Line-up

Click on a band name for more information.

Ragged Union – USA
Sweet Water Warblers – USA
Jack Lawrence with Dick Plank & Alan Ward – USA/UK
The Small Glories (Cara Luft & J.D. Edwards) – Canada
Jeni Hankins – USA
The Horsenecks – USA/UK
The Rip Roaring Success – UK
Hot Rock Pilgrims – UK
Dan Walsh & John Dowling – UK
The Jaywalkers – UK
New Essex Bluegrass Band – UK
Cardboard Fox – UK
Bill Smarme & The Bizness – UK
Next Generation – UK
Midnight Skyracer – UK
The Rosellys – UK

Ragged Union (USA)

Ragged Union

Based in Boulder, Colorado, Ragged Union features 2016 Walnut Valley National Mandolin Champion, Jordan Ramsey, and has been touring nationally and internationally since the winter of 2014. Their sound is built around the singing and songwriting duo of husband-and-wife, Geoff and Christina Union, and comes to life in the electrifying hands of some of Colorado’s (and the country’s) finest bluegrass musicians, including, along with Ramsey, former Spring Creek/Blue Canyon Boys banjo wizard, Chris Elliott, and Rocky Grass Academy veteran Justin Hoffenberg on the fiddle, who along with the Unions form a dynamic and cohesive unit that puts on memorable and exciting shows for dancers, listeners, traditionalists and progressives alike.

Like many bands these days, there’s something borrowed and something new about Ragged Union’s approach to bluegrass music. There are recognizable melodic and (country) lyric themes alongside non-traditional ones; breakneck grassy duet numbers, and slower ‘country-funk’ tunes; traditional arrangements alongside composed ideas and the occasional ‘jam’ section. Throughout all of it, the bluegrass quality of the sound shines through with world-class instrumentalists deeply versed in the genre, a powerful rhythmic drive, and close-harmony singing.

The band released their debut CD, ‘Hard Row to Hoe’, in 2015, and is currently at work on a follow up album, expected to be ready for release by the summer of 2017.

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Sweet Water Warblers (USA)

Sweet Water Warblers

Formed at the Hoxeyville Music Festival in 2014, The Sweet Water Warblers have gone on to attract serious admiration wherever they appear. Michigan songbirds, Rachael Davis, Lindsay Lou and May Erlewine had each carved out successful careers on the American Roots Music circuit and in the process grew to respect each others’ work. When they finally gelled into the potent force they have become, it was the most natural coming together – three singing sirens and multi-instrumentalists whose repertoire swings from gospel and bluegrass to soul and even joyful interpretations of pop. With three-part vocal harmonies that are sublime, they trade instruments including mountain fiddle and banjo, uke, guitar and double bass.

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Jack Lawrence with Richard Plank and Alan Ward (USA/UK)

Jack Lawrence with Richard Plank and Alan Ward

Jack Lawrence, from Charlotte NC, Doc Watson’s long-time friend, road companion and musical partner, the “acoustic powerhouse”, returns to the UK to tour with his friends, Richard Plank and Alan Ward, for an evening of songs, tunes and stories from the American Tradition. Jack Lawrence is heralded as one of the finest acoustic guitarists in the USA and has influenced the current generation of flat pick virtuosos including Brian Sutton.

Richard Plank finger picking guitarist, originally from London, has been a key figure in Cornish musical life for many years and has worked and recorded with several other prominent national and international performers. With Guy Charles he was awarded the inaugural UK Country Radio Listener’s Club Award in 2009.

Alan Ward multi instrumentalist. Most recently mandolin player in the leading UK bluegrass band A Band Like Alice. Also with Webb’s Wonders, The Armadilloes, and both editions of The Bluegrass Ramblers alongside folk music luminaries including Bob Davenport, Peta Webb, Tony Engle, Rick Townend and Rosie Davis.

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The Small Glories (Canada)

The Small Glories

Folk powerhouse pair The Small Glories are Cara Luft & JD Edwards, a dynamic new duo planted on the Canadian Prairies. They are a study in contrasts; Cara, all earth mother on her 21-speed bike, helmet and backpack, environmentally friendly and wholesome, ebullient and engaging; and burly JD, looking like a cross between a biker and long-haul trucker in scruffy beard, ball cap, t-shirt and jean jacket, slightly intimidating (until you meet him). At first glance few would peg them for a highly creative musical partnership. Yet these two veteran singer/songwriters have teamed up and are building a buzz around their tight harmonies, authenticity and visceral performances. Luft is a Juno award winner, co-founder of folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, and a touring road warrior. She has earned a solid reputation as an exciting live performer, accomplished guitarist, clawhammer banjo player and insightfully honest songwriter. Edwards has a voice that defies categorization, one that easily ranges from gentle and melodic to fierce and powerful, leaving listeners begging for more. He is truly one of the finest singers of his time. Together as The Small Glories, Luft and Edwards are a tour de force, a case of 1 + 1 = 3.

