better this way' has a banjo on the soundtrack. The video of 'Aberdeen' was shot at a performance by the duo. Event organisers, venue owners, and others who are interested in booking them for next year should contact Loudon through the links given on his e-newsletter.

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02 May 2017

Alec Somerville joins BAND Festival lineup

Alec Somerville is now on the bill at the BAND Festival in Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal (23-5 June). The blurb for Alec on the lineup page of the festival website reads:

Originally from Canada, banjo legend Alec Somerville now finds home in Co. Donegal. Alec plays his music in the 'clawhammer' style on the 5-string banjo. He has a large repertoire of music and songs, many of which were taken overseas by the early Scots and Irish settlers; and a real knowledge of the music which eventually gave birth to country music and later to bluegrass!

More on Alec's career appeared on the BIB for 15 Sept. 2012, since when he has made an important contribution to Canadian military history (also noted on the BIB). The BAND Festival Facebook yesterday published a nice video (also on YouTube) of Alec playing 'Waterbound'.

Artists also on the BAND lineup include the Niall Toner Band, Two Time Polka, Geordie MacAdam, Woodbine, Erdini, and many more. A fundraiser for the Festival was held in Dunfanaghy two weeks ago on Easter Monday.

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01 May 2017

Fretboard Journal 38

Someone once described the Fretboard Journal as a guitar collector's magazine, which it is not: a collector's magazine would have price lists in it. The FJ is a top-quality, beautifully illustrated magazine about stringed (and predominantly fretted) instruments and the people who make and play them; and for a magazine not dedicated to bluegrass, it carries a lot of material to interest bluegrass instrument enthusiasts.

The current issue, no. 38, includes a twelve-page feature by Walter Carter on the restoration by Stephen Gilchrist of the earliest known Lloyd Loar Gibson F-5 mandolin (70281, dated 1 June 1922); a sixteen-page feature by Larry Howe on Mike Kemnitzer of Nugget mandolins; a Vega Tubaphone banjo with ornate neck by Doug Unger, shown in a glorious photo by Amanda Kowalski, sometime bass player with Uncle Earl; and a major interview with legendary fingerstyle guitarist Leo Kottke by Nick Forster of Hot Rize.

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