Monroe Mandolin Camp Scholarships

Monroe Mandolin CampOrganisers of the Monroe Mandolin Camp are looking for video submissions for their first Annual Video Scholarship Competition. The winner will be awarded a full scholarship, including tuition, lodging, and meals.

To submit your video application you will need to provide:

  • Your name, email address, and telephone number.
  • At the beginning of the video recording, please announce your name and title of tune being played.
  • Competition open to all ages and all levels (Beginner to Expert).
  • Competition limited to the first 25 submissions. (Entrants will be notified if video not accepted.)
  • Videos must be under 4 minutes.
  • Candidates to answer following questions (can be included in the video if under 4 minutes, or in email):
    • Why is this camp, and the study of Bill Monroe’s music and traditional bluegrass mandolin music important?
    • Why does the candidate want to come to this camp?
    • What does the candidate expect to take away from the camp?
  • A link to the video must be emailed to: In the subject line, put your last name and “Annual Video Scholarship Competition Submission”. One way is to upload video to YouTube and “share” the link in an email to us. (Make sure it is not marked private, or organisers will not be able to view.)
  • Entries will be accepted beginning Sunday June 21st and ending Wednesday July 1, at 11:59 pm.

The winner will be notified by telephone and email by July 15.

Entries judged on:

  • Authenticity
  • Execution
  • Originality
  • Creativity
  • Difficulty
  • Technique

With permission, the winner’s video will be posted on our Facebook page after announcement.

Questions? Contact

Information about the camp visit:

Bangalow BBQ and Bluegrass 2015.

Wilson Pickers

Wilson Pickers

After the inaugural event in 2014 which was a sell out, the Bangalow BBQ & Bluegrass Festival returns with a celebration of authentic local food, music & old-time entertainment, in the heart of the Byron Hinterland, Bangalow A & I Hall & Showgrounds  on 7th – 8th August 2015.

The first line-up of artists announced feature two time ARIA Award Best Blues & Roots album nominees The Wilson Pickers, accomplished Bluegrass luminaries (and Golden Guitar recipients) The Company (Bris), former Gram Parsons tribute band, quartet Green Mohair Suits (Syd), festival perennials and locals Hussy Hicks, and the ascending Sian Evans (Bessy-Lou, Pollysasin, The Rusty Datsuns) and more.

This year’s line-up offers up a Bluegrass landscape diverse in terms of our unique interpretations and response to Bluegrass music and old-time Americana. Some artists stick close to the tradition and some use it as a home base to from which to wander curiously. This year will see more progressive and new bluegrass sounds from some of Australia’s best Bluegrass bands and local talent – Ash Bell, Festival Director.

New in 2015 is a the launch of a festival opening night on Friday 7 August, an Old-time variety show with a vaudevillian flavour in a raucous adults only time slot. Unscripted and adventurous, expect the unexpected! A promise of delight for the festival’s performing artists and patrons alike. All proceeds will be donated to support artist bursaries to foster original music artists in our local region.

An authentic low ‘n’ slow BBQ competition open to purists and enthusiasts alike will feature again under the auspices of the Australasian BBQ Alliance. The Meat Sweats, current title bearer of ‘Bangalow BBQ Grand Champion’, beat off the hot competition winning $1K for their top performance in four meat categories. Over 310kgs of smoky ribs, 270kgs of pulled pork, 250kg of beef brisket, and 150kgs of chicken were consumed in over 3,000 tasting plates sampled last year! Entries are now open for 2015.

The picker’s competition, open to all skill levels on guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle has $250 in prize money and will be supported in 2015 by the introduction of a free pickers workshop demonstrating Bluegrass instrumentalism under the mentorship of Dan Kerin (River Mountain Riot), Gareth Bjaaland (Barkers Vale Brothers) and other amazing local pickers.