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Jeni Hankins (USA)

Jeni Hankins

Jeni Hankins grew up in the coalfields of Appalachian in Southwest Virginia among a family of miners, moonshiners, and journalists. Her writing pulls the grit, gumption, and keen sense of observation out of that heritage like drawing water from her grandmother’s well. A songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and flatfoot dancer, Jeni is best known for the sound of the “born-in-the bone twang” of her voice and her true tales of mountain life.

For the last ten years, Jeni has toured as part of the critically acclaimed duo Jeni & Billy, spending nine months of every year on the road. From Merlefest to the Maverick Festival, Jeni & Billy swept audiences off their feet with their down home charm and exquisite musicianship.

This year sees the pair both emerging with solo projects. Informed by seven years of touring in Great Britain, Jeni’s new collection of songs makes a love letter to the home of her ancestors and to her father who passed away in 2016. In her new songs, Jeni crosses oceans and continents to scatter her father’s ashes.

In every song, Jeni’s “true sense of place shines through – old as the hills, but brand new at the same time.”

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The Horsenecks (USA/UK)

The Horsenecks

The Horsenecks play hard-hitting and heartfelt Old Time and classic Bluegrass music, brought to life with the high-energy performance of a group of people who love the music they play. The four members formed a strong musical bond after meeting at a festival in 2012. With driving old time fiddle, three-finger banjo, four part harmonies, and a love of the lost art of Old Time music, they have since been swiftly becoming a well-loved staple in the traditional music scenes in the US and the UK. Members: Gabrielle Macrae – fiddle; Barry Southern – banjo; Chris Marshall – bass; Alan Write – guitar.

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The Rip Roaring Success

The Rip Roaring Success

The Rip Roaring Success are the hottest Western Swing Band East of El Paso featuring Wild Miss Lucille on double bass, Miss Jay tearing it up with some smokin’ hot fiddle and the token gent, the one and only Rusty on six strings of flamin’ geetar and hillbilly vox. Folk at venues and festivals up and down the country will testify that when you want the prairie set on fire with jumpin’ ho-down tunes then there ain’t no success like a rip roarin’ one.

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Hot Rock Pilgrims

Hot Rock Pilgrims

The Hot Rock Pilgrims are an old-time/bluegrass supergroup featuring some of the most exciting young pickers in the South East of England. Dan Edwards is well known for his superb guitar and clawhammer work with bands such as Ben Somers Bluegrass Band, Ben Paley’s Long Hill Ramblers, The So Last Century String Band, Solid Gone, Amy Harrison & The Second Hand String Band and others. Hubert Murray, Bruno Pichler and Sam Rose have been making waves in England and Ireland with acclaimed Bluegrass/Irish fusion band Lands End. And their old time fiddle wiz kid Kieran Towers (Winner of the Foatmad fiddle contest) has performed with the likes of Bruce Molsky, Brittany Haas and Rayna Gellert. Together they will take you on a high-energy pilgrimage of Appalachian music and its descendants.

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Dan Walsh and John Dowling

Dan Walsh and John Dowling

Dan Walsh:
Nominated for best musician at last year’s BBC Folk Awards and touted as one of the finest banjo players in the UK as well as being a superb singer, songwriter and guitarist, Dan Walsh is described as ‘the real deal’ (UNCUT). 2017 sees the release of a highly anticipated new solo album after the success of critically acclaimed album Incidents and Accidents which was lauded as ‘absolutely terrific’ by Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio 2. As well as many tours of the UK, he also has recent successful trips to USA, Canada, Germany, India, Norway and New Zealand to his credit. Both solo and as a member of the award winning Urban Folk Quartet, as well as guest appearances on stage with Imelda May, Joss Stone and the Levellers, this unique and eclectic musician has stunned audiences across the world.

John Dowling:
John became a banjo teacher and performer during his school years. Originally a classical violinist he began playing the banjo at the age of 13. He won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards at 18 years. When he was 21 years he became the first person from outside the United States to win the prestigious Walnut Valley Banjo Contest held in Winfield, Kansas, the largest known Banjo competition in America. He worked alongside Jools Holland, Mark Knopfler and Courtney Pine in the prime time BBC documentary ‘Play it Again’ where he taught British stand up comedian Frank Skinner how to play the Banjo. His debut album, ‘The Underground Sessions’, was entirely recorded in a 300 year old Cornish tin mine and chosen as one of the top ten favourite albums of 2011 by American periodical Banjo Newsletter. John is published by Faber Music and is author of ‘The Contemporary Banjo Player’.

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Jaywalkers

Jaywalkers

Since reaching the finals of the BBC Young Folk Awards in 2008, Jaywalkers have cemented their place as one of the most exciting, virtuosic and entertaining young bands working on the British Folk scene. Effortlessly creating a unique sound based on their collective and individual musical backgrounds, the band takes influence from Folk, Bluegrass, Country and Western Swing music in the form of virtuosic instrumentals, three part harmony and impressive slap bass. Add good humour, tasteful arrangements and exceptional musicianship to the mix and they are guaranteed to put a smile on your face…. The music Jaywalkers create is in­novative, rooted deeply in tradition, and exhilarating.

