We’ve had many occasions of late to comment on the maturity of the European bluegrass scene, and it’s having grown artistically to a point where the music rivals that of what we hear in the States. Our friends oversees may have smaller audiences, but they play the grass with the same verve and skill as anyone who’s stayed up all night at Galax.
And not only are the players top notch, so are the luthiers who make bluegrass instruments over there. If you know much of European history, you recognize that the various cultures that make up the region have centuries long traditions of fine handcrafting of musical instruments. The rise of these prominent builders gives pickers there a chance to own hand-made instruments of the highest quality, without having to have them shipped halfway around the world.
Today’s example comes from Sweden, with a group of bluegrass buddies getting together online to create music the only way they can during COVID-19 restrictions. Jens Koch and Erik Igelström, former members of G2, and their friend Max Tellving of Happy Heartaches, cut a version of Randall Hylton’s Cold Sheets of Rain virtually, capturing the tracking on video as well as audio.
Jens is on banjo, Erik on mandolin, and Max on guitar and bass. Not only are all three born and bred Swedes, both the guitar and mandolin they used are as well, made by Fredholm Guitars. Koch’s banjo is Czech made, from the shop of Jaroslav Prucha.
Here’s their video.
Well done, boys!
Jens tells us that he and Erik are collaborating on another long distance recording, this time intercontinentally, with Jake and Carter Eddy of West Virginia. Stuart Duncan is adding fiddle to these tracks.
Their version of Goodbye Liza Jane should be available as a single quite soon, so keep an eye out for that.