20 October 2017

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.

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


Al Batten commemorated

Irish fans and friends of the late Alton Tharse 'Al' Batten (see the BIB for 22 Nov. 2016) will be glad to learn of the Friends of Al Batten Bluegrass Jam that took place last Sunday (15 Oct.) in Selma, NC, as reported on Bluegrass Today by Laura Ridge. As well as special guests, among the bands taking part were the Garrett Newton Band, the Malpass Brothers, and members of Al's band, the Bluegrass Reunion, including David Turnage, the last original member, who had played with Al for over forty-five years. Many more details and many photos from the event are on Bluegrass Today.


Two Time Polka: Cork Jazz Festival gigs

Ray Barron of Two Time Polka sends news of the band's gigs during the Cork Jazz Festival

Fri. Oct. 27th: Hamlets Bar, The Blue Haven, Pearse St., Kinsale, Co. Cork. Start 6.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4772209

Sat. 28th: The Blue Haven, Pearse St., Kinsale, Co. Cork. Start 4.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4772209

Sun. 29th: The Blue Haven, Pearse St., Kinsale, Co. Cork. Start 4.30 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4772209.
Sun. 29th: The Briar Rose Bar, Douglas Rd., Cork. Start 10 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4291686.

Mon. 30th: The Briar Rose Bar, Douglas Rd., Cork. Start 6.00 p.m. Adm. free. Tel. 021 4291686

Regards & thanks,
Ray & TTP

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19 October 2017

Michael J. Miles (USA) in Ireland and Spain, 4-11 Nov. 2017 (update)

Thanks to Tom Cussen of Clareen Banjos in Clarinbridge, Co. Galway, for news of an upcoming visit to Clarinbridge by banjo maestro Michael Miles of Chicago on Saturday 4 November, when he will be doing a concert in Paddy Burke’s in Clarinbridge - not for the first time. The concert is sponsored by Clareen Banjos, with some help from the Clarinbridge Arts Group, and is the first show in a tour (see details below). Here is the press release for the tour, with special reference to the Clarinbridge show.

Folk & blues: a concert of American music
Michael is regarded as one of the most innovative clawhammer banjo players in the world. He's a fine singer and fingerstyle guitarist. His musical background is steeped in the folk and blues of Chicago, in J.S. Bach and Motown, rock and roll, and the American Songbook hits that his blue-collar father sang in the car.

For this 2017 tour to Ireland and Spain, Michael has prepared a special mix of American music - folk songs, pop songs, blues, and originals that he'll be playing on his open back 5-string banjo and his 19th century fretless banjo that has a growl like you've never heard before!

And Michael sings like he means it, and he tells heartfelt stories because he's been around the world a few times and tells stories of people he's met and places he's been.

'Michael’s protean talents and musical mastery extend from traditional folk and old-time, through the blues, and into pop and jazz, but his rendering of the Bach suites is a brilliant tour-de-force that effectively obliterates the limits of what was thought possible on clawhammer banjo.' (Banjo Newsletter)

'This is one of the most beautiful recordings I've heard in all my seventy years... It is enough to make me want to learn the banjo all over again.' (Pete Seeger)

Michael, who hails from Chicago but has family all over Ireland (including Galway), came to Clarinbridge in the spring of 2013, with his acclaimed one-man show 'From Senegal to Seeger'. The overflowing crowd at Paddy Burke’s gave Michael a standing ovation and he's delighted to be returning to the town that made him feel so very welcome!

The tour schedule is currently:

Sat. 4th: Concert, Paddy Burke's, Clarinbridge, Co. Galway
Mon. 6th: Concert: details TBA
Wed. 8th: 'From Senegal to Seeger', Athy Community Arts Centre, Co. Kildare
Sat. 11th: Al Ras Bluegrass & Old-Time Festival, Barcelona

Update 21 Oct.: Michael's latest e-newsletter, with video and other links, has just arrived. Please note that details for the 6 Nov. concert remain TBA at present.

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Tom Chapin at the Unitarian Church, Dublin, this Saturday (21 Oct. 2017)

Thanks to Andrew Basquille for the news that he and Language and Leisure are presenting the three-time Grammy-Award-winning American singer/ songwriter Tom Chapin in two concerts at the Dublin Unitarian Church, St Stephen’s Green, on Saturday 21 October 21st: one show at 3.00 p.m. for children (plus parents and grandparents) and the second at 8.00 p.m. for grown-ups. Tickets are on sale at www.tickets.ie. Contact Andrew by mobile (086 8092313) or e-mail.

From the press release:

The New York Times calls Tom Chapin 'one of the great personalities in contemporary folk music'. Tom says: 'Mine is not a traditional music, but it comes from a tradition. My musical heroes are people like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie who wrote and sang real songs for real people.'

Billboard calls Tom Chapin 'The best family artist around'. 
For the kids’ show, Tom Chapin presents a lively, interactive, and fun-filled performance which engages the hearts, minds, and imaginations of young listeners. For the adult show, Chapin serves up a tasty mix of story songs, ballads, comedic and political songs, sing-alongs, old-time folk classics, and a favourite song or two of his late brother Harry Chapin ('The cats in the cradle', 'W.O.L.D.'.

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EBMA newsletter, October 2017

Supporting European Bluegrass and Bluegrass in Europe

The European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA) has issued the seventh of its new monthly e-newsletters. The main feature is a video interview with Jerry Douglas (above), made specially for the EBMA.

This is followed by a replay of the 1974 radio interview with Bill Monroe by Wim Bloemendaal; a long illustrated report on the second Barjols Bluegrass Festival, held in Provence this past July; a schedule of upcoming concerts, festivals, tours, gigs, and workshops in the rest of 2017; and ads by EBMA-affiliated artists and organisations, including the 16th Al Ras Bluegrass & Old-Time Festival (9-11 Nov.) at Barcelona. You can arrange to receive the newsletter by contacting the EBMA board, without having to be an EBMA member.

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A bonus from Mala & Fyrmoon

After their recent tour of Ireland, our friends Mala & Fyrmoon are back home in Switzerland. They clearly enjoyed the trip - Mala Gassmann writes:

Had a great time in Ireland, intense, colourful, lots of good music, two great sessions, having short ocean baths ;), and meeting lovely people.

And this comes from Stefan Behler:

We had such a great time with M&FM on our third tour in ireland (Belfast, Dublin, Waterville, Listowel, Cork, Cloonacool); enjoyed the October winds (not storms) on the Kerry coast, a lot of great jams in Cork, Kenmare, Portmagee, Doolin, and Listowel.

Stefan also sends as a bonus this video from the band's Facebook, showing them playing while crossing the Shannon on the Tarbert-Killimer ferry; and another video from YouTube of their performance of Mala's original song 'Uisce' (in English, and on land) - played, incidentally, into an Ear Trumpet Labs microphone.

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18 October 2017

Bluegrass at the Séamus Ennis Arts Centre, 20 and 28 Oct. 2017

The Séamus Ennis Arts Centre at Naul, Co. Dublin, is presenting two events of special interest to BIB readers in the next ten days. On this coming Friday (20 October) the Slocan Ramblers from Canada are playing the second show in their tour of Ireland (having warmed up at Castlerock the night before). A performance video and links to YouTube and the band's website, together with online booking facility, are on the Centre's website.

On Saturday 28 October, the dynamic duo of Gerry Madigan and George Kaye, true pioneers of bluegrass in Ireland, will be playing at the Centre. On both nights, doors open at 8.00 p.m., the show begins at 8.30 p.m., and tickets are €16 / €13 (booked in advance) or €18 / €15 at the door.

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TuneFox: an impressive and growing learning aid for pickers

Thanks to Bennett Sullivan of Listen & Learn, Inc. for news of the latest development in an acclaimed high-tech learning aid for pickers.

The original Pocket Lick Banjo app for iPhones and iPads came out over three years ago, with an equivalent app available for guitar. The Pocket Lick Banjo 2, offering thirty-five new licks taken from banjo masters such as Earl Scruggs, Scott Vestal, and Noam Pikelny, was released in 2015. TuneFox, released late last year, added a new dimension of creative learning; the app became a free download, with access to a large library of songs and licks through a subscription method. Bennett writes:

In a nutshell: Tunefox is an original method for learning that teaches not only how to proficiently play your instrument but also inspires creative learning practices that help students develop way quicker than other online learning resources.

The latest version of TuneFox is also available for mandolin and guitar. All the stages in the development of Pocket Lick and TuneFox so far have received the warmest of welcomes on Bluegrass Today, where there are fuller details and illustrative video examples. The best way to grasp the possibilities is to visit Listen & Learn, Inc. and TuneFox online.

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New nickel-plated banjo strings from GHS

GHS Strings announce today two new sets of nickel-plated 5-string banjo strings, having a wound, nickel-plated steel 4th string complementing the standard plain steel strings for a warmer sound and a smoother feel.

GHS has developed these sets through their long-standing relationship with the bluegrass and country music communities. The PF115 set (see image) is in medium gauge (10-12-16-24-10) and the PF110 in light (9-10-12-20-9). Both sets come standard with 42” long strings, larger loops to fit a variety of tailpieces, and GHS’s LockTwist to ensure strings stay in tune longer.

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17 October 2017

Updated Bunratty Bluegrass Festival programme - and a bonus

Thanks to Brendan Walsh, head of the organising team of the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, for this updated programme for the coming weekend. As well as minor corrections, please note that owing to a double booking the 11.00 p.m. session in the Bunratty Manor Hotel has had to be dropped at short notice. On the plus side, Brendan adds:

A little bit of breaking news is that Kateřina García will guest with the Malina Bros [below] at their concert on Saturday night.

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Cup O' Joe featured on Bluegrass Today

John Lawless of Bluegrass Today has written a major feature on Cup O' Joe from Co. Armagh, whose development he has been following with interest since first encountering them on YouTube. This year he made a point of catching their performance as an invited official showcase act at IBMA's World of Bluegrass, and followed that up with a long-distance interview.

Cup O' Joe (also on Facebook) mention in the interview that 'getting to hang out with some of our good friends from Mile Twelve (as well as many other wonderful people!) was great.' Boston's Mile Twelve, who were touring here last year, have expressed an interest in coming back, so perhaps we can hope to see the two bands on stage together some time.

PS: Lisa Kay Howard (see the BIB for 13 Oct.) has recently posted a compilation video of Cup O' Joe on Facebook.

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15 October 2017

Gary McMahan on film (and in person) in Cork TODAY

John Nyhan sends this special news:

The presentation on Bill Monroe [see the BIB for 10 Oct.] went very well. There was a great crowd. There was a special guest, Gary McMahan from Colorado. Garry is a genuine cowboy singer /poet / performer. He did some yodelling. He is in a band in Colorado with Ron and Julie Lynam (Ron was here with High Plains Tradition).

He is in Cork for the Indie Film Festival. A film on his life, Everything in the song, will be shown tomorrow [i.e. today, 15 Oct.] in the Gate Cinema, North Gate Bridge, at 2.00 p.m. There will be lots of music in it. John Moore (the great mandolin player etc.) is the musical director; lots of his playing will be featured. It comes recommended. Gary gave a short concert last night and was excellent. He is the real deal. I know it is short notice but maybe some people may support it.

Then of course next weekend it is the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival. It promises to be a great Festival. There is no shortage with things to do.

BIB editor's note: Gary's website describes him as 'Singer, Songwriter, Yodeler, Humorist, Cowboy Poet, and General Nuisance'.

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13 October 2017

Valerie Smith & LIberty Pike planning tour, Aug.-Sept. 2018

Valerie Smith (front) with Liberty Pike: (l-r) Tom Gray, Joe Zauner, 
Wally Hughes, Lisa Kay Howard

In spring this year Lisa Kay Howard on mandolin and her husband Wally Hughes on fiddle and dobro were touring in Ireland as Round Hill, accompanying singer Brooksie Wells. Lisa Kay and Wally are both also members of Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike - a band which over the last two decades has been known for Valerie's exuberant vitality and the excellence of her band members (the present bassist Tom Gray, for instance, is a member of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame). Longtime BIB readers may remember Valerie bringing a dynamic earlier version of the band to an Athy Bluegrass Festival some years back.

Thanks to Lisa Kay for the good news that Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike are planning to be back in Ireland less than a year from now, as part of a tour of these islands beginning on or around 31 August 2018 and ending on 16 September. Event organisers and venue operators who would be interested in presenting them should contact Lisa Kay by e-mail or 'phone (001-540 270-2875).

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12 October 2017

The Paperboys (CAN) in Ireland, 13-15 Nov. 2017

The award-winning and highly eclectic Paperboys from Vancouver, Canada, will be briefly in Ireland at the end of a tour that begins on 28 Oct. with two dates in Germany, followed by twelve in Britain. Their bio calls them

the only multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-lingual, multi-instrumental, genre bending, co-ed band you will hear today. [...] This multicultural mix is hardly surprising from a bilingual band whose founding member is Mexican-Canadian and whose players cover a range of musical backgrounds from bluegrass to funk to traditional Scots and Irish music.

