Dean Perrett has been in Nashville again cutting some great music. He cut two records on this trip, one being a bush ballad album, and the other a bluegrass album. The bluegrass album is not due for release until mid 2015. However, Dean has been kind enough to let us listen to the tracks in progress and it’s an absolute knockout. Produced again by Larry Marrs, the record features some Aussie material and an all-star lineup including Ronnie McCoury, Rob Ickes, Jason Carter, Scott Vestal, Cody Kilby and Mike Bub. Dean takes his bluegrass seriously and his supporting cast are no less than stellar musicians. Dean’s fans are going to love hearing his take on classics like Slim Dusty’s ‘Indian Pacific’ and Paul Kelly’s ‘Sydney From a 747’.
By the time this goes to print, the inaugural Bangalow BBQ & Bluegrass Festival (near Byron Bay NSW) would have taken place. Bands featured included The Mid North, The Stetson Family, The Morrisons, Starboard Cannons, River Mountain Riot, Heartworn Highway and the Barkers Vale Brothers. Other attractions were the BBQ Cook-off and the Pickers Competition. bbqbluegrass.com.au
The Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival is on again 24-26 October. International acts featured this year include the Annie Lou Band (Canada), Chris Henry and Hardcore Grass (USA), Colin O’Brien (USA), The Stage Hogs – Kirk Sutphin and Eddie Bond (USA) and the Tattletale Saints (NZ). dorrigofolkbluegrass.com.au
Taylor Pfeiffer has taken her career as The Banjo Girl to the next level with her new 5 track EP titled You Were the Stranger. Taylor has written all of the material and the project has been given wings by record producer Bill Chambers. Still in her teens, yet already we are hearing a maturity in her song writing. Taylor is supported musically on the recording by Bill Chambers, Mick Albeck, Michael Muchow and Kasey Chambers. thebanjogirl.com.au
Pete Denahy has been travelling the USA from one bluegrass festival to the next over the last few weeks. He has been sharing many amusing photos online from his travels, including interesting landmarks, photos of himself with many of the greats, and plenty of Denahy-isms for a good belly laugh. Pete will have a new CD available at the end of August – see feature in these pages.
The Company, who masterfully blend bluegrass, folk and contemporary acoustic music are releasing a new album called Trouble this August. You can preview and pre-order the album on their website. What we’ve heard so far sounded pretty exceptional. The members of the band display exquisite musicianship and they work together like a finely tuned machine. The material is detailed and very contemporary musically, but still gives the listener that haunting mountain feeling that you probably got when you heard Ralph Stanley for the first time. thecompanybluegrass.com
The MountainGrass festival in Harrietville Victoria this November has confirmed The Flying Emus for this year’s lineup. Also featured are Special Consensus (USA), the Davidson Brothers and The Company. mountaingrass.com.au
Mustered Courage have been touring the USA since mid July, and will continue there until early October. They have tour dates in nineteen states, pretty much in every corner of the country. We wish them a safe and successful trip, and please don’t call them for a couple of days after they get home. They’re gonna need a couple of sleep-ins. The Music Australia Guide describes Mustered Courage as “the link between Bill Monroe and Mumford & Sons, with just the right mix of mirth and mournful.” musteredcourage.com
Mustered Courage, as well as Australian bands Bluegrass Parkway and the Davidson Brothers, plus Kristy Cox who is a shortlisted nominee in three categories, will all be featured at this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bluegrass Ramble & Wide Open Bluegrass festivals this September/October in Raleigh, North Carolina. Headline artists at this year’s event also include the Wide Open Jam (Sam Bush, Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Bryan Sutton & Stuart Duncan), Hot Rize, The Earls of Leicester (Jerry Douglas, Shawn Camp, Tim O’Brien, Johnny Warren, Charlie Cushman & Barry Bales), Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Lonesome River Band, Sierra Hull, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby with Kentucky Thunder, Del McCoury Band, Noam Pikelny, Della Mae, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, The Kruger Brothers with Kontras Quartet (launching a new banjo concerto) and Special Consensus. wideopenbluegrass.com
This September, iconic bluegrass band Hot Rize will be releasing their first album since 1990. They have recorded new 14 tracks in Boulder Colorado over several dates in June 2013. The current line-up is Pete Wernick (vocals and banjo), Tim O’Brien (vocals, mandolin, fiddle and guitar), Nick Forster (vocals and electric bass) and Bryan Sutton (vocals and guitar), who joined in 2002 after Hot Rize had reformed, following a four year break.
The Country Music Association of Australia have recently opted to recognise bluegrass in Tamworth and the very first Bluegrass Album of the Year will be awarded at the 2015 Golden Guitar Awards in January. They are calling on bluegrass musicians and bands to nominate their albums to win this long overdue award. Curiously, we are wondering if a specialist pool of judges will be allocated to this niche category, as is done with the Bush Ballad category, but we must wait for more details. We hope to see a strong field of nominees and that this new award assists further growth of bluegrass music in Australia.