Bending Maple, Carving Spruce – John Liddy

John Bridgland

John Bridgland

John Liddy, South Australian mandolin luthier.

South Australian author and publisher, John Bridgland has announced the release of his next book on South Australian craftsmen. His previous work followed South Australia’s premier flat-top guitar luthier, Bryan De Gruchy. His next project catalogues John Liddy’s brief but significant contribution to South Australian luthiery between 1996 and 2010.

This work features observations on the Australian string-music era during which he worked, his guitar and mandolin styles, his business approach, the luthiery challenges and his views about the craft. It also puts into perspective the evolution of the famous L5 guitar and the F5 mandolin and the Australian challenge, many decades later, to reproduce that high standard.

John was a late entrant to luthiery. He approached a challenging craft with great skill and left a small legacy of fine instruments prized by jazz and bluegrass musicians across Australia, and beyond.

Here is a brief look at the books content:

  • Feeding the Australian jazz and hillbilly market the short career and contribution of a unique South Australian luthier
  • John and the jazz business
  • John and the bluegrass business
  • About John Liddy:
    • The luthiery business
    • The life business Interviews: 2003, 2008

Also featured in appendices:

  • The craft
  • The serial numbers
  • Guitar and mandolin
  • styles and specifications
  • Early website detail
  • References

A unique collectors’ reference, especially for those who own one of Mr Liddy’s finely crafted instruments.

ISBN 978-0-646-92282-9
Author and publisher: John Bridgland
Email contact: jbeditor@senet.com.au
Mail contact: Unit 5, 274 Ward Street, North Adelaide SA 5006.

Making Music In Manjimup

The Company

The Company – Qld.

Things are coming together for the music weekend in Manjimup in Western Australia.

Manjimup a small township is just 307 km south of Perth, in the beautiful south-west corner of Western Australia. It is indeed a land rich in forests, abundant fresh water, rich soils and astounding landscapes.

The early settlers of Manjimup rejoiced in the potential wealth of their land and went on to create their future with the axe, plough and the sweat of their brows. the town of Manjimup is now the vibrant cultural legacy left by this rich pioneer history.

Manjimup has a population of around 5,000 and is the regional centre for the Warren and Blackwood Valleys, providing all the facilities you would expect of a small regional community, including an airport.


The Making Music In Manjimup weekend is scheduled for Fri 3rd to Sun 5th Oct.


This year’s festival features Queensland based band The Company made up of  George Jackson (fiddle/banjo), Michael Patrick (mandolin/fiddle), Markus Karlsen (bass) and Jamie Clarke (guitar).

There is a variety of workshops planned for children during the day one of which is a Bluegrass style Rhyme Time for little children at the Manjimup Library.

The festival programme also features a series of craft classes and new this year are healthy cooking classes sponsored by LiveLighter an initiative undertaken by The Heart Foundation WA in partnership with the Cancer Council of WA.

Want to feel confident at a bluegrass jam session? Why not do a learn to jam workshops with Greg McGrath from Jam Camps Australia. Greg ran a very successful jam camp here in Manjimup in 2013 and plans are underway for another camp in 2015.

Gregory McGrath

Greg McGrath – Jamcamps Australia

There will also be music workshops for newbies and beginner players.

Dance workshops and theatre workshops are possible.

Do you play bluegrass music and would like to perform – let us know via our website.

This year’s programme to-date includes:

Friday 3rd October -

  • Craft classes
  • Healthy cooking lasses
  • Music Workshops and demonstrations
  • Old Time Dance with Caddam Wood

Saturday 4th October -

  • Harmony Singing workshop – The Company
  • Instrument workshops with The Company
  • Learn to jam bluegrass style.
  • The Company in concert from 7:00pm

Sunday 5th October -

  • Gospel SingOut – 10.00 St Martins Church
  • Kids on Cushions @ the Roundhouse with The Company
  • Bluegrass Jamming in the park with Greg McGrath

The program is still being developed with loads of additional performances, workshops and activities.

Please come along, you are most welcome. We’d love you to be apart of our 2014 Making Music in Manjimup weekend on 3rd to 5th October this year.

