News from the BBMA


Exciting News!
We have a new Editor for the magazine. Chris Lord has kindly volunteered to take over the job, and we are all delighted to have him on board.

Chris is the Banjo player in the Vanguards. You can see from the description of the band, that the magazine will be in good hands with its new editor!

Out and about
Sore Fingers Summer School‘s main event was held at Easter. Sore Fingers  remains the premier teaching event for the bluegrass community. We understand that it was a great event and that the standard of our younger players remains as high as ever.

A few days later, and the Crossover Festival was the next event. This is a gem of a festival  in a lovely setting – well worth a visit if you have not been! Again the British presence was outstanding with Midnight Skyracer giving the old favourites  Ron Block and Tony Furtado  a run for their money! Crossover also provided us with some quirkiness with a highly entertaining duo called The Peas a unique chance to see Breaking Grass from the USA – their only UK gig. A really nice mix of Old Time and Bluegrass and beyond and now fast becoming a festival not to miss.

Now to Orwell – sadly the last festival for Chris, Trish and Ben Hockley. The team has provided us with years of top Bluegrass – it will be sadly missed and fondly remembered! A huge vote of thanks from our Bluegrass family to the organising team – and best wishes for a speedy recovery to Trish.
The BBMA was approached to see if we could take it on but the committee felt that for various reasons it would not be feasible.  However, the BBMA would be happy to help and support anyone interested in taking on this project but time is short so if you are interested, get in touch soon.

Committee Stuff
Your committee has also been busy, and as has been previously reported, both funds and membership are all headed in the right direction. We have around 25% of our members joined through direct debit – this works really well for us in terms of membership renewal – something to be considered when you are joining or renewing membership. The webmaster Geoff has been doing overtime transferring hosting to our new domain, britishbluegrass.org and in addition to that you will have noticed a new front page to the site which now features blog posts from me and others! I would encourage you to get in touch (by using the contact button above or) by email to secretary@britishbluegrass.org – especially if you have stuff that needs to be considered by the committee. Your Chair has also been beavering away with tour support – helping to bring in exciting musicians from the USA and Canada (have a look at our Tours page – the link also appears in the menu bar above). The results of this work generates a healthy income for the association – and we are in the process of a brain storming exercise to see how we can use these funds to benefit our community. Recently a number of students have been funded for a workshop course run at Moniaive in Scotland. I hope that we will eventually have a page on the website to describe in detail our current schemes to assist members, but until we have that sorted, I will remind you again on whats on offer!

  • Sponsorship for students attending Bluegrass Courses – this one is currently under review, and we hope to have the new conditions posted on our web site soon.
  • We loan money to Bands who want to record an album.
  • We will provide start up grants for new venues.
  • We will subsidise Bands to play at Festivals who don’t normally have any Bluegrass.
  • Funding for anything Bluegrass … you can apply with the details and your committee will give it their full attention. Remember, if you don’t ask you don’t get!
  • Our current Festival Discount scheme for members will run as usual for the next years festivals.

The Jan Jerrold Award
This year the award was given to Rick Townend – as Rick was unable to be at the festival, it was collected on his behalf by Jill Sands.

Rick Started playing Bluegrass in the Echo Mountain Band – initially a group of pupils at the Sevenoaks School. In 1964 the band went on to win both Vocal and Instrumental group at the Cambridge Folk Festival. Echo Mountain went on to play for a number of years cul
minating with a final performance in 1980 (along with the odd reunion gig). The Band was closely involved with Bill Clifton (USA) who was living at that time in the UK. – they would sometimes accompany him on his personal performances. Rick’s brother Andy was a top class Mandolinist and a big influence in the British scene. Andy was sadly to die in July 1998 – a major loss to our Bluegrass community.
Rick organised the Wadhurst Bluegrass Days – an event that was to run annually for a number of years. Rick is most generous with his time and knowledge and continues to organise educational events/ festivals/ promotions – and to this day he still publishes one of the most comprehensive listings for his geographical area. A true servant of our Bluegrass community, and a deserving recipient of the Jan Jerrold Award.

