30 July 2021

Seth Mulder & Midnight Run (USA): European tour May-June 2022

Thanks to Dave Byrne jr of the mygrassisblue.com team in Co. Wicklow, for the welcome news that Seth Mulder & Midnight Run, the fine Tennessee band who were almost our last US visitors before the pandemic, will be back in Ireland next spring as part of a European tour organised by mygrassisblue.com. Dave writes:

After announcing the tour itself on July 28 of last year, when in dire need of something to look forward to in midst of the pandemic, we are pleased to be announcing on this July 28 the actual tour schedule. All going to plan and assuming no further disruptions as a result of the pandemic, the tour will run for three-plus weeks stopping off at bluegrass-friendly venues in a minimum of 9 different countries; this is the initial schedule with some select dates still to be pencilled into the schedule (although none in the Republic I’m afraid). It’s going to be fun.

Of the collaboration, Seth Mulder adds:

'We’re so excited to be teaming up with mygrassisblue.com. They have a passion for the music and a drive to connect bands with new audiences all over Europe! Plus they’re great people to boot. We had the opportunity of meeting them on our last tour in Ireland and really enjoyed the time we got to spend around them. They’ve got great things in the works and we’re looking forward to working with them over the next few years.'

The schedule can also be seen on the band's Facebook. Brief video clips from Midnight Run's sets at Bunratty in Jan. 2020 are on the mygrassisblue.com website.
© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

Remembering Athy Bluegrass Festival 1991 (and some more history)

All praise to Tony O'Brien for his commemoration on Facebook of the thirtieth anniversary, last weekend, of the very first Athy Bluegrass Festival. Tony has posted photos and videos, and many friends of the Athy festivals (including visiting musicians who have played there over the years) have sent in their comments.

Shortly before the 25th Athy festival, Richard Thompson posted a substantial feature about Athy on Bluegrass Today (4 June 2015). Tony's contributions to that feature constitute an important part of the record of bluegrass music in this island.
*
Footnote: The claim of the North-West Bluegrass Festival, first held in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, in Nov. 1990 (see the BIB for 19 June 2019) to be the first bluegrass festival in Ireland, should not be overlooked. The 1991 Athy festival, however, was on an altogether different scale, with three well-known US bands and a strong host band in a concert hall, plus a programme of auxiliary events.
*
Two other significant additions to bluegrass history have appeared recently on Bluegrass Today: Pete Wernick's account of the recording of Rounder 0006 in 1971, which launched the musicians into professional careers and a wider influence than they ever expected; and Kathy Kallick, in the first instalment of a major interview with Dave Berry, describes her experiences as a woman in bluegrass (and in all-woman bands) over the years. Both very well worth reading.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

29 July 2021

IBMA World Of Bluegrass 2021: awards and nominations news

Thanks to Uri Kohen, director of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival in Co. Mayo, for drawing attention to the awards and nominations for awards at this year's IBMA World Of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC. Full details are given in press releases by Casey Campbell in the 'Latest news' section of the World Of Bluegrass website.

Three inductions into the Bluegrass Music Hall Of Fame have been made: Alison Krauss, who first played in Ireland in 1994 with her band Union Station; singer, banjoist, and bandleader Lynn Morris, whose band headlined the Athy Bluegrass Festival in 1995 or '6; and the Stoneman Family, of whom the unique Roni Stoneman toured Ireland in 2013 and 2016.

Five IBMA Distinguished Achievement Awards have been made: to industry leader Nancy Cardwell Webster, broadcaster Lee Michael Demsey, Czech luthier/ performer Jaroslav Prucha, musician/ performer Cliff Waldron, and Stan Zdonik of the Boston Bluegrass Union. Presentations will be made on 30 Sept. during the Business Conference section of World Of Bluegrass.

Nominations for awards include, as always, a fair number of artists who have visited Ireland over the years, though these are less common among the nominations for industry and momentum awards; however, Leanne Thorose, lead singer and mandolinist of the GB/NI band Midnight Skyracer, is a nominee for the Momentum Vocalist of the Year award.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

Tony Trischka on Deering Live TONIGHT (29 July)

The Deering Banjo Company announce that the featured artist on Deering Live tonight will be Tony Trischka, outstanding as banjo performer, composer, mentor, and communicator, as well as being a Deering artist. Deering announce (links added by BIB): 'In this episode, we delve deep into Tony's current album, Shall we hope. We will also talk about the ArtistWorks platform and how it can help you become a better banjo player.' The interview can be watched live on YouTube at 11.00 p.m. Irish time.

Shall we hope was reviewed on Bluegrass Today last month by Tabitha Agnew Benedict (see the BIB for 9 June).

Deering also feature their range of banjo heads, which now includes a Skin Tone head in 11" size, giving a sound intermediate between Fiberskyn and Renaissance, at $50.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , , ,

28 July 2021

We Banjo 3 on tour in USA, late 2021-early 2022

Galway's We Banjo 3 announce:

Tour, tour, tour!!

Wow, we are finally ready to announce some tour dates. It's been a really long haul to get here and there are still some hurdles to cross but we are so excited to get back on the road and meet you all in person again. We're nervous and trepidatious for sure as it's been so long and so much has changed, but it will be amazing to finally do what we love so much, for all of you we love so much!