2014 Sunshine Fiddle Camp

Casey Driessen

Casey Driessen

The 2014 Sunshine Fiddle Camp is scheduled for 24th to 29th Sep. at the Alexandra Park Conference Centre.

The program will feature

  •  a cello and fiddle-five day
  •  world-class tutors experienced in performance, composition, arranging and improvisation for the advanced and intermediate players
  •  separate class’s for those that wish to take learning at a slower pace
  •  A class just for the kids.
  •  if you started the Violin a long time ago, or just always wanted to play the fiddle, here is your chance. A beginner class that will get you started or restarted on the fiddle.

Casey Driessen has spent his career pushing the boundaries of fiddle music. With the release of his third album, The Singularity, the 34- year old virtuoso proves that the possibilities of one man, one five-string fiddle, and one pedal board are endless.

Ariel Friedman

Ariel Friedman

The Singularity, Driessen’s third record, is a solo album in every sense of the word the only sounds listeners hear are created by the looping of fiddle and voice. It was self recorded and self- produced at his home studio. In between touring with The Flecktones, Tim O’Brien, and Darrell Scott, and opening for the Zac Brown Band.

George Jackson

George Jackson

The Grammy-nominated Driessen has participated in several genre-blending ventures, including Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn’s Sparrow Quartet, at his core, he is a bluegrass fiddler, albeit one who honed his skills at Berklee College of Music.

Ariel Friedman is a multi-genre trailblazing cellist, and one of few musicians to be challenging the boundaries of cello-playing. She graduated with a Masters of Music in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory in 2011.

A winner of ASTA’s 2009 Alternative Styles Award, Ariel is steeped in the music of American roots traditions, early jazz and a broad range of classical repertoire. She performs regularly with her sister as Boston’s Americana sister act “Ari and Mia”, Ari has also toured internationally with Scottish National Fiddle champion Hanneke Cassel, has performed with the Boston Symphony group “Classical Tangent,” and maintains a solid footing in the classical world.
She is a sought after educator and has taught at music camps and programs from New England to New Zealand.

George Jackson performs throughout Australia with his bands “The Company”, “One Up, Two Down. He was recently toured as part of the “Peter Rowan Trio”

Jackson is the 7th generation fiddler in his family. His passion for music is inspired by the contrasting styles of Bluegrass, Old-time, Celtic. Jackson’s own style spans from the traditional to the innovative. George has been awarded the Golden Fiddle Award for “Best Fiddler”, The Australian Youth Bluegrass Scholarship and has Won the CMAA Australian Fiddle and Banjo Championships along with the FAA Young Australian Folk Musician in 2010.

Visit the Sunshine Fiddle Camp Website.

Trouble for The Company

Trouble - The CompanyBrisbane’s very own award-winning bluegrass band, The Company, hit the stage this August launching their new album ‘Trouble’ and kicking off a national tour August through October. Their much-anticipated second album will be officially launched at Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall on Thursday 7th August shortly followed by a featured appearance at the Redlands Bluegrass Festival (8th, 9th, 10th August).

It’s going to be 4 days of wall-to-wall banjo picking and bluegrass. Lefty’s is one of our favourite venues in Brisbane and if you want more, join us for “a pick” at one of Australia’s best bluegrass festivals at Redlands on the weekend – Michael Patrick, The Company.

This marks album number two for the Brisbane four-piece following the critically acclaimed debut self-titled release in 2012. ‘Trouble’ is a potent mix of driving banjo, sparkling guitar melody and sweet crooning songs but with a dark twist. Amid the tinkling mandolin, old folk magic, unsolved murders, matriarchal prostitutes and other sordid stories from Queensland’s dark history inspire the song writing.

There are enough incredible stories from Queensland’s past to inspire ten albums worth of material. Our music derives from the American tradition of bluegrass but our sound and story telling is from Queensland - Jamie Clark, The Company.

The Company has a passion for high-energy original and traditional acoustic music and has for the past 2 years solidified themselves as one of the best bluegrass outfits in Australia.

