Artists performing at Mountaingrass 2017
Featured Headline artists
ABOTMA and MountainGrass are thrilled to announce that the 2016 IBMA Instrumental Group of the Year winners Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen are our headline act for MountainGrass 2017. Since Frank Solivan left the cold climes of Alaska for the bluegrass hotbed of Washington, D.C., he’s built a reputation as a monster mandolinist — and become a major festival attraction with his band, Dirty Kitchen. Solivan, with banjoist Mike Munford, 2013 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, award winning guitarist Chris Luquette and bassist Jeremy Middleton, simmer a bluegrass/newgrass stew from instrumental, vocal and songwriting skills so hot, they have been named IBMA’s Instrumental Group of the Year twice, in 2014 and 2016. Prepare to be delighted and wowed by their sweet blend of traditional bluegrass and outstanding musicianship with a contemporary twist.
Wide Island (AU, Japan)
Award-winning and always crowd-pleasing multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Pete Denahy has brought his friends Montz Matsumoto (banjo, 2017 Tamworth Banjo Champion) and Hiroki Maeta (mandolin) to MountainGrass before, and they blew everyone’s socks off. This year they are joined by Tomoyuki Murata on guitar, with local Aron Maclean on bass to form a band they are calling “Wide Island.” The band name comes from a literal translation of “Hiroshima,” home town of both Pete’s mum and Hiroki. Wide Island will be releasing their first album, “Going Home,” an album of original songs penned by the band members and recorded in their various living rooms, at MountainGrass. These fast-picking, sweet singing gentlemen are guaranteed to add a truly international flair to the MountainGrass mainstage.
Australia’s own raconteurs, Mustered Courage, have been delivering their diverse brand of roots music and bluegrass that appeals to both traditionalists and newcomers alike. The Melbourne based group that Music Australia Guide describes as “the link between Bill Monroe and Mumford & Sons” has risen to the top of Australia’s folk and roots scene on the strength of their energetic live shows and albums that have won them glowing reviews, loads of radio support and a “Golden Guitar” for Instrumental of the Year 2015 along with a 2015 ARIA nomination for Best Country Album.
In 2016, the band’s supported their latest release, “White Lies & Melodies” on Lost Highway Music with a series of successful Texas style BBQ and music events. As Rolling Stone so aptly stated, “it’s inevitable that this band has a huge international career ahead of them”. Mustered Courage are already fulfilling that destiny with over 100 international shows under their belt.
Bluestone Junction are exponents of traditional Bluegrass music. Sometimes fast and furious, sometimes slow and sweet, their bluegrass music is performed like in the old days – without pickups or amplifiers, and played around a single microphone. They are proudly releasing their third studio album, a collection of good old “Favourites” at the Festival. Bluestone Junction features Chris Jacobs on guitar and main vocal, Donal Baylor on fiddle, Pete Fidler on mandolin and dobro, Mick Harrison on the five string banjo and Mike St. Clair-Miller on double bass.
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 whole-lotta banter makes The Cousins festival favourites all over the East Coast of Australia. They do the gig that you can kick up your heels to but still bring your mum along!
More Guest Artists from Australia and New Zealand
The 4 Jimmies
Jimmy Rush & Nigel Lever had been playing for many years with the well known Bluegrass Band Acoustic Shock, they met up with Quentin Fraser who was part of the Wollongong Bluegrass scene many moons ago, what each of them has is a common love of playing fiddle tunes on guitar and could be found around many festival sites picking until their fingers bled. We then met up with Douggie Wallace (all round good bloke and picker) At some point in time they decided that it would be a good idea to present Bluegrass Flatpick guitar on stage as the 4 Jimmies. Mandolin is on occasion allowed, an occasional Hank Williams song and some of the best Dobro playing in this here land.
The Appalachian Heaven Stringband play mountain music with gusto and authenticity, learnt directly from the masters during regular visits by all band members to the USA. From sensitive and driving fiddle tunes, dance tunes with curly toes, to cheeky songs and disarmingly touching ballads, Appalachian Heaven Stringband delight audiences both young and young-at-heart. The band loves to share their skills and musical enthusiasm through workshops and open jam sessions.
Found somewhere between tradition and innovation, The Beekeepers are a trio of Melbourne’s finest young Bluegrass musicians. Featuring Jacob McGuffie (Davidson Brothers) on Guitar and Vocals, Josh Bennett (The Bombay Royale) on Mandolin, Fiddle and Vocals, and Josh Bridges (Mustered Courage) on Upright Bass and Vocals, The Beekeepers draw from a wide range of influences to piece together their own take on traditional string band music. Playing original music and classic standards, the trio features virtuosic musicianship and a fearless approach to improvisation.
The Crooked Road boys have come together to play original music that combines the bluegrass tradition with contemporary flair. In their long history with bluegrass in Australia and New Zealand, the Crooked Road boys have recorded many albums with artists from around the world, toured widely and are delighted to be back at Harrietville, this time with their new band. Crooked Road are: Phill Parker on guitar, vocals, songwriter and arranger; Andrew Hook vocals, mandolin, guitar; Dave Taylor vocals, double bass, guitar; Leonard Cohen vocals, dobro.
Fat Cousin Skinny
Fat Cousin Skinny is the alter-ego of the two core members of Oh Pep! – Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs, formally-trained musicians who met at high school and connected over their shared interest in engaging and inventive approaches to writing music. They have travelled to the US and conducted an exploration of Appalachian music and beyond; they’ve learnt from the greats in the homeland of the music, jamming with old-time musicians who have had the music handed down to them across the generations.
The Knott Family Band
The Knott Family Band is a quartet hailing from Melbourne and rural Victoria. Forming in early 2016 after a chance meeting at a Davidson Brothers’ show in Melbourne, they quickly found their feet playing original and classic bluegrass repertoire that reflects traditional and contemporary influences from Bill Munroe to The Punch Brothers. Their brand of bluegrass features fourpart harmony and original lyricism on top of their string band composition.
New Macedon Rangers
The New Macedon Rangers are a dynamic string band featuring members based in North Carolina and the Macedon Ranges of Victoria. Their compelling interpretation of oldtime, bluegrass, and early country songs captures the essence of these genres while a scattering of original songs and instrumentals keep the traditions moving forward. Stirring vocal harmonies and extraordinary musicianship on a number of instruments are key features of their performances that combine timeless repertoire with fresh musical voices.
Nine Mile Creek
Nine Mile Creek play a mix of traditional bluegrass, newgrass and original compositions. The band has been playing for about four years and developed a following who appreciate the solid rhythms, expert musicianship, harmony vocals, and engaging enthusiastic performances. Members are: Andrew Barcham, Colin Weight, Doug Wallace, Mark Pottenger.
Heavily influenced by New Grass Revival and Tim O’Brien, the four-piece bluegrass band The Pipis play fast, hard contemporary and traditional bluegrass. Hailing from the tiny seaside village of Leigh, north of Auckland, New Zealand, the Pipis are staunch supporters of Mountaingrass and are regular festival favourites.
RhodeWorks have played at many festivals and shows around New Zealand, including guest spots at Auckland Folk Festival and Wellington Folk Festival. They received the 2017 Frank Winter award for ‘Outstanding Musical and Vocal Talent’. Lawrence (15), Sam (13) and Nate (10) are largely self taught multi-instrumentalists. They write their own music as well as play traditional bluegrass true to the genre. Rounding out the package, the three brothers harmonise beautifully together. The boys are usually supported by their mother Tracey on double bass, and father Bruce on guitar.
Slim Dime are an acoustic duo. Their music is contemporary and urban, but woven through with the simplicity and space of old time mountain music. Listen close: you can hear fog soaked valleys, mountain ash forests and the grit of gravel road. They journey through a country and folk music landscape of mountain shadows and careworn folks and beauty found in unlikely places. There is coming home and there is leaving. Their material is both original songs and traditional songs made new, mesmerising story telling and precise musicianship with depth and emotional range: understated and warm and real. It’s music that makes you lean in and listen. These songs are new but they’ve always existed somewhere on a mountaintop.
The Stetson Family
The Stetson Family have been flying high with ‘True North’ (2015) breaking out of Australia and onto US Americana charts. Spirited, free-wheelin’ folk and gritty bluegrass infused with lush harmonies… songs of murder, mayhem and tales of the human heart take the audience down life’s often joyous and sometimes crooked highway.
In the timeless tradition of the hayride & medicine show string bands, the Strzelecki Stringbusters combine elements of old time country, bluegrass, blues and jug band sounds with good humoured banter and audience participation. The 14 piece band hails from world-famous Yinnar in Victoria and their boundless enthusiasm results in a “good natured musical riot.”
Her award winning original songs are lyrical & quirky, and collectively with her re-imaging of trad bluegrass, OT and folk songs, provide for a captivating show. Think John Hartford and Crooked Still. Widely respected as a singer and upright bass player; Kim has been a member of acoustic bands Little Rabbit, Uncle Bill, and Appalachian Heaven.
Mountaingrass Workshops 2017
Mandolin Workshop with Frank Solivan
Beginner’s and Intermediate bluegrass banjo Workshop with Peter Scholtz
Bluegrass Guitar Workshop with Tony O’Rourke
Double bass workshop for partners of pickers
Jammalong – Tips and Tricks for Jamming for Newcomers
Jammalong Melbourne – Performance Skills
Old Time Fiddle Workshop with Pepi Emerichs
Advanced Banjo Workshop with Peter Somerville
Appalachian Fiddle Tunes and Techniques with Andrew Small
Slow Jam with the Strzelecki Stringbusters
Bluegrass Guitar Workshop with Jacob McGuffie
Jam with Fat Cousin Skinny – FOTA
Dobro for Bluegrass Players with Pete Fidler
Mandolin Workshop with Nigel Lever
Harmony Singing workshop with The Stetson Family
Sunday Morning Pick with Nine Mile Creek