Tickets for any of the thirty-one dates shown on the band's website schedule can be bought here. All are in the USA, between 1 Sept. 2021 and 19 Mar. 2022. More bookings are to be announced soon.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

New book - and a mammoth classic - from Barry R. Willis

The BIB editor writes:

It was a very pleasant surprise to find a comment by Barry R. Willis added to the BIB post two weeks ago on the death of Byrone Berline. Barry Willis is a banjo-player, airline pilot, radio presenter, and novelist. He has also made a major contribution to bluegrass history: America's music: bluegrass. A history of bluegrass music in the words of its pioneers, first published in 1997, with over six hundred pages. I reviewed it in the December 1997 issue of the Irish Bluegrass Music Club Newsletter, beginning with the words 'This is a great nourishing Christmas pudding of a book, stuffed full of all sorts of good things.' To pick one example: the chapter on Carlton Haney, published the year before Haney was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

The first edition is long out of print but can still be found, for instance, on Amazon.co.uk. Moreover, it can be downloaded from Barry's website, where the audio interviews on which the book is based can also be accessed. I strongly advise any reader to use also the voluminous section of the website with a wealth of additional research material, which includes important corrections to the published text - for instance, Jimmy Martin's vigorous defence of his reputation.

As well as the magnum opus of America's music, Barry has published two novels drawing on his own life experiences: The banjo pilot (2018) and Icy Strait, which appeared earlier this year. A feature by Richard Thompson on Icy Strait appeared two weeks ago on Bluegrass Today. The photo on the right above shows Barry at the launch of The banjo pilot.

He has also launched a blog for discussion of controversial issues in bluegrass music; the first (July 2021) issue concerns the credit for 'inventing' bluegrass (a subject that evoked conflicting views when it was raised on Bluegrass Today at the end of 2020), and the second (August 2021) is on Bill Monroe's early fiddlers. Don't miss the coming episode on Bill Keith's part in creating the book Earl Scruggs and the 5-string banjo.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

19 July 2021

Editorial hiatus

The BIB editor will be out of the editorial chair on pleasure bent for a few days, starting tomorrow (Tuesday 20 July); so please keep sending in news, but don't expect it to appear before Tuesday 27 July at the earliest.

Labels:

16 July 2021

News of past visitors

Cedar Hill (right), the hard-core traditional bluegrass band from the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas, who have made several warmly acclaimed appearances at Omagh festivals and other venues here in the past, released their first single on the Mountain Fever Records label earlier this year; it went to #2 on the Bluegrass Today Top 20 song chart.

Mountain Fever now announce a new single from the band, 'Tend to my flowers', which is being released today (16 July). As the press release says, the song 'speaks about the heart-wrenching issues of Alzheimer’s disease and aging that many can relate to'.
*
Dale Ann Bradley, also an Omagh headliner, has made a video, released by Pinecastle, of the song 'Falling down' from her current album. The theme is the fear everyone has of falling and failure. The musicians taking part in the video include the splendid Jim Hurst, who toured here in 2019. The songwriter, Ashby Frank, toured here ten years earlier as mandolinist with the Special Consensus. It's a fine song, and this rendering is well worth seeing on video as well as hearing. You can do both on Bluegrass Today or YouTube.
*
Chris Jones & the Night Drivers (also touring here in autumn 2019 after performing at Omagh that year) brought out a week ago their new single, 'Riding the Chief', on the Mountain Home Music label, co-written by Chris and Thomm Jutz. It can be heard on Bluegrass Today and music streaming platforms.
*
Lluís Gómez, whose Barcelona Bluegrass Band became a favourite at successive Johnny Keenan Banjo Festivals, will be showcasing with his Flamencograss Quartet at this year's IBMA World Of Bluegrass (see the BIB for 1 July). A welcome taste of their music is the original composition 'La flor', dedicated to Lluís's father, which can be seen and heard on Bluegrass Today and YouTube. Warmly recommended.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , ,

Commemorating Byron Berline

Following upon the death last Saturday (10 July) of the great fiddle player Byron Berline, Richard Thompson on Bluegrass Today gives the details of his memorial service, which will take place this coming Tuesday (20 July).

Tributes to him include those from Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, which includes in its latest weekly e-newsletter links to a 40-track Spotify playlist of recordings from Byron's long career, to a 1972 BU feature on the highly influential band Country Gazette of which he was a founder member, and to a 1992 feature on the band California, the final development from Berline, Crary, & Hickman.

PS: A long, heartfelt tribute from Dan Crary can be read on the European Bluegrass Music Association Facebook.

PPS: An appreciation by Jack Tottle is on Bluegrass Today.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: ,

15 July 2021

For the 21st-century fiddler

More info from FOAOTMAD today: Sue Taniguchi of Taniguchi Violins in Brixham, Devon, south-west England, is now selling Incredibows, made of carbon fibre, in an assortment of colours (right) at £125 each. She also re-hairs traditional wooden bows with Incredihair, a polymer filament that, by report, never wears out.

An independent assessment of the Incredibow can be seen on YouTube. Full details are on the Incredibow website. Sue Taniguchi can be contacted by 'phone (+44 01803 858739) or e-mail. Does any BIB reader know of an Incredibow supplier in Ireland?

