16 February 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.


15 February 2018

News from the Mother Country (update)

Thanks to Deborah Fillman of the International Bluegrass Music Museum (IBMM) and Hall of Fame located in Owensboro, Kentucky, for exciting news about the Grand Opening of the IBMM in autumn of this year, when IBMM will complete construction on a $15-million, state-of-the-art museum dedicated solely to the preservation and history of bluegrass music.

There is still ample opportunity for individuals, companies, associations, industry, and other donors to contribute. One opportunity, called 'Take Your Seat!', allows your name or that of your organisation to be engraved on a permanent brass plate on a seat in the IBMM theatre. Deborah writes:

It would be so great to see brass plates with the names of individuals and bluegrass associations from all over the world in support of bluegrass music! Please visit www.bluegrassmuseum.org for an update on the museum and for additional information.
The IBMA's February newsletter includes a report on their successful fundraising campaign; IBMA's partnership with Béla Fleck's Blue Ridge Banjo Camp project; deadlines over the next two months for this year's World of Bluegrass; an obituary of Curly Seckler (see the BIB for 28 Dec. 2017) by his biographer Penny Parsons, who has also contributed one to the February issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine; and the news that Michael Cleveland (who has played more than once at Omagh festivals) is now a member of the National Fiddler Hall of Fame.
Update: That was the early-February short newsletter from IBMA; a 'jumbo edition' has now been issued, with much more news, including one item of potentially great interest to anyone intending to play in the States (particularly in showcases at World of Bluegrass 2018, for which the deadline to apply is 28 Feb.). On Tuesday 13 Feb. the IBMA held a free webinar on current visa requirements for performing in the US. The webinar, including expert legal comment, can be heard on YouTube.

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The Often Herd launch a video

Following their successful Kickstarter campaign (see the BIB for 10 and 24/5 Oct. 2017) The Often Herd (formerly the Kentucky Cow Tippers), based in Newcastle (UK), announce:

The official music video for the single from our debut EP, Debt to the king, is out now! Why not have a watch and let us know what you think?

Best wishes,

Rupert, Evan, Niles and Sam
The Often Herd
Newgrass from Newcastle
Facebook - Twitter - YouTube

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14 February 2018

Jake Landers, 14 Aug. 1938-13 Feb. 2018

The BIB reports with regret the death of Jake Landers of Alabama, well known as a performing and recording artist and especially as a songwriter. Bands might consider performing one or more of his songs as a tribute - 'Walk softly on my heart', recorded by Bill Monroe and in a country-rock version by the Kentucky Headhunters, is an example. More details appear on Bluegrass Today.

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Chris Luquette and the Old American Folk Trio at Naul, 17 Feb. 2018

The BIB editor writes:

I'll be at Lisdoonvarna this coming weekend for the First Annual Irish Old Time Appalachian Music Gathering, but I strongly advise bluegrass enthusiasts in the Dublin area and surrounding counties to make the trip to Naul in Fingal on Saturday 17 February for a show that has only just appeared on the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre schedule.

Chris Luquette (USA; photo) is the guitarist in Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, the powerful band that won the IBMA Instrumental Group of the Year award in 2014 and 2016. On this show he leads the Old American Folk Trio; which may be a misleading title, as all the members - Brian Duffy (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Andrea Westerinen (bass, vocals), and Jeff Westerinen (mandolin, fiddle, banjo, vocals) - serve their time in bluegrass bands. The Centre's blurb says:

They are bringing their music back across the Atlantic Ocean, returning these fiddle tunes and country songs to their roots by performing them for Irish audiences.

The Centre also says 'Don't miss them!' and I cordially agree, especially as Chris Luquette's online schedule shows no other performances in Ireland. Plenty of his playing can be found on YouTube, including this performance of the Norman Blake tune 'Widow's Creek' from the Fretboard Journal channel.

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13 February 2018

Old-time music workshop and jam planned for Dublin, 26 Feb. 2018

Thanks to Derek Copley of the Greasy Coat String Band and Old Time Music Dublin for this news:

Old-time musicians Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones will be in Dublin on Monday 26 February and are hoping to host a workshop followed by a jam on that evening, following on from a great night had last year when they were in town.

There are a number of possibilities from these two amazing musicians, and options are two of the following: flat-footing, fiddle, guitar, clawhammer banjo, or mandolin.

Please contact Derek Copley ASAP on 087 2726007 or at copirl@yahoo.com if interested, and let me know your preference. The workshop will likely be held at 7.00 p.m. in a Dublin city centre venue TBC.

Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones will be taking part in the First Annual Irish Old Time Appalachian Music Gathering in Lisdoonvarna this coming weekend, and will be playing at the American Bar, 65 Dock St., Belfast, on Monday 19 Feb.

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Strong Irish presence at Eagle Music's 'Banjo 11', 24 Feb. 2018

Thanks to Pat Kelleher, 'Mr Long Neck Banjo', of Co. Cork for news of the 'Banjo Event of the Year' at the Eagle Music Shop, near Huddersfield, northern England - the world's leading dealers in Deering Banjos and practically everything else for the banjo, guitar, and traditional music enthusiast.

'Banjo 11' will be held at Eagle Music on Saturday 24 Feb. 2018, just eleven days from now. Guests of honour are Greg, Janet, and Jamie Deering, and the list of performers is as usual headed by the astounding Kruger Brothers. The rest of the programme has a strong Irish presence, with Pat himself and Bill Forster on 5-string, together with trad tenor players Angelina Carberry, Brian Mooney, and Brian McGrath, while Jonny Hulme will give a workshop on playing Celtic music on the 5-string. The Deerings will also be launching their new 'Erin' range of tenor banjos. The 22-fret plectrum banjo is not forgotten, with Howard 'Shep' Shepherd celebrating fifty years as a professional player.

The Eagle Music blog on 'Banjo 11' gives all the details.

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12 February 2018

Old Time Music Week in Spain (19-26 May 2018); a few places still open

Following the announcement in Dec. 2017 of the forthcoming Old Time Music Week (19-26 May 2018) in La Fuente, Andalusia, southern Spain, thanks to Kate Lissauer for the news that a great crowd of people has already enrolled. There are still a few places left for those who want to sign up for this delightful week. Instrumental classes for fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and ukulele - as well as group and individual singing classes - will be taught by a faculty headed by Dave Bing (of the Bing Brothers of West Virginia), with Alan Green, Johnny Whelan, Lucy Ray, Kate Lissauer, and other tutors. More details are here.

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East of Monroe (USA) in Ireland, 7-14 Apr. 2018

Lisa Kay Howard (mandolin) and Wally Hughes (fiddle, dobro), who were on tour over here in April last year as 'Round Hill', accompanying singer Brooksie Wells, are both members of the highly regarded Virginia-based band East of Monroe (above); and the whole band will be coming to Ireland early this coming April for a tour of selected venues. All the members have years of experience in many bands alongside some of the most renowned bluegrass artists. The full lineup includes Gary Alan Ferguson (lead guitar), who was here in 2014 as musical partner to Gary Gene Ferguson on his tenth tour of Ireland. Confirmed dates are:

Fri. 6th Apr.: Private engagement
Sat. 7th: Moy River B&B, Cloonacool, 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, Bridge St., Westport, Co. Mayo, 8.00 p.m.
Fri. 13th: St John’s Theatre, Listowel, Co. Kerry, 8.00 p.m.
Sat. 14th: Blackrock National Hurling Club ('The Rockies'), Cork city

Full information on the band is on their website and Facebook. Lisa Kay now presents her 'The old home place' show on Bell Buckle Radio out of Bell Buckle, TN.

BIB editor's note, 13 Feb.: The photo originally published with this post did not show the current lineup of the band. Thanks to Lisa Kay Howard for the updated photo.

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11 February 2018

Ken Perlman's Frails & frolics released

Following on from the post of 29 Dec. 2017, the BIB is happy to draw further attention to Ken Perlman's first all-banjo recording and his first solo project in years: Frails & frolics: fiddle tunes from Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton, & elsewhere on clawhammer banjo, which is just out. It looks like a real treasure-house for the clawhammer player in search of tunes.

