✭Midnight Skyracer – UK✭
IBMA Momentum Award nominated bluegrass band, Midnight Skyracer have been tearing up the UK bluegrass and folk scene since their inception less than two years ago. Their all star lineup and exciting live performances have sent them racing skywards at an astounding pace right from the start, with Leanne Thorose’s powerhouse vocals and driving mandolin; Tabitha Agnew’s sweet voice and virtuosic banjo playing; Eleanor Wilkie’s rock solid bass grooves; Laura Carrivick’s flair, being equally adept on both fiddle and dobro; and twin sister Charlotte’s agility on the guitar, with both sisters filling in the vocal harmonies.
“…these varied aspects of their musical personalities contribute to the greater good of a band playing for the song, for the singer, for the music.” ****Ron Block (Alison Krauss & Union Station, Franklin, Tennessee)
✭South Carolina Broadcasters (featuring Jackson Cunningham from the Whitetop Mountaineers) – USA✭
The South Carolina Broadcasters are the “real deal” when it comes to Old-Time Bluegrass music, or “primitive bluegrass”, as they sometimes call it. Their razor-sharp harmonies, exceptional multi-instrumentation, and fabulous song selection will have listeners riveted to their seats. Their material ranges from the Old-Time mountain music of Appalachia, through Carter Family country classics, and Cajun music, to original tunes that sound like they’ve come from the past. The trio consists of David Sheppard (guitar & vocals), Ivy Sheppard (fiddle, banjo, & vocals) and new band member, Jackson Cunningham (mandolin, guitar, & vocals). This is the Broadcasters’ first Australian tour However, Jackson has toured here a number of times with The Whitetop Mountaineers, playing all the major folk festivals including the National Folk Festival, Canberra, Port Fairy Folk Festival, and the Blue Mountains Music Festival, and numerous successful gigs around the country.
✭Mike & Ruthy – USA✭
Mike & Ruthy are Hudson Valley based songwriters who have made waves in the Americana world and beyond. These two believe in the transformative power of a great live performance. Touring upwards of a 100 shows a year (with their two kids in tow), Mike & Ruthy also produce a bi-annual folk festival called The Hoot of which the late Pete Seeger called “one of the best song gatherings I’ve seen in all my 94 years”. 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, they 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 all of their shows.
✭The Sonoran Dogs – USA✭
Formed in 2011, the Sonoran Dogs have exploded upon the Arizona bluegrass scene, performing at the Sedona, Wickenburg, and Green Valley bluegrass festivals. The group is made up of seasoned veterans who have come together to enjoy bluegrass music and friendship. Mark Miracle – mandolin/vocals, Peter McLaughlin – guitar/vocals, Dick Brown – banjo/vocals, Bruce Packard – double bass/vocals. Dick Brown is replacing the injured Tyler James for their Australasian tour. They play a collection of traditional bluegrass standards, new-grass, and original compositions. Every concert is different, as they often improvise the set to follow the mood of their audience. It makes for a fun and dynamic show.
✭ Strzelecki Stringbusters (VIC)✭
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.
✭ 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. They will present “Fiddle Tunes and a Hard God: The Story of Appalachia”, which uses the music plus slides and field recordings to tell the history of the region and its music. A booklet will be available for attendees at this wonderful presentation.
✭ Crooked Road (SA) ✭
✭ 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.
✭ Crow Mountain (NSW) ✭
✭ The 3 Jimmies (NSW) ✭
✭ The Burning Bridges (VIC) ✭
✭ Whoa Mule (NSW) ✭
✭ Nine Mile Creek (VIC)✭
Nine Mile Creek is a bluegrass band playing traditional and original bluegrass, with a touch of swing. Long time fans of the bluegrass genre and those appreciating the joys of good acoustic music are embracing Nine Mile Creek’s fresh approach. Full-on up tempo rhythms underpinned by Andrew’s bass and Doug’s guitar are a feature of the band’s sound. The band has a strong repertoire and is a regular contributor to the Mountain Pickers Association’s monthly night at the foot of the Dandenong ranges. They regularly feature at Australian bluegrass festivals, including Mountaingrass, Kelly Country Pick and the Foggy Mountain Bluegrass festival. They also perform at non-bluegrass events, introducing the joys of bluegrass music to enthused audiences! If you come across Nine Mile Creek at bluegrass and other music festivals and events, expect to be entertained by their special blend of hi-octane traditional and original material.
