Jim VanCleve, fiddler with Mountain Heart, has had quite a busy 2010 so far. As related in our recent communications, it appears that there is no rest in sight. But Jim wouldn’t have it any other way.
In addition to recording demos for the next Mountain Heart album in January, and touring with the band, he’s made a trip to Scotland with Alecia Nugent. She asked him to join her group for a show at Celtic Connections Festival which takes place in Glasgow, Scotland every year.
“It’s a HUGE event with well over 100 acts, who appear at various venues throughout the city over the course of three weeks. The sheer magnitude of such an undertaking is mind boggling!! The intent of the festival, is to celebrate the extremely rich Celtic musical heritage while opening the ears and hearts of Glaswegians to various musical forms from across the globe. It is indeed an epic event, and it is a great thing that they include Bluegrass and Americana music among the many featured styles they feature each year!
The band Alecia had assembled was an extremely fun bunch of guys (and gals) who most bluegrassers are well aware of: Tim Stafford and Rob Ickes (both from the band Blue Highway, who were also appearing at the festival) on guitar and resonator guitar, respectively, Ashby Frank, the young mando monster who was most recently with Special Consensus, Chris Wade, a young banjo player from Ohio, Sonya Rutledge, who played bass for quite some time with Sweethearts of the Rodeo, and myself.
The shows were extremely well received. Blue Highway and Alecia Nugent both got wonderful standing ovations, and glowing reviews all the way around, so I’d say they enjoyed bluegrass across the big pond quite a lot! We obviously had a great time hanging with our Blue Highway buddies, but also made a lot of new friends- who were a hoot!
Rob Ickes, Ashby Frank, and myself found ourselves in a bona fide Celtic jam/dance session in our hotel lobby late one night with these new friends. It was quite a time, and I must say, they really know how to do it up right over there! So, us bluegrassers come by it honest! I really hope to be able to return to the festival soon, as it was certainly a treat!”
Jim also has a fiddle workshop coming up in Stockesdale, NC next weekend. They are billing the two 3 hours sessions as “Jam With Jimmy” – a morning class for beginning/intermediate players, and an afternoon class for advanced fiddlers. The fee is $65 and each student is asked to bring their fiddle and expect to play some for Jim.
Later that evening, from 7:00-10:00 p.m., Jim will host an open jam for area pickers. The fee for the evening jam is $20, and includes snacks. You can find more details about the fiddle workshops on the Stonefield Cellars web site, where they will be held. Pre-registration is required.