33rd Yarra Junction Fiddler’s Convention

Yarra JunctionThe 33rd Yarra Junction Fiddler’s Convention will be held from 20th to 22nd February, 2015 at Camp Eureka, Tarrango Rd, Yarra Junction, Victoria, Australia.

Australia’s oldest and biggest old-time music festival for fans and players of String Band, bluegrass Cajun Old-Time Roots, Concerts, workshops, dances, fun, and of great sessions.

Expected to play are High Times String Band, Hill Williams, , Appalachian Heaven String Band, Snowy Mountain Ramblers, Nine Mile Creek, Faux Grass, My-T-Fine String Band, Kissin’ Cousins, Cat & Clint, Mama’s Mountain Jug Band, The Pups, Chilli Strings, Fruit Jar, Passionate Fools and Flying Engine String Band, Special guest Richard Klein fiddling with the Le Blanc Cajun Band.

Unpowered camping in 30 acres of beautiful bush, in a Heritage listed site. With a beautiful creek. Some (free) bunk-house spaces (contact Ken). Hot showers. Communal kitchen. Food van all weekend. $50 all weekend including cabins, bunkhouse or camping. All you need is a pillowcase and sleeping bag. Day tickets & concessions less. Under 18 free. Under-cover dance, concert & workshop areas. People start arriving on Thursday from 2.00 p.m., and we wake you up and throw the last of you out on Monday.

One hour drive from Melbourne central via Lilydale. Regular suburban train & bus.
For more information go to our website yarrajunctionfiddlersconvention.com, or phone Ken McMaster, (03)9481 7662, 0451 680 266 kennithmcmaster@gmail.com or Max Amos at 95512123,0428306687 amosmax@bigpond.com

Check us out on YouTube for lots of great videos of our concerts, dances, sessions and workshops.
It’s definitely not just fiddles. Truth is we named it after the Galax Old Time Festival in Virginia. It is the longest running old-time and bluegrass festival.

30th Illawarra Folk Festival

30th Illawarra Folk FestivalThe Illawarra Folk Festival will be celebrating its 30th Pearl Anniversary in 2015, and the engine room is full steam ahead with plans for what will be their greatest celebration and collection of Australian and overseas folk talent.

With 180 acts made up of 15 international acts, 74 national and 91 local Illawarra acts in 450 concerts, dances, workshops and sessions in 13 venues this festival will be a pearler.

International artists: Afenginn DENMARK, Bettina Schelker SWITZ, Black Market Tune SCOT/AUSTRIA, David Francey CANADA, Debasis Chakroborty & Kriti Ensemble INDIA, The East Pointers CANADA, George Mann USA, Jaron Freeman-Fox & The Opposite of Everything CANADA, Kristina Olsen USA, Melisande – Electrotrad CANADA, Reg Meuross UK, Scott Cook CANADA, Tim Edey Trio UK

National artists: Stephan Pigram, Eric Bogle, Ted Egan, Folkaphonic Youth Orchestra (premiere), Allez-gator, Appalachian Heaven String Band, Azadoota, Bernard Carney, Big Erle, The Bottlers, The BordererS, Chloe & Jason Roweth, Claude Hay, Cloudstreet, Curragh, Dave de Hugard, David Beniuk, Deep River, Choir, Enda Kenny & Lindsay Martin, Fred Smith, Guerilla Zingari, Gina Williams & Guy Ghouse, The Go Set, Greg Champion, John Broomhall, Jordan C. Thomas, Junior, Lagoon Hill Zydeco, The Lazy Farmer’s Sons, Lime & Steel, The Lurkers, The Mae Trio, Margaret & Bob Fagan, Martin Pearson, Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club, Michael Fix, Mike Martin, The Morrisons, Neil Adam & Judy Turner, Nick Rheinberger, On The Stoop, Pat Drummond, Sally Harris, Sparrow-Folk, Springtide, The Squeezebox Trio, Stray Hens, Takadimi, Terry Serio’s Half Truths, Timothy James Bowen, The Transylvaniacs and Kengugro, Vardos, The Wish List and many more.

Click here for the whole lineup | Click here to buy tickets

7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference Day 3

Jens KrugerAfter an incredible concert Friday night at the Maleny Town Hall, Saturday started at around 7:30am with another breakfast offering of bacon, eggs, hash browns, savoury mince, sausages, fruit, yoghurt, toast, coffee tea and juice. The catering and support at Tranquil Park has been nothing less than incredible. What a fantastic team of people.

