✭International Acts Mountaingrass 2019✭
✭ Claybank (USA)✭
The tri-state area of the Blue Ridge Mountains has historically produced some of the very finest bluegrass musicians in the industry and Clay Bank is a top-shelf example of that. With a nod to the traditional, hard -driving bluegrass and gospel music that has influenced them so greatly and adding their own dynamic energy and original material. Claybank have just released a new album called “Road Signs & Highways” – now available on Make sure to keep your eyes and ears open for ClayBank … the future is looking very bright for them!
✭ Mike & Ruthy (USA)✭
When it comes to chemistry, Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar have plenty to spare. Onstage, they are Mike + Ruthy, a husband-and-wife duo setting the indie-folk scene ablaze. Singers and storytellers, poets and parents, the two tour with their children in tow, embodying a down-home approach to Americana. Bouncing between festivals and intimate venues, these troubadours bring harmony-driven fiddle and banjo tunes to more than 100 shows a year. Road-tested material such as the pair’s celebrated reharmonizing of Woody Guthrie’s “My New York City” cement Merenda and Ungar’s status as a “national treasure,” according to peer Anaïs Mitchell. Merenda is a prolific songwriter, who’s recent crowd-pleasing piece, Sunshiner, was nominated for an International Folk Music Award for Song of the Year. It is an ode to renewable energy which simultaneously honours the past and looks to the future with the sing-along lyric, “Yes my Daddy was a miner, but I’m gonna be a sunshiner.” Ungar’s unique vocal style ranges from “a capella” balladry to earthy soul and country. She was raised in a folk music family and learned the fiddle at a young age. Her father is fiddler/composer Jay Ungar, best known for his composition Ashokan Farewell which she also enjoys performing.
✭ The South Carolina Broadcasters (USA)✭
“I’d like to think that if AP Carter had had more time to think about it and work things out, the Carter Family would have been singing like the Broadcasters.” — Tim O’Brien
The Broadcasters tour constantly through the Southeast. And with each release, they become tighter, somehow closer to reaching the heart of the music they obviously love. The harmonies are crisp. The playing is tight. The music is raw and raucous, heartfelt and beautiful. They are the South Carolina Broadcasters, and they are what is great about old time music.”
— Dan Schram, Hopscotch Music Festival
The South Carolina Broadcasters are about as perfect an old-time trio as you’ll ever hear. And “Short Time to Stay Here” is a brilliant recording, with instruments providing luxuriant atmospheres for the trio’s riveting lead and harmony singing. ”
— Jack Bernhardt, Raleigh News & Observer
The Broadcasters bridge their cross-generational gaps by course of talent – shared, divided, rehashed and revised – impelling some sort of experiential collision: through aching and dismay, transcendence and hope, noise and silence, body and soul, their interpretations seem to suggest that we are together, all of us, Southern children going forward at top volume. ”
— Colton Wooten, Raleigh News & Observer
Clear, powerful playing. Great singing. Respect for the past, all the while setting the bar high for musicians of the future. Strong music.” — Joe Newberry
✭ Sonoran Dogs (USA)✭
Formed in 2011, The Sonoran Dogs have exploded upon the bluegrass scene! They have performed and headlined many festivals and concert venues in the Southwestern US, touring as far as Australia, from Melbourne to Brisbane and beyond. The “Dogs” are made up of seasoned veterans who have come together to enjoy bluegrass music and friendship, often times adding one or more “strays” on fiddle, dobro and even accordion! With every show, The Sonoran Dogs play with expertise, often improvising and showcasing original songs, traditional and contemporary music as well as an eclectic mix of Bluegrass, Folk, Americana, Celtic, and Newgrass.
✭Local Artists confirmed Mountaingrass 2019✭
NB: As performers return their performance contracts this list will be updated
✭ Strzelecki Stringbusters ✭
The Strzelecki Stringbusters (The Stringbusters) is a 13 piece string band featuring guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, fiddle, double bass and harmonica. The group plays many styles of music from bluegrass and western swing to country and the blues. The band members live, work and play in the hills around the Strzelecki Ranges in Victoria’s Gippsland. They play a large number of local events in support of their wider community. The Stringbusters are also a regular feature at the Yinnar Hotel where they host a night of music and often feature local and visiting international acts.
✭ The Stetson Family (VIC) ✭
“They blend like one of the legendary bluegrass or country families…their best material yet.” – Rick Moore, American Songwriter, Los Angeles
Celebrating their 10 year anniversary in 2018, The Stetson Family walk the line between alt-country and Bluegrass, bringing with them a certain kind of joy with their performances that they want to share with their audiences. Their collection of original free-wheeling songs infused with lush harmonies traverse mountains and valleys, and continue down life’s crooked highway.
With their last album ‘True North’ further establishing the band internationally, breaking out of Australia onto US Roots/Americana charts, the band garnered stellar reviews in the UK, Italy Czechoslovakia, Uruguay and everywhere in between. Nominated for Best Duo/Group at the Victorian and National Country Music Awards in 2016, they have appeared at numerous festivals around the country including Out On the Weekend (VIC), National Folk Festival (ACT), Cygnet Folk Festival (TAS), Nannup (WA), Bangalow BBQ & Bluegrass (NSW), Gympie Muster (QLD) and received an invitation to perform in the USA at the International Bluegrass Music Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee.
✭ New Holland Honey Eaters (TAS) ✭
The New Holland Honey Eaters (Stan and Rebecca Gottschalk and Steve and Jane Ray) have been performing together since 1988 and specialise in roots music (mostly pre-1945) from the broad tradition of the south- eastern United States. They perform themed concerts which put the music into its historical context via well- researched narrative, continuous slides from photos of the era, and readings from historical sources. The group has delighted audiences at the National, Cygnet, and Tamar Valley and folk festivals and on ABC Radio National.
✭ Crooked Road (SA) ✭
PHILL PARKER (Guitar, vocals)
Phill has worked with many bands over the past 40 years playing acoustic guitar and singing harmony and lead vocals in the folk, country and bluegrass traditions. Recently Phill focussed on bluegrass, playing with Highly Strung in the 90s and then with Bridgeland Brothers Band and more recently Old South Bluegrass Band in the past decade. Crooked Road offers him the opportunity to do more song writing and contemporary acoustic music with a very fine group of musicians.
ANDREW HOOK (Mandolin, guitar, vocals)
Andrew immersed himself in the bluegrass genre in Melbourne in the late seventies, playing with The Rank Strangers and Paul Wookey. Since moving to Adelaide in the early nineties Andrew has focused on bluegrass and acoustic music, initially with Dingo Ridge and Grass Roots and most recently with Old South Bluegrass Band.
DAVE TAYLOR (Vocals, double bass)
Dave, born in the UK was fed a diet of Beatles, Stones, Pacemakers and all manner of 60s pop, before being musically awakened by the sounds of Daddy Cool, Chain, Axiom and their peers, following his migration Down Under. In 2007 he joined a community choir, and began playing and singing country/folk, bluegrass and retro pop. An invitation to join Old South Bluegrass Band laid out Dave’s musical path.
LEONARD COHEN (Vocals, dobro)
Leonard has played guitar and sung since his childhood in New Zealand. He sang in choirs, musicals and moved into folk and bluegrass in the 60’ when he began playing professionally with the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band before migrating to Australia. Leonard played solo and later with The Skillet Lickers before putting performance aside for some years. Joining Old South Bluegrass Band led him back to bluegrass, country and folk and Crooked Road gives Leonard room to experiment with creating an original vocal and instrumental sound.
