Al Ras Bluegrass Festival 2016

This review of the Al Ras Bluegrass Festival is a contribution from Spanish banjoist, educator, and composer, Lluis Gomez.

alrasxv2The fifteenth edition of Al Ras Bluegrass Festival took place this November in Barcelona and Mollet del Vallès (Barcelona, Spain). Al Ras is the oldest bluegrass festival in Spain, and this edition has been probably the most international in the festival history.

The line up was headed by the Italian band Red Wine, actively touring since 1978, and one of the premier European bluegrass bands. Caroline Cotter and Ron Cody, members of The Gather Rounders, performed together with Jesse Brock, mandolin player of the Gibson Brothers, among others. From Bilbao, the Basque Country, the Spanish band La West Bluegrass Band presented in Al Ras their new album. The local bands were represented by the Barcelona Bluegrass Band who were joined by Jesse Brock and Ron Cody on stage.

From West Virginia, and performing under the name of Chestnut Ridge, Jaime Lynn Buckner and Trae Buckner of The Hillbilly Gypsies were supported on stage by the Damned Hillbillies, local band lead by Ricky Araiza and Richard da Silva. Old time music had also its place in Al Ras: Mitch Depew, old time fiddle player from New Jersey, played with his band Ryegrass, formed by Catalan old time musicians. The festival was opened, as usual, by Toni Giménez, who played an instrumental set on banjo and guitar.

Grand finale at the 2016 Al Ras Bluegrass Festival in BarcelonaAll in all, a week of concerts, master classes and activities, a nice row of days of friendship and music that ended with the main concert of the festival, on Saturday 12th, and a final jam with an absolutely crowded stage!

See you next year in Barcelona!

As a final treat, Lluis also shared this video he recorded in Barcelona with Ron Cody as a tribute to the late Bill Keith. It’s a banjo duet treatment of his arrangement of Nola.


And this twin banjo version of Bill’s two most famous tunes, Devil’s Dream and Sailor’s Hornpipe.


More photos from the festival can be found online.