18 March 2018

A work in progress

The Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) keeps its calendar updated, publishes news received, and adds new features whenever they come to mind. Send in news or queries by e-mail, please; we can't send a direct reply to a comment on a post. The BIB does not do reviews or accept posts with 'marketing messages'.

Thinking of touring in Ireland? Look at the BIB's THINKING OF TOURING IN IRELAND? page. Click on the 'Welcome' label below for more about the BIB's background, purpose, and uses.


17 March 2018

Music for St Patrick's day

Thanks once again to Donal McKernan in Australia, whose 'Smoky wind' appeared on the BIB last September as an example of the 'browngrass' music being made by his family. Donal now sends us this link to another article by his father Joe, posted two days ago on the Bruderhof community blog. The article describes the life of Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) and includes two audio recordings, 'Lord Inchiquin' and 'Loftus Jones', played beautifully by members of the McKernan family. Mr McKernan also offers to send recordings of two more Carolan compositions and the 'Tarbolton' set of reels, played by the same musicians.
Moving to another part of the world, here from among the many examples on YouTube are three versions of 'Paddy on the turnpike': by Bill Monroe and Doc Watson, by Trevor and Travis Stuart, and the non-modal 'Sarah Armstrong's "Paddy on the turnpike"', by Adam Hurt, Emily Schaad, and friends. And as a bonus, here's Charlie Poole's 'Leaving dear old Ireland'.

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16 March 2018

Bass amp wanted for touring band, 6-15 Apr. 2018

East of Monroe: (l-r) Jackie Frost, Gary Alan Ferguson, Billy Budd,
 Wally Hughes, Lisa Kay Howard, Terry Wittenberg

Roger Ryan reports that the highly regarded Virginia-based band East of Monroe, who will be touring selected venues in Ireland in the second week of next month,

... need to rent/loan a bass amp. The one they are thinking of is a Hartke kickback with 120W and 1X12" speaker or something similar. [...] They will be finishing up in Dublin and can return it there.

If you can help, please contact Roger by e-mail.
Full information on the band is on their website and Facebook. Confirmed dates for the tour are:

Fri. 6th Apr.: Private engagement
Sat. 7th: Moy River B&B Folk Club, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, 8.00 p.m.
Sun. 8th: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, 8.30 p.m.
Mon. 9th-Wed. 11th: Off (sightseeing)
Thurs. 12th: Matt Molloy's Acoustic Yard, Bridge St., Westport, Co. Mayo, 8.00 p.m.
Fri. 13th: St John’s Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, 8.00 p.m.
Sat. 14th: Rockies GAA Club, Church Rd, Blackrock, Cork city

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15 March 2018

Looking back on a tour in Ireland

The tour of Chris Jones & the Night Drivers (USA) ended with their last show last Saturday at Leap Castle, and Chris has now given an outline of their experiences in his latest Bluegrass Today column. Despite the effect of the snow on the schedule, Chris's is a thoroughly positive account, with four photos*, some reflections on the addictive composition of Irish tea and beer, and more.

*Can any reader identify the village street shown in one photo?

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Rivers and roads: new CD from the Special C. (update)

Compass Records announce that Rivers and roads, the latest album from the Special Consensus, will be released on 30 March 2018. Greg Cahill (banjo, vocals), Rick Faris (guitar, vocals), Nick Dumas (mandolin, vocals) and Dan Eubanks (bass, vocals) are joined on the recording by a constellation of guests: Bobby Osborne, Molly Tuttle, Becky Buller, 10 String Symphony, John Hartford, Mark Schatz, Alison Brown, and Justin Moses.

John Hartford? Yes: Hartford wrote the opening song, 'Down the river road', which you can hear the Special C. play on YouTube (and read the lyrics); you can watch Mark Schatz, former member of the John Hartford String Band, dance to it; and thanks to recording technology, we'll be able to hear John Hartford play fiddle on 'Squirrel hunters'.

The CD will be available from Compass Records, from the Special C.'s website, and from all regular outlets; and early in 2019 we'll be able to buy it from the band in person on their next tour of Ireland - preparations for which are already well advanced, thanks to Nigel Martyn and his Old Flattop agency.

Update 17 Mar.: On 'Down the river road', Greg is playing the new Deering 'Julia Belle' low-pitch banjo: see here.

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14 March 2018

Another master gone

The BIB in the past has carried news of distinguished musicians from outside the worlds of bluegrass and old-time music; so thanks to Pat Sheeran for passing on the sad news of the death of the great uilleann piper Liam Og Ó Floinn after a long illness, just a month short of his 73rd birthday. He is seen above (second from left) in the original lineup of Planxty. Pat also sends this link to a YouTube video of Ó Floinn, Sean Keane, and Mark Knopfler playing 'An droichead'.

