Estonian grassers Curly Strings were announced today as the first recipients of the new IBMA International Band Performance Grant, designed to facilitate bands and artists from outside the United States traveling to perform at the annual World of Bluegrass convention each year. This grant was spearheaded by recent former IBMA Executive Director Paul Schiminger and his wife, Alys, who also provided its initial funding.
This is a busy week for IBMA, with tomorrow’s announcement of the 2022 IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards nominees expected in the morning. Current ED Pat Morris says that they will also be unveiling a number of new things at WOB in September.
“We have many exciting new additions to this year’s World of Bluegrass for our international participants, including an expanded exhibit hall and International Pavilion with a new stage, and look forward to welcoming Curly Strings and helping to introduce them in a bold way to our bluegrass family and US audiences.”
Curly Strings has been together nearly a decade, and have established themselves as a fast rising act in Estonia and throughout Europe. They were recognized in 2016 as the Best European Bluegrass Band at the EWOB festival after being named as Best New Folk Artist at the Estonian Ethno Music Awards in 2015. They are part of the growing trend in European bluegrass to write, record, and play in their native language, making it much easier to establish themselves with music lovers at home.
The group is based around the singing of fiddler Eeva Talsi, along with Taavet Niller on bass, Jaan Jaago on guitar, and Villu Talsi on mandolin. All four share in the band’s vocals.
In response to being named as the grant recipients, the band responded that, “We are very grateful to be selected as for this year’s IBMA International Band Performance Grant, and we look forward to our appearances in Raleigh and our follow-on tour in 2023. Our main goal at our performances is to give the audiences an amazing performance of our Estonian-infused acoustic music, to show the whole range of the emotional spectrum of our songs and musicianship, and to let the people experience that even though we sing in a foreign language, music is something that transcends these borders and brings all of us closer together.”
Schiminger says that it wasn’t a simple task to select them as the first recipients of this award.
“It was a very competitive process for this year’s inaugural grant, with many terrific international bands applying. We felt Curly Strings stood out with their exciting blend of Estonian-influenced bluegrass music. We look forward to seeing them in Raleigh, and on their 2023 US tour, which will include highlight performances at Grey Fox, ROMP, Frankfurt Bluegrass Festival, The Station Inn, and the Grand Ole Opry. The Steering Committee hopes to build on the success of this new program for many years to come and would encourage anyone wanting to help support the ‘I’ in IBMA to donate to our program. Congratulations to Curly Strings!”
Full details can be found online about the World of Bluegrass convention, the IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards, and the weekend Bluegrass Live festival, all happening in Raleigh, NC the last week of September.