Ken has collected reels, hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, waltzes, and airs (mainly from his field research on Prince Edward Island, though some Southern numbers are included), arranged them for banjo (accompanied by Janine Randall, piano, or Jim Prendergast, guitar), and crafted them into entertaining 'sets' or medleys. Over forty-five different tunes are presented in seventeen tracks, and the CD includes an eight-page booklet featuring introduction, notes on all tunes, keys, and banjo tunings. More details - including audio samples and a full playlist - are here.

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08 February 2018

Red Hat Acoustic Music Club at Naas, 9 Feb. 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 February).

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 February 2018

New video from Midnight Skyracer

The hot and hard-driving all-female UK band Midnight Skyracer, with Tabitha Agnew of Cup O' Joe from Co. Armagh on banjo, have released a video of the song 'Fuel to my fire' from their debut album Fire. More about the band and the song can be seen on Bluegrass Today, where you can see the video - also on YouTube.

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3rd Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree, 13-14 July 2018: update

Following on from the BIB post of 25 Jan. on this year's 3rd Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree in Athy, Co. Kildare, Tony O'Brien sends the news that the Jamboree page on Woodbine's website is now fully updated with photos and details of all the artists taking part in the concerts, and a list of accommodation in the Athy area with 'phone numbers. The lineup and schedule for the evening concerts (held in the Athy GAA Centre) are:

Friday night: Evan & Amy Lyons (Tipperary); the Prairie Jaywalkers (Cork); Woodbine (Athy)
Saturday: Pat Kelleher (Cork) with Joe Zejac (USA); Gary Ferguson (USA) with Colin & James Henry (Belfast); the Clem O'Brien Unit (Athy)

Jam sessions will be held each night after the concerts, and in Pat Dunne's lounge, Woodstock St., Athy, on Saturday 14 July from 2.00 p.m.

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When Johnny met Sally...

Following yesterday's news from Colin Henry, thanks to Niall Toner and the Niall Toner Band (NTB) for this photo and the story behind it:

We couldn't let Colin Henry grab all the attention! The above photo is titled 'When Johnny met Sally', to paraphrase a well known movie, and shows an adoring Johnny Gleeson, the master dobro player with the NTB, worshipping at the altar of one of his heroes, Sally Van Meter. Sally played previously with the NTB at the Harcourt Hotel in Dublin, twenty-three years ago, with Butch Waller and Kathy Kallick, who went on to fame and fortune...

The occasion this photo was taken was during the recent Greg Blake Band show at the Clonmel Folk Club in the restored Town Hall [30 Jan.]. If ever there was an occasion to demonstrate to a listener what bluegrass is all about, then this was it! Incidentally, the entire NTB were in the expensive seats with their mouths agape, all night. Back to the rehearsal room...

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06 February 2018

Po' Ramblin' Boys tour held back till 2019 - and a new source of bluegrass news

Last week the BIB drew attention to the Po' Ramblin' Boys from east Tennessee - as it has done several times since 17 April 2017, when we announced that a tour for the Boys was being arranged for May 2018. We now learn with regret that owing to domestic reasons the band will be unable to come to Ireland this year; but they are planning to come in 2019.

The Po' Ramblin' Boys are the subject of a two-page illustrated feature by Kara Martinez Bachman in the current issue (vol. 2, no. 2) of The Bluegrass Standard online magazine. In the same issue, Susan Marquez contributes a three-page feature on Co. Armagh's Cup O' Joe, mentioning their recent EP release Bluebirds.

The Bluegrass Standard (also on Facebook), launched by Keith Barnacastle in June last year, appears monthly in issues of about 80 pages, profusely illustrated in full colour. Aimed at the expanding bluegrass audience and featuring many bands in each issue, it's a valuable counterpart to Bluegrass Unlimited, the premier bluegrass print magazine. Vol. 1, no. 5 has a four-page feature on the Special Consensus, a band with a special place in the affections of fans over here.

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Music legends at Leap Castle, 17 Feb. 2018

Thanks to Tom Stapleton of Mount Heaton, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, for the news that on Saturday 17 Feb. at 9.00 p.m., he will present at Leap Castle, Co. Offaly (between Roscrea and Birr) a group of music legends: Jim Rooney, vocals, guitar (Bill Keith, New Blue Velvet Band, Nancy Griffith, Iris DeMent, John Prine); Arty McGlynn, guitar (Van Morrison, Makem & Clancy); Nollaig Casey, violin (Coolfin, Elvis Costello, Liam O’Flynn); and Mick Daly, vocals, guitar, banjo (Four Men and a Dog, Any Old Time, Lee Valley String Band, Sackville String Band).

Tom (who can be contacted by e-mail) sends an extract from Jim Rooney's Wikipedia entry:

Jim Rooney is an American music producer whose credits include Nanci Griffith's Other voices, other rooms, Hal Ketchum's Past the point of rescue, Iris DeMent's Infamous angel, John Prine's Aimless love, and many other widely hailed albums.

More detail appeared on the BIB in July 2016, when Jim was nominated for (and later received) an IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award. His autobiography, In it for the long run: a musical odyssey, was published in 2014 by the University of Illinois Press. Read the blog on his website for memoirs of such friends as Bill Keith, Jean Ritchie, and Tex Logan - or if you want to see a photo of Pete Seeger at the age of 2. A video of Jim, with backing band, singing 'Tennessee blues' can be seen here.

Update: Two other dates by the ensemble (16 and 18 Feb.) are shown on the BIB calendar.

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Picking with one's hero

Many thanks to Colin Henry for the photo above and the story behind it; Colin explains:

I had the great honour and privilege of being invited by Sally Van Meter to play a tune with her and the Greg Blake Band on Saturday night [3 Feb.] at Ardara. She is a very long time hero of mine and a big influence on me and the sound I want to try and get on the dobro.

As you can see from the smile on my face (which is a rarity for me on stage) I was having the time of my dobro life. She is the best of the best, not only as a dobro player but as a person as well. To cap it all we played 'Gold rush' and the tune was kicked off by Blaine Sprouse on the fiddle. I never thought I would have an instrumental kicked off by a Blue Grass Boy and a great one at that!

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05 February 2018

No North Wales Bluegrass Festival in 2018 - but...

Gill Williams, John Les, and the organising team of the North Wales Bluegrass Festival report that after much discussion they have again decided not to proceed with the festival this year, owing to large increases in costs together with the withdrawal of support by Conwy County Borough Council. They add:

We would like to thank all our loyal friends who have supported us throughout the past 28 years, and we are constantly reviewing the options to organise a North Wales Bluegrass Festival in the future.

And they draw attention to the Rockytop Bluegrass Picking Weekend, which is being organised by their friend John Blissitt at Llandudno, north Wales, on the weekend 19-22 July. Designed for musicians who want to pick, it features three bands and many facilities. Details of camping and tickets are on the website.


Win a main-stage appearance at Crossover 2019

Thanks to T.J. Screene (co-organiser of Bluegrass Camp Ireland and resident bassist at the weekly Dublin Bluegrass jam session) for news of the Crossover Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival, to be held in the Clonter Opera Theatre, Congleton, Cheshire, England (fairly accessible from Ireland) on 4-7 May this year. T.J. met the organisers at Sore Fingers Week.

The news is specifically of the Crossover Showcase Competition, as shown on the poster image. Submit a video of your act to the YouTube link to info@crossoverfest.com before 28 February. Eight acts will be chosen for a 'Facebook vote'; the four semi-finalists will perform in a live competition at this year's event on 7 May; and the winner will get a main-stage performance slot at the 2019 festival.

This year's event has a powerful lineup (headed by Molly Tuttle (USA), who after Crossover will play at the Kilkenny Roots Festival) with several wholly or partly Irish acts (Paddy Kiernan, Cup O' Joe, Midnight Skyracer, Propane Brothers, Hot Rock Pilgrims) and others who have played over here.

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Coming very soon, and coming soon

The year got off to an explosively good start for bluegrass enthusiasts in Ireland with the tour by the Greg Blake Bluegrass Band (USA), which ended last night. Everyone concerned must be very pleased with the outcome; thanks again to the indefatigable John Nyhan for organising the tour.

The next major event on the calendar is the First Annual Irish Old Time Appalachian Music Gathering (Facebook), to be held in the Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, on 16-18 Feb. Guests from abroad who are featured on the programme include Dan Levenson and Erynn Marshall & Carl Jones. This is the first multi-day event devoted to old-time music to be held in this island.