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

Bluegrass and old-time picking weekend in Merseyside (GB), 9-12 Sept. 2021

While we're waiting for the rebirth of the live event scene in Ireland, those who badly need to hear live picking in quantity again may want to consider a weekend in England in early September (if it should be possible then). The FOAOTMAD news blog announces the Junction Old Time and Bluegrass Picking Weekend, scheduled for 9-12 Sept. 2021 and centred on The Junction pub at 102 News Lane, Rainford, St Helens, Merseyside, WA11 7JU. FOAOTMAD say 'between Liverpool and Manchester'; on the map, it's more between Liverpool and Wigan.

The poster (click image to enlarge) gives ample details - there are 100 camping spaces for tents, caravans, or motorhomes, and spaces can be booked in advance. More details of prices and contact data are on the FOATMAD blog (today's date), and you can keep in touch with developments on the Junction's Facebook.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: ,

14 July 2021

'Bluegrass Country Soul' to be shown at its birthplace on 3 Sept. 2021

Thanks to Ellen Pasternack, executive director of Bluegrass Country Soul, Inc., for this news:

This Labor Day weekend [Sat. 4 Sept.-Mon. 6 Sept.] will mark the 50th anniversary of the filming of 'Bluegrass Country Soul', shot in 1971 at Carlton Haney’s Blue Grass Park in Camp Springs, NC. This year’s festival will include a celebratory screening of 'Bluegrass Country Soul', at 9.30 p.m. on Friday, September 3, on the very site where the movie was filmed!

We’ve created the following short video as part of our celebrations of this historic event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1AwQsUvfg.

The video is just under two minutes long. Other video clips from the film, or about the making of it, are on the Bluegrass Country Soul YouYube channel.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

No Depression's ten favourite roots albums of 2021 (so far)

No Depression magazine announces on its website its 'Favorite roots music albums of 2021 (so far)', with brief notes by different staff members on the ten albums listed. The artists most closely associated with the bluegrass and old-time scenes are Sarah Jarosz with her Blue heron suite at #7, and Rhiannon Giddens (with Francesco Turrisi) with They're calling me home at #5. Giddens and Jarosz are shown in the upper left-hand corner of the image above.

Doug Heselgrave writes: 'They're calling me home is, without reservation, her finest work to date. Intimately recorded and emotionally accessible, it is a near perfect album in which the diversity of Giddens’ musical interests coalesces to fulfill the promise hinted at in everything she has recorded up until this point.'

Variety announces, in this feature by Chris Willman, that Rhiannon Giddens will be giving a 75-minute 'mini-memoir', entitled 'To balance on bridges', on the Audible platform in its 'Words+Music' series, on Thursday next week (22 July). More details, and a 2-minute audio trailer, are here.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

13 July 2021

Byron Berline, 6 July 1944-10 July 2021

The sad news comes of the death on Saturday 10 July of master fiddler Byron Berline, from complications following a stroke. The great breadth and variety of his achievements is indicated in Wikipedia; Heinz Walliser's page about him, using substantially the same text, also gives photos and nine videos. David Morris's tribute on Bluegrass Today gives four videos, including one of his TV appearance on 'Star Trek: the next generation', as an Enterprise crew member playing chamber music. His personal story A fiddler's diary (2013), written with Jane Frost, is published by New Forums Press and available from Amazon.co.uk.

Fans in Ireland were able to see and hear this phenomenal musician in person when Berline, Crary, & Hickman visited Ireland in the 1980s, first as the original trio and next after the addition of Steve Spurgin on bass.

PS: While a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, Byron took part in composing the tune 'Gold rush', which has become a jam session favourite as a two-part tune. He demonstrates all three parts beautifully on YouTube.


©Richard Hawkins

Labels: ,

12 July 2021

Live gigs return to the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre (and elsewhere)

The SEAC team at the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre ('Ireland's best little venue') in Naul, Co. Dublin, announce:

We are giddy with excitement to announce the return of live gigs at the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre!

Our summer 2021 events will all take place in our covered courtyard, The Piper's Garden. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, numbers have been capped. Covid-19 Health and Safety measures will be in place for the safety of patrons, artists and staff. We ask that you comply with all staff instructions. Further information on what to expect when you attend the venue is available here.

Bookings can be made for live events beginning on Thursday and Friday next week (22 and 23 July). Coming events are all shown on the Centre's website. No bluegrass or old-time music is on the schedule at present, but on the Centre's past record it can be only a matter of time...

Update: The reopening of live performances has also been announced by other venues including the Hawk's Well Theatre in Sligo town; and St John's Theatre & Arts Centre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, both of which have put on bluegrass-related acts in the past.


© Richard Hawkins

Labels:

10 July 2021

Summer music at Bunclody

The BIB editor writes:

Good to see live music in public again - this photo shows Dick Gladney (bass), Andrea Booth (ukulele), and Niall Toner (guitar), at the Mall Market, Bunclody, Co. Wexford, on Saturday afternoon, 26 June. They played there again the following Saturday, a week ago (3 July); see Niall's Facebook.