Band members include:

Mick Patrick – (vocals/mandolin/fiddle) – National Folk Festival “Declan Affley” Award winner who grew up in a family band playing bush dances in North Queensland;
Jamie Clark (guitar/vocals) CMAA Bluegrass Flatpicking Champion in 2011 and described as “a cracking guitarist” by Rolling Stone Magazine;
George Jackson (fiddle/banjo/vocals) a 7th generation fiddler and 2012 Golden Fiddle Award for “Best Fiddler”;
Markus Karlsen (bouble bass/vocals) a highly sought after session bassist in Australia.

Trouble’ is now available for pre-order and includes a free bonus track for digital download. For more info about the launch, the tour or purchasing the new album, visit The Company’s website.

Also find them here:

15 Years of the Kelly Country Pick

BeechworthThe Kelly Country Pick celebrates its 15th year in Beechworth from the 15th to the 18th August this year.

The Kelly Country Pick Bluegrass, Old time and Cajun music festival, has been a regular feature in Beechworth each year in August. This year the festival celebrates its 15th birthday with another superb line-up of performers coming in from all over Australia.

Western Australia’s Bluegrass Parkway, will be featured at the festival for the first time, performing concerts on Friday and Saturday night and running workshops Saturday and Sunday. Workshops will include mandolin, double bass, bluegrass fiddle and single mic performance techniques. Maria Duff on the double bass, not only plays bluegrass, she also spent many years with the Perth Symphony Orchestra.

Bands heading to the ‘pick’ this year are coming from nearly every state – Coolgrass, Cat and Clint, Johnny Can’t Dance, Fruit Jar, John Flanagan and the Begin Agains, High and Lonesome, Appalachian Heaven, High Times String Band and the Rusty Pickers are all from various parts of Victoria.KCP

The Kissin’ Cousins are flying the local Beechworth flag. The fabulous Breaking Hart Benton are returning from Brisbane for the second year running. Ray Marshall and his Deputies and Burnt Creek Deviation are heading down the Hume from Sydney and Wollongong and the Cherry Pickers are coming east from Adelaide.

A packed weekend program is planned from 15th – 18th August, featuring concerts and open mic sessions in four iconic Beechworth venues – The Hibernian, The Nicholas, Bridge Rd Brewers and the Old Priory.

18 different workshops will take place at the Old Priory on Saturday and Sunday morning. These are aimed at musicians and non-musicians alike across a broad range of instruments including banjo, guitar, Dobro, fiddle and mandolin. For those who don’t play instruments there is harmony singing, Cajun dance and clogging. Luthiers will be on site, displaying and selling hand made acoustic instruments.

A variety of ticket options are available – from weekend and day/evening passes to individual concerts or workshops.

Full program details are available at www.kellycountrypick.org

Bangalow Pickers’ Competition

banjoHere’s a chance to win $250 in the amateur Pickers Competition at the Bangalow BBQ & Bluegrass Festival, Bangalow Showgrounds, Saturday 2 August. Open to everyone, categories include fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo.

It was Bill Monroe’s virtuosity on the mandolin which was credited as defining Bluegrass music as a genre. With improvisation and frenetic tempos characteristic of Bluegrass, its combined energy and style belies the masterful technique of bluegrass picking instrumentalists. So we’ve decided to showcase them!

Each of the contestants in each heat (and the final) will step up to the mic in turn and perform a ‘solo’ over a pre-arranged backing track, performed live by the house band (guitar and upright bass) with a progressive tempo. Finalists will enter the Grand Final, each instrumentalist performing to the same track.

Judging will be industry professionals including musician (fiddle, Emilie Owen (Mr Cassidy), Rod Coe (Freshwater) record producer and music director for the late Slim Dusty, and Steve Berry (former Australian flat picking champion).

Judges will be looking for technique/definition, phrasing and form, cohesion with other players, originality and enthusiasm/spirit.

Music Program Director, Ash Bell says “The pickers’ comp is about pitching the players against each other in their natural habitat, and on an even playing field. Same track, same tempo, same amount of time to impress. It’s as much about mic technique and player awareness as it is about musicianship.  The best thing about this comp is that it will look and sound just like a bluegrass band playing, but they’ll all be trying to outplay each other. It’s going to be a hoot!”