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The Lowest Pair (USA): tour updates

Thanks to the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre (SEAC) in Naul, Co. Dublin, for a reminder that The Lowest Pair (USA) (Kendl Winter and Palmer T. Lee) will be performing in concert there on Saturday 31 March. This is the final show in a brief visit to Ireland before they continue to Britain for a further eleven shows. On the night before playing at SEAC they will be at the High Tide Club, Castletownbere, Co. Cork.

Please note that the gig originally shown on the BIB for Thursday 29 March at the Spirit Store, Dundalk, Co. Louth, has been cancelled: it is not on the Lowest Pair's online tour schedule or on the Spirit Store website, and the Brookfield Knights agency now shows that day as free.

Doors open at SEAC at 8.00 p.m., and the show starts at 8.30. Tickets are €13 / €10 (in advance) and €15 / €12 (at the door; book online through the Centre's website, where there is also a performance video of the Lowest Pair. A bonus comes if you watch the video that follows it, which shows the 12-year-old Little Nora Brown on banjo and Stephanie Coleman on fiddle, playing 'Last chance'. This can also be seen on Vimeo. Stephanie Coleman has already played in Ireland, and the BIB hopes Nora Brown will soon do so as well.

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Mara Levine (USA) in Ireland, 7-10 Apr. 2018

On 20 Dec. the BIB mentioned Maria Levine, whose folk-chart-topping record 'You reap what you sow' features Greg Blake and other high-ranking bluegrass musicians. The record has since been on Bluegrass Today’s 'Grassicana' chart for nine consecutive weeks this year, peaking twice at #9.

Thanks to Laughing Penguin Publicity in Nashville for the news that Maria Levine will be playing four dates in Ireland early next month, as the start of a European tour that continues with two dates in Germany and two in the Netherlands. Her shows in Ireland are:

Sat. 7th Apr.: Muintir na Tire Hall, Buttevant, Co. Cork, 8.30 p.m.
Sun. 8th: Old Schoolhouse, Clashmore, Co. Waterford, 8.00 p.m.
Mon. 9th: Village Arts Centre, The Square, Kilworth, Co. Cork, 8.15 p.m.
Tues. 10th: O Gliasain's Concert Room, Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare, 8.30 p.m.

On all the Irish shows and the two German shows, she will share the bill with regular collaborators, the folk trio Gathering Time (USA), who will support her on her sets to reproduce the intricate harmony arrangements on her recordings. The trio consists of Stuart Markus, Hillary Foxsong, and Gerry McKeveney.

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13 March 2018

You gave me a song: progress report

The production team of the film You gave me a song: the life and music of Alice Gerrard send their latest e-newsletter, reporting on progress towards production of the film and ending with this appeal:

We have a goal to raise $75,000 in 2018 to finish the film by the end of the year. Can you or someone you know help? Every little bit helps!

Donations can be made through this link. For previous info on the project, see the BIB for 2 Oct. 2017, 23 Oct. 2017, 31 Oct. 2017, and 19 Dec. 2017.

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11 March 2018

On the edge and over the edge

The UK's Brookfield Knights agency sends two e-newsletters on US bands coming to these islands for tours later this year. The first concerns the Chicago-based Way Down Wanderers (with their own website, Facebook, and YouTube channel). The Wanderers are Austin Thompson (vocals, guitar), Collin Krause (vocals, mandolin, violin, electric guitar), John Williams (vocals, upright bass), John Merikoski (drums, percussion), and Travis Kowalsky (5-string banjo, fiddle). They describe their music as 'alternative folk' - 'Grassicana' would also suit it - and the proposed tour dates are from 10 Oct. to 11 Nov.

The second concerns Martha Fields (website, Facebook), from Texas but touring in a trio comprising Martha (guitar, vocals) and two fine French musicians, Olivier Leclerc (fiddle) and Manu Betrand (dobro, banjo). This is a different kettle of fish altogether - tough country music as it was before rock and pop got hold of it. The proposed tour dates are 1-13 Nov.

Promoters and event organisers interested in booking either band should contact the agency.
Thanks also to Ann Marie Walsh, of Novatone Music Media and presenter on 8Radio.com, for the news that the Track Dogs 'Americana' band (IRL/GB/USA) will be on tour in Ireland earlier in the autumn of this year. Based in Madrid, the Track Dogs (right) are Garrett Wall (guitars, piano, uke, vocals) of Dublin, Robbie K. Jones (cajón, banjo, vocals) of Vermilion, Ohio, Howard Brown (trumpet, piano, percussion, vocals) of Sheffield, and Dave Mooney (electric & double bass, uke, vocals) of Wicklow. Plenty of their music is on YouTube; the banjo is a 5-string, and some of their songs could well be given a bluegrass treatment. Three dates are confirmed at present, and more are TBA:

30 Aug.: Sugar Club, 8 Lr Leeson St., Dublin 2, €15; booking 01 678 7188
31 Aug.: Electric Picnic, Salty Dog Stage, 8.00 p.m.
1 Sept.: First Fruits Arts Centre, Watergrasshill, Co. Cork, €20.00; book online

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10 March 2018

Ferguson, Henry, & Henry tour, July 2018: one date required

Colin (left) and Gary on an earlier tour

Thanks to singer/songwriter Gary Ferguson (USA) for an update on his tour in Ireland this coming July with Belfast dobro maestro Colin Henry. This will be Gary's twelfth tour of Ireland; Colin has been his musical partner on five previous tours, and Colin's son James (photo below) will join them this year on 5-string banjo. More information, including photos and ample bio details, are here. Confirmed dates for the tour are:

Thurs. 5th July: Sunflower Folk Club, Belfast; £5.00; doors 8.30 p.m., show 9.00
Fri. 6th: Moy River Folk Club house concert, Cloonacool, Co. Sligo; bookings 071 9121902; €20 (includes complimentary beer/wine and supper!)
Sat. 7th: (confirmation pending)
Sun. 8th: Tech Amergin Arts Centre, Waterville, Co. Kerry; 8.00 p.m.; €15 / €12; prebooking essential, 066 9478956/ e-mail
Mon. 9th: The Record Break, Lower Market St. Carpark, Ennis, Co. Clare, 8.00 p.m.; +353 65 670 6817; €15
Tues. 10th: TBD
Wed. 11th: Roots Room, Sligo town, +353 87 274 5389
Thurs. 12th: Sessions in the House, Castledawson, Co. Londonderry; recording session
Fri. 13th: The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone; 8.30 p.m., +44 7747 120659
Sat. 14th: 3rd Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree, GAA Centre, Athy, Co. Kildare

The 7 July date is awaiting confirmation, so Gary and Colin are now looking for one further gig for 10 July to fill out the schedule - ideally between Ennis and Sligo. For bookings and more information, contact Gary by e-mail.

James Henry

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The Prairie Jaywalkers

Prairie Jaywalkers: (l-r) Kevin Gill, Geraldine Gill, Dave Riordan

Thanks to Cormac Bonar for awakening the BIB's conscience; we should long ago have featured the Prairie Jaywalkers of Cork city. Cork has been a hot spring of bluegrass and old-time music in this island for half a century, and the PJs (Kevin Gill, banjo, dobro; Geraldine Gill, rhythm guitar, lead vocals; Dave Riordan, mandolin) come from the deepest and hottest parts. A good basic bio can be found here, dating from 2016 (when they also played at the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival). This year they will be headlining the Friday night concert at the 3rd Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree (13-14 July) at Athy, Co. KIldare.

The Prairie Jaywalkers play on Sundays from c.6.00 p.m in 'Cork's House of Music', the Corner House, 7 Coburg St., Cork city (also on Facebook), and at other venues in the city.

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09 March 2018

Woodbine break new ground, Sun. 18 Mar. 2018

Tony O'Brien announces:

Woodbine will break new ground when they play Finn's Ale House, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary, on Sun. 18 March at 8.30 p.m. This is a new venue for bluegrass music, having hosted a couple of acts from the USA and some sessions with Evan & Amy Lyons. Woodbine ask any bluegrass fans in a radius of Borrisoleigh to support the band and bluegrass in general in this new venue.

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5th Cahersiveen Mountain Roots Music Weekend, 4-6 May 2018

Thanks to Céline Kavanagh for this picture and press release for the 5th Cahersiveen Mountain Roots Music Weekend in Co. Kerry:

Now in its fifth year, the annual Cahersiveen Mountain Roots Music Weekend has been gathering momentum and is definitely a spot for the calendar of music lovers. This year it runs from Friday 4 May until the early hours of Monday 7 May. This intimate festival concentrates on class, live performance, and keeping true to the heart of roots music.

This year we have two events at the Ring of Kerry Hotel. The first concert (Sat. 5 May) is the inaugural 'Across the County Bounds' event, featuring John Spillane, Ger Wolfe, Seán Garvey, Tim Dennehy, Mick Power, Patrick Horgan, and Ardú. The second (Sun. 6th May), at the same venue, is a late-night gig with Two Time Polka. These are the only ticketed events; all others are free entry.

Performers over the weekend include the Hank Wedel Trio, Dizzy Blues Band, Jimmy Bozeman & the Lazy Pigs, Mules and Men, John Nyhan, Colm Breathnach, along with many other local performers. We will of course have our open inclusive sessions; so if you want to get involved, do come along.

Cahersiveen itself is a vibrant, welcoming, picturesque town on the Ring of Kerry. Being part of the Wild Atlantic Way, we can ensure the visitor can enjoy its many amenities and attractions.

Further information on the weekend is on the Weekend's Facebook page and the Teacht Thar Saile Folk Club website. The 'Links' page of the website includes links to all performing artists and other sites including Siveen Mandolins.

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08 March 2018

Fifty-six years of marriage

Thanks to Niall Toner for these evocative photos showing (left) Niall and Moira on their wedding day in April 1962, and (right) a recent picture of Moira. Click on the images to see them enlarged.


Most talented family in Ireland wanted for TG4

Thanks to Fiona Ní Chéirín, casting assistant producer of ADARE Productions in Dublin, for this release:

Could you be the next Clannad or Kíla? If so TG4 would like to hear from you!

We’re looking for Ireland’s most talented family to take part in a brand new TV show. If you and your brother or sister, father, mother, granny has a talent, now is your chance to make your family a household name.

Irish families have made their mark across the world, whether it’s the pop music of the Corrs or the sean-nós dancing of the Cunninghams. Now it’s time to find the next family that will entertain the nation.

This brand new talent show for TG4 will search the country high and low for a new famous performing family. All entries must be made up from immediate family members, i.e. grandparents / parents / children. The act must consist of at least two people. There are no restrictions on what their act could be. They could be singers, dancers, musicians, storytellers, you name it, we want to see it all! Performers of all ages can apply and Irish is beneficial but not essential.

If you and your family would like to audition, please send a short video of your act to our WhatsApp – 083 058 0229
E-mail Fiona (Fiona.nicheirin@gmail.com) for further enquiries.

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Wookalily release 'Escort me' for International Women's Day

Wookalily announce the release of the first single ‘Escort me’ (written by Adele Ingram) from their second album Everything is normal… except the little things inside my head to mark International Women’s Day (today, Thurs. 8 Mar.). The download is available on all usual platforms (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc.), and they promise 'a genre-breaking music video to follow, with an altogether new type of actor'.

Wookalily will also be releasing the album in June 2018 as part of the Womens Work Festival, accompanied by appropriate celebrations. All the latest updates and news will appear on their Facebook.

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Chris Jones & the Night Drivers at Dun Laoghaire TONIGHT

In our last post about Chris Jones & the Night Drivers (USA) and the havoc that last week's weather wrought on the first half of their current tour of Ireland, we mentioned that Chris (among many other accomplishments) writes a column for Bluegrass Today. His pieces appear every Wednesday, and yesterday's starts with a tribute to the hospitality the band received from Arnie and Sharon Loughrin at the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, where the band opened their tour - and where, as Chris explains, they stayed longer than anyone expected.

Chris considers the wider aspects of this kind of situation in his column, which includes a two-minute video well worth watching. It can also be seen on YouTube; and it was NOT shot at the Red Room.

Meanwhile, Chris Jones & the Night Drivers are playing tonight at the fine Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire; on Friday at Colfer's. Co. Wexford; and on Saturday at Leap Castle, on the Tipp. border of Co. Offaly. Last night they were taking part in the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival.

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Red Hat Club at Naas, 9 Mar. 2018

Thanks to Paul and Anne McEvoy, organisers of the Red Hat Acoustic Music Club, for the news that the Club's next meeting will be held this coming Friday (9 March).

The Red Hat meets on the second Friday of every month at the Harbour Hotel, Naas, Co. Kildare. Music starts around 8.30 p.m.; a donation of €3.00 covers coffee/ tea and sandwiches at the interval.

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07 March 2018

Moira Toner, RIP

The BIB editor writes:

Moira, wife of Niall Toner for over forty years, died yesterday afternoon (6 Mar.) in hospital in Dublin. The news is less sad only because Moira died (in Niall's words) 'peacefully and beautifully' after a long period of suffering. My wife Carol and I send our deepest condolences to Niall and their family; we're sure many people in many countries will be doing the same. In Carol's words:

Over the years Moira supported and travelled with Niall to many of his gigs far and wide. She was always so proud of Niall, and devoted to her family. She was always so generous and hospitable to their wide circle of friends near and far.