© Richard Hawkins

08 July 2021

Tim O'Brien - BGS Artist of the Month, July 2021 (UPDATE)

On 28 June the BIB drew attention to Tim O'Brien's new album, He walked on, reviewed in No Depression magazine. Tim O'Brien (right) has now been named as Artist of the Month for July by the Bluegrass Situation (BGS), which in May premiered 'He breathed in', the lead single of the album. 'The project', he told the magazine, 'is about what you need to do to survive in America.'

You can also hear in the article 'The essential Tim O'Brien playlist', with 37 tracks compiled from recordings throughout his career. Unfortunately, no one recorded the night he sat in with the Sackville String Band at Tailors' Hall in Dublin in the late 1970s.

Update 14 July: BGS has now published a two-part interview with Tim O'Brien by Tristan Scroggins: part 1; part 2.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

Riley Baugus on Deering Live TONIGHT (8 July 2021)

The Deering Banjo Company announce that the featured artist on Deering Live tonight will be master old-time banjo-player, banjo-maker, and singer Riley Baugus. Riley last played in Ireland as part of a tour of these islands, ending at the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, on Friday 15 Nov. 2019. Several photos of the Red Room and its surroundings are in the 'Mobile uploads' section of his Facebook. Deering announce:

Riley plays in the Round Peak style which is a style that comes from his home county in North Carolina, Surry County. Riley has recorded with Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Alison Kraus [sic], and many more. He also sang on the Academy Award-nominated soundtrack for the movie Cold Mountain.

The interview, starting at 11.00 p.m. Irish time, can be watched on Deering Live or on YouTube.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , ,

Kenny Baker, 1926-2011


Kenneth Clayton 'Kenny' Baker of Kentucky, considered by many (including Bill Monroe) to have been the supreme bluegrass fiddler, died ten years ago today (8 July 2011). He had been inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1999, the second fiddler to be so honoured - Chubby Wise was inducted in 1998. Thanks to Niall Toner for the photo above, which he took at Belfast in 1975 during a backstage warm-up by Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys.

The Hall of Fame and Museum has experienced some difficulties in transferring inductee data when updating its website, and although the Museum publication The Bluegrass Hall of Fame: inductee biographies 1991-2014 (2014) gives the correct date of death, Kenny's website entry has been showing 'August 7' instead.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

07 July 2021

All 'Quarantine Happy Hour' videos easily accessible

Uri Kohen of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival sends this welcome news:

Many fans of bluegrass and old-time music will be familiar with the Quarantine Happy Hour, a series of daily house concerts on Facebook which started in April 2020, founded by Barry Southern and Gabrielle Macrae of The Horsenecks, and has been running continually since then.

Now, thanks to Josh Larios, there is one website which includes all the videos in an easy-to-find way.

BIB editor's note: A link to the Quarantine Happy Hour series, under the image shown above, has been in the sidebar of the BIB since the series began. We have now added a link to the new directory.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

FOAOTMAD old-time summer camp in England, 6-15 Aug. 2021

FOAOTMAD, the UK organisation for American old-time music and dance, announces that its ten-day Summer Camp will be held from Friday 6 August to Sunday 15 August at Croft Farm Water Park, Bredons Hardwick, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire GL20 7EE:

Provided the government’s guidelines are unchanged, then we will run workshops, slow jams, and campfire jams as usual.

As an extra feature this year we hope to be able to run a mini-festival during the first weekend of the camp, with a number of band performances in the marquee. These will be on the evenings of Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th August. If you would like to be considered for a performance in front of an audience, please contact Tim Rooke: festival@foaotmad.org.uk

Due to the Covid crisis, advance booking is essential and you should phone the campsite direct on 01684 772321. FOAOTMAD members’ discount available when booking; a name and current membership number will be required. More info on our website.


© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , , , ,

Two new singles from Fast Track (USA)

The Engelhardt Music Group (EMG) announced yesterday the release of two new singles from Fast Track, made up of Dale Perry (banjo, bass vocals), Steve Day (fiddle, vocals), Ron Spears (bass, vocals), Jesse Brock (mandolin, vocals), and Duane Sparks (guitar, vocals). Ron and Jesse have both toured in Ireland in the past.

The first single - 'The lonesome wind', a Ron Spears composition - is from their debut album (left above), and the second is 'It won't be very long' from their ten-track gospel album Good news (right above). Both albums are now available on all digital platforms and at $15.00 each from the EMG website. A live performance of 'Broken-in friends and worn-out shoes' can be seen on YouTube. The instrument played by Dale Perry in this video will intrigue banjo players, as it certainly did a member of the audience.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

06 July 2021

Advice from the classical music world

The prolific Dutch composer Louis Andriessen died on 1 July at the age of 82, at Weesp in the Netherlands. A press obituary of him includes two quotes which may resonate with bluegrass and old-time players:
  • He once told his students: 'I would much rather you play the wrong note loudly than the right note subtly'; and
  • His father, also a composer, advised him: 'You should realise that we are not important. The music is important. So we should serve the music.' 

© Richard Hawkins

Labels:

04 July 2021

To mark Independence Day

The BIB editor writes:

Here's a YouTube link to a recording of the fiddle tune 'Liberty', played by Ray Legere from New Brunswick.

For a long time this tune has suggested to me the exuberance of freedom achieved, and it would be pleasant to imagine an origin somewhere around 1776 for it. However, according to the Traditional Tune Archive, the first recording of it was made by Bob Wills in 1947; earlier recordings under the same title are of different tunes.