With a festival line-up including, The Morrisons, The Stetson Family, The Mid North contestants are in good company.

Entry fee $25. Cheaper than general admission and all proceeds go to prize money. Register now at www.bbqbluegrass.com.au/pickers.

Bangalow Showgrounds, Saturday 2 August, 2014.

Check out these links:

Mustered Courage tours USA

Mustered Courage takes their broad appeal progressive bluegrass to the USA, with the release of Powerlines on Travianna Records.Mustered Courage

Music Australia Guide describes Mustered Courage as “the link between Bill Monroe and Mumford & Sons, with just the right mix of mirth and mournful.”

The Melbourne based quartet has quickly risen to the top of Australia’s folk and roots scene on the strength of their energetic live shows and albums that have won them a string of glowing reviews, national radio support, an endorsement from Seal, and two “Golden Guitar” nominations at the 2014 CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia.

After a heavy touring schedule of headlining club dates and festival appearances in support of their debut project, Mustered Courage went back into the studio to record this sophomore album, Powerlines, with ARIA Award winning producer Jimi Maroudas (The Living End, Eskimo Joe, Kimbra).

Powerlines - Mustered CouragePowerlines finds them fine-tuning a diverse sound that Bluegrass Today calls, “the line between bluegrass and the mainstream style of folk music that’s quite popular today, but they do it well. They provide a nice mix of material that fans of progressive bluegrass should enjoy.”
The Alternate Root Magazine hit it on the nose when talking about the album. “When the music of Appalachia landed Down Under, it sprouted up as Mustered Courage. The album breathes bluegrass purity and stretches possibilities for string band music as it accents the blue in the grass with bending strings and vocal walls.”
Mustered Courage’s quick ascent has not gone unnoticed in music industry circles, both in Australia and abroad. These down-home pickers have played many of the major Australian festivals, performed an official showcase at the Americana Music Association Conference and Festival in Nashville, and are currently on tour this summer for over 50 dates in the U.S. where they will end their tour in Raleigh, NC to perform at the International Bluegrass Music Association conference.

Like the Avett Brothers and the SteelDrivers, Mustered Courage breathes new life into the bluegrass scene with a style that appeals to both traditionalists and newcomers alike. They are a band on the rise that, as Rhythms Magazine contends, is “guaranteed to soon be on to bigger things.”

For more information about the band, please visit www.musteredcourage.com.

Mustered Courage 2014 American Tour Dates:

July
24 – Cambridge, Mass. @ Atwood’s Tavern
25 – Winooski, Vt. @ The Monkey House
26 – South Hiram, Maine @ Ossipee Valley Music Festival
28 – New York, N.Y. @ Hill Country
30 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ World Café Live (upstairs)
31 – Washington, D.C. @ Hill Country
September
3 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ The Cabooze
4 – Sioux City, Iowa @ Vangarde Arts
5 – Clarks Grove, Minn. @ Shangri-La Fest
7 – Chicago, Ill. @ The Tonic Room
10 – Grand Rapids, Mich. @ The Tonic Room
13 – New Hope, Pa. @ Triumph Brewing Company
18 – Gatlinburg, Tenn. @ Sugarland’s Distilling
19 – Bristol, Tenn. @ Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
20 – Bristol, Tenn. @ Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
21 – Nashville, Tenn. @ AMA Sounds Australia Farewell Bash
22 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Whiskey Jam at Winners
24 – Charleston, W.V. @ The Boulevard Tavern
25 – Thomas, W.V. @ The Purple Fiddle
26 – Chillicothe, Ohio @ The Dock At Water
27 – Cincinnati, Ohio @ Midpoint Music Festival
30 – Raleigh, N.C. @ IBMA Bluegrass Ramble
August
1 – Bristol, Tenn. @ Border Bash
2 – Knoxville, Tenn. @ Barley’s Taproom
5 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Smith’s Olde Bar
6 – New Orleans, La. @ The Beatnik
7 – The Woodlands, Texas @ Dosey Doe
8 – Austin, Texas @ Lamberts
9 – Dallas, Texas @ The Foundry Bar
12 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Hotel Café
13 – San Francisco, Calif. @ Hotel Utah
14 – Reno, Nev. @ Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino
15 – Reno, Nev. @ Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino
16 – Reno, Nev. @ Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino
18 – Santa Cruz, Calif. @ The Crepe Place
22 – Portland, Ore. @ Mississippi Studios
23 – Port Townsend, Wash. @ Sirens Tavern
24 – Seattle, Wash. @ Tractor Tavern
27 – Paonia, Colo. @ Revolution Brewing
28 – Paonia, Colo. @ Pickin’ In The Park
29 – Denver, Colo. @ Lost Lake Lounge
30 – Carbondale, Colo. @ Steve’s Guitars
October
1 – Raleigh, N.C. @ IBMA Bluegrass Ramble
2 – Raleigh, N.C. @ IBMA Bluegrass Ramble
3 – Raleigh, N.C. @ IBMA Bluegrass Ramble