Their booking agent for Ireland is Frontier Promotions. The Paperboys (also on Facebook) will be playing the following dates in Ireland:

Mon. 13th Nov.: Black Box, 18-22 Hill St., Belfast; (028) 90 24 44 00
Tues. 14th: Bronte Music Club, Rathfriland, Co. Down
Wed. 15th: Raheen House Hotel, 10 Raheen Rd, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary (Clonmel World Music); 052 6122140

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11 October 2017

Aubrey Holt

The BIB learns with regret of the death of Aubrey Holt, singer, songwriter, and founder member of the influential and respected Boys from Indiana band, at the age of 79. An appreciation appeared on Monday's Bluegrass Today. It includes a video of the Boys from Indiana singing Aubrey's most celebrated composition, 'Atlanta is burning', followed by a medley of old gospel songs. Bluegrass Today's archive of recent news about him includes this feature by Richard Thompson about the writing of 'Atlanta is burning'.

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Gerry Madigan and George Kaye in Ireland, Oct.-Nov. 2017

To the best of the BIB's knowledge, Gerry Madigan of Dublin was the first person to make the sound of bluegrass 5-string banjo playing widely heard throughout Ireland in his fifteen years as a founder member of the Cotton Mill Boys, one of the most successful and most devotedly 'country' of Irish showbands. At the same time George Kaye was bringing the sound of bluegrass fiddling to Ireland with another leading showband, the Smokey Mountain Ramblers.

Gerry and George, 'two pioneers of bluegrass music in Ireland coming together and bringing it all back home on their first Irish reunion tour', will be returning to Ireland (Gerry from Canada, George from Germany) for a brief tour beginning later this month at the Cabin Sessions in Dundrum, Dublin. The full schedule for this historic tour is:

Thurs. 26th Oct.: The Cabin Sessions, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Dublin Rd, Dundrum, Dublin 14
Sat. 28th: Seamus Ennis Arts Centre, Naul, Co. Dublin
Sat. 4th Nov.: Rockies GAA Club, Church Rd, Blackrock, Cork city
Sun. 5th: DC Music Club, 20 Camden Row, Dublin 2
Mon. 6th: Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork

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IBMA news

In the 2017 set of IBMA awards, John Lawless of Bluegrass Today received a Distinguished Achievement Award; read more here. The BIB offers special congratulations on this award, for without the encouragement given by John Lawless back in 2005, and the example of the original Bluegrass Blog founded by him and Brance Gillihan, it is unlikely that a Bluegrass Ireland Blog would ever have come into existence.
Limerick woman speaks out
The keynote address given at IBMA WOB 2017 by Rhiannon Giddens was one of the most talked-about events of the week. It can be read in full here, and a twenty-four-and-a-half-minute video of her delivering it can be seen and heard here. She will be in Dublin, performing at Vicar Street, on 25 November.
The deadline for applying for the 2018 IBMA Leadership Bluegrass (LBG) course is 31 October; all the details are here. As anyone who has been on it can testify, it's a potentially life-changing experience.
The dates for next year's IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC, are Tues. 25th-Sat. 29th Sept. 2018.

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10 October 2017

Cup O' Joe at IBMA WOB

Friends and admirers of Cup O' Joe, from Co. Armagh, can see by the showcase schedule on the left that they had a busy time at the 2017 IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC, last month. As further evidence, four fine photos of them (with Niall Murphy on fiddle), taken by Frank Baxter, can now be seen on Bluegrass Today.

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The Often Herd launch a Kickstarter campaign (update)

Thanks to Sam Quintana of the bluegrass four-piece The Often Herd, based in Newcastle (UK), for this news.

The Herd (Rupert Hughes, guitar, vocals; Evan Davies, mandolin, vocals; Niles Krieger, fiddle, vocals; and Sam Quintana, bass) previously performed under the name 'The Kentucky Cow Tippers', and in June 2015 they toured Ireland performing at venues including the Red Room in Cookstown, the Cowboys and Heroes Festival in Drumcora, and the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival. Sam now writes:

Last month we recorded six tracks which we hope will become our debut EP, and have launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds for its production. We have been contacting anyone we've met on recent tours to try and spread the news of the campaign.