Thanks to Dick Gladney for his comment below and the photo above. Funeral arrangements will appear here as soon as we learn of them. Rest in peace, Moira.


Update: A celebration of Moira's life will take place on Monday 12 March at 2.00 p.m. in the Victorian Chapel, Mount Jerome, Dublin, followed by cremation. Arrangements are in the hands of Brian McElroy Funeral Directors (I.A.F.D.), Crumlin. The death notice states: 'No flowers please. Donations, if desired, to Breast Cancer Ireland.'


06 March 2018

Back to the roots

Very few of the first generation of bluegrass musicians are still with us in the flesh, so it's something to value that Peter Rowan has shared his memories of two of the giants of that generation in his latest album, Carter Stanley's eyes.

A fuller story is given by Richard Thompson in his Bluegrass Today feature, 'Peter Rowan returns to his roots', which also includes a video of Peter Rowan singing about the visit that he and Bill Monroe paid to Carter Stanley. The video can also be seen on YouTube.

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04 March 2018

Pat Kelleher reviews Frails & frolics

The BIB does not do reviews or find reviewers for products, but we're happy to publish this review by Pat Kelleher of Ken Perlman's first all-banjo recording:

Frails & frolics is the latest solo recording offering from five-string-banjo melodic clawhammer pioneer and virtuoso Ken Perlman. Ken has dedicated a lot of his life to collecting and arranging fiddle tunes in his unique style. The tunes on this recording come from many sources including Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, Ireland, and Scotland, most of them collected from fiddlers in Prince Edward Island.

There are more than forty-five tunes included and it would be impossible to review them all individually. From waltzes to reels to hornpipes, breakdowns to rags - and intriguingly he has mastered playing jigs in clawhammer style - Ken's playing is inspiring almost to the point of impossibility. Being a clawhammer player myself, his dedication is obvious and successful. One can appreciate, by listening, the amount of time and effort in collecting, arranging, and performing these tunes. You can hear the influence of the great fiddle players in this tune-sleuth's playing, while at the same time respecting their origins and tradition. He certainly doesn’t make life easy for himself by not using a capo for key changes and has mastered playing in many keys and tunings as well as playing way up the neck. The CD version contains a nice booklet featuring intro, notes on all tunes, keys, and banjo tuning info for fellow banjoists.

Some of my favourite track picks are 'Where the North River flows', 'The Dallas rag', and 'Tennessee Mountain fox chase' to name but a few. However the list is endless and varied nicely to keep the listener continuously interested.

This is Ken’s first solo recording in almost fifteen years, having been performing and recording with the renowned fiddler Alan Jabbour (1942-2017) to whose memory this CD is dedicated. Frails & frolics is an interesting title. 'Frailing' is another name for clawhammer and we all know what 'Frolics' are! He is beautifully accompanied by guitarist Jim Prendergast and pianist Janine Randall.

The CD is available for purchase direct from Ken’s website and www.store.cdbaby.com as well as for download.

Track listing:

1 Londonderry Hornpipe / Jenny Dang the Weaver / Sleepy Maggie
2 Dr Keith Strathspey / Miss Barker’s Hornpipe / Carney’s Canter
3 Omar Cheverie’s Jig / Fig for a Kiss / Hector MacDonald’s Jig
4 Pride of the Ball / MacKinnon’s Rant / Lasses of Glenalladale / St Kilda Wedding
5 Bonniest Lass in A’ the World / Emil Gaudet’s Reel / Chetticamp Reel
6 Dallas Rag
7 North Side of the Grampians / Jack Webster’s Reel / Souris Breakwater
8 Rose of Tennessee / Don’t Be Teasing / Whiskey Jig
9 Carlton County Breakdown / Miller’s Reel /Trip to Windsor
10 Where the North River Flows
11 The Marchioness of Tullibardine / Dinky’s Reel/ Little Donald in the Pigpen
12 Hector’s New Dance Hall / Hector’s Fancy / Durang’s Hornpipe
13 Fred Wilson’s Hornpipe / High Level Hornpipe
14 Ottawa Valley Reel / Lad O’Beirne’s / Marie à Pierre
15 The Bonny Lea Rig / Shores of Loughgowna / Teviot Bridge
16 Tennessee Mountain Fox Chase
17 George V’s Army / Mr Murray Strathspey / The Marquis of Huntley / Prince Edward Island Wedding Reel

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The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 29 Mar. 2018

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

Hey Y'all,

We hope you've surviving the weather! Here's something to look forward to. We'll be back on Thursday 29 March with the Cabin Crew and guests - Liam Ora, Lucas Hennessy (Dave Hennessy & Lynda Lucas), and 'Bua'. Hope to see you there.