The morning of day 3 consisted of more of the same with masterclasses, workshops and demonstrations by Ross Nickerson, Jens Kruger, Mark Miracle, Uwe Kruger, Quentin Fraser and Joel Landsberg. By this time people were rising to the many challenged thrown out by the conference faculty and discussion around the breaks and meal times were focussed on the inspiration provided by the days teachings.

Lunchtime – more food.

The afternoon session gave us all an opportunity to listen first hand to one of the worlds most amazing music trio talk about their early lives as emerging musicians, their discovery of and inspiration from rock, blues, bluegrass and other forms of music, and the influences of those early music forms on their own music. It was a very moving and inspirational presentation listening to Jens and Uwe reflect on the early memories of their childhood and homeland. Joel Landsberg sat between them offering support musically, emotionally and with just as many stories of the Kruger’s history, like a third brother.

GeorgeJackson GregDunn Jens Kruger Mark Miracle Ross Nickerson Chris Melville

By mid afternoon the conference broke up to provide an opportunity for students to move off and rehearse for the evening’s in-house concert. This is a showcase of what they’ve learned and presented before a very supportive group of their peers and the conference faculty over the course of the evening.

Throughout the day Chris Melville of Melville Guitars, gave of his time to personally inspect our instruments, make small adjustments and offer advice of major changes as requested. His attention to detail and some 28 years of experience in building, repairing and setting up instruments was an immense benefit to many of the musicians gathered for the weekend.

Dinner time – more food.

The evening concert begins. Students take to the stage some bathed in fright, others quietly confident and composed. Through out the evening the camaraderie continues to build as students encourage each other both on and off the stage. A fitting finale to the weekends intense training programs, ongoing challenges and many demonstrations.

The Australian Banjo and Bluegrass Conference has developed a winning formula. The efforts Peter Nahuysen of Bellbird Banjos and his brother Mark has delivered yet another great conference aimed at fast tracking development opportunities for bluegrass musicians across Australasia.

7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference Day 2

ABBCAfter an amazing concert presentation as part of the opening of the 7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference, Friday’s offerings came think and fast after a wonderful breakfast served up from the Tranquil Park kitchen.

The workshops for the first morning’s session included instruction on what every banjo player should know in the way of solid technique; a range of tips and techniques for intermediate banjo players; solid Scruggs techniques, introduction to clawhammer banjo; some tips to create Dobro magic, and a host of essential techniques for bass, mandolin and guitar players delivered by 10 of the resident instructors.

Dobro MagicMid morning Ross Nickerson, Jens Kruger gave masterclasses while Uwe Kruger (guitar), Mark Miracle (mandolin), George Jackson (fiddle), Joel Landsberg (bass) continued with workshops.

The general vibe around the conference is one of enjoyable reflection on the already completed inspirational workshops, coupled with eager anticipation of the next round of presentations from the Kruger Brothers on arranging and creating their music followed by a session by master luthier Chris Melville on banjo, guitar and mandolin setup, environmental dangers and other nasties that may play havoc with our instruments.KrugerBrosMaleny

The conference retreated to the Maleny Town Hall to join members of the wider Sunshine Coast community to hear performances from Brisbane band The Company and USA’s The Kruger Brothers. The concert venue was almost at capacity and The Company played the first set wowing audiences with the own bluegrass flavoured, acoustic music and wry onstage humour. Next came the Kruger Brothers who launched into what I can only describe as an exploration of what’s possible on banjo, guitar and bass. The unique talents of Jens and Uwe Kruger and Joel Landsberg leave you wondering what just happened. Inspired by their love of bluegrass music, The Kurger Brothers have re-defined Acoustic music.

Saturday awaits…

7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference

KrugerBrothersMaleny is a popular tourist spot atop the mountain range some 20klm inland from costal city of Caloundra. Caloundra is the southern most coastal city on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast which boasts of a laid-back lifestyle centred around pristine beaches, freshwater rivers, lakes, subtropical forests and warm sunshine.

Maleny’s Tranquil Park Resort, overlooking the Glasshouse Mountains, played host to the opening of the 7th Australian Banjo & Bluegrass Conference – although it could rightly be named an “Australasian” conference with regular attendees arriving from New Zealand each year. The now annual conference is an initiative of Bellbird Banjos which kicked off in 2009 by Peter Nahuysen and his brother Mark.