✭ The Cherry Pickers (SA) ✭
The Cherry Pickers’ are a contemporary bluegrass band playing your favourite tunes from today and back in the day. Always on the search to “uncover” some hidden bluegrass in any song, their tasty arrangements are reverent to Bluegrass tradition such that they defy any hillbilly stigma. Coupled with their love of traditional tunes and their original songs, the Cherry Pickers make for an exciting and refreshing bluegrass experience.
✭ Willing Ponies (NSW)✭
The Willing Ponies play a unique brand of acoustic bluegrass-based progressive acoustic music they like to call “acousticana pop”. Comprising some of Australia’s finest pickers, Willing Ponies are a progressive acoustic band that play original songs of relatable life that are both universally inspirational and distinctly Australian. The members are comprised of people from all walks of life and qualifications. From PHD’s to eclectic rock stars and country bumpkins, they all have one thing in common, they love to play. Featuring: Ricky Pannowitz – Guitar/Vocals, Guitar; Paul Abrahams – Double Bass; Nigel Lever – Mandolin/Vocals; Ben Thomas – Banjo/Vocals; Wen-Tjen Lim – Fiddle
✭ The Kissin Cousins (VIC)✭
Live and stomping, The Kissin Cousins bring a fresh, youthful Australian sound to traditional American bluegrass and Old-time music. Hard-driving banjo, melodic harmonies, twin fiddles and a hole-lotta banter makes The Cousins festival favourites all over the East Coast of Australia. The gig you can kick up your heels to but still bring your mum along! They have performed at Dorrigo, Cobargo, Yackandandah Folk Festivals, The Kelly Country Pick, Mountaingrass, Great Alpine pick, Guildford banjo Jamboree, Foggy Mountain Bluegrass Festival, Myrtleford festival and have been crowd favourites. Also winners of the 2013 ABC Exhumed competition Goulburn Murray receiving national exposure. Featuring – Isabel Grundy – fiddle/vocals; Josh Grundy – mandolin/vocal; Rebecca Humphreys – fiddle/vocal; Troy Humphreys – guitar/vocal; Colin Weight – banjo/vocal; Adrian Osbourne – double bass
✭ Bluegrass – Made in Taiwan (CAN & AUS)✭
Andrew Clermont, Jenny Lester (BC, Canada), Jack Melbourne and Aron McLean are playing together again as Bluegrass – Made in Taiwan. Back in the 1990’s they performed around 6-700 shows in Taiwan at the Leofoo Adventure Park. They have reformed for Mountaingrass and will do a short tour together after the festival. Joining them on stage are two special guests, Paul Wookey and Paul Cooper.
Jenny Lester went on to appear with Hungry Hill, who also came to Australia. She also provided a great contribution to tutoring at Bluegrass Festivals for vocal harmony and Fiddle at Mark O’Connor Camps let alone a remarkable horse raising/ training property outside of Smithers in the heart of BC, Canada. Jenny had met Andrew at Pt Fairy Folk Festival (jamming with Trev Warner) which ended up captured by documentary makers from Taiwan, and as if by magic, became part of the Bluegrass – Made in Taiwan – adventure.
Jack Melbourne’s time with “The Fargone Beauties” and before that with Tamworth’s “BackBeat”, let alone his brothers throughout the Oz outback, saw him hone his reason to be right there. He set up a publishing house, Theatre Restaurants, Pubs, Pizza Bar (naturally call Banjos) plus realised the beginnings of his own family. He still helps secure musical instruments for a major museum there as well. He has now included Dobro into his instrumental prowess including his gift of the gab – not only highly entertaining on stage but regularly on show at the Beechworth foody sensation, Lemongrass Cafe. Paul Wookey is well-known to “folkies” throughout Australia for his wonderful voice and skilled guitar picking. Paul is now living in Beechworth. Aron McLean is another Beechworth local and a fine double bassist, guitarist and vocalist. Paul Cooper is the banjoist from The Cherry Pickers and he will add his excellent picking and vocals to the mix.
✭ Jammalong (ACT) ✭
Hailing from the ACT, Jammalong specialise in running structured jam sessions for beginners and intermediate players and singers. It is all about participation and learning jam etiquette and how to play along with songs and tunes that may be familiar or completely new to the players. Dianne & Michael Porter conduct the sessions on a variety of instruments and carefully explain in advance the chord structures used. They were a very popular feature at Mountaingrass 2018 and Jammalong are back this year to continue their great work in motivating and inspiring everyone to play and sing at their best.