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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03 March 2018

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers - undefeated

Now that we're all burrowing out of the snow, spare a thought for Chris Jones & the Night Drivers (USA), whose very first tour in Ireland has been decapitated by the weather. Four of their first five gigs have had to be cancelled or postponed; the other was played as a trio, while mandolinist Mark Stoffel's flight was being shuffled between airports.

Nigel Martyn's Old Flattop agency, organising the tour, confirms that the schedule will be back on track as from Monday 5 March. The remaining six dates are shown below. The BIB hopes that all lovers of bluegrass will come out to support a band that really deserves to be seen and heard; and specially, we hope for a maximum effort by bluegrassers in the Dublin area, in support of the Night Drivers' show at the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. This show starts at 8.00 p.m. on Thursday 8 March. Tickets (€20/18) can be booked by 'phone (01-231-2929) or online.

The Pavilion was the outstanding setting for a triumphant show by the Special Consensus in Jan. 2017. As it happens, Chris Jones was guitarist/ singer for the Special C. for a spell before becoming leader of his own band - not to mention his contributions to the bluegrass world as award-winning songwriter, broadcaster, and columnist for Bluegrass Today. More about the band appeared on the BIB on 3 Nov. 2017, 14 Dec. 2017, and 2 Jan. 2018.

Mon. 5th: Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork
Tues. 6th: Sixmilebridge Folk Club, Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare
Wed. 7th: Clayton Hotel, Belfast (part of Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival)
Thurs. 8th: Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
Fri. 9th: Colfer's, Carrig-on-Bannow, Co. Wexford
Sat. 10th: Leap Castle, Co. Offaly (near Roscrea, Co. Tipperary)

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Two Time Polka: gigs for March (and more in 2018)

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka announces:

Hi all,

Here are our gigs for March.

Fri. 9th: The Empire Bar, 42 Botanic Ave., Belfast. Start 10.30 p.m. Adm. free

St Patrick's Day
Sat. 17th: Centenary Stores, Charlotte St., Wexford town. Start 12.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 053 9122303
Sat. 17th: T. Morris, Monck St., Wexford town. Start 4.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 053 9124323

Fri. 30th: The Greyhound Bar, Kilkee, Co. Clare. Start 10.00 p.m. Adm. free.

At the moment we're booked to play at a number of festivals during the year:
May: Kilkenny Roots festival, Kilkenny city; Mountain Roots festival, Caherciveen, Co. Kerry

June: Ireland Bike festival, Killarney, Co. Kerry; Strawberry Roots festival, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford; Michael Dwyer festival, Allihies , Co. Cork; Dunfanaghy BAND festival, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal

September: Omagh Bluegrass festival, Ulster American Folk Park, Co. Tyrone; Dunfanaghy Jazz and Blues festival, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal

Dates, venues, times, etc. for some of these gigs are already available on this link. As soon as details for the others are confirmed, we will update the site.

Ray & TTP

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Chris Jones concert at Naul (3 Mar.) POSTPONED

More bad news about the current tour by Chris Jones & the Night Drivers: the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre at Naul, Co. Dublin, venue for today's scheduled show, announces:

Unfortunately, due to the extended weather Red Alert for Dublin & Meath, transport issues, and currently no water supply in Naul village, this performance has been postponed until further notice. We will be in touch with all ticket holders in due course. Apologies for any inconvenience caused. Please stay safe and don’t travel unnecessarily.

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Chris Jones & Night Riders Banteer concert CANCELLED

Pat Kelleher sends this important news:

CANCELLED: All you bluegrass fans in Cork and environs - the Chris Jones & the Night Drivers concert due to be held in the Glen Theatre, Banteer, Co. Cork, this Sunday 4 March has been CANCELLED due to the inclement weather.

As we speak, their concert at the Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, on Monday 5 March will go ahead unless weather prevents.

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02 March 2018

Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival 2018: tickets and info

The organising committee of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival send their greetings and the latest news on this year's event:

  • Tickets for the main concerts of the 2018 Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival are now available via the festival's website.
  • Details of all the main concerts, the special events, and a download version of the full programme are available here.
  • One can see and hear all of this year's performers here.
  • As Westport is a very busy town, we highly recommend to book accommodation in advance, and one can get all the details and links for the accommodation providers in the town here.
  • For regular festival updates, please follow the festival's F/B page and Twitter page.

