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European World Of Bluegrass Festival (EWOB) 2015

Posted by Erwin on Sunday, May 17, 2015

EWOB festival is a bluegrass festival in Voorthuizen, The Netherlands, held this year from Thursday 14th May - Saturday 16th May. In these 3 days, some 40 bands are playing.

I only went for the first 2 days. These were my highlights :

I discovered some great bands. The first is "The Kentucky Cow Tippers", from the UK. Actually I saw some of these musicians during Sore Fingers this year and last year. These guys are all in their twenties or something, so there's definitily a future for bluegrass, hurray ! The second band "The Original Five", a Swedish (or was it Norvegian ?) group. Also young lads, early 30-ers. What I like about them is that they are VERY technically skilled, but without losing the "soul" of music (unlike some other groups, that are also on the top of the technical scale, but fall short of "communicating" if you know what I mean). Last but certainly not least is "Red Herring", a Dutch trio. They don't even play bluegrass as such (altough they adapted their playlist to the genre of the festival). They are only 2 guys and a pretty looking girl. She has a voice that blew me away on the spot ! They play various instruments, but again, there's so much life and energy in their playing, it's really captivating. Of all these groups of course I bought a CD (from Red Herring even 2), and they are all signed by the band-members. Me happy !

Another highlight is that I met with some people I know from Sore Fingers. (Thanks Ralf, for watching my beer !). I most enjoyed my time with Claude Robin, whom I mentioned already in a blog post below. Although he's a very good banjo player, he has all the patience for talking with a clumsy dilettante like me. He advised me to buy the CD "Lester & Flatt in Carnegie Hall", as a MUST HAVE for any banjo player. So, I bought it and boy, is he right ! The best thing is that you hear the banjo loud and clear, also in the backup, so it's a great resource for studying Scruggs ! Also, on 2 tracks, it's only fiddle and banjo, and you really can hear how much of an influence Earl Scruggs is on players like J.D. Crowe, Sonny Osborne, Tony Trischka... I also bought the book "Banjo Backup" by Janet Davis. Claude (who sais he has a pile of banjo-books as high as himself - and studied them all !) had a difficulty with this book. He said it was not focused : it discussed things in a random way, it's hard to get a clear view of the full picture. But I started reading the book, and I found the contrary : for me it makes perfect sense. Even when I'm only at page 31, I did glance over the whole structure of the book, and I would even go so far to say that at this point in time, it's the book I really need !

Talking of Frenchmen, there were some friends of Claude playing outside. The difference was, they didn't play bluegrass, but style "manouche", you know : style Django Reinhardt ("gypsy jazz" is the term you use in the UK and the US). It was fabulous. The most wonderful thing happened when the 3 guitar and 1 bass player were joined by a violinist, who appeared out of the blue, and started playing together. At a certain point, they started "Trading Fours", just like that, without really communicating except for maybe a wink of the eye or a smile... It must be GREAT to be able to play like this ! Thàt's what I want ! 

I didn't join any jam. Most of them were populated by the musicians of the performing bands, so I didn't want to disrupt the "zone" in which they were playing. But there are 2 things that I DID do. First is that I finally started to listen to Kenny Werner's meditation. It's unbelievable : it has been 2 months that I know of Kenny Werner's method, and since then I never had the chance or time or opportunity (or I am just too lazy) to meditate ! So I made a promise to myself to start doing that every day ! 

The second thing is a great experience. The festival only opens it doors at 2 PM, so Friday I had a bit of spare time. I parked my car in a square in the cosy little town of Voorthuizen. And I just watched the people going by. In my pocket I always have a harmonica. It has been a while since I played it (again, no time, no opportunity, too lazy). So I started to play it again, practicing some scales etc.. And then something fantastic happened. I saw 2 bikers going by and I decided to improvise a tune about them. So I just started blowing notes that for me expressed the joy of riding a bike together with your loved one. I don't know how it sounded (probably bad), but for me it was a revelation : here I am, IMPROVISING ! And I didn't care how it sounded to others, I really enjoyed the experience of making some noice that sounded good to me !

Now, if only I could convey this state of mind when I play the banjo !

1 comment on “European World Of Bluegrass Festival (EWOB) 2015”

Torben Pedersen Says:
Sunday, May 24, 2015 @11:42:39 AM

Visit EWOB too (alle three days.). Me and my wife have invited our Norwegian freinds to enjoy us. We meet each other at Risoere Bluegrass festival in 2007. And then ofcourse we meet our Dutch freinds, and other bluegrass musicans from europe, we have meet before. -Three good days. with lots og good music, played by musicans, from the most of Europe. Music very high level. - "Sorry we don`t heard you playing your harmonica in Voorthuitzen. - Maybe we meet NeXT year.

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