2008 European Bluegrass Band Awards

European World of Bluegrass FestivalSinger/songwriter Liz Meyer wrote in to let us know how the EWOB festival went this past weekend.

She tells us the weather was great in Voorthuizen and the music was even better. For three days this small Dutch town was teaming with bluegrass musicians from all over the world. 41 bands from 15 different countries, including three US bands, participated in the festivities.

These three days, May 1-3, were the culmination of a month of bluegrass celebrations that took place as part of the European World of Bluegrass. It also served as the kickoff for bluegrass month in Europe. During the month of May there are 195 European festivals and events where fans will be able to take in some good bluegrass on the old continent.

One of the most exciting parts of the EWOB festival is the European Bluegrass Band competition.

Winners are chosen each year by the musicians performing at the festival. The first place winner each year is invited to perform at the IBMA World of Bluegrass the following year. Here are this year’s winners.

  1. European Bluegrass Band 2008: ACOUSTICURE (Hungary)
  2. European Bluegrass Band 2008: PETR BRANDEJS BAND (Czech Republic)
  3. European Bluegrass Band 2008: 4-WHEEL DRIVE (The Netherlands)

The #1 European Bluegrass Band 2008, Acousticure, is the first bluegrass band from Hungary to appear at this colorful international gathering, performing at the past 2 European World of Bluegrass Festivals. An energetic 4-piece group of impressive multi-instrumentalists, Acousticure keeps the sound crew hopping with frequent instrument changes. Their young spokesman, mandolin-fiddler-guitarist Zsolt Pinter, has spent enough time in the USA to speak English like a native, and has a remarkable command of bluegrass-country vocals. Acousticure’s musical vision playfully fuses bluegrass influences from old-time to newgrass, often incorporating their native Hungarian folk music. (An example of the latter, Kis Kece Lanyom, can be heard on the European World of Bluegrass 2007 CD from Strictly Country Records.) The US bluegrass scene will get a chance to experience Acousticure onstage in Nashville at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) World of Bluegrass convention in October 2009, where they will perform as the #1 European Bluegrass Band.

Zsolt Pinter: fiddle, guitar, mandolin, vocal
Geza Kremnitzky – mandolin, banjo, vocal
Peter Gyergyadesz – bass, vocal
Andras Toth – guitar, banjo, dobro, mandolin, vocal

The professional band awards aren’t the only awards given during EWOB though. Each year the festival audience selects their favorite groups from among the showcase performances. Call it a Fan’s Choice Awards if you will. This year’s winners are:

  1. Audience Popularity Award, EWOB 2008: BLUEGRASS CWRKOT (Czech Republic)
  2. Audience Popularity Award, EWOB 2008: BLACKJACK (Czech Republic)
  3. Audience Popularity Award, EWOB 2008: SUNNY SIDE (Czech Republic)

I find it very exciting to see and hear all this great bluegrass music being created outside the boundaries of the US.