Ray Legere's homeland, of course, still groans under the oppressive weight of being, in the words of a distinguished American commentator, 'a commonwealth of Britain'.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

03 July 2021

Jesse Brock (USA) launches Streamliner on Station Inn TV tonight

The BIB has carried posts recently about mandolin master Jesse Brock (who has visited Ireland several times in the past in different bands) and particularly about Jesse's album Streamliner, which is now available from his website. One of the ideas behind the album was to bring together a set of top musicians to make it; Jesse has taken a logical next step by forming this group into his 'Streamliner' band, including Greg Blake on guitar and Russ Carson on banjo.

The official launch party for Streamliner the album will be held at the world-famous Station Inn, Nashville, TN, tonight (3 July) at 8.00 p.m. Nashville time (2.00 a.m. on Sunday for viewers in Ireland), and the show will be streamed live on Station Inn TV. Tickets are $20.00 - the same price as the album.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , , ,

02 July 2021

Bright Munde reviewed by Tabitha Benedict on Bluegrass Today

Tabitha Benedict continues to contribute detailed and analytical reviews to Bluegrass Today, which yesterday published her review of Bright Munde, an album by the duo comprising banjo legend Alan Munde and mandolinist Billy Bright. The cover image (right) combines both musicians in one apparition. BIB readers with long memories may recall Billy Bright in Ireland quite a few years back when his Two High String Band played at Dunmore East, Athy, and Omagh.

Samples of the thirteen tracks of Bright Munde can be heard on a player at the end of the review. The sound quality is excellent, and the album is a fine example of what satisfying music can be made by just two instruments. The CD can be bought on Alan Munde's website for $15+P&P; a tab book of all the banjo solos is the same price. Some instrumental albums are intimidating; but as Benedict says, this is an album that increases your desire to play.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , ,

01 July 2021

Familiar faces for IBMA showcases

The lineup for the showcase programme of this year's IBMA World Of Bluegrass at Raleigh, NC, is now complete, and among the forty acts chosen there are quite a few faces that will be familiar to Irish audiences. Past visitors from the USA include Allison de Groot (last over here with Molsky's Mountain Drifters); Cedar Hill; the Henhouse Prowlers (whose picture is on the front of the 'Bluegrass Ramble' section of the website); the Special Consensus (with Greg Blake on guitar); the Martin Gilmore Trio; and Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike (with Lisa Kay Howard-Hughes on mandolin and Wally Hughes on fiddle and dobro). From outside the States, Lluís Gómez from Barcelona, with his Flamencograss Quartet; and the Often Herd from north-east England. We believe Bluegrass Stuff from Italy haven't visited Ireland yet, but they should. A player on the IBMA WOB website gives half-minute samples of all the showcase acts.

The big news for fans in Ireland should have been the appearance of the outstanding guitar maestro from Carlow, Shane Hennessy (photo above), on the IBMA showcase schedule. Unfortunately, tonight Shane has had to announce that owing to continuing travel restrictions between Europe and the USA, he has been obliged to cancel his planned autumn tour in the States. However, he looks forward to making lots of IBMA connections online.

Update: From Bluegrass Today, it appears that all showcase artists from outside the USA will be taking part by video stream.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

Doyle Lawson plans to complete sixty years on the road

Doyle Lawson, who brought his band Quicksilver to top the bill at the 2006 Omagh festival, announced in April that he intends to withdraw from touring at the end of 2022 or early in 2023, by which time he will have completed sixty years as a professional bluegrass musician, and over forty as one of the most respected and influential bandleaders in bluegrass history. A good survey of his career was given by John Lawless on Bluegrass Today. In early May the 40th Annual Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Bluegrass Festival was one of the first major live bluegrass events to be held in the US this year.

A week ago Billy Blue Records released Roundtable, which Doyle sees as the last secular album he will make. A video of 'I'll take the lonesome every time', the lead track of the twelve on the album, can be seen on YouTube and on Bluegrass Today. On the same day (24 June) a major interview with him by Deborah Evans Price appeared on Billboard magazine. Many more details on Doyle's career and on the making of the album are on this press release from Billy Blue Records.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , ,

30 June 2021

Tommy Edwards's life celebrated

Following on from the BIB's report of 24 May on the death of Thomas Shelton 'Tommy' Edwards, who performed with his band Bluegrass Experience at a past Omagh festival, Sandy Hatley reports on Bluegrass Today a gathering to celebrate Tommy's life that took place in central North Carolina last Sunday (27 June). It's a comprehensive report, showing how he touched the lives of many people in many spheres of life.

