Bluegrass Jamboree 2016

We heard this week from Rainer Zellner, chief promoter for Bluegrass Jamboree, a traveling bluegrass and roots music festival that tours central Europe each year. He has been putting on these shows since 2009, bringing US acts to perform in the sort of venues more commonly used for classical music concerts, during the latter parts of the calendar year when their schedules are more flexible.

The tours originally were limited to cities in Germany, but this year the Jamboree included stops in Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria as well. Artists on the show in 2016 were The Honey Dewdrops, an Americana duo from Baltimore and The Goodbye Girls, an international bluegrass/old time group with both Dutch and US members. Also featured were The Truffle Valley Boys, showcasing Italian bluegrass.

A total of 24 shows were included this year, up from 16 the first year of the Jamboree. Other groups that have come over for this whistlestop tour are Steep Canyon Rangers, Mike Cleveland, Audie Blaylock, Jesse Brock, Della Mae, Cahelan Morrison & Eli West, Town Mountain, Brennen Leigh & Noe McKay, The Railsplitters, Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys, Red Tail Ring, Caleb Lauder, and Bearfoot.

Here’s Rainer’s report on this year’s shows:

“The number of people that have attended the tour grew over 6500 in 2016. The venues played were high profile theaters, art centers and music halls that present bluegrass and its roots in mixed programs of classical music, world music, USA roots, folk and pop.

We reach out to audiences that are new to the genre and introduce them to bluegrass, as well as the related acoustic music formats. Over the years we have created a strong fan base for the event and steadily growing appreciation for this American music style that is not that well known over here.

We get very strong support from all kind of media, and it definitely helps to only present top performers in a carefully designed line up, so that we are covered in good art magazines and feuilletons of national and regional media.

A large part of the show will be broadcast on Radio WDR3 February 7 at 20:00 CET. It will feature The Honey Dewdrops (Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish), The Goodbye Girls (featuring Molly Tuttle and Alison de Groot), and the most traditional act we had on the tour ever: The Truffle Valley Boys! Yes. they are from Italy, where the Truffle grows, but they have that pre mid 50s sound and show style down to perfect. Crowds went totally wild when they entered the stage and worked with that one mic set up. I am sure they would be a sensation in the US as well.”

Here are  couple of videos from Bluegrass Jamboree 2016. First, Zellner introducing The Truffle Valley Boys and their opening number…

… and one of The Goodbye Girls doing the old favorite, Black-Eyed Susie.

Well done, Rainer, working so hard to familiarize European audiences with American roots music!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.