09 November 2005

Gone To Grass (Dec. 2012)

Gone To Grass is an exciting contemporary bluegrass/Americana project, featuring original songs and tunes alongside more standard bluegrass and roots music, played by some of Galway’s finest pickers and grinners; such as the Dobro maestro Tom Portman and the fiery fiddlin' Ivor Ottley, guitarist and songwriter Pete Lamb, and last but not least, the mighty Paddy Jordan on double bass. A typical Gone To Grass gig will showcase some dazzling instrumental virtuosity, classic standard bluegrass fare (if sometimes delivered in a playful, irreverent tone!), and original, well crafted material nestling alongside songs and fiddle tunes plucked from a wide-ranging Americana repertoire, and beyond.

The band was put together by Pete Lamb, a Galway-based singer/songwriter, gigging musician, and onetime festival promoter (Galway Americana Festival). Pete has a long-term interest in American roots music, which led eventually to the birth of the Galway Americana Festival, a broad-ranging festival which celebrated bluegrass, folk, blues, country, Cajun, etc., and ran from 2007 to 2010, when the hurdles of the current recessionary times sadly proved insurmountable. This project provides a platform for Pete’s songwriting, largely in the Americana tradition, and the band’s debut is currently in the process of being recorded.

Ivor Ottley is an internationally renowned fiddle player and teacher whose outstanding improvisational abilities within his primary interests of bluegrass and swing are built on a solid bedrock of classical training. Although he currently resides in Stockholm, Ivor holds the current West Tennessee Fiddle Champion title for 2012, which he picked up on a visit to the US in April 2012, where he entered and won his first ever fiddle contest! (These contests are not so well known here, but a major part of festival culture in the US.) Ivor lived here in Ireland for nine years up until 2009, which is where he met and played music extensively with Pete and Tom Portman in various live projects.

Tom Portman is a luminary on the Galway music scene: a prolific solo artist with several solo CDs to his name as well as a compulsive collaborator, with involvement in projects ranging from Indian classical music (the Bahh Band) to blues and rock (The Lazy Blues Band, Charis) to bluegrass. Equally at home in his mastery of mandolin, acoustic or resonator guitar (Dobro), Tom’s wide-ranging musical interests bring a playful range of flavours to his virtuosity; on any given night you might hear influences from Hendrix to classic honky-tonk to Hawaiian music, or a micro-tonal Indian scale thrown into the mix, just for the hell of it!

The latest addition to the band, Paddy Jordan is a well established all-round entertainer on the Galway live music scene, both as a solo act and as a member of bands such as the Merchants and the Rascals, the latter in particular being famous for their three-part harmony work, which is a standard staple of bluegrass music in the US but not always so successfully mastered elsewhere. Paddy’s solid gigging experience and vocal ease bring a relaxed professional air to the band, as well as a solid and dependable lowdown thump of doghouse bass!


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