2023 Bluegrass in La Roche Festival retains its international theme

The line-up for this year’s Bluegrass In La Roche Festival, taking place during the weekend of August 2-6, 2023, boats of an international roster of artists, including US visitors such as Tim O’Brien, The Special Consensus, and Henhouse Prowlers.

Overall, there are five American groups, 17 European groups, and one Indian group, Grassy Strings, that is performing for the first time outside their own country.

Several bands are making their debuts at the festival which takes place in the French Alps, close to Geneva, Chamonix, and Annecy.

A representative of four of the debutants provided a reaction to being given this exciting new opportunity. 

Chris Lord banjo player with the London-based five-piece traditional bluegrass band, The Vanguards, admitted .. 

“We’re delighted to be invited to play and very excited to share the stage with some of our bluegrass idols! This will be the furthest we’ve travelled to play, previously only having gone as far as Ireland, and we’re eagerly anticipating getting to play for a completely new audience.”

They have two CDs, an eponymous collection, The Vanguards, and their August 2022 release, South of the River.

The Vanguards, Rawhide, Westport’s 11th Folk & Bluegrass Festival, County Mayo, 2017

The Vanguards at Naseby Bluegrass Festival 2021 – Moon Turns To Blue, New Camptown Races, Barstool Blues and Katy Daly.

Jack Baker (vocals, mandolin), Alex Clarke (vocals, guitar), Chris Lord (banjo), Laura Nailor (vocals, fiddle) and Pete Thomas (bass). 

Formed almost four years ago, Grassy Strings is a duo based in Kolkata, India. The band comprises with the guitar player/vocalist Souvik Hazra and the mandolinist Subhankar Dhar. This acoustic duo has been attached with American folk music, old time, swing, and bluegrass music.

Hazra commented ….  

“It is a great honor to get such an invitation to perform in the prestigious and largest bluegrass festival of Europe. Bluegrass in La Roche is offering bluegrass musicians from around the world have a chance to get together, learn from each other and make the community much stronger and better. That’s what is more surprising for us. We are excited to get a chance to go to our first bluegrass festival, and that is to represent the Indian bluegrass act in Europe for the first time.

We are looking forward to learning so many things about the bluegrass culture and bluegrass communities, apart from just performing in our upcoming tour.”

Make A Little Love

Nugget, founded in early 1976, is the second group to represent Austria at a La Roche-sur-Foron bluegrass festival. 

For co-founder Helmut Mitteregger, the occasion will be particularly significant and auspicious …. 

“We are so delighted to finally make it to La Roche. It’s a big honor, that’s for sure. Having the nicest possible line-up now (a dream come true, with Ralph Schut on guitar as newest member), we are more than ready to play at perhaps the most important bluegrass festival in Europe.

Nugget is in its 46th year, and we are so happy that our music still prospers and blossoms like a teeny garage band with so much fun doing what we are doing.

We are planning to do a new CD in the near future, although it might be only possible as soon as next spring.

We are living pretty far apart from each other, but this is nothing new for a bluegrass band. Also are we really international or European, having four members born in four different countries. But we all listened to the same bluegrass bands when we grew up, and that’s what makes everything so easy because we have the same idea about what our music should sound like. We have lots of fun and we hope that everyone listening to Nugget can see and feel that.”

The members of Nugget currently are Helmut Mitteregger (vocals, mandolin), Katarina Mitteregger (vocals, bass), Ralph Schut (vocals, guitar) and Jarda Jahoda (banjo). 

Festival Na Ostrovech 2022 

Greg Cahill remembers that Special Consensus were in La Roche about 12 years ago. He is enthusiastic about making a return appearance …..

“We are very much looking forward to being part of the of the fabulous Bluegrass In La Roche Festival in August. We have performed in concert in La Roche, France [in May 2011], but have never played at the festival. Christopher Howard-Williams and I have spoken about the possibility of Special Consensus coming to the festival for many years, but the timing never worked out until now.

The festival artist roster includes top bands from numerous countries, and we are friends with the US bands as well as some of the European bands that will be presented.

This is a renowned festival, touted as Europe’s largest bluegrass festival, and we greatly appreciate being included in the event!”

The Special Consensus Carolina In The Pines, recorded live at Red Clay Music Foundry, November 28, 2021.

Michael Prewitt (vocals, mandolin), Dan Eubanks (bass), Greg Blake (vocals, guitar) and Greg Cahill (vocals, banjo)

This short video by Fred Glas, a banjo player from Lyon, provides a glimpse of the ambience that can be enjoyed at La Roche during the first weekend in August. 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.