The Bluegrass Truth

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The Bluegrass Truth
The Bluegrass Truth
with Hamish & Lachlan Davidson
When we spoke with Jerry Douglas
about his new album Traveler (released
June 26), he had just performed on
the David Letterman show in New
York. For those of you less familiar
with Jerry, he has evolved from playing
dobro in his Dad’s band as a kid to
revolutionising the instrument in
bluegrass music. He brings class to
Union Station. Jerry truly is one of
the greats, yet he remains very modest
about his talent. He is clearly an
intelligent musician and knows the
music he plays down to a microscopic
level, yet his personality and sense of
Cohn and Alison Krauss.
The Melbourne based Quarry
Mountain Dead Rats, who describe
their style of music as “Obnoxious
Bluegrass with a Rock ‘n’ Roll Spirit,”
have just released their debut album
Bloodhound Killed my Squeezebox.
South (SA), The Cherry Pickers (SA)
and talented young South Australian
banjo player Taylor Pfeiffer.
Ross Nickerson (US) is hosting a
two-day banjo master class leading into
this year’s Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass
Festival in NSW, October 15-28. The
96
National Bluegrass Fiddle Champion,
winning his first title in Tamworth at
the age of 15 back in 1988. Burwyn
was a guitar picker, Victorian Member
of Parliament, and a strong supporter
Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Whitetop Mountaineers (US) from
Virginia will return to Dorrigo this year,
as well as The New Worlds (US) from
Nashville, and a great list of NSW based
bluegrass & folk acts.
Taylor, and features a huge line-up. The
JAMGRASS Music Festival, “Australia’s
premiere urban progressive bluegrass
music festival,” will take
place at the Thornbury
Theatre in Melbourne,
October 19-20. In its
second year, headliners
The New Worlds
(US) will join some of
Australia’s most exciting
live new acts including
Mustered Courage,
Quarry Mountain
Dead Rats, Merri Creek
Pickers, John Flanagan
& the Begin Agains,
Rattlehand (Qld), The
Strzelecki Stringbusters,
The Stetson Family,
Uncle Bill, Big Bug
Trio, Immigrant Union,
George Jackson and more.
The New Worlds is a collaboration of
young bluegrass musicians who also
appear in other bands such acts as Della
Mae, Jypsi and The Farewell Drifters.
Making their second trip to Australia
this Spring, the line-up is directed by
Colorado based Berklee graduate Dave
Goldenberg on mandolin, and also
features Frank Rische on guitar/vocals,
Christian Sedelmeyer on fiddle/vocals
and Shelby Means on bass/vocals.
On a less cheerful note,
it’s been a tough year
in the bluegrass world.
We have lost American
pioneers Earl Scruggs,
Doc Watson and Doug
Dillard. But the Australian
bluegrass community has
recently said farewell to
Justin Price-Rees, Burwyn Davidson,
and Chris Duffy. Justin was a 3-time
humour are there in every note. Jerry
has produced all of his own records in
the past however he has loosened his
grip on production reins this time to
team up with producer Russ Titelman
(produced records for James Taylor,
Paul Simon, Eric Clapton) to record
Traveler.
The album was recorded in seven
different studios, Jerry featuring on
dobro, slide and lapsteel on a range
of material. The album is structured
around the vocal tracks. Jerry refers
to the lighter tracks in between the
flashy ones as ‘palate cleansers’. From
super slick bluegrass tracks recorded
in Nashville like ‘King Silkie’, to the
swampy sounds of New Orleans on
‘Something Got You’, to rock tracks
like ‘So Here We Are’, to ‘The Boxer’
recorded in Banbury (UK), this project
is absolutely exceptional. Some of the
many guests include Del McCoury,
Eric Clapton, Mumford & Sons, Keb
Mo, Sam Bush, Béla Fleck, Marc
Melbourne is home to an exciting new
alternative acoustic movement. At the
forefront, is a two-day event organised
by Jambands Australia director Jason
The album was produced by Shane
Nicholson and recorded by Shane with
Nash Chambers at Foggy Mountain
Studios in NSW. The objective of this
project was to capture the raw energy
of the group, and the guys are delighted
also that Shane and Kasey Chambers
decided to cover one of their songs on
a bonus CD to be released on the new
Liberation release of Wreck & Ruin.
For those in South Australia, a new live
music festival will be held at Wirrina
Cove on September 7-9, the Wirrina
Bluegrass Festival. It is set to be a fine
weekend filled with jam sessions and
concerts. Featured artists include Old
of bluegrass. In the definitive words of
Gregory McGrath, “There are many
bluegrass music fans in Australia whose
interest in the genre was kindled by
Chris Duffy’s pioneer touring through
regional Australia in the 70 and 80’s.
Chris introduced us to people like John
Kane, Paul Wookey, Dan Crary, Bill
Keith, Byron Berline, John Hickman,
Mark O’Connor and such. Then came
the inaugural Bluegrass Championships
in 1979. Chris became Australia’s
first National Banjo Champion and
subsequent adjudicator along with
his touring entourage of international
guests.”
Australia’s Davidson Brothers are
candidates for an ‘Emerging Artist’
nomination in the 2012 International
Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)
Awards. Voted entirely by professional
members of the IBMA, the Davidson
Brothers have made it through the first
official ballot round with their current
release Here To Stay. The brothers now
advance to the second ballot from
which the top five voted candidates will
become the final nominees.
Just one step away from a
top 5 finalist nomination
in the 2012 IBMA Awards
to be held at the Ryman
Theatre in Nashville,
Tennessee on Thursday
27th of September during
the World of Bluegrass
week (Sept 24-29).
A new and exciting
initiative from the IBMA is
their Momentum Awards,
recognising artists and
industry folks in the early
stages of their careers. The
awards are divided into
performance and industry
categories. The idea is
to find people who may
be familiar to insiders,
but not yet well known
enough to be household
names among the bluegrass
faithful. It is hoped that by
bringing some attention
to these folks as they get
Chris Duffy
on the first rungs of the
ladder, their potential for
being successful and making a career in
the music will be enhanced.
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