Category: Blog

Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa | Ireland 2019

Appaloosa, who, according to their website, are a ‘a group of seasoned musicians who play predominately original, contemporary and traditional Bluegrass music’, were formed in 2008 by Wayne Taylor after retiring from 21 years of service with Country Current, the US Navy’s renowned country-bluegrass ensemble. Wayne has shared a stage, and a song (‘Uncle Pen’ no less), with Bill Monroe (in 1995) and his two-decade-plus stretch with the Navy band, the last 9 of which were as band leader, saw him play for many a bigwig – heads of state, royalty and even 4 US presidents. But on this night, World Bluegrass Day 2019, he played for us, us and about 70 others in the Village Arts Centre in sleepy Kilworth, County Cork.”

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Kenny Baker | Jenkins, KY | Bluegrass Trails

“We did our pre-departure homework, so we were confident at the time that we’d find some reference in Jenkins or neighbouring Burdine/East Jenkins to master fiddler and former local boy Kenny Baker, best known for his 25-year tenure with Bill Monroe, the longest tenure of any of Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys. But no, nothing. Not on the streets of the town, nor among the foliage of the town’s Sam Bentley Cemetery. We came up short.”

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Seth Mulder & Midnight Run | Ireland 2020

Seth Mulder & Midnight Run is high-energy, traditional bluegrass with a ‘fresh approach to the ‘High Lonesome sound’. One of the most entertaining bluegrass acts on the scene today, we are huge fans of these guys, and if you had but a single bluegrass-lovin’ bone in your whole body then you’d understand why. We hadn’t planned on seeing three shows of their exhaustive early 2020 Ireland & UK tour, but we did. We kept going back for more.”

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Lester Flatt & Benny Martin | Sparta, TN | Bluegrass Trails

“… Sparta is small-town musical Tennessee with some big-name former residents, one of which, Lester Flatt, is one of the most influential proponents of the bluegrass sound he helped to pioneer. Present-day Sparta is grabbing this association with both hands and running with it, even going so far as to brand itself as ‘Bluegrass USA’, and who could blame it if doing so is going to attract the likes of bluegrass-lovin’ us.”

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Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver | Apply Now

“Probably no band of late better signifies the revolving door nature of a bluegrass ensemble than does Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. With the recent announcement of banjo man Joe Dean’s departure from the band, hot on the heals of fiddler Stephen Burwell’s departure announcement last week and dobro ace Josh Swift’s in January, Doyle Lawson is probably frantically scouring Craigslist in a bid to find the latest Quicksilver members (not really; we’re pretty sure he has more appropriate and established channels as he has excelled in this aspect of bluegrass band HR since Quicksilver’s formation in 1979).”

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Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen | Bluegrass Island 2018

“At the risk of offending, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen… is a Marmite band, an informal British-based term meaning in this case that you either like their line-muddying, boundary-pushing, refuses-to-be-pigeonholed brand of bluegrass or you don’t … however you class their take on the genre, the quartet, collectively the IBMA’s Instrumental Group of the Year in 2016 (they sing as well, by the way), let their instruments speak for themselves, and speak they do. I guess that’s why I hit record on my camera. Three times, for three choice morsels, you could say.”

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Tom T. Hall | Olive Hill, KY | Bluegrass Trails

“Portions of the Carter County town of Olive Hill, KY … were as quiet as we’d come to expect from rural Kentucky, but the town is both big enough (population over 1,500) to boast some activity and its residents curious enough to approach us wondering what on earth we obvious out-of-towners were doing poking around somewhere like Olive Hill. “Blame Tom T.”, we said. “Who else?”

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Ricky Skaggs | Europe 1985

“Only a 9-year-old me would have the gumption to solicit Ricky’s attention mid-set during the Dublin leg of his 1985 European tour, his first tour as a bandleader at the height of his 1980’s country success and a tour that would spawn an album, ‘Live In London’, that would leave an indelible impression on me.”

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Jimmy Martin | Sneedville, TN | Bluegrass Trails

“… Sneedville, Tennessee, may be one of the poorest towns in the US… but at least it can lay claim to being the hometown of Jimmy ‘King of Bluegrass’ Martin. Suffice it to say, this is the only reason we found ourselves on the streets of the town searching out signs of Sneedville’s favourite son while receiving inquisitive stares from the few locals we encountered; Sneedville is a friendly town (we got free coffee), but it’s still the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else and if you ain’t from round these parts then you’re gonna stand out. We did.”

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Stanley Bros. / Jim & Jesse | Coeburn, VA | Bluegrass Trails

“Very few of the sleepy settlements along southwestern Virginia’s musical Crooked Road, if any, can top Coeburn‘s All-Star lineup of past and present bluegrass A-listers. The dual brother duo of Jim & Jesse McReynolds and Ralph & Carter Stanley are already bluegrass royalty, something Ralph Stanley II, the present generation of Clinch Mountain musicians, may attain someday.”

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COUNTDOWN TO IBMA WOB

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