The next big bluegrass treat begins two weeks later, when Chris Jones & the Night Drivers (USA; photo above right) play the Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone - 'Ireland's welcoming hug to visiting bands', as the BIB has called it - on 28 February as the first show in a tour lasting to 10 March. The band excels in traditional and contemporary bluegrass, with conspicuously strong original material. All dates in the tour are on the BIB calendar.

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02 February 2018

John Hartford's legacy continues

Richard Thompson contributes a major feature on Bluegrass Today about the late John Hartford (1937-2001) - most widely known as a banjo player, songwriter, and maker of several influential recordings, though these were only a fraction of his activities. A quotation on his website reads:

He had one foot deeply rooted in the past and the other always at least a few steps into the future - and both were dancing.

Richard Thompson draws particular attention to the reissue as a two-CD set of Hartford's complete Warner Bros recordings, plus eight previously unreleased tracks; AND the forthcoming publication this summer of John Hartford's mammoth collection of fiddle tunes: over 170 of his original tunes in his calligraphic notations, with much ancillary material.

Hartford was largely responsible for reviving knowledge of the music of the highly regarded old-time fiddler Ed Haley (1885-1951) of West Virginia, and this publication of his own fiddle music should be of great interest to fiddlers.

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01 February 2018

Bluegrass at Voorthuizen lives!

Thanks to our good friend Thierry Schoysman (of the premier Belgian bands Rawhide and Sons of Navarone) for the news that the place of the venerable European World of Bluegrass Festival (EWOB) - of which the twentieth and final edition was held last year at Voorthuizen in the central Netherlands - is being taken by the European Bluegrass Festival Voorthuizen. This is to be held on 10-12 May 2018 in 't Trefpunt, the same location as before, but is being organised by Bluegrass Voorthuizen on a different basis from the old EWOB.

Bluegrass Voorthuizen announced on 21 Jan. on their Facebook that important steps have been made by the selection and programming committee; bands taking part are still to be confirmed, and the programme will probably not be published before March. This month there will be full sound and technical checks in 't Trefpunt. The team announces:

So far everything goes according to plan. We are looking forward to a great festival and hope to see many of you in Voorthuizen in May, enjoying the music, jamming and making new bluegrass friends!

Thierry will be at Mannion's in Balla, Co. Mayo, tonight (Thursday) for the show by the Greg Blake Bluegrass Band. His picture appeared on the BIB on 8 Jan., so say 'Howdy' if you see him there.

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31 January 2018

Music Network newsletter on funding

Music Network (also on Facebook and Twitter), which has presented tours in Ireland by bands including the Hot Club of Cowtown (USA) and the April Verch Band (CAN), issues today its Industry Newsletter No. 136, which includes details of Arts Council funding for 'traditional arts' projects as well as its Music Capital Scheme for providing instruments for groups, including non-professional ones. Application instructions and links are also on the newsletter.

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30 January 2018

A foretaste of coming visitors

Almost a year ago Jan Michielsen - guitarist with 4 Wheel Drive (NL/D/BE) and mandolinist with Blue Maxx (BE) - contributed to the BIB an introduction to The Po' Ramblin' Boys (above) from east Tennessee, a band of young musicians who play with all the drive, punch, and spirit of the founding generation of bluegrass, and who had then made two extensive tours in Europe.

We have since learned that a tour for them in Ireland this year is being arranged; and as a foretaste of what to expect from the Po' Ramblin' Boys, a thirty-minute set by them at the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old Time Music Festival, filmed for the TV programme 'Grassland Jam', can be seen on Bluegrass Today. Highly recommended for lovers of hard-core traditional bluegrass, it includes original material in the same vein.

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29 January 2018

Hayseed Dixie (USA) in Ireland, 27-31 Jan. 2018

The BIB editor regrets that his being off duty on family business (momentous for him and perhaps a dozen other people) coincides with a brief tour in Ireland by Hayseed Dixie, fathers of 'Rockgrass'. The tour began on Saturday night in Galway, and ends on Wednesday in Belfast.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday) they will be playing in Dublin: at Whelan's, Wexford St., Dublin 2. We hope someone can convey to the band that the weekly Dublin bluegrass jam at Sin E on Ormond Quay will still be going when they come off stage, and that they, and any unexpended energy, will be welcome there...