In 2014 the not-for-profit community event raised over $20,000 last year for regional arts and cultural initiatives of which the arts-in-schools program was a primary beneficiary. The Bangalow BBQ & Bluegrass Festival gave local primary schools the opportunity to host a day of $2 games for the kids raising over $8,300 to fund arts in schools programs. It enabled some of those participating schools to increase their arts funding 10 fold. The festival aims to raise $20,ooo again this year for local schools and calls on regional primary schools to register to participate now. It also funded the recent launch of the Bangalow Theatre Company.

Pre-sale tickets on sale now for a limited time. 2 day pass $68 Adult, $138 Family. Booking fees apply. Children under 18 free. Includes free tasting plate.

The Stetsons – True North

True-NorthNews just in from the Stetson Family is that there’s a new album on the way. It’s been two years coming, making and now ready to launch. Their third album is titled True North.

The Stetson Family describe True North as grassy with more than a hint of down-home Americana, and follows in the footsteps of Hey Sister Mary, Where’d You Get That Gun, and The Devil In His Sunday Best.

…a landmark Australian roots album – Rhythms Magazine.

True North will be launched in Melbourne on Sunday 26th July. The venue is The Spotted Mallard, 314 Sydney Road, Brunswick, VIC 4:00pm – 7:00pm. Tickets on sale now through the Internet.


National Festival Call for Artists

The National Folk Festival team are calling for expressions of interests for the 2016 festival opening 1st June and closing 1st July 2015.NFF

Their Expression of Interest process has changed since last year, so please ensure you read all the information on the Website before starting your application.

There will be 7 Program Categories from which to choose.

In 2016 we will be featuring all States/Territories and as such will be looking for a range of Acts that best reflect our diverse Australian folk culture across styles and genres.

NFF website is being updated and is available here.

The Pigs – Addicted To Bass

ThePigsAlbumHere is the latest offering from The Pigs’ Home Brew album. It features original songwriter and Aria Award winning producer Josh Abrahams on bottles and coo-ees.

Addicted To Bass is the 3rd single to come from The Pigs’ Home Brew: 13 Aussie Classics. The video shows The Pigs and Abrahams recording the track live.

“Playin’ the song with Josh was an honour and a privilege. As was drinkin’ all the beer and wine to make enough empty bottles to build his instrument the night before – T-Bone Pig

The Pigs’ Home Brew: 13 Aussie Classics, features iconic Australian songs by INXS, Silverchair, Olivia Newton-John, Cold Chisel and more are reborn into The Pigs’ twisted world of bluegrass and country.

  • CANBERRA – Friday May 15 – Street Theatre – GET TICKETS
  • ALBURY – Saturday May 16 – Kinross Woolshed
  • SYDNEY – Friday May 22 – The Basement – GET TICKETS
  • KATOOMBA – Saturday May 23 – Katoomba RSL – GET TICKETS
  • TRARALGON – Friday May 29 – Spirit Bar – GET TICKETS
  • MELBOURNE – Saturday May 30 – The Flying Saucer Club – GET TICKETS
  • TOOWOOMBA – Friday June 12 – The Spotted Cow –  TICKETS
  • BRISBANE – Saturday June 13 – Norths Leagues – GET TICKETS
  • GOLD COAST – Saturday June 20 – Broadbeach Country Music Festival
  • ALICE SPRINGS – Saturday June 27 – Gap View Hotel
  • DENI UTE MUSTER – Friday Oct 2nd – GET TICKETS

Hunter and Suzy Owens Win at MerleFest

Hunter & Suzy OwensHunter and Suzy Owens have taken out first place in the Chris Austin Songwriting contest at this year’s MerleFest. They have returned to Australia elated and share the story with us.

Hunter writes:

Participating in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest 2015 is an experience I shall never forget. The organisation was excellent and they took very good care of us with comfortable accommodation, VIP Festival passes and helping to organise an instrument for Suzy.

Jim Lauderdale, convener and mentor for the contest, was a humble host, encouraging to every single participant. He acknowledged everyone both going on and off the contest stage, helping to boost confidence levels and certainly succeeding with us.