Tommy's friends had managed to ensure that he received before his death the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, 'the most prestigious award that the governor of North Carolina can bestow upon a citizen'. The text of the award includes a verse of the 'North Carolina toast', which is movingly sung by the Red Clay Ramblers (who follow it with a fine fiddle-and-banjo rendition of 'North Carolina breakdown') on YouTube.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels:

American Banjo Camp online, 11-12 Sept. 2021

Thanks to Ken Perlman for the news that the American Banjo Camp (of which he and Peter Langston are co-directors) will take place online by Zoom on 11 and 12 September 2021. On each day four back-to-back classes in bluegrass banjo and four back-to-back classes in old-time banjo will be held, and there is a stellar set of instructors, including Greg Cahill and Jeff Scroggins on the bluegrass side. Each class will teach a different set of skills. The cost to attend the full two-day schedule is $180; you can also sign up for any one day (Saturday or Sunday) for $100. Full details are on the ABC website.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

Art, magic, and country music history

The Bitter Southerner online magazine has published a set of writings collectively titled 'Summer voices', with the main focus on artist and puppeteer Wayne White, raised in the South and subsequently based in New York and Los Angeles, who will be guest editor of the BS for a month.

BIB readers may be specially interested in 'Art & magic: a conversation between Wayne White & Tyler Mahan Coe'. Coe, a musician and writer, hosts the 'Cocaine & rhinestones' podcast series on country music history. The BS feature includes reproductions of artworks by Whyte: paintings of Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Buck Owens & the Buckaroos, and Lightnin' Hopkins, all of these having the names of the subjects underneath.

No name is under the picture that heads the article; it's given right at the end, but bluegrassers will recognise it as based on a 1939 photo of the original Blue Grass Boys lineup, showing (l-r) Art Wooten (fiddle), Bill Monroe (mandolin), Cleo Davis (guitar), and Amos Garen (bass). As with Robert Crumb's book R. Crumb's heroes of blues, jazz & country (2006), the painting tells the viewer less about the subject than the original photo does. No matter; it's a work of art by Wayne White (or Robert Crumb).

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , , ,

29 June 2021

'Streaming across the Sea' - part 1 this coming Sunday

The BIB mentioned on 22 June that Maria Wallace of the True North Music agency in Britain will be presenting a 'Streaming across the Sea' online festival for 'Americana, bluegrass, folk & roots music' in two parts (4 and 10 July) on the agency's YouTube channel.

The FOAOTMAD news blog today gives ample details of the schedule. Note that part 1 (Sun. 4 July) will be devoted to the transatlantic artists, and will include participatory Zoom workshops for Ottawa Valley step dancing with April Verch and bluegrass banjo with BB Bowness. The live stream can also be watched on True North's Facebook.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

Gold Tone's OB-3 'Twanger' test-driven

In October 2019 the BIB reported on a new banjo model from the Gold Tone Music Group - the OB-3 'Twanger', which has since received the designation 'Mastertone' (see the BIB for 22 July 2020) and represents the top of Gold Tone's bluegrass banjo range.

Gold Tone now announce that Gabe Hirshfeld, banjo player with Boston's Lonely Heartstring Band, has made a YouTube video in which he puts the OB-3 through its paces, and a further video in which he compares the OB-3 directly with a pre-war Gibson RB-3, #9580-4.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

28 June 2021

Tim O'Brien releases He walked on

Thanks to No Depression magazine for news of He walked on, the latest album from Tim O'Brien (USA), which is reviewed for No Depression by Mike Elliott: 'Tim O’Brien searches for humanity and connection on "He walked on"’. Two videos are included of tracks from the album; all thirteen tracks can be heard on the Tim O'Brien YouTube channel.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

Calling 'The Counsellor'

The BIB editor writes:

Rhiannon Giddens was interviewed on Deering Live five months ago. I missed seeing the live stream, but can recommend watching the whole hour on YouTube. Giddens was speaking from Ireland, which brought favourable comments from contributors to the live chatroom. One contributor, based in Ireland and identified only as 'The Counsellor', wrote in:

ask her is there a bluegrass community in Ireland I can't find them anywhere I need to find my tribe

Rhiannon Giddens had no opportunity to answer this question; and it seems unlikely that any BIB reader will know who The Counsellor may be. We can only regret that he or she has lost out on the last thirty years, for most of which there have been at least three annual bluegrass festivals in this island, and innumerable smaller events, tours, concerts, and gigs. The good news for The Counsellor is that the tribe is here!

© Richard Hawkins

24 June 2021

Midnight Run, the Andrea Roberts Agency, and the Station Inn

Seth Mulder & Midnight Run of Tennessee were among the last US bluegrass visitors to tour Ireland before the pandemic struck; a highlight of their tour (organised by John Nyhan) was the powerful performances they delivered at the Shannonside Winter Music Festival in January 2020. The photo above, taken at the set they played in the Main Guard of Bunratty Castle, Co. Clare, has since then been the cover photo of the band's Facebook.

The latest news about them on Bluegrass Today is that they have signed up with the Andrea Roberts Agency of Murfreesboro, TN, for exclusive booking representation. This puts them in the same stable with the A-list Grascals - and it also links up to one member of a particular US band that began coming to Ireland a quarter-century ago.

Andrea Roberts had a distinguished career as a musician with some of the biggest names in bluegrass before becoming a booking agent. The image above shows Andrea as bassist of the Special Consensus when they toured Ireland with what was then their latest album, Our little town (1998). Also shown: Greg Cahill (banjo), Colby Maddox (mandolin), Chris Walz (guitar).