Their full tour dates in Ireland are shown below; afterwards, from 1 February to 8 March they are playing fifteen dates in Britain and thirteen on the Continent.

Sat. 27th: Roisin Dubh, Galway city
Sun. 28th: Dolan’s, Limerick city
Mon. 29th: Cyprus Avenue, Caroline St., Cork city
Tues. 30th: Whelan’s, Wexford St., Dublin 2
Wed. 31st: Empire Music Hall, Belfast

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25 January 2018

Editorial intermission

The editor will be fully occupied with family affairs over the weekend; so by all means keep sending news in, but don't expect it to appear till Monday 29 January at the earliest.

3rd Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree (13-14 July 2018): lineup and programme

The Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree team announce the lineup and schedule for the evening concerts at this year's event (13-14 July):

Friday night: Evan & Amy Lyons (Tipperary); the Prairie Jaywalkers (Cork); Woodbine (Athy)

Saturday: Pat Kelleher (Cork) with Joe Zejac (USA); Gary Ferguson (USA) with Colin & James Henry (Belfast); the Clem O'Brien Unit (Athy)

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If you can read silently, you can read aloud. It takes practice, sure, but it's like playing the guitar; you don't have to be Doc Watson, you can get and give pleasure just pickin'.

Ursula K. Le Guin, in her 1986 essay 'Text, silence, performance'. Perhaps not the only mention of Doc Watson in literature, but surely the best basic advice.

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, born 21 October 1929, died 22 January 2018

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24 January 2018

Molly Tuttle (USA) at Kilkenny Roots Festival, 7 May 2018 (UPDATE)

The Kilkenny Roots Festival announces that the multi-talented and award-winning Molly Tuttle will be performing from 4.00 to 5.15 p.m. on Monday 7 May (the last day of this year's festival) in Cleere's Bar & Theatre, Kilkenny city.

The festival website mentions her IBMA Momentum Award (2016), but not the fact that in 2017 she was IBMA's Guitar Player of the Year - and that's only one aspect of her ability. Americana features strongly in the present festival lineup, but as matters stand Molly Tuttle is undoubtedly the artist of most interest to BIB readers.

Update: Molly Tuttle is performing this coming Saturday (27 Jan.) in Glasgow as part of Celtic Connections. Her spring tour in these islands (27 Apr.-10 May), with Rachel Baiman, includes ten shows in Britain. Shows in Ireland are:

Sun. 6th May: JJ Harlow's, The Square, Roscommon town
Mon. 7th: Cleere's Bar & Theatre, Kilkenny city
Tues. 8th: Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Belfast

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Newberry and Verch in Britain, 11-16 Apr. 2018

The UK's FOAOTMAD news blog announces that Joe Newberry (USA) and April Verch (CAN), who toured Ireland together last May (see the BIB for 31 Mar. 2017), will be playing six dates in Britain this coming April, of which the nearest to Ireland, as the crow flies, is at the Victoria Hotel, Menai Bridge, north Wales, on 16 April.

They will be playing their 'Home Routes Tour' in Canada in the first half of next month. After the April dates in Britain, their tour continues to the end of the month with seven dates in Austria, one in Germany, and one in Switzerland, as shown online.

Steve Wise, review editor of the FOAOTMAD magazine Old Time News, has a letter in the latest issue of The Old-Time Herald, inviting old-time musicians outside Britain to send in CDs and other material for review, to join FOAOTMAD, and to subscribe to Old Time News.

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23 January 2018

19th Shannonside Winter Music Festival report

L-r: Blaine Sprouse, John Reischman, Mark Schatz, Greg Blake, Keith Reed, Sally Van Meter

Thanks to Des Butler for this report and photos on the last weekend's 19th Shannonside Winter Music Festival:

Well, what a musical extravaganza the 2018 Shannonside Winter Music Fest turned out to be. It must be said that in my opinion there were no mediocre or 'OK' bands playing here. The bands that I went to see and hear were all very good to excellent. My focus was on the bluegrass, country, Cajun, and blues genre bands playing at the festival. There were six other musical genres to be experienced at the festival, but it would be impossible to see them all with so much music going on all day every day and well into the small hours of the morning.