This year the BBMA AGM was held at the Orwell festival, and the minutes of the meeting are published here.

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Moniaive Summer Workshop

Summer instrument workshop weekend July 13th & 14th taught by The Often Herd

Banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin and double bass lessons over 2 days.
Event details and booking are now available via www.moniaivebluegrass.co.uk/tickets

Yes – those folks just over the border in Scotland have been running a Bluegrass Festival now since 2009. Camping and a number of delightful local venues provide accommodation. In addition to that on their web site you will find a number of gigs often with an international flavour – these guys are doing a great job in promoting Bluegrass! Well now there is an instructional week end with the award winning Often Herd. Plenty of BBMA involvement here – one of our member bands – and event hosted by one of our members, and sponsorship for a number of students from our association. Just take a look at the beautiful countryside around the village – what’s not to like?

CONCERTS BETWEEN MARCH & AUGUST
Pharis & Jason Romero (Canada)
John Reischman and The Jaybirds  (USA & Canada)
Leon Hunt & Jason Titley (England)
Lunch Special (England)
Blue Summit (USA)
Man About A Horse (USA)
Tim Erikson (USA)

Check out these concerts on the web site – its not that far from the North of England, and really worth supporting!

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The Secretary’s Slot

Welcome to the Secretary’s Slot – what I hope will become a regular feature in the magazine, and hopefully our web site. My aim will be to try and keep you in touch with the latest news – and what your committee is planning. Please bear in mind the quality of my journalism is suspect, and I’m inclined to ramble (so I’ve been told!). So … lots of stuff going on, some of it only available on our web site I hope that most of it will be of interest to you – our members.

Our finances have never been better! Much of this is due to the hard work of your Chair with his development of tour support. Our membership is also looking really good, your membership secretary has helped boost our numbers to around the 400 mark – we have at least 28 band memberships …. a reflection on the number of us who also play and sing!

Sadly the proposed Summit on British Bluegrass has had to be put on hold – hopefully a temporary situation. We are also looking for help in terms of magazine production – our Chair is doing his best – producing an excellent magazine, but also has to contend with the pressure of several other jobs at the same time! On the good news front we now have a sub editor (Chris Couragen) who is based in the USA.

Long term news is that we hope to up date the web site, to include some of our revised policies. The BBMA does offer a lot of opportunities – which we need to list as we publish the new conditions. So to give you an idea of what we are looking at, all of the following are available to our members.

  • Sponsorship for students attending Bluegrass Courses – this one is currently under review, and we hope to have the new conditions posted on our web site soon.
  • We loan money to Bands who want to record an album.
  • We will provide start up grants for new venues.
  • We will subsidise Bands to play at Festivals who don’t normally have any Bluegrass.
  • Funding for anything Bluegrass … you can apply with the details and your committee will give it their full attention. Remember, if you don’t ask you don’t get!
  • Our current Festival Discount scheme for members will run as usual for the next years festivals.

In an effort to tell more people about us and what we do, the next AGM will also be open to non members. If you are a non member, but would like to raise an issue, then please use the contact button at the top of this post and let us know your views – the committee will be pleased to listen to what you have to say. Should there be votes taken at the meeting, then only members will be eligible to vote – please bring your membership card with you. The BBMA needs to reflect the needs of the Bluegrass community – so please come if you can, and help us to make that happen.

So – also landed on my desk is a list of touring bands and musicians from the USA. Many of these are here with BBMA work permits, but not all! I can’t remember a time when there have been so many all at once! Several of us on your committee are also involved in promoting these bands at our local venues, and festivals. So in an effort to keep you informed …. I list below the gigs that have landed on my desk! The exact tour dates will be posted on the BBMA site. Please do confirm the gigs with the venues before you set off to travel – we do our best to be accurate, but I have been known to make mistakes!

Tour Dates
There is now a new section for Tour Dates

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