Posted by Ian_banjo on Thursday, May 6, 2010
Well Bordergrass is over and we can get some sleep. This was a new music festival held in the village of Weobley in Herefordshire, near the Welsh border.
The line up comprised an amazing mix of bands including: The New Prohibition Band from Berlin, Viper Central from Vancouver, Canada, and the New Essex Bluegrass band from England. Soloists included Mike Fenton, Sarah McQuaid. There were two duos, too: The Carrivick sisters and the inimitable Simon Mayor with Hilary James.
I had the honour of MCing both concerts on Friday and Saturday night. The latter was particularly challenging as it went on for over six hours, to a packed hall, finishing at half past midnight. Attendance was fantastic, although the event may have been shunned by some bluegrass fans for reasons I won't go into here. Some people had to be turned away on Saturday night. I know for a fact that the concert introduced bluegrass and related musical genres to people who would not otherwise have heard the this sort of music and they were all 100% converts. I'm not saying that they will be off this week stocking up on Flatt & Scruggs and Stanley Bros albums, but they'll definitely come back next year and there will definitely be a Bordergrass 2011. The first true bluegrass band on the stage was the New Essex Bluegrass Band and when the boys kicked off their set it was as if an electric shock had run through the audience. Within seconds everyone was all smiles and feet were tapping. One of the organising team (a lady who I suspect is more into Wagner than Vic Jordan) emailed: "Wow! I loved it. I said I wouldn't like the music, but I did." Someone else said that it was the best music concert he had ever been to.
A particular pleasure for me was playing in two trios during the open mic sessions. My friends Bob and Kate are learning guitar and bass respectively and we worked up a few songs and instrumentals (including "Who will sing for me", which caused my guitar to make one of its rare excursions from its case). Bob and Kate were putting up a couple of visitors from NZ, who run a folk club in a small town called Levin in the south of North Island. Ann and Andrew sang a couple of numbers, including Columbus Stockade Blues and invited me to sit in with them on banjo. I enjoyed that very much, although I hadn't played either tune previously. I have added a picture of Kate 'n' d'Boys to my photo album.
Not everything went smoothly and there are definitely some lessons to be learn for next year. But for a first event it was all anyone could ask. Thanks to Ken Davis, Bob and Kate Best, Julie and Martin Peacock.
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'Hunting Trip' 1 hr
'Name this waltz!' 1 hr
'Cluck Old Hen' 2 hrs