As winners of our country category, we got to perform with the four other winners on the Cabin Stage, which is the “‘tweener” stage beside the Main Stage. It was just on dark when we took to the stage and the sound system was mighty big; what a vocal sound. Yes, I admit that I could easily get used to that situation.

The lineup at this year’s MerleFest was typically diverse. Highlights for me were the Kruger Brothers with the Kronos Quartet, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Sam Bush Band, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, Mipso, Steel Wheels, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Earl Keen, Peter Rowan and Dwight Yoakum.

In conclusion, I would love to return to and possibly perform at this festival again and I recommend it to anyone who, like Doc Watson, has an open mind and a love for “traditional plus” music.

Suzy writes:

Got back on Friday 1st of May after a 17 hr flight from Dallas Tx. We are still flying high. What an incredible experience, it is one I will treasure all my life. Going to MerleFest, winning the Country section and playing on the Cabin Stage in front of thousands, it is hard to believe and put it all into words, it was all just amazing, what a thrill!!! We took to the stage on a perfect night weather-wise, just as it became dark, lights twinkling, the crowd stretching as far as the eye could see.

The Marshall Tucker Band had just completed their set and we were to be followed by the Sam Bush Band. As we stood inside the cabin waiting our turn to step on stage I imagined this is how it might feel to be about to parachute out of a plane, knowing you are next and there is no backing out now.

Once on stage all nerves were gone, I snapped a quick photo of the crowd with my camera and we did our thing. The on-stage sound was brilliant, the vocals everything you could wish for. Our images were projected up on three giant screens and our music piped clear across the festival grounds, as well as on the radio and in the shuttle buses. It was truly awesome.

What does a cowgirl do when she is travelling across the pond but needs an upright bass? Well I got lucky: I had the great fortune of playing an absolutely beautiful Kay bass belonging to David Morris, one of the songwriters who won the bluegrass section. His generosity of spirit was instrumental in getting us over the line and something I will never forget. We share a special bond and are friends forever.

Judges for the songwriting competition were Bruce Robison, Jesse Bellamy and Peter Rowan.

The Pipi Pickers Play Whangarei Folk Club

For anyone living north of Wellsford NZ, The Pipi Pickers will be doing a guest slot at the Whangarei Folk Club on Friday, May 15th.

Door charge for non-members is $12.

Where: Kamo Soccer Club, 595 Kamo Road, Kamo, Whangarei.
Time: Floor spots in the first half starting at 7:30. Pipis on about 9:00.

This is their first visit to the Whangarei Folk Club, so they’re hoping to get to see all of their friends up there whom they don’t usually see.

Check the website or drop them a line if you have any questions or just want to say hi back. The Pipis love hearing from you.

Nullarbor Mountain Boys

Nullabor Mountain BoysWA is not without its fair share of bluegrass and old-time musicians and aficionados. Indeed WA musicians played a leading role in the early introduction of the music to Australian audiences.

Here is news of a new band from Western Australia:

Perth’s newest and hottest acoustic sensation The Nullarbor Mountain Boys saddle up and ride into town to deliver hip-shootin’, pistol packin’ bluegrass from their mythical hideout in the mysterious and rarely visited Nullarbor Mountains.

Members of the band include Rod “Rodeo” Vervest; Andrew “Slim” Winton; Bob “Badlands” Thomson; Dave “Dangerfield” Clarke; Russell “The Rustler” Holmes and Charles “The Sherrif” McCarthy.

Headline Acts for MountainGrass 2015

Laurie LewisThe MountainGrass Festival team have advised that they have just secured major international acts for the 2015 MountainGrass Festival to be held from 20th to 22nd Nov. 2015.

First up Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands featuring Tom Rozum, Andrew Conklin and Patrick Sauber will head the bluegrass line up, while the Orpheus Supertones take up the reigns as the international Old-Time act.