Seth Mulder & Midnight Run will also be playing live at the Station Inn, Nashville, TN, this coming Saturday (26 June) at 8.00 p.m. Nashville time. The show will be streamed live on Station Inn TV, which broadcast this year's online Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival (11-13 June). Tickets for the show are now on sale here.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , ,

Wes Corbett on Deering Live TONIGHT

The Deering Banjo Company announce that the featured artist on Deering Live tonight will be Wes Corbett, formerly instructor at Boston's Berklee College of Music, and banjo-player for the Sam Bush Band. As usual, the interview will begin at 11.00 p.m. Irish time, and can also be watched on YouTube.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

23 June 2021

We Banjo 3: 'Light of summer' tomorrow night (24 June 2021)

Galway's We Banjo 3, originators of 'Celtgrass', send a reminder that their live streaming 'Light of summer' event will take place tomorrow (24 June). Tickets and merchandise bundles can be bought here. Each ticket purchase includes on-demand streaming access for seven days after the event. A new item of merchamdise is the 750ml WB3 Sunflower Bottle.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , ,

Official video released for Greg Blake single

On 18 Feb. the BIB relayed the news that 'People, places, and songs', the new single by Greg Blake (USA) on Turnberry Records, had been released to radio. Greg is well known over here from his tours (organised by John Nyhan) as guitarist and lead singer with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, as a bandleader, and as a solo artist. Since then, he has joined the Special Consensus as replacement for Rick Faris, and appears in the lead photos on the band's website and Facebook.

Turnberry Records now announce that Greg has released the official video of 'People, places, and songs', which is the title track from his forthcoming album. The song was written by Dawn Kenney and David Morris; assisting Greg on the recording are Jesse Brock (mandolin), Jacob Metz (resophonic guitar), Aynsley Porchak (fiddle), Claire Lynch (harmony vocal), and Mark Schatz (bass, banjo, harmony vocal). The video can be seen on Turnberry's e-newsletter or on YouTube.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

Rotterdam and Čáslav

Following on from the BIB post of 4 May, we learn from John Lawless's feature on Bluegrass Today that the Kito Events Foundation, organisers of the big Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival in the Netherlands, have kept their promise to provide a substitute for the live festival that should have taken place this coming weekend (25-27th June).

The Foundation is issuing Pickin', hammerin', & hollerin', a limited edition album with nineteen tracks of the best recordings from the past nine years at Rotterdam. It is available up to 27 June, in three formats: CD (€12.50), LP (€29.95), and as part of a €65.43 bundle comprising CD, LP, and 'much more damn good Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival stuff'. In addition, over this weekend three live-stream concerts will be shown, on successive days at 8.00 p.m.:
  • Fri. 25th: Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley
  • Sat. 26th: Henhouse Prowlers
  • Sun. 27th: Delaney Davidson
*
This year's Banjo Jamboree at Čáslav in the Czech Republic - the oldest bluegrass festival in Europe took place last weekend (18-19 June), with stringent safety precautions as required by health authorities. Twenty-two bands are shown on the lineup - some of the cream of the well established bluegrass scene in central Europe.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

22 June 2021

The scene begins to reopen in Britain

The latest issue (no. 94, summer 2021) of British Bluegrass News (BBN), journal of the British Bluegrass Music Asociation, maintains its high standard of presentation and solid content. The cover story, 'A bluegrass girl in a folky world' is Abbey Thomas's account of playing bluegrass for a degree in folk music at Leeds Conservatoire.

The many other features include Chris Courogen on the US group Gangstagrass; French maestro Francois Vola on Tony Rice, his 1935 D-28, and his playing; an obituary of banjoist Roger Blackbourn (72) of the band Monroe's Revenge; a review of the EP Put all your troubles away from The Foreign Landers; and the Gospel Corner, featuring Gillian Welch's 'Orphan girl'. Jack Baker's 'Tab Corner' feature gives tabs of Bill Monroe's 'Old Daingerfield' for banjo, fiddle, and mandolin, together with details of how Monroe's original compositions evolved over time.

There are also indications of the revival of live music in Britain. Maria Wallace of the True North Music agency is presenting a 'Streaming across the Sea' online festival next month (4 and 10 July) on the agency's YouTube channel, but later in July the Battlefield Bluegrass Festival is to be held in Northamptonshire, and a month later the Banjo in the Holler gathering in Surrey. The big news is that the 25th Sore Fingers Summer School, Europe's leading organisation for bluegrass and old-time music camps, has now been rescheduled for the week Sunday 24 to Thursday 28 October 2021. Full details of tutors and courses are given here.

Guitarist Hubert Murray of Tullamore appears again in BBN's list of music teachers, and his Hot Rock Pilgrims band is on the page of band and media members, together with Navan's Pilgrim St.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , ,

21 June 2021

Memories, and more

The BIB editor writes:

BIB readers are aware that in the first months of this year the bluegrass and old-time music scenes in this island lost two of their most outstanding and irreplaceable members: Mel Corry (56) of Lurgan, Co. Armagh, who died of Covid-19 on 13 January; and George 'Geordie' McAdam (82) of Bangor, Co. Down, who died of cancer on 28 February. For the further material presented here, I am very grateful to two fine musicians who were for many years close friends and musical partners, respectively, of Mel and Geordie.

Thanks to Sean McKerr for this evocative photo of Mel (above). To the tributes to Mel noted or posted on the BIB in January, Micheal McKenna's article 'Shock and sadness at passing of tireless trade unionist and talented musician Mel Corry', posted on the Armaghi website the day after Mel's death, can be added.