Anyone who heard the Cowtippers (as they then were) at Westport in 2015 knows that their music had the spherical attributes necessary for bluegrass. In their new incarnation, their Facebook says,

The Often Herd reach beyond what is expected of a bluegrass band, marrying the wistful sunshine harmonies of Southern California with the striking industrial allure of their North Eastern (UK) home. An engaging and dynamic live act, the band are able to pull off their intricately arranged material alongside moments of spontaneous improvisation.

Sam sends this link to a series of recent live videos, and the band has also made this video as an introduction to the Kickstarter campaign. You can find out more about them by following these links to their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and join their mailing list for updates.

Update 19 Oct.: The Often Herd and their Kickstarter appeal are now featured (with two videos) on Bluegrass Today.

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Irish Steel Guitar Festival, Dublin, 14-15 Oct. 2017

Thanks again to the indefatigable John Nyhan, who writes:

Just letting you know that the Irish Steel Guitar Festival takes place next Saturday and Sunday, 14 and 15 October, in the Green Isle Hotel, Naas Road, Dublin. Both days start at 11.00 a.m. and continue late into the night. This Festival is run by a group of steel guitar enthusiasts.

There will be a total of eighteen steel guitar players performing, from the UK, Ireland, and mainland Europe, with the headline act Jay Dee Maness, from the USA. Jay Dee Maness has played with Buck Owens, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, and the Desert Rose Band, which included bluegrass musicians Herb Pedersen and Chris Hillman... to mention but a few.

For further information contact Maurice Wilson: 'phone 0044 28 9263 4950 [if 'phoning from Ireland, use '048' instead of '0044 28'], e-mail.

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The Father of Bluegrass: a presentation by John Nyhan, 13 Oct. 2017

Thanks to John Nyhan for the news that he will be presenting a talk, 'Bill Monroe - The Father of Bluegrass - his life and music' this coming Friday, 13 October, from 11.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon in the Rory Gallagher Music Library, 57-61 Grand Parade, Cork city.

Everyone is welcome, not just lovers of bluegrass only, as Bill Monroe - as well as being a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame - is also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. For further details, 'phone 087 792 1771 or e-mail John.

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09 October 2017

Old-time musicians wanted for theatre production, 16-20 Oct. 2017

Thanks to Anna Nugent of the Dublin-based AboutFACE Ireland theatre company, who writes:

Our theatre company is doing a workshop on a new American play set in 1800s New Mexico and has a band throughout to underscore key moments.

I'm wondering if you might know anyone in the music community who would be willing and available to work with a small company for that week (16-20 October), 10.00 a.m.-5.30 p.m.? There will be a presentation to a small invited audience on the Friday at 3.00 p.m. We are able to cover basic expenses only. It would be great to have a banjo, fiddle, and possibly an upright bass (though I'd love to see if we could make something along the lines of a washtub bass). Actors join the band throughout the show and might add the harmonica, bones, spoons, etc.

This sounds a very interesting opportunity for old-time musicians in the Dublin area who are free for those times. Contact Anna and the AboutFACE company by e-mail.

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I Draw Slow top Irish independent charts

Belated congratulations to I Draw Slow, who posted on their Facebook on 22 Sept. their thanks to IMRO Ireland when their latest album, Turn your face to the sun, reached no. 1 in the Irish independent charts.

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08 October 2017

9th Balla Bluegrass Festival, 27-30 Oct. 2017

Thanks to Uri Kohen and his team for this updated news:

For the last eight years Balla Bluegrass Festival was the last big event on the Irish bluegrass calendar. This year will be no different, and on the last weekend of October (27-30) the small town of Balla in Co. Mayo will be filled with great music and many music fans. The Festival takes place in two pubs, Mannion's and The Olde Woods, and the gigs are alternated between them which allows the punters to enjoy all of them.

The festival will start on Friday at 6.00 p.m. with an open session in Mannion's, led by the Munich String Band, which will then play a full show at 10.00 p.m. at The Olde Woods.

Saturday music will start at 8.00 p.m. in The Olde Woods with special guest appearance by Texas country / folk duo Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay, then at 10.00 p.m. at Mannion's there will be another chance to catch the festival headliners, the Munich String Band.

