Notes from the Chair

Now that we are tentatively re-emerging to socialising it is great to see that Battlefield Bluegrass Festival, Purbeck Festival, Clyro Court, Sore Fingers, Sweet Sunny South and Banjo in the Holler are going ahead. Apologies to others which I will have missed here. We wish you all the best of luck and look forward to seeing friends, many of whom we will not have met for two years. I know from my involvement with Didmarton festival the risks which these organisers are taking and the huge amount of extra work they are having to undertake to keep us all safe.

The BBMA has funded three young students for Sore Fingers Summer Schools going ahead in October. We take great pride in our involvement and sponsorship, as usual. We also have sponsored music competitions with prizes at Naseby.

I have been guilty on a personal level of not playing much at all. Yes, we’ve joined in with various musical zoom and recorded events but nothing is quite the same as ‘doing it live’ with newcomers and friends. Also of course we’ve greatly missed the concerts, large and small, which are so difficult to put on even in normal times. I am off to my first session for a very long time next week and greatly looking forward to it, even though we will be in a marquee outside a local pub!

If you can get to any events in your area, do try to support them. It’s been so difficult for everybody so let’s go party …. Carefully of course!

See you somewhere soon I hope.


BBMA Chair

COVID 19 and Brexit

Last year was disastrous for festivals, tours and other bluegrass events.  The rollout of the vaccines does show some light at the end of the tunnel but it’s clear that many organisers are waiting to see what the latest guidance will be before committing time and effort to new ventures.  The BBMA will continue to try to keep you informed as and when we know the situation.

The Musicians’ Union have produced a comprehensive guide to the restrictions for the UK.

Besides COVID 19 there is also the issue of Brexit. Details of what you will need to know to work as a musician in Europe can be found on the ISM website.


Bluegrass, like most of the live music scene, has been badly affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. We all hope the situation will only be temporary. As this is a quiet time for everyone, it was understandable  that at a recent Committee meeting Dave Teague announced that he was bringing forward his intended retirement as Chairman.  The Committee would like to than Dave for all his hard work on behalf of the Association, particularly in the area of Tour Support. We wish him well in all future endeavours.

Sherryl Payne is now acting chair and has posted the following announcement in the BBMA Facebook group.

Dave Teague’s recent resignation from the Chair, there have been several changes to the committee which has resulted in four out of five elected positions being ‘Acting’ only until an AGM takes place. For this reason and to abide by our Constitution we have decided to hold an AGM this year using Zoom and an electronic method of voting. Details will be in the next magazine out in September. Postal votes and any new nominations will, of course, also be accepted.

Sherryl Payne
Acting Chair

Further details about the proposed AGM can be found at

Featured artist – Tony Furtado

Richard Holland writes:
Back in the early days of my exposure to Bluegrass I borrowed a tent and went to The IronBridge festival and there I came across a band – Sugarbeat …….. when the banjo player wore his cap backwards you knew something special was going to happen! My first introduction to Tony Furtado. – Sugarbeat was pushing the boundaries then – with a great ‘musical drive’ and a number of songs written by the band. Notable tracks for me from their recordings were ‘Drive South’, ‘Only for a Little While’ and ‘By the Time it Gets Dark’ – and then the outrageous ‘Fry The Trout’. These tracks can be found on the album ‘Sugarbeat’ recorded in 1993 . Tony’s playing, and the band left a lasting impression creating both a drive and a groove that was new to me. Sugarbeat also introduced me to `Matt Flinner (mandolin), Sally Truitt (bass) and Ben Demerath (guitar)

Tony was born in Pleasanton, California, and got interested in music and the Banjo at an early age. He went to College at California State, Hayward as a Fine Arts Major, and whilst there he won the Grand National Banjo Championship in Kansas. He was to win the Winfield competition twice in 1987 and later in 1991. Tony’s debut album was released in 1989 (Swamped / Rounder records) — and he toured with Laurie Lewis and The Grant Street String Band – including Tom Rozum (mandolin), Scott Nygaard (guitar) and Tammy Fassaert (bass). Tony got to play with a number of the greats of Bluegrass including Tim O’Brien , Jerry Douglas and Alison Krauss among others. The Alison Krauss track ‘I Will’ has Tony playing the Banjo introduction – the track can also be found on Tony’s album Within Reach.

Tony has recorded 16 Albums for various labels, but his latest recordings – ‘The Bell’ and Cider House Sessions are out on his own label and he describes “The Bell” as his most personal of his career. A project that he retained complete artistic control.

As a Banjo player his roots are set in Scruggs, but were quickly influenced by bands like the Eagles and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Watching the development of Bela Fleck helped Tony realise the potential of his playing and expand his own ideas. His technique encompasses Scruggs, Melodic and Single String playing to make him a complete master of the instrument.


Eventually Tony was drawn into playing Slide Guitar and that now plays a big part in his one man concerts, and his various musical collaborations. Writing songs and tunes came from his interest in literature and poetry – and there are many examples in both his recordings and live shows.

From Tony about his other life as a sculptor – “ I’m a musician and sculptor based in Portland, Oregon. For most of my life I’ve been balancing my passions between making folk music and creating ceramic sculpture. When I’m not on tour playing music in theaters and folk clubs around the world, I can be found in my sculpture studio with my hands in wet clay making things I’ve been seeing or dreaming about while on the road.

The number one inspiration for my art is the natural world and finding expressive and engaging ways to portray what I see and feel. Whether it’s an accurate biological rendering or a stylised and surreal statement, my process almost always begins with me imagining a creature, person, or structure (sometimes all three at once) somehow differently. I try to capture the duality of what is fierce and fragile in the form – the tension between survival and surrender, something we all endure as part of this wildly changing planet.”

‘Bill the Otter’

Tony’s sculptures can be viewed at his website A few items can be purchased online –

Married to Portland Singer / Songwriter Stephanie Schneiderman Tony is a real family man, and never out of contact with his son Liam in spite of the amount of travelling involved in his career. Stephanie is also a professional musician – so you can imagine, there is some careful juggling goes on to ensure all the diary dates work out.

We have been lucky in the UK to have Tony visit on a number of occasions – the last visit involved gigs with Ron Block – for me, two of my favourite Banjo players…..a real treat! Tony has also worked on the Sorefingers Staff so will be a familiar name to a large number of British Fans. Tony is also happy to answer any questions we might like to ask! Questions should be sent to me at