Thanks to Wilson Davies for a copy of Julie Waters' full-page article 'Geordie McAdam, the local man who lived for his music', published on Thursday 18 March on page 22 of the Newtownards Chronicle & Co. Down Observer. This contains more factual detail about Geordie's life than any other printed source I have yet seen, together with a stunning photo of him in youth, with shades, biker jacket, and quiff.

That photo, unfortunately, is not in the Chronicle archive; but the recent main photo accompanying the article, showing Geordie with a ukulele he had built, can be seen, and a copy bought, here and here. I wish the whole article could be read on line; but copies of the paper may be obtainable by applying to the Chronicle editor at editor@ardschronicle.co.uk.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: ,

An important new history of old-time music

Thanks to Oldtime Central (OTC) for news of Tony Russell's new book Rural rhythm: the story of old-time country music in 78 records, published by Oxford University Press on 27 May, and reviewed on OTC by fiddler and scholar Harry Bolick on 20 May.

In 352 pages, with 268 illustrations, this is an immensely informative (and entertaining) study of all aspects of old-time music as it was recorded up to 1940. Russell writes in his introduction:

Fine work has been done on songs about coal mines, railroads, and textile mills. But the subjects and meanings of early country music as it is represented on record are immensely varied, and many have passed without commentary. In this book, I identify some of those subjects and meanings, and explore what they tell us about the musicians who expressed them, the listeners who absorbed them, and the development of the genre, old-time music, in which they found a home. So too with the context: I look at the circumstances in which these songs and tunes were recorded, the intentions and interventions of the companies that commissioned those recordings, and their fates after they were issued.

Briefly, this is a book which should be read by everyone seriously interested in old-time music and where it comes from. The contents are listed on the OUP website. Oxford's price is £22.99 for the hardback edition; it is also available as an e-book. The price on Amazon.co.uk is £21.84 for hardback, which however is currently out of stock; the Kindle edition (£18.85) is available now. The Book Depository's euro price is €35.71.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , ,

19 June 2021

JigJam release new single 'Jolene'

JigJam (above), originators of 'I-Grass', announce the release of their new single, 'Jolene'. Links to all streaming channels - Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and Amazon - for purchase can be found here. The band will soon be setting out their US summer tour dates and EU winter tour dates, together with more music and 'big announcements', and gratefully acknowledge the continual support of Take2 Promotions and Culture Ireland.
© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , ,

18 June 2021

Greg Cahill in shorts

Short videos, that is: Deering Banjos announce that short excerpts from last week's interview with the founder and leader of the Special Consensus (which can be seen in its entirety on YouTube) can also be viewed on this web page.

At present there are four of these shorts, under the titles 'Beginnings', 'On the road again', 'Proper preparation', and 'Five string instrumentals', each of which can also be viewed on Deering's YouTube channel. Deering also provide a link to details of the low-tuned Julia Belle model banjo, which Greg used during much of the interview.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , ,

Two minor notes on Westport 2021

The BIB editor writes:

This year's Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival began a week ago today. Among everything there was to enjoy, the BIB congratulates in particular the Festival organising team and the Town Hall Theatre at Westport for the quality of sound, lighting, and camera work. A prominent role was played by the Festival's own 'Edwina' model microphone, made by Ear Trumpet Labs and bought in 2019, as Uri Kohen, the Festival's director, has described on Facebook.

One happy slip of the tongue came at the end of Saturday night's concert. C.J. Lewandowski, mandolin player and spokesperson of the Po' Ramblin' Boys (USA), expressed their thanks to the Festival and its director, whom he named at first as 'Uri Geller'. In view of Uri Kohen's other achievements, it wouldn't be surprising if he could bend spoons as well.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: ,

17 June 2021

Happy birthday, André Dal! Beyond the Tagus River release today

In April the BIB reported that André Dal, the prime mover of bluegrass music in Portugal, had launched a Crowdfunding campaign for his long-awaited solo album Beyond the Tagus River. The campaign achieved its target within two weeks; and the album is released today (Thurs. 17 June), which is also André's birthday.

In April the launch of the funding campaign was marked by John Lawless in a Bluegrass Today feature that included a descriptive video and outlined the background to the album (shown in more detail in Tom Nechville's article and interview in the Dec. 2018 Banjo News Letter, 'Andre Dal: persistance and adaptation in adversity'). André was also interviewed on Lynne Nash's 'Bands in the boudoir' podcast on Buzzsprout.

In the May 2021 issue of Banjo News Letter Tony Trischka called the album

a fantastic project, worthy of many repeated listenings [...] a global potpourri of acoustic excellence.

This alludes to the sixteen musicians from ten different countries who took part - including Reuben Agnew, guitarist of Co. Armagh's Cup O' Joe. Each of them is described, together with a photo, in the attractive twelve-page full-colour booklet accompanying the album.

Two singles are already on YouTube: the title track 'Beyond the Tagus River' and Dal's breakdown'. The complete album can be heard on CDBaby's Hearnow.com website, with links to other digital platforms (such as Spotify) for purchase.

© Richard Hawkins

Labels: , , , , ,