Sunday will start once again at The Olde Woods at 8.00 p.m. with Dublin-based Americana band The Big Muddy, then the festival favourites who played the event at every festival - Ireland's leading bluegrass band, Woodbine.

As in previous years, on Monday (bank holiday) at 8.00 p.m. in Mannion's Tommy Lyons - aka 'The Colonel', one of the West's best bluegrass ambassadors - will join a group of top local musicians collectively known as Colonel Bullshot Rides Again to bring the festival to a close with some great music.

It is really the last big chance for the bluegrass family to meet and enjoy the music we love so well. The festival organising team are looking forward to see you all.

The team also supplies these two poster images, showing the schedule at each of the venues. Click on the image for a larger view, or see the originals at the Festival Facebook.

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07 October 2017

9th Red Wine Bluegrass Party in Genoa, 25 Nov. 2017

Our friends in Red Wine (I) will be holding their 9th Red Wine Bluegrass Party on Saturday 25 November in the usual magnificent venue, the Teatro della Tosse, Piazza Renato Negri 4, Genoa (Genova). Special guests from the USA will be Kathy Kallick and Annie Staninec (fiddler with the Kathy Kallick Band, who was in Ireland two years ago with John Kael in the duo version of Whiskey Deaf).

Martino Coppo announced on Monday last that advanced ticket sales are now open at the Teatro from Tuesday to Friday (9.30 a.m.-1.00 p.m., 3.00 p.m.-7.00 p.m.) and on Saturdays (3.00 p.m.-7.00 p.m.). Tickets can also be bought at the Disco Club, Via S. Vincenzo 20, Genoa, and will soon be available online at Happy Ticket.

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Next Outlaw Country Show in Omagh, 13 Oct. 2017

Thanks to Barry Johnston (right) for the news that the most recent Outlaw Country Show (see the BIB for 3 Oct.), held last night in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh, received three standing ovations. The next show in the 'Outlaw Country' series will be held in the Weigh Inn Bar, 26 John St., Omagh, Co. Tyrone, on this coming Friday (13 Oct.) at 10.30 p.m.

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Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay tour, 20-29 Oct.: UPDATE

Following the BIB post of 24 Sept., thanks to Uri Kohen for this updated information:

The Electric Cave Production, in association with the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, are delighted to announce the first ever tour of Texas country/ folk duo Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay.

Fri. 20th-Sun. 22nd: Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, Co. Clare  (exact gig details on the festival's programme)
Mon. 23rd: The Stormy Teacup, Limerick city: doors open at 8.00 p.m., support act at 8.20, Brennen & Noel on stage at 9:00 p.m., admission €7
Wed. 25th: Thomas Connolly, Sligo town, 9.30 p.m.
Thurs. 26th: Bridge St., Castlebar, Co. Mayo, 7.00 p.m.
Fri. 27th: Leafy Greens Cafe, James St., Westport, Co. Mayo, 8.30 p.m. (ticketed event with very small capacity; more info at the venue)
Sat. 28th: The Olde Woods, Main St., Balla, Co. Mayo, 8.00 p.m. (part of 9th Balla Bluegrass Festival)

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06 October 2017

The Lowest Pair (USA) available for bookings in Ireland, 26 Mar.-1 Apr. 2018

Following on from the announcements in the BIB posts of 1 June and 12 September, Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency sends further news of the proposed tour in Ireland next spring by The Lowest Pair (USA), the duo of Kendi Winter and Palmer T. Lee. Loudon writes:

It's a great pleasure to be bringing this outstanding duo - The Lowest Pair - back over to this side of the Atlantic again after they had such a tremendous reception when we toured them earlier this year. Rarely have we heard such beautiful music so perfectly performed...

and gives a sample selection of quotes from reviewers: 'A true joy' (Rudie Humphrey, AmericanaUK); 'Music for sunshine and mint juleps' (Folk radio UK); 'Incredibly atmospheric' (Julian Piper, Acoustic magazine); 'A musical marriage made in heaven' (Lonesome Highway, Ireland); 'Vocal perfection' (David Innes, R2 magazine); 'Voices just born to sing bluegrass and old-time' (David Kidman, Fatea magazine)

Loudon writes:

We are very keen to try to put together a tour for them in Ireland this time, to introduce them to new audiences there. The plan would be to fly them into Dublin and put a week-long run together from 26 March to 1 April. Would you please take a quick look at their page at the Brookfield Knights website, where you will find out more information, sample tracks, and videos. Then, please let us know if you would like to book them for a slot in that timeframe.