Topping the bill in the bluegrass sphere was the Greg Blake Band from the US. The musical pedigree of this band as with their playing is phenomenal.The band members here are some of the most highly regarded bluegrass musicians in the US today. With John Reischman on mandolin and Blaine Sprouse on fiddle combined with the great voice and playing of Greg Blake himself ensured the audience eighty minutes of sheer bluegrass musical enjoyment with tight harmonies and some great solo playing from all the band members. I just wanted their concert to not end and for the music to continue ad infinitum.

Our own Woodbine, always enjoyable to hear, kept the homefront bluegrass flag flying giving two performances at two venues on Sunday. Woodbine, always a treat to listen to perform, gave us some of the best of traditional and contemporary Bluegrass.

Jimmy Bozeman and the Lazy Pigs

The country music slot was amply filled by Jimmy Bozeman and the Lazy Pigs (US/CZ) with their interpretation of some country classics mixed in with some excellent honky-tonk, Americana, and country blues.

Sarah Savoy and the Francadians

For Cajun fans we had excellent performances from Sarah Savoy and her band who hail from down in the Bayou Country of Louisiana, US, and also from our very own Two Time Polka from Cork, viva Musique Acadienne.

DD and the Delta Boys

Blues fans were not disappointed with an excellent performance from DD & the Delta Boys from Donegal with their interpretation of some Chicago and Delta blues classics. This band exudes energy and I for one would love to see more of them; hopefully the will be engaged for the next Winter Fest.

I am afraid I cannot comment on a lot of the other bands' performances, as it would be impossible to see them all over three days.

Pat Kelleher and John Nyhan (centre foreground)

My enjoyment of the festival was complete with the bluegrass jam sessions that went on way into the early hours every night. These sessions were ably led by the great talents of John Nyhan, Pat Kelleher, and Bill Forster, to name but a few, with Greg Blake joining in on the Sunday jam finale (see attached photos).

Greg Blake and Bill Forster (second and third from left)

All kudos and thanks for the organisation of this great festival go to Brendan Walsh and his team, and the Sixmilebridge Folk Club, also the inexhaustible John Nyhan who works tirelessly organising the bands and providing first-class sound at many of the performances.

Update 24 Jan.: Thanks to Denis McCarthy for his comment on this post, below.

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JigJam spread the Tullamore spirit

No doubt about it: Bluegrass Today is the place to get up-to-the-minute news of exciting developments by Irish bluegrass bands. Yesterday BT posted news of JigJam from Tullamore, Co. Offaly. JigJam (Jamie McKeogh, guitar; Daithí Melia, banjo; Cathal Guinan, fiddle; Gavin Strappe, mandolin) tour a lot in the USA and have now released a new video celebrating another widely travelled product of their home town - Tullamore Dew whiskey.

You can see the video on Bluegrass Today and also on their Facebook. We may yet hear US artists trying their best to sing bluegrass in Offaly accents.

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22 January 2018

Getting together - the old-time way

Bluegrass Today announced on Friday that the first Floyd County Old Time Music Get-Together will be held on 15-18 March in the small town of Floyd, VA.

As it happens, this will be exactly a month after the First Annual Irish Old Time Appalachian Music Gathering is held (16-18 February) in the Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. Floyd, VA, is a town with a long association with traditional American music. The BIB hopes Lisdoonvarna will come to have just as strong an association. If you haven't done so already, register now, book accommodation, and keep up with the latest developments of the Gathering on its Facebook page.

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21 January 2018

The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 25 Jan. 2018

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

Hey Y'all,

Hope you all survived the holiday season and are ready for 2018!

We're back on Thursday 25th with special guests Aine Holland and also Aine Furey performing with the great NC Lawlor. Of course we will have the Cabin Crew as usual. Look forward to seeing you all in 2018.

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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20 January 2018

The Handsome Ladies

Thanks to Kelly Kessler and the IBMA's new monthly e-newsletter service for the news that a new body, The Handsome Ladies, has been set up to promote and support women in bluegrass at all levels. Originating in San Francisco, it has so far spread up the west coast of the USA to Seattle and Portland, and across the continent to Nashville, with programmes of activity in each of the chapter cities. Membership is free.

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