21 September 2017

News from the Mother Country

The Prescription Bluegrass Blog reports that the Ashokan Center in New York State is celebrating fifty years as a focus of environmental education, and is honouring Jay Ungar and Molly Mason for their help in keeping the Center going, not least by holding their annual Fiddle and Dance Camps there since 1980. Jay Ungar wrote the famous 'Ashokan farewell' there in 1982, as told here.
Bluegrass Today reports that Alison Brown and Deering Banjos have worked together to produce the Julia Belle banjo, based on the inspiration of the late John Hartford. It has a 24-fret fingerboard, and uses heavy-medium strings to enable it to be tuned down to an open E or D chord. Alison is quoted as saying:

...there’s nothing like a low banjo to open up a player’s creativity. The low resonance gives the banjo a solo voice that is so comfortable and inspiring to play that I find myself reaching for it often to play around the house. It’s a great tool in band settings and in the studio too...

Update 22 Sept.: Deering's press release, with links, can be seen here.
Thanks to Denver film-maker and copywriter Bo Smith, who draws attention to Avenhart, an indie-folk band formed by Colorado University students. Their website describes their music as

... 'City-folk' with a pinch of bluegrass and a dash of Americana. [...] Sound inspirations come from a mixture of the Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan, two parts of Fleet Foxes, and a teaspoon of Joy Kills Sorrow.

The 'pinch' of bluegrass means that they use acoustic bluegrass instruments (guitars, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass) and harmony vocals. Bo Smith has produced and directed this video of the band's song 'Fade away'. If you like what you see and hear, more of their work is on YouTube.

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