With the Arab Middle East so much in the news these days, and full of so many disheartening images, we are delighted to offer a encouraging story about bluegrass music and the Sultanate of Oman. Oman is located on the Arabian Sea, just east of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Three bluegrass bands from California are currently on tour in Oman, where they will perform at a variety of venues for both Omani and American/European audiences. The bands are Lost Highway, Chris Stuart & Backcountry and Eric Uglum & Sons. The tour was organized by Bud Bierhaus, a bluegrass musician who performed with the band Copperline in southern CA before going to work for Halliburton in Oman.
Last summer, Bud contact Eric Uglum to see if he and his boys (Christian and Austin Ward) might be interested in a tour in Oman. Eric’s enthusiasm for the idea led Bud to suggest that some other bands be involved as well, and before long, an 8 day tour was scheduled. It began with a show yesterday (2/9) at the closing night of the Muscat Festival, a 30 day event which celebrates the many cultures and musical flavors of the diverse Omani workforce and populace. The remainder of the tour includes both concerts and workshops, some for American citizens groups and schools, others for the American Embassy staff and guests, and a couple for private interests.
Eric Uglum is the guitarist and mandolinist with Lost Highway, which also includes Ken Orrick (guitar), Dick Brown (banjo), Mike Tatar Jr. (fiddle) and Joe Ash (bass). Chris Stuart & Backcountry is made up of Janet Beazley (banjo), Mason Tuttle (bass), Brian Wicklund (fiddle) and Chris (guitar).
Chris Stuart also shared some thoughts about the trip:
“We’re really looking forward to going to Oman. It’s going to be an adventure and I’m particularly looking forward to playing the big Muscat Festival. I’m also taking some IBMA ‘Discover Bluegrass’ DVDs to leave in a few of the schools over there. Who knows, maybe someday there will be an Omani bluegrass band!”
Stacey Uglum (Eric’s wife and Christian and Austin Ward’s mom) is also going on the trip, and she promised to get back to us when they return, and send photos from the tour. We’ll pass along her report and some photos later this month.