Contact Loudon by e-mail or through the Brookfield Knights website.

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05 October 2017

Snapshots from Omagh 2017

The BIB editor writes:

This is a very belated, fragmentary, and inadequate indication of how enjoyable this year's 26th Bluegrass Music Festival was at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, just over a month ago. We may longingly recall the years when Pinecone would ship in bands and clogging teams from North Carolina; when the main marquee and the beer tent had video screens giving at least as good a view of the stage as one got from a concert seat; and when... (fill in your personal memory here). But it's important to recognise what a tremendous job Richard Hurst and his team are doing within the limits set by National Museums Northern Ireland. Thanks again to Richard, Patrick, and all the staff at the Park.

The four photos below, taken by Carol Hawkins, show only a few of the groups we enjoyed. Unfortunately, we didn't get a snap at the 'McLecture', held this year in honour of both Tony McAuley and Rodney McElrea, in which Frank Galligan interviewed Dale Ann Bradley, this year's headliner; it was one of the most moving experiences I've had at Omagh.

Is there anything I'd change? Well, the space provided for jammers (in the Pennsylvania Barn) was greatly appreciated, and I hope it always remains a feature of the Festival. But jammers should sit facing one another, not an audience - a jam is not a performance. Circle those haybales! [See comments below.]

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Moving On Music and the Slocan Ramblers

Moving On Music (MOM) send a reminder that the Slocan Ramblers (CAN) will be playing under their auspices on Sunday 22 October at the Duncairn Arts Centre, Belfast. The show starts at 7.30 p.m.; tickets are £13 (£10 conc.), and can be bought through either the Duncairn or MOM websites - the latter also has two performance videos. MOM add:

We've the Slocan Ramblers visiting these shores for the first time later in the month. These guys are the real deal. Close harmonies, impeccable musicianship, and charm overflowing. This one's even covered by our MOM Guarantee. Don't enjoy it, get your money back!

The Duncairn show is the fourth of ten dates the Ramblers will be playing in this island (they will have taken part in the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival earlier that weekend). All dates for the tour are on the BIB calendar.

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The Cabin Session, Dundrum, 26 Oct. 2017

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

Hey Y'all,

We have a very special edition of the Cabin Sessions lined up for 26 October! In addition to the Cabin Crew we will have a special performance by Spats Davenport on piano signing the songs of Tom Waits. And then our special guests will be Gerry Madigan (from Canada) - an original member of the Cotton Mill Boys - with George Kaye from the Smokey Mountain Ramblers. Not to be missed!

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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04 October 2017

House and Land in De Barra's TONIGHT

The BIB editor apologises for giving no earlier notice of the brief presence in Ireland of House and Land (USA), the duo of Sally Anne Morgan (fiddle, shruti box, banjo, vocals) and Sarah Louise Henson (vocals, 12-string guitar, shruti box, bouzouki). They played last night (3 Oct.) at Whelan's in Dublin, and are playing tonight at De Barra's Folk Club, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, at 9.00 p.m. Tickets are €5. A performance video is on the De Barra's website, and more of their music is on YouTube and BandCamp.

The two shows in Ireland are the beginning of a tour that includes Britain, Italy, France, and Spain.

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03 October 2017

Outlaw Country Show in Armagh, 6 Oct. 2017

Thanks to Barry Johnston for news of the Outlaw Country Show, featuring the songs of Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, and John Prine (see the BIB for 26 June and I Sept., announcing earlier shows in Strabane and Derry). The next show will be in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh city, on Friday 6 October at 8.00 p.m.; tickets are from £12.50 (plus booking fee).

The performers are Barry Johnston (acoustic guitar), front man with Illegal SmileRod Patterson (double bass), touring musician and musical director; and Ivan Gilliland (guitar, mandolin), who has worked with Van Morrison, James Galway, and many others. Sample numbers on YouTube include Barry's rendition of Guy Clark's 'LA freeway' and this excerpt from the Black Box show. Barry can be contacted at +447840 622731.

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Tom Paley, 1928-2017: updates and funeral

The BIB learns with great regret of the death on 30 September of Allan Thomas 'Tom' Paley in Brighton, England, at the age of 89. An obituary on the Guardian website includes performance videos from different stages of his long and varied career. While living in Britain, he became honorary president of FOAOTMAD.