✭ Slim Dime (VIC) ✭
Slim Dime are an acoustic duo featuring old-time mountain sounds, seamless harmonies and some mighty-fine pickin’. They make music that sounds as though it’s always existed somewhere on a mountaintop. Their material is both original songs and traditional songs made new. They reference the old time and bluegrass repertoire and write original compositions with mesmerising storytelling and precise musicianship with a broad emotional range. It’s music that makes you lean in and listen. Slim Dime are Jen Land on acoustic tenor guitar and vocals and Chris Taylor on acoustic guitar, banjo and vocals. Jen Land’s voice tells stories with nuance and emotion. Chris Taylor’s playing is intelligent and idiosyncratic. The songs talk of lives lived and lessons learned, of sorrows and of loss, but there is redemption too, and even joy. They journey through a country and folk music landscape of mountain shadows and careworn folks and beauty found in unlikely places.
✭ The Lyrebirds (NSW) ✭
Banjo/Vocals: Jenny Shimmin
Fiddle/Vocals: Danielle Vita
✭ The 3 Jimmies (NSW) ✭
The 3 Jimmies consist of a Scot, an Englishman and a token Australian. Jimmy Rush and Nigel Lever had been playing for many years with the well-known bluegrass band Acoustic Shock when they met up with Quentin Fraser, who was part of the Wollongong bluegrass scene. All three players discovered a common love for playing fiddle tunes on guitar and could often be found at folk festivals picking until their fingers bled. At some point in time they decided that it would be a good idea to present bluegrass flat-picking guitar as The 3 Jimmies. Mandolin is occasionally ‘allowed’, as is the occasional Hank Williams song, and even some great Dobro. All three members of the band have been playing together in bluegrass lineups over the past 20 years, including Karen Lynne, Acoustic Shock, 3 Marketeers, The Willing Ponies… the list goes on. (Yes, we know there’s only one band member named Jimmy – a mere technicality).
✭ Crow Mountain (NSW) ✭
Megan Legg (Vocals/Mandolin)
Ben Thomas (Vocals/Banjo)
Crow Mountain are an Australian old-time country and folk duo who perform original, traditionally flavoured tunes of unnerving honesty and effortless beauty. Drawing on their Blue Mountains roots, famed for its soaring escarpments, dark forests and sombre folklore, Megan Legg (mandolin) and Ben Thomas (banjo and guitar) paint luminous aural portraits of human frailty and grit, sorrow and strength, love and redemption. At Mountaingrass 2019 they will be joined by John Lee and Paul Abrahams. Blending visceral, old-time instrumentation with the kind of honey-dipped harmonies of Dave Rawlings and Hazel Dickens, this deft duo is careful with their musical influences. There’s an edge of mountain starkness, the high and lonesome air. But in their pristine arrangements there’s also a gentle intimacy, a timeless truth, that unites past and present.
Crow Mountain, with their tender and tuneful forays into our own beating hearts, are very much here and now. Get lost and found on Crow Mountain.
✭ The Burning Bridges (VIC) ✭
The Burning Bridges are an acoustic band from Melbourne’s north featuring old-school harmony singing, 5-string banjo (Peter Somerville), tenor guitar (Fran Martin), double bass (Mark Wardle), and guitar and mandolin (Tom Kendall). The band’s repertoire reaches back to the bedrock of American country music (The Carter Family, The Louvin Brothers, Ralph Stanley, The Delmore Brothers) and includes country blues, bluegrass, old time, and original tunes, plus a little contemporary material reworked for a classic sound. The band appears regularly at national festivals including the Kelly Country Pick, Foggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival, the Great Alpine Pick, and Guildford Banjo Jamboree, and at venues of distinction across Melbourne and statewide.
✭ Whoa Mule (NSW) ✭
Whoa Mule brings you old time country ballads, original songs, and driving triple fiddle dance tunes. Inspired by the rapid weather changes of the Blue Mountains and the bustle of Sydney streets, these musicians deliver a performance characterised by both space and energy. With rich experience earned in bands such as Catgut and Golden Whistler, Whoa Mule puts a kick into old time music.
The Whoa Mules:
Old Mountain Mule (Kate Barker) – vocals, guitar
Electric Mule (Miriam Jones) – fiddle, guitar, vocals
Baby Mule (Naomi Jones) – fiddle, banjo, vocals
Doctor Mule (Sujata Allan) – banjo, fiddle, vocals