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New Essex Bluegrass Band

New Essex Bluegrass Band

2017 marks The New Essex Bluegrass Band’s twenty-third year performing traditional Bluegrass to a loyal following throughout the UK and Europe. They have headlined at Ireland’s Athy Bluegrass Festival and appeared several times at nearly all the UK Bluegrass Festivals, and others in Holland, France, Germany and Lithuania.

Their all-acoustic show is presented around a single microphone, and features authentic bluegrass harmonies from founder members, Paul Brewer (guitar) and Terry Hymers (mandolin). Richard Partridge (bass) joined in 2016 adding his baritone voice. Greg Smith (fiddle) completes the Gospel quartet, while Grahame Turner drives the music along with his impeccable banjo playing.

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Cardboard Fox

Cardboard Fox

Cardboard Fox are an exciting Bath-based progressive bluegrass four piece. Featuring twins Charlotte and Laura Carrivick (guitar, vocals and fiddle,vocals), the prodigious mandolin talents of Joe Tozer and held together by John Breese on double bass and harmonies. Their original songs are instantly memorable, with catchy riffs, vocal harmonies and complex instrumental backing and sparks fly when they all let loose on fast paced instrumental numbers. Their live shows are full of energy and their joy in playing is infectious. 2016 saw the band release their album ‘Out of Mind’, tour internationally and also become the first ever UK band to showcase at the IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Bill Smarme & The Bizness

Bill Smarme and The Bizness

Bill Smarme – international entertainer, ladies’ man, household maintenance contractor – leads his band through a farrago of songs you thought you knew but now you’re not so sure.
Their line-up is bluegrass and country but that is where the similarity goes awry; expect songs of binder twine and Twerton, marmalade and murder, performed with tongue firmly in cheek and all in the best possible taste!

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Next Generation

Next Generation

Next Generation reunites two of the founder members of original UK bluegrass band Generation Gap – Kevin Garett and Bill Foster on guitar/dobro and banjo respectively. They are joined by Kevin’s sons Neil and Mark on guitar and mandolin, and Peter Earle on bass.

Kevin and Neil will be familiar from their many festival appearances with Dalebilly, and also with Peter in The Grove Bluegrass Band – Neil and Peter also play together in an Americana four piece, Lost Loui.

With Mark living in Singapore, and Bill living in Ireland, UK appearances for Next Generation are limited, but in the last couple of years Next Generation have performed at Orwell, Cornwall, Bunratty and South Wales bluegrass festivals.

The band features a classic bluegrass set, with strong three part harmonies from Kevin, Neil and Bill, underpined with Bill’s driving banjo playing on tunes such as Remington Ride.

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Midnight Skyracer

Midnight Skyracer

Anglo-Irish girl power bluegrass!

Midnight Skyracer are a brand new all-female 5 piece bluegrass band playing hard driving traditional and modern classics and lesser known songs. Featuring an all-star lineup of some of the UK’s top instrumentalists and singers, the band takes inspiration from the likes of other great female artists such as Rhonda Vincent and Alison Krauss.

Leanne Thorose: Mandolin, Vocals
Tabitha Agnew: Banjo, Vocals
Charlotte Carrivick: Guitar, Vocals
Laura Carrivick: Fiddle, Dobro, Vocals
Eleanor Wilkie: Double bass, Vocals

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The Rosellys

Midnight Skyracer
The Rosellys

“The Rosellys capture the essence of country, with folk ingredients baked into a transatlantic roots fusion” – R2 4/5 Stars

“The Rosellys are a 5-piece band who make no apology for their love of Americana. Musically, they blend English accents with lyrical references to both the UK and US alongside well pitched bass, feisty drum beats and stunning pedal steel and fiddle to create a sound that walks the fine line between Celtic folk and Americana” – Nashville Over Here

In 2015 The Rosellys signed to Clubhouse Records (Redlands Palomino Co, Cale Tyson, Don Gallardo) and released their first full band album ‘The Granary Sessions’, gathering praise from musicians, critics and audiences alike. They have toured extensively across the UK, Australia and America – notably the Southern States where San Antonio (Texas) has become their second home. Influenced by artists such as Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, Alison Krauss, Chris Stapleton, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, it is clear The Rosellys have an absolute love for Americana music.

“A brilliant band and a good example of that crossover where Britain meets America and it makes a very special sound indeed” – Ralph McLean – BBC Radio Ulster

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BBMA Open Stage

This is intended for new or inexperienced performers. The BBMA OPEN STAGE in the Clubhouse will run from 4.00pm-7.00pm on the Friday and Saturday. Just pop along to the merchandise tent or Clubhouse and sign-up if you’d like to perform. Your names will be transferred to a blackboard running order by the stage. This is also an Old Time Session area when there are no open stage performances.

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