We are very much looking forward to see you in Westport again this year to celebrate the finest Folk, Bluegrass, and Old-Time Music.

As well as the artists already announced (Gold Heart Sisters (USA), Buffalo Gals (UK), G–runs ‘n’ Roses (CZ), Thunderbridge Bluegrass (UK), Hot Rock Pilgrims (UK/IRL/D), Brendan Butler Trio, The Big Muddy), the lineup will include Bernie Phaid & Dave Clancy, Dairi Farrell, the Tennessee Hennessees, and Tim Rogers & Friends. Other attractions will include a fiddle masterclass with Ben Paley, record fair, luthiers' showcase, square dance (and dance workshop), the Red Room Mystery Gig, and a show for kids.

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01 March 2018

The Gathering (update)

The BIB editor writes:

The First Annual Irish Old Time Appalachian Music Gathering, centring on the Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, is now nearly two weeks past, and I should have announced long ago what an enjoyable event it was. Fortunately, others have already done so: William Duddy gives it a five-star rating on the Gathering's Facebook, where you can also see over forty atmospheric photos taken during the weekend at the Tavern, the Burren Storehouse (venue for the Saturday evening concert and dance), and the Smokehouse and Burren Hostel (venues for workshops or jams). One of these photos is shown below.

As well as the star performers and instructors from the USA and visitors from abroad, a notable attender was Johnny Moynihan (just visible in one photo) - not just a legend of the folk scene here but a pioneer of playing American traditional music in Ireland. Congratulations and thanks to Andrew Lambert and Bob Denton; I'm looking forward to the next Gathering.

Update 2 Mar.: I've just learned from Andrew that Bob Denton was unable to take charge of the Saturday night after-concert session in the Tavern because of illness, and that since his return to the USA it has been diagnosed as hepatitis A. The BIB sends every good wish to Bob for a speedy recovery.

Typically, the BIB editor takes a back (but conspicuous) seat

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Busy month for the Whileaways

The Whileaways (Noelie McDonnell, Noriana Kennedy, and Nicola Joyce) have a busy schedule for March, with five of their dates forming a tour under the auspices of Moving On Music. Their full March schedule is:

Fri. 2nd: Gateway Hotel, Swinford, Co. Mayo, 9.00 p.m.
Thurs. 15th: Alley Theatre, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, 8.00 p.m. (Moving On Music)
Fri. 16th: Island Arts Centre, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, 8.00 p.m. (Moving On Music)
Thurs. 22nd: Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, 8.00 p.m. (Moving On Music)
Fri. 23rd: Courtyard Theatre, Newtownabbey, Co. Down, 8.00 p.m. (Moving On Music)
Sat. 24th: Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, Armagh city, 8.00 p.m. (Moving On Music)

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28 February 2018

Henhouse Prowlers (USA) in Dublin, Sat. 3 Mar. 2018 - and more

The Henhouse Prowlers: (l-r) Kyle O'Brien, Jon Goldfine, Ben Wright, Chris Dollar

Thanks to Luke Coffey for the news that Chicago's Henhouse Prowlers, who were briefly in Ireland last August as part of a European tour, are back for another regrettably short stay and will be playing in the Leeson Lounge at 148 Leeson St. Upper, Dublin 4, from 10.00 p.m. this coming Saturday (3 Mar.). Contact Luke at 087 2395566 for more information.

The Prowlers play over 175 shows a year and have toured in more than twenty-five countries, often going to places where traditional American music has never previously been heard. After leaving Ireland they will be touring for a further two weeks in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland. Their dates in Ireland are:

Fri. 2nd Mar.: St John's Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry
Sat. 3rd: Leeson Lounge, 148 Leeson St. Upper, Dublin 4
Sun. 4th: Enler Delta Blues Club, Newtownards, Co. Down

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27 February 2018

New 'world music' shop in Dublin 2

The BIB editor writes:

Following a sale and a move to Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, the premises of Walton's long-established music shop on South Great George's St. in Dublin are now empty. A few doors away, however, there is a new shop, Gandharva Loka, for the instruments of 'world music', the range of which is more easily seen than described - details are on the website.

The fan of American traditional music will, for instance, be able to find mountain dulcimers and hammered dulcimers among the stock. The staff are very helpful: I came away with the name of a craftsman who should be able to put a new skin on my tack-head 'minstrel' banjo, and if this is successful I'll pass on the details. Meanwhile, if you're in or near Dublin - and especially if you're able to give instruction on any of their range of instruments - have a look at Gandharva Loka.

