East Of Monroe heading for Ireland

Virginia grassers East Of Monroe are packing that grip for a week-long tour of Ireland in April. The six-piece group specializes in original bluegrass, and they are all looking forward to their first band visit to the Emerald Isