International Suite at IBMA World of Bluegrass

This blog was started to help keep people informed about the International Suite at IBMA's World of Bluegrass. Perhaps it will grow into a meeting point for the international bluegrass community.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Europe challenged on banjo speed record

In response to yesterday's mention of Johnny Butten (UK) as world's fastest banjo player, Erio Meili (originally of Switzerland, but now head of the Sao Paulo Bluegrass Music Association in Brazil and leader of the South American Bluegrass Network), reports:

Howdy folks,

Here comes our Southern challenge for a new record for world fastest banjo player, pre-qualified in the
Livro da Guineia(Guineia Book) and hopefully running now for Guinness. Check it out on YouTube. The tune is 'Sunday', home-made and faster than Johnny Butten's 'Duelling banjos'. For our alternative duelling banjos spot, watch our 'Titanic deviation medley' here.

And only last week, all we had to worry about was that the world might be destroyed by the Large Hadron Collider...

Europe (and the rest of the world) at IBMA's World of Bluegrass

IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2008 begins in Nashville on Monday 29 September. An important event in the schedule will be the International Summit meeting (30 Sept.-1 Oct.), aimed at reaching a new consensus on IBMA's priorities for assisting the growth of bluegrass worldwide. Europe is strongly represented, with over half of the thirty members attending the Summit.

European musicians at World of Bluegrass will include the G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden; #1 European Bluegrass Band 2007) andJohnny Butten (UK; current holder of the Guinness Records title 'World's Fastest Banjo Player'). The EBMA will again be hosting the International Suite showcases at the Nashville Convention Center (NCC), Room #104. The schedule is:

Tues. 30 Sept.
11:00 Janet McGarry (Canada)
11:30 G2 Bluegrass Band (Sweden)
12:00 Widow Maker (Canada)
12:30 The Toy Hearts (UK)
01:00 Lilly Drumeva (Bulgaria)
01:30 Johnny Butten (UK)

Wed. 1 Oct.
11:00 Red Wine (Italy)
11:30 C-Denny Band (Canada)
12:00 April Verch (Canada)
12:30 J.B. Rochat & Joost van Es (Switzerland/Netherlands)
01:00 Johnny Possum (New Zealand)
01:30 Tabea Anderfuhren, Aaron Till, & Steve Ledford (Switzerland/USA)

For details of other showcase appearances at World of Bluegrass by European performers, see the individual artists' websites.

G2's schedule in the US begins on Sunday 28 September at the world-famous Station Inn, Nashville, and includes an interview (with music) on (1 Oct.) and a slot on the main IBMA Fan Fest programme (4 Oct.). Red Wine, as well as playing in the main evening showcase programme (30 Sept.), will play for the IBMA Awards Reception Party (2 Oct.) and will go on to play at the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival (3-4 Oct.) and - for the second time - at the massive Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festivalin San Francisco (5 Oct.).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bluegrass at Expomusic Trade Fair in Brazil

Erio Meili of the Sao Paulo Bluegrass Music Association reports that bluegrass was well received at the Expomusic2007 Trade Fair, the largest annual trade fair for music in South America.

Here are some photos of the event.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bluegrass Pioneer Tatsuo Arita Passes

Saburo 'Sab Watanabe' Inoue of Japan sends via the IBMA-L list the sad news that Japanese bluegrass pioneer Tatsuo Arita passed away today while on a tour cruise in the Mediterranean. Although not a musician, he played a key part in creating the first bluegrass-like band in Japan, the East Mountain Boys, in October 1958. There was no tradition in Japan at the time of stringband music or even fiddle and banjo, but from his knowledge of how a bluegrass band should sound, Arita encouraged Don Sano to play banjo and the Ozaki Brothers to play bluegrass-style mandolin and guitar.

While staying in New York in 1961 he heard the loudspeaker of a car (it belonged to the Stanley Brothers) yelling: 'The bluegrass show is in town!' so he went there and met David Freeman, who later founded County Records. The two men quickly became friends and went to 'Bluegrass Day' on 4 July 1961 at Luray, Virginia, the first ever all-bluegrass all-day event, produced by Bill Clifton.

The contribution made by Mr Arita and the Ozaki Brothers is on record as part of the IBMM Video Oral History Project, thanks to Fred Bartenstein. Sab adds:

Personally, I fell in love with bluegrass when I heard a single EP record which Mr Arita loaned to my brother Toshio in the early '60s - Flatt and Scruggs's 'Old home town'. Since the day I heard it, my life changed forever.

Mr Arita was behind the Japanese bluegrass scene since its heyday of the '60s, so not many people know him. However, the people who were inspired by his love of music will never forget what he gave me and us... to Japanese people, the bluegrass music.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

International Bluegrass in Nashville

The European Bluegrass Music Association will once again be coordinating the International Suite at the World of Bluegrass in Nashville, TN. There will be two shows, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings - October 2 & 3 - starting at 10:45 pm.

We will welcome any non-US bluegrass group that will attend the WoB, to perform in the International Suite, preferably from all over the world. Several European bands that performed at the EWOB Festival 2007 already have indicated that they will be present.

If your group would like to participate, please contact Rienk Janssen at

Check out the International Suite's blog regularly for updates on the 2007 International Suite's program.

Friday, December 08, 2006


To keep this blog alive in the long periods of time between IBMA's World of Bluegrass events, we are trying to publish international, i.e. non-US, bluegrass news.

For European bluegrass news, please refer to EBMA's European Bluegrass Blog which can be found at

For all bluegrass news, make sure to check out The Bluegrass Blog regularly:

Feel free to send your news items to

See you in Nashville in October 2007!

New Website from Brazil

Our friend Erio Meili from Brazil reports that a new Brazilian bluegrass website can now be found at

If you are interested in bluegrass in Brazil, have a look at

Thursday, October 12, 2006

International Suite 2006 a Success

The International Suite at the 2006 IBMA World of Bluegrass was successful; it was organised by the European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA). Nine bands from three continents played on two nights - September 26 and 27 - to an appreciative audience. The events were made possible through the support of IBMA's International Outreach Program and the following sponsors: Northern Bluegrass Commitee, Bluegrass Ireland, EBMA, Desert Rose Musical Instruments, Sumi Mandolins, Norwegian Bluegrass Music Association and Strictly Country. Current plans include having the International Suite back at IBMA's World of Bluegrass 2007 (October 1-7, 2007).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Schedule for International Suite 2006

Renaissance Hotel, Belmont 3

Tuesday, September 26

22:45-23:05 Abrams Brothers (Canada)

23:05-23:25 Downhill Bluegrass Band (Sweden)

23:25-23:45 April Verch Band (Canada)

23:45-00:05 Carmel Sheerin & The Ravens (Ireland)

00:05-00:25 Will Maring & Robert Bowlin (USA/Germany)

00:25-00:45 Foggy Hogtown Band (Canada)

00:45-01:05 The Laws (Canada)

01:05-01:25 OPEN

Wednesday, September 27

22:45-23:05 Abrams Brothers (Canada)

23:05-23:25 Takeharu Kunimoto & The Last Frontier (Japan/USA)

23:25-23:45 Blue Railroad Train (France)

23:45-00:05 Carmel Sheerin & The Ravens (Ireland)

00:05-00:25 April Verch Band (Canada)

00:25-00:45 Downhill Bluegrass Band (Sweden)

00:45-01:05 C-Denny Band (Canada)

01:05-01:25 Foggy Hogtown Band (Canada)