Laurie Lewis and The Right Hands

Laurie Lewis, songwriter, fiddler, vocalist, teacher and producer almost quit music altogether the year she graduated early from Berkeley High School and moved out of the house. Her father, an accomplished classical flute player, encouraged all of his kids to take up instruments. But after “a botched run-in with the piano” at age seven, and five or six years of classical violin lessons starting at twelve, Laurie was ready to move on to something new, something that wouldn’t ask her to read a key signature. While for the moment that meant putting down the violin and moving on from music altogether, it would turn out that she had already found what she was looking for, and it was just down the street every summer on the UC Berkeley campus – The Berkeley Folk Festival.

Laurie recalls “you could hear all kinds of music, and it just really grabbed me. That was the first place I heard Doc Watson, the first place I heard Jean Ritchie, maybe the first bluegrass band I heard, the Greenbriar Boys. And then there was Jesse Fuller and Reverend Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt. It just totally busted my ears open and got me really excited about folk music as a teenager.”

Inspired by the folk festival, Laurie picked up guitar, fell hard for bluegrass banjo, and joined the folk song club at school. She and her best friend taught themselves Irish songs and harmony singing, and even took their act out on stage at some of the best known Berkeley folk clubs of the Sixties.

You can read the full biography on Laurie Lewis Website.

Orpheus SupertonesOrpheus Supertones

Pete Peterson is a highly respected three finger banjo player, guitarist and traditional singer. He has extensive knowledge, skill and experience playing traditional old time music. Pete is highly sought after as a teacher and contest judge.

Kellie Allen is an accomplished old-time singer and sought-after backup guitarist and bass player. She lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania with her husband, Pete Peterson. Kellie started playing old-time tunes with her brother, fiddler and banjo player Greg Allen, while she was in her teens and was inspired to sing and play by her musical family.

Hilary Dirlam has enjoyed a long career in music. She has studied guitar with Stefan Grossman in New York in the 1960’s, then played bass, piano, and guitar in the Arm and Hammer old-time string band in Vermont in the 1970’s. During the 80’s and 90’s she played bass with North Carolina Heritage Award winners Caroll Best and Luke and Harold Smathers.

Clare Milliner’s came from a family where all of her siblings were taught to play an instrument. Clare started playing piano at age four and violin at age eight. She was giving piano and violin lessons by age sixteen and went on to major in music in college. Despite all the musical training, she was able to learn how to play the fiddle sometime in the early ’80s and has been doing so happily ever since.

Walt Koken started playing banjo in 1959. He joined the Busted Toe Mudthumpers in the late 1960’s. In 1969, after losing his friend, fiddler, and band-mate in a car accident, he took up the fiddle in earnest. By 1972 he formed the widely acclaimed Highwoods Stringband as fiddle palyer. They toured the U.S. as well as Latin America and Europe, and recorded three LP’s on Rounder Records.

Here is a video of the lineup coming to Harrietville this year:

Here are a few more clips of Laurie Lewis and band:

Orpheus Supertones:

Paul Duff Presents at Monroe Mandolin Camp in USA

PaulDuffPaul Duff & Will Kimble present The Art of Mandolin Construction.

In this year’s Monroe Mandolin Camp there will be a special presentation by master luthiers Paul Duff Western Australia) and Will Kimble (Ohio USA).

Will and Paul will perform this year leading up to “MonManCamp“.

Attendees will be taken on a step-by-step time-lapse journey through the building process of a mandolin. You will hear and see how these luthiers approach the different stages of mandolin construction in a different way and order, giving you a glimpse into the meticulous thought, planning and patience that goes into every mandolin creation.

Paul and Will will offer participants an intimate up-close and personal ‘hands-on’ tactile experience of the different elements that go into making their own ‘boxes of joy': semi-carved top and back plates, rim assembly, neck blanks, peg head veneers, pearl inlays, etc..

They will each be available to answer the questions you have always wanted to ask about mandolin construction, and what special magic goes into them to make them sound different and have their own voice.

There is so much more in store for you this year at the Second Annual MonManCamp. I heartily invite you to come be with us, and share in the celebration of the musical legacy of the Father of Bluegrass – Mike Compton.

The camp hopes to provide—but can’t yet confirm—a ‘multi-media’ experience, with video of a couple of building processes.