Tom Paley was one of the founder members of the New Lost City Ramblers (NLCR), without question the most influential group of musicians in the revival of old-time music. All the Ramblers also made great individual contributions to music and other fields. John Cohen is now the only survivor of the original trio; Tracy Schwarz, who joined the NLCR when Tom Paley left, was featured in the July 2017 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited.

Update 5 Oct.: Thanks to Philippa Robinson and Ray Abrahams, both of whom drew our attention to the news. An obituary by Richard Thompson is on Bluegrass Today.

Update 6 Oct.: 'The music shines on... remembering Tom Paley', by James Reams, is now on Bluegrass Today.

Update 12 Oct.: Tom Paley's son Ben announces on Bluegrass Today that Tom's funeral will be at Golders Green crematorium, north London, at 3.00 p.m. on Tues. 24 Oct., followed by a celebratory session (5.00-8.00 p.m.) at Cecil Sharp House, the HQ of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

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02 October 2017

US artists touring in summer 2018: news from Brookfield Knights: UPDATE

Loudon Temple of the UK's Brookfield Knights agency sends this announcement of USA artists on the Knights' roster who will be available for bookings in July and August 2018; some of them already have festival slots in Ireland as anchors for prospective tours. In order to fill out tour schedules, Loudon would appreciate hearing from venue owners and event organisers who would be interested in booking the following artists:

Hillfolk Noir, Idaho (1-22 July)

The Hot Seats, Virginia (15 July-12 August)

The Grammy-nominated California Feetwarmers (8-28 July)

Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, Boston (24 July-12 August)

Rebecca Pronsky (and Rich Bennett), New York (10 July-12 August)

3hattrio, Utah (8-21 August)

[Update 3 Oct.: The Danberrys, Nashville, will be available for bookings during the whole of June 2018]

Most of these artists are already known to fans in Ireland; more information about them is here and on the Brookfield Knights website. Contact Loudon by e-mail.

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Old Time Herald and Alice Gerrard

In October 1987 the Old-Time Herald and its parent organisation, the Old-Time Music Group, were founded. In thirty years the magazine has published 126 issues and has come to bind the old-time music community together in the way that Bluegrass Unlimited does for the bluegrass world. The OTH and OTMG want to continue bringing out articles, news, and reviews every issue, and also have important projects on hand for the future:
  • an electronic edition of the OTH;
  • a digital archive of the OTH from which back issues can be researched and supplied - partnership with an online media consortium will make it possible to plan this;
  • the 'Stories of Old-Time Music’s Revival Generation' oral history project (recording and publishing the experiences of musicians who became part of the scene in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s) is up and running and needs to be kept going at full steam;
  • a new series of profiles of the talented and dedicated millennial-generation musicians - 'not since the revival generation [...] has there been such a huge infusion of enthusiasm for old-time music'.
If you love old-time music and value the work that's being done by the OTH and OTMG, you can help make all this happen by donating through www.oldtimeherald.org or posting your contribution to PO Box 61679, Durham, NC 27715-1679.
Alice Gerrard created, laid out, and hand-mailed the first issue of OTH, edited it for many years (with the advice and help of the late Pete Kuykendall of Bluegrass Unlimited), and continues in her eighties to make invaluable contributions to American traditional music. You can now see at this link (and on Vimeo) an enjoyable three-minute 'teaser' of You gave me a song: the life and music of Alice Gerrard, a documentary film being made by Kenny Dalsheimer for Groove Productions. The project can be supported via the Old Time Crowdfunder, with the aim of raising $18,000 in the next 72 days.

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01 October 2017

Mala & Fyrmoon (CH) on video

(L-r) Stefan Behler, Mala, Vincent Zurkinden

Mala & Fyrmoon(CH) are now halfway through the brief tour of Ireland announced on the BIB a week ago. The remaining dates are shown on the BIB calendar. The band's latest videos are on their website and on YouTube: 'Green light of May' and 'On the run'.

Update 3 Oct.: Mala draws our attention to their brand-new video 'Uisce', inspired by their visit to Ireland two years ago.

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Flyer issued for Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, 20-22 Oct. 2017

Thanks to Brendan Walsh, head of the organising team of the Bunratty Bluegrass Festival, for these images of the Festival flyer, which has been available since the beginning of the past week. Full details of the timetable, the venues, and the very impressive lineup can be found on www.wmw.ie and on the Festival Facebook.

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