✭ Jose & the Amigos ✭
Having become involved in Jammalong while living in the ACT, Jose Garcia later moved to Melbourne and started the Victorian Jammalong group. From these sessions, a group of regulars formed Jose & the Amigos. Jose (guitar/vocals) is joined by Michael de Valle (on the double bass he made), Henry Butcher (fiddle), Marty Rivers and Tom Saunders. They have performed together at a number of festivals and events since getting together as a group. Their enthusiasm for the music is infectious and you won’t be able to stop tapping your foot as you listen to them perform.
✭ Workshops ✭
|Bluegrass Mandolin – beginner||Nigel Lever||Nigel Lever plays mandolin with “The 3 Jimmies” and “Willing Ponies”. His extensive experience will provide a great start for mandolin players wanting to better understand the bluegrass style of playing.|
|OT Mandolin – intermediate||Jackson Cunningham||Jackson Cunningham plays with “South Carolina Broadcasters” and may be familiar to those who have seen “The Whitetop Mountaineers”. Jackson will be able to add to the old time mandolin player’s repertoire of tunes and techniques.|
|OT Banjo – beginner||Peter Somerville||Peter Somerville is adept in both claw-hammer and Scruggs-style banjo playing. He will take beginners through an introduction to old time claw-hammer technique as applied to some simple tunes.|
|Bluegrass Guitar – beginner||Tony O’Rourke||Tony O’Rourke is well-known for his flat-picking guitar and tenor banjo playing. He will provide booklets and a CD to assist participants in developing their skills in playing tunes and backup in a bluegrass setting.|
|OT Fiddle – beginner||Miriam & Naomi Jones||Miriam and Naomi play with Whoa Mule and have a great love of old-time fiddle tunes that they will share in this workshop. Bring your fiddle to learn a tune or two.|
|Ragtime & Blues Mandolin||Evan Webb||Evan Webb plays mandolin with “Mamas Mountain Jug Band” and has a passion for ragtime and blues styles. He will teach a tune in each style and share some useful tips and tricks for melody and rhythm playing.|
|Bluegrass Guitar – intermediate||Charlotte Carrivick||Charlotte Carrivick plays with “Midnight Skyracer” and has been nominated by IBMA for her playing. She will demonstrate and share her skills and knowledge of bluegrass guitar with pickers who are already picking at a reasonably good level.|
|Twin Fiddle in Bluegrass||Isabel Grundy/Bec Humphreys||Isabel and Bec play together in Kissing Cousins on twin fiddles. They will share their approach to melody and harmony playing in a bluegrass setting.|
|OT Guitar||David Sheppard||David Sheppard plays with “South Carolina Broadcasters” and is a multi-instrumentalist. David is known for his outstanding guitar accompaniment for old time melody players throughout America. He will share his knowledge in this workshop.|
|Dobro||Laura Carrivick||Laura Carrivick plays with both fiddle and dobro with “Midnight Skyracer” and has been nominated by IBMA for her playing. Laura will demonstrate and share her skills and knowledge of bluegrass dobro in a band setting.|
|Shape-Note singing||New Holland Honeyeaters||The “New Holland Honeyeaters” hail from Tasmania. They will teach the fundamentals of Shape Note Singing. Shape notes are a music notation designed to facilitate congregational and community singing. The notation, introduced in late 18th century England, became a popular teaching device in American singing schools. Shapes were added to the note heads in written music to help singers find pitches within major and minor scales without the use of more complex information found in key signatures on the staff. Shape notes of various kinds have been used for over two centuries in a variety of music traditions, mostly sacred but also secular, originating in New England, practiced primarily in the Southern region of the United States for many years, and now experiencing a renaissance in other locations as well.|
|Vocal Harmony||Jenny Lester||Jenny Lester is from BC, Canada and is well-known throughout Canada and America for her workshops on singing harmony. If you love singing, don’t miss this workshop.|
|The banjo of Wade Ward||Ian Alexander||Wade Ward (1892–1971) was an American old-time music banjo player and fiddler from Independence, Virginia. He was especially renowned for his clawhammer banjo playing. He was a frequent winner at the Galax, Virginia Old Time Fiddler’s Convention. His instrument, a Gibson RB-11 5-string banjo, is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution. Along with Kyle Creed, Wade Ward is thought by many to embody the ‘Galax’ style of clawhammer banjo playing.|
Ian Alexander will play several of his recordings and teach one of these tunes on a Gibson RB 100, almost identical to Wade’s banjo.