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Old-time events in Britain during 2018

FOAOTMAD, the UK organisation promoting American old-time music and dance, announced yesterday on its news blog the dates of thirteen events of interest to the old-time music enthusiast in Britain, coming between the end of March and the middle of September this year. The list is short on specific locations, but anyone with contacts in the old-time scene in Britain should be able to find out where these events are being held. They have not yet appeared on the FOAOTMAD online calendar.

Update 5 Mar.: Two further dates have now been added.

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Sam Wilson, 31 Dec. 1948-25 Feb. 2018

Thanks to Tony O'Brien for this sad news:

Just passing on the news that Sam Wilson passed away on Sun. 25th aged 69. Sam played the Athy festival with his band, the Kentucky Cardinals, in 1994. They were a great traditional bluegrass band.

Tony also sends this photo of Sam with Clem O'Brien at Athy, together with this YouTube link to a recording of Sam singing the gospel song 'How long has it been'. As well as leading his own bands, Sam (of Wolfe county, eastern Kentucky) played from time to time with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, as shown in other examples of his singing on YouTube.

Update 2 Mar.: A detailed obituary by Richard Thompson is now on Bluegrass Today.

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26 February 2018

Baltimore Fiddle Fair, 10-13 May 2018 (update)

With seventy-two days still to go, the Baltimore Fiddle Fair organisers have announced the ticket menu for this year's event (10-13 May 2018). Three- and four-day season tickets, with guaranteed seating, range from €120 to €150; single-day tickets range from €15 to €35, depending on venue and seating.

The lineup is still being fine-tuned, so the schedule page will give full details of the artists in a few days. It will include Rhiannon Giddens, Brittany Haas, and Natalie Haas.

Update 28 Feb.: The detailed lineup and schedule can now be seen here.

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25 February 2018

Wow! - bluegrass outside the USA?

The BIB editor writes:

Lee Zimmerman began on 9 January this year the twice-monthly series 'Bluegrass beyond borders' for Bluegrass Today, designed to explore music made by artists from outside the USA, since 'what many have considered an inherently American form [bluegrass] has spread across the world, a sound that’s now considered practically universal and enjoyed from the Far East to the Middle East, in Europe and all points in between'.

The first instalment featured Ireland's We Banjo 3 (as noted by the BIB), and the series so far has covered the Russian band Bering Strait (24 Jan.), the Kruger Brothers (8 Feb.), and most recently (22 Feb.) the Slocan Ramblers from Canada, who toured Ireland last October. The opening words of the Bering Strait feature caught my attention:

Even 20 years ago, the notion of a band from another country specializing in bluegrass was somewhat startling.

It wasn't always like that. Go back to 1969-70, and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine was featuring on its cover the Bluegrass Specials from Vienna, Austria; the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band from New Zealand; and the UK's Down County Boys. It's hard to imagine a band from outside the USA being given such prominence nowadays. Could this be because the scene in the USA is now so lively? The end of the 1960s was an anxious time for bluegrass in the States, and its supporters at home may have been glad to hear that the music was alive in other countries. In 2018 such reassurance may no longer be wanted. All the more reason to thank Lee Zimmerman and 'Bluegrass beyond borders' for drawing attention to the world outside, and thanks, moreover, to John Lawless of Bluegrass Today, who has always been ready to publish news from the bluegrass diaspora.

US fans can now simply enjoy bluegrass from outside: a good example is Tara Linhardt's recent article on the Joe Val Festival, where our Italian friends Red Wine were playing. The feature includes a video of their version of 'Somewhere between' (with some neat modulations in the last chorus), which can also be seen on YouTube. Tara Linhardt writes:

Red Wine [...] were a blast both on the stage and off. It is so great to see how bluegrass has become a globally-played and appreciated music. Looks like there are bluegrass buddies to be found all over the world these days.

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23 February 2018

I Draw Slow at Ballymore Acoustic Gigs, 5 Mar. 2018

Ballymore Acoustic Gigs (BAG)) announces:

After releasing their critically acclaimed fourth album Turn your face to the sun last year, the five good folks of I Draw Slow have continued to tour the planet, bringing their unique Irish take on an old-time/ folk/ bluegrass string band sound to its four corners.

It's a pleasure to welcome the band back to BAG, where, just like the last time, we'll set them up around a couple of good condenser microphones, and let you hear them just as nature intended.

So come along to Mick Murphy's Bar, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare, on Monday 5 March. Doors will open at 8.30 p.m. Admission is €15. Patrons are advised to arrive early to avoid disappointment.

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