South Korean bluegrass group Country GongBang has been selected to receive the International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2023 International Band Performance Grant. This annual award is given to an especially promising act from outside the United States to help assist with travel expenses and Visa difficulties.
The band name, rendered in Korean as 컨트리공방, roughly translates to Country Studio Performance, or Country Study Show. It comes from a popular Korean phenomenon where students are filmed studying or doing homework, and has spread into music students practicing. Other students and people generally have enjoyed these sort of videos, along with similarly-themed mukbang videos, where people film themselves eating, often in absurd quantities.
Country GongBang plays a very tasty form of contemporary bluegrass, writing and singing in both English and Korean, which has been well received internationally via YouTube and other online venues. The band played at the La Roche Bluegrass Festival in France, and the Takarazuka Bluegrass Festival in Japan.
They had been selected as an official IBMA Bluegrass Ramble Showcase Artist in 2020, which tuned out to be in a digital format due to COVID shutdowns. But their showcase video proved to quite popular and surely helped them with this ’23 Performance Grant.
Here is a live video they shot last year traveling by train to La Roche.
In announcing this year’s award, IBMA pro tem Executive Director Paul Schiminger shared…
“Country GongBang created quite a buzz with their performance during IBMA’s Virtual World of Bluegrass in 2020, so it is exciting that, as this year’s IBMA International Band Grant recipient, they will perform in Raleigh this fall and on a US tour in 2024. Their Korean-influenced repertoire epitomizes the talent, passion, and creativity growing in bluegrass music around the world!”
We will certainly look forward to hearing and meeting this talented young group of Korean gassers at this year’s World of Bluegrass, running the last week of September in Raleigh, NC.