|OT Fiddle – intermediate||Ruth Ungar||Ruth Ungar plays with Mike Merenda in “Mike & Ruthy” and “The Mammals”. Her dad, Jay Ungar is very well-known for the tune “Ashokan Farewell. Ruth is a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, adept in many styles. If you already play fiddle at a reasonable level, you will get a great deal out of Ruth’s workshop, so don’t miss it.|
|Bluegrass Fiddle – beginner||Jenny Lester||Jenny Lester is playing with “Bluegrass – Made in Taiwan” – the band is back together again and touring around Australia. Jenny is an excellent fiddle teacher and has presented workshops at festivals and music camps throughout Canada and America. If you can play a little on the fiddle, Jenny can show you how to add that bluegrass sound to your repertoire.|
|Travis picking style for guitar||Mike Merenda||Mike Merenda plays with Ruth Ungar in “Mike & Ruthy” and “The Mammals”. He is a multi-instrumentalist and in this workshop he will share his knowledge and skill on playing like the legendary Merle Travis.|
|Double Bass||Jenine Arbarbanel||Jenine Abarbarnel is an experienced bass players. She will share her ideas on her approach and the techniques used playing bass in a variety of settings. Bring your bass along – there may even be a couple of spare basses for you to try out, even if you don’t have your own.|
|Two-finger Banjo Style||John Boothroyd||Clawhammer banjo is not the only old time banjo style. Two finger picking was used by many early players, such as B.F. Shelton, Wade Mainer, and Pete Steele. John will demonstrate several two finger picking styles, one where the thumb picks the melody and fifth string, and the finger picks the first string also as a drone, and another style where the finger plays the melody and the thumb generally plays the fifth string. These styles are very suitable for both instrumental tunes, and to accompany songs. John will teach several tunes, and provide hand-out sheets. A basic knowledge of banjo playing (tunings and chords) will be an advantage for participants.|
|Bluegrass Banjo – intermediate||Tabitha Agnew||Tabitha Agnew plays banjo with “Midnight Skyracer” and has been nominated by IBMA for her playing. Laura will demonstrate and share her skills and knowledge of bluegrass banjo techniques. To get the most out of this workshop, participants should already be picking Scruggs rolls and/or some melodic style banjo.|
|Bluegrass Mandolin – intermediate||Mark Miracle||Mark Miracle is the mandolin player and leader of “Sonoran Dogs”. You may have caught his act a couple of years ago in Harrietville. If you already have some skills with melody and chord-playing on mando, you will get a lot from Mark’s workshop.|
|Bluegrass Fiddle – intermediate||Pete Denahy||Pete is well-known for his singing, songwriting and guitar/mandolin/fiddle work in bluegrass and country styles. He will share his approach to fiddling in the bluegrass style, using slides and double-stops within the fiddle solo, as well as backup fiddle when others are soloing.|
|OT Banjo – intermediate||Ivy Sheppard||Ivy Sheppard plays with “South Carolina Broadcasters” on banjo, fiddle, guitar and vocals. Ivy has performed at festivals all over America and has a huge amount to offer old time banjoists in this workshop. It will be assumed that participants already play in this style and know a variety of chords and simple melodies.|
|Bluegrass Banjo – beginner||Tyler James (Walls)||Tyler James plays banjo with “Sonoran Dogs” and is ideally placed to help beginners develop good technique with the rolls and chords used in bluegrass banjo. Bring along your banjo and picks to make a start on the fascinating journey that is bluegrass banjo.|
|Bluegrass Ensemble playing||Willing Ponies||Ricky Pann and his band of “Willing Ponies” will demonstrate and discuss the intricacies of ensemble playing in the bluegrass style (also applicable to other styles of music) around a central condenser microphone. If you are thinking of putting a band together or already have a band that you want to tighten up on aspects of performance then this workshop is for you.|
✭ The Walk-up Stage ✭
Jacinta Connery runs the Walk-up Stage 10:00am – 1:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, where there is the opportunity for performers to put their names on the blackboard to perform, on a “first-in best-dressed” basis. The walk-up stage is located between the George Kerferd Hotel and the Chapel and has a small PA with condenser mikes and a couple of DIs. See Jacinta if you would like a spot.
✭ Jamming ✭
In addition to the informal jam sessions taking place all over the Mayday Hills site, there are structured jams run by Dianne & Michael Porter and the “come-all-ye” jam session run by the Strzelecki Stringbusters.
See below for the locations and times for these popular events:
|Jammalong – “Jamming for newcomers”|
|Garden Area near the George Kerferd Hotel : Saturday 10:00am – 12 noon|
|Dianne & Michael Porter|
|“Come-Al-Ye” Jam Session|
|Rotunda: Saturday 12:00 noon – 1:00pm|
|Jammalong – “Tips & tricks for jamming with others”|
|Garden Area near the George Kerferd Hotel: Saturday 3:00pm – 5:00pm|
|Dianne & Michael Porter|