2014 Jamgrass Artists Announced

Jamgrass LogoJamgrass2013Jamgrass has announced the first round of artists for JamGrass 2014 scheduled for 31st October to 2nd November at the Thornbury Theatre Ballroom Melbourne.

JamGrass Music Festival will be the homecoming show for both Mustered Courage and The Perch Creek Family Jugband who are touring internationally for the next few months. JamGrass will be the only opportunity to see these two awesome bands in Melbourne for the rest of 2014. What better way to welcome them back to Oz.

The festival will feature the biggest international line-up yet with 4 bands from USA, New Zealand and Canada.

The Seals have been tearing up the Western Australia music scene will be heading to Victoria for the very first time.

The Morrisons – who were a JamGrass 2013 highlight – return from NSW and Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel round out the Australian portion of this 1st artist announcement.

The artist initial lineup includes:

  • Mustered Courage
  • The Perch Creek Family Jugband
  • Sal Kimber & the Rollin’ Wheel
  • The Morrisons (NSW)
  • The Seals (WA)
  • Tattletale Saints (USA/NZ)
  • One Up, Two Down (USA/AUS)
  • Annie Lou (CAN)
  • The Stage Hogs (USA)

Early bird tickets are on sale now. They are in limited supply, so they’ll get snapped up quick. Head to the website to grab your 3 day festival pass.

Bangalow Bluegrass Festival

Bangalow BBQThe inaugural Bangalow BBQ & Bluegrass Festival , a not-for-profit community event is set to celebrate local food & music with highlights including a stellar line-up of Bluegrass musicians, a BBQ cook-off, a Pickers comp and family friendly entertainment in the Byron Bay hinterland – Bangalow Showgrounds, Saturday 2 August, 2014.

Amateurs, chefs & professionals are all in with chance to win $1000 first prize in the BBQ cook-off! It’s the only one of its kind accredited by the Australasian BBQ Alliance and ‘Burger Mary’ – self-proclaimed BBQ enthusiast – will preside as the official judge.

A Pickers comp – Guitar/Banjo/Mandolin/Fiddle – will attract a $250 first prize and local schools will be hosting a day of $2 games for the kids raising money to fund arts in schools programs.

The Bluegrass line-up features Bellingen folk The Mid North whose old-time Mountain Music, Gospel, Pop and Front porch won them Tamworth Country Music Festival gongs earlier this year. Bluegrass 5 piece The Stetson Family who’s high lonesome country-folk, reached US chart status with ‘tales of love gone wrong, snake-handling preachers and wandering down life’s crooked highway'; and perennials of the festival circuit, 7 piece string outfit The Morrisons who regale with their alt-country, bluegrass, old-timey and folk, alt bluegrass lead the bill along with an impressive collection of local Bluegrass musicians.

The mercurial Starboard Cannons have just released their second album ‘The Brave and the Valiant’ (Vitamin Records). A successful crowd funding campaign testament to their growing appeal. New Queensland band River Mountain Riot will deliver spry, traditional Bluegrass and Heartworn Highway take time out between recording in the studio and their Treehouse residency to perform, folk, roots, and country along side the eponymous Barkers Vale Brothers – troubadours with a penchant for 1920s-1950s radio programming, traditional bluegrass, old timey, roots and swing.

Nashville raised local and festival organiser Fletcher Potanin, inspired by the compelling musicianship of the grass-roots collective the Northern Rivers Songwriter Sessions, saw both the need and desire to create greater accessibility to audiences and musicians. The festival is a collaboration with festival artistic director, Ash Bell of the Starboard Canons. With the support of the local community, all proceeds raised will benefit arts and cultural initiatives in the Northern Rivers. “I feel the sustainability of the creative wealth that’s become synonymous with our region is worth preserving. ”
So dust off your double denims and be prepared to experience irrepressible hootin’ and hollerin’, some maudlin winsomeness and sheer, infectious joyousness.

Tickets on sale now at Oztix. Includes a tasting plate.
Adult $40 |Family Pass $65* [on the gate Adult $50|Family Pass $80]
*Oztix booking fee applies. Children under 18 free. Adult & Family passes include a tasting plate!

Check out these links:

2014 Manjimup Songwriting Competition

ManjimupMay Nixon from Making Music In Manjimup has been in touch to let us know  about the Manjimup Bluegrass & Old Time Music Weekend scheduled for October 3,4,5th this year.

The festival is also hosting a song writing competition. If you love to write songs, or have dallied with the idea of writing a song or two, why not try writing a bluegrass song?  There is prize money of $400 and the song will be performed at the free saturday night concert and posted to YouTube.

Click the link below and find your way to the Song Competition page for details.

Please move the site round amongst your friends and music lovers.  And do like us on Facebook – it’s a great form of advertising.

Visit the Manjimup website or their Facebook page for more information.

Songwriting Conditions:

  • Your song lyrics must be written to the pattern of one of the following traditional Bluegrass songs:
    • Roll in my Sweet Baby’s Arms
    • Will the Circle be Unbroken
    • A Good Woman’s Love
  • Your lyrics must use the word Manjimup at least once.
  • Your lyrics must make reference at least one of the recommendations for a healthier lifestyle as mentioned on the LIVELIGHTER web site
  • Your lyrics must use the word LIVELIGHTER at least once.
  • Your entry must have its own song title.
  • By entering this competition you agree that you have read the rules and agree to abide by them.
  • Entrants must be 15 years or older.
  • Entries that have any thing on them which may identify the composer will be disqualified.

All entries must be submitted via email only, on or before midnight September 5th 2014, Perth time. Use Song Competition in the subject line.

Send your entry to: bluegrassmanjimup@gmail.com.

  • Entries must be in pdf format.
  • The title of your pdf must be your entry receipt number. eg. 1234.pdf
  • Your entry must be identified only by the number given as a receipt of your registration via the Manjimup Bluegrass & Old Time Music Weekend website.
  • Please put your entry receipt number, eg. 1234 at the top of the page.
  • Alongside or just below your identifying number, state which song you have chosen as the pattern for your song.
  • Lyrics to be typed in a size 16 font, preferably on one page only.
  • The winning entry will be performed by The Company in their concert on Saturday, October 4th 2014, in Manjimup, Western Australia. The winner will be announced at this concert. The judges’ decision is final.
  • No correspondence entered into, nor will adjudications be offered
  • The winning entry will receive AUS$300.

If the composer of the winning lyrics is in the audience at the time of the announcement, the winner will receive a $100 bonus prize.

If the prize winner is not in the audience, a cheque for $300 will be sent to the winner and the $100 bonus prize will be retained by the Warren Arts Council.

The cash prize is available only to Australian residents, with the exception of the winner being present at the concert in Manjimup on October 4th 2014. In this case, the winner will receive a cheque for AUS$400.

If the winner is not an Australian resident, and is not present at the concert in Manjimup, Western Australia on October 4th 2014, the total prize money will be retained by the Warren Arts Council to promote future arts related events in Manjimup, Western Australia.

Copyright and use of material – The author retains copyright of the material they enter.

The Warren Arts Council has the right to use the winning entry for promotional purposes for future music related events held in Manjimup.