This year’s event sees a collective of almost 90 people gathered in Maleny. They will attend workshops and masterclasses delivered by sixteen instructors, five of whom have come from the USA.

Last year’s conference featured Jens Kruger on banjo who, so taken with Australia and the conference, promised to return this year with his band The Kruger Brothers. The conference opened last night with a warm welcome and general program introduction for the weekend from Peter Nahyusen. Peter gave a huge and enthusiastic welcome to the international guests Mark Miracle, Ross Nickerson and Kruger Brothers’ Jens Kruger, Uwe Kruger and Joel Landsberg.

Last night’s opening concert featured The Nahyusen Brothers on banjo and guitar with Mark Miracle on mandolin and Peter’s daughter Anita Nahuysen on double bass. Ross Nickerson followed solo on banjo and then the Kruger Brothers who closed the night leaving the many inspired musicians in the audience to jam on into the night. A fitting start to a weekend of bluegrass music in the mountains of the Sunshine Coast.

Friday Awaits…

Second MountainGrass Success

Chris Henry BandWord from many who attended the weekend festival at Harrietville this past weekend was that the music over the course of the weekend was the best that Harrietville has ever seen.

Greg Cahill and Special Consensus took headline status on main stage. These boys were highly energetic and entertaining and musically brilliant. For many however, the big surprise was Chris Henry and The Hardcore Grass. This band was the most entertaining, and oft talked about – of the weekend. They amazed audiences with their musical prowess, affable nature and highly amusing onstage antics.

The local bands were a treat also with the re-formed Flying Emus – looking none the worst for wear after more than a 20 year hiatus – taking to the stage in a hilariously funny and no less musical treat as they played a host of their many hits from the 1980’s.

Other bands included Harrietville regulars such as Applachian Heaven, Pipi Pickers, Kissin’ Cousins, Bluegrass Parkway, The Davidson Brothers and Old South all of whom are right on the top of their game musically. It was a pleasure to see so many well-known bands all appearing at the one festival.

Special ConsensusThis year under the artistic direction of Melbourne based George Jackson, there were a number of new appearances for Harreitville which included bands like Little Rabbit, Lonesome Still, One Up Two Down, String Theories, The Company all of whom dazzled audiences with their musical ability and onstage presentations. This was a festival unlike many of the previous festivals I have attended at Harrietville – there was great music and entertainment everywhere.

The workshop program, set up by Geoff Bridgland, was also ramped up this year with a variety of new initiatives including a number of slow jams hosted by Old South, and The Pipi Pickers. There was an introduction to Bluegrass Jamming workshop, clog dancing along with the usual presentations on banjo, Dobro, mandolin, guitar and fiddle workshops.

It is hard to imaging how it could have been improved on in terms of range of high quality talent presented, however, that is the challenge for the MountainGrass team in 2015.

The weekends weather was a variety of hot weather to cold wet drizzle, none of which dampened the enthusiasm of either the performers or audiences. But that’s Victoria.

Ian Fisk has publishes several hundred photos of the weekend and they can be seen on his website: Ian Fisk Photos.

Snowy Mountains Festival

Pete DenahyCountry music is back in the Snowys With an impressive line-up of talent, the Snowy Mountains Country Music Festival provides an amazing opportunity to experience country’s finest rock the high country while enjoying the Snowy Mountains in summer. The festival will include the main stage concert on Saturday March 21 at Thredbo Alpine Village with performances from Adam Brand, The McClymonts, Morgan Evans, The Sunny Cowgirls, Catherine Britt, Wylie & The Wild West and Doug Bruce. Set in a natural amphitheatre with stunning surrounds it promises to be a spectacular celebration of country music.

We are so excited to be part of the Snowy Mountains Country Music Festival. It’s awesome to see country music back at Thredbo again. It is an absolutely stunning location for a music festival and we can’t wait to be part of the great line-up – Brooke McClymont.

The festival not only celebrates the best of the best, but also recognises and celebrates great new talent. Party at night with The Viper Creek Band on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st at the Honky Tonk Keller Bar and experience the country Bluegrass in The Village with Pete Denahy for breakfast on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd.

Accommodation is available in the village from 2 Star to 5 Star with camping also offered nearby. Thredbo is packed with things to do in summer and concert goers can also enjoy amazing hiking and bike trails, fishing, bob-sledding and even horse riding tours across the Snowy Mountains.

Manjimup Song Writing Competition Winner for 2014

ManjimupThis year’s Making Music in Manjimup Festival was a huge success leaving a legacy of happy hearts and lighter living across the community post festival.

One of the initiatives for this year’s festival was a song writing competition where entrants had to compose words to a well know bluegrass song or tune while including the words Live Lighter” and “Manjimup”.  The Live Lighter campaign was the message delivered through the Western Australian Healthways, Health Promotion Foundation that was one of the major sponsors for the festival weekend.

The Queensland based group were the feature band for the weekend and the songwriting completion judges. Their selection was a song written by Kathy Hill, using the melody to the well-known traditional song “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”. The Company performed the winning song at the main concert on Saturday night of the festival after the announcement of the winner and award presentation.

Here is a video clip of the evening featuring The Company.

I’ll Live Lighter and Live Long

I was roamin’ round West Aussie, a little lost,  and fancy free
When I heard about some bluegrass, way down south among the trees

So to Man-jim-up  I’ll  wander, find an active, healthy path
There’ll be music through the village, happiness will warm our hearts

I had passed my mid-life crises, and was on that down hill roll
Could this bluegrass lift my spirits, that’s the question in my soul

Zeniths Music had some banjos, And as well, a cool guitar
I plucked those strings, and knocked a tune out, hey, now this could take me far

So to Man-jim-up  I wandered, found that active,  healthy path
Music echoed through the village, happiness sure warmed our hearts

I headed down the Harvest Highway, to those fertile fields so green
Found the Southern Forest Food  Bowl, where the arctic wind blows clean
So to Man-jim-up  I wandered, found that active,  healthy path

Music echoed through the village, happiness sure warmed our hearts
So come on you Manji people, join The Company, join the throne
You’ll see me smiling, hear me singing, I’ll live lighter and live long

Kruger Brothers in Good Company

Kruger BrothersBrisbane based band The Company has announced that they will teaming up with The Kruger Brothers (USA) on their debut Australian tour this November/December. Direct from North Carolina, the critically acclaimed Kruger Brothers, featuring ‘Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo’ winner – Jens Kruger together with The Company will perform in Brisbane and South East Queensland – a show you must not miss.

Virtuoso Banjo player Jens Kruger is hailed as one of the foremost exponents of 5-string banjo in the world today and The Krugers have featured on The David Letterman Show. Here’s what they have been saying about them:

I used to think the banjo was somewhat limited to certain styles, until I heard Jens Kruger. Jens has played some of the most beautiful and expressive banjo I’ve ever heard – Ron Block of Alison Krauss and Union Station.

Jens Kruger has established himself as one of the world’s most musically sophisticated and technically accomplished five-string banjo players - Happy Traum.

The Krugers are nothing short of magnificent - Bluegrass Journal

Don’t miss your chance to see these incredible musicians live in Brisbane. See below for performance dates and ticketing information.

  • Friday 28th November & Saturday 29th November – 7:30pm – The Princess Theatre, Brisbane – Book Tickets
  • Sunday 30th November – 7:30pm – Samford Hall, Samford QLD – Book Tickets
  • Friday 5th December – 7:30pm – Maleny Community Hall, QLD – Book Tickets
  • Sunday 7th December – “Unwind in the Vines” Including James Blundell – 4pm – Ocean View Winery, Mt Mee, QLD – Book Tickets

Mustered Courage Signs with Lost Highway

Mustered CourageFresh back from their USA tour – 60 shows in 78 days across 43 states Mustered Courage have announced that they have signed a recording contract with Lost Highway Australia, part of the Universal family.

Lost Highway has signed, and been instrumental in the careers of, some of the biggest roots and country artists in the world, including Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams, the Jayhawks, Whiskeytown, Lyle Lovett, Shelby Lynne, Willie Nelson, Ryan Bingham, the late Johnny Cash and many others. They have also been involved with the hugely successful soundtrack of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? movie.

Mustered COurage will be heading into the studio very soon to start work on their new record, believing that Lost Highway & Mustered Courage were made for each other.

To celebrate this milestone, the band has released a double single: “Kiss From a Rose” (studio version) and their new instrumental “Candle Creek.”

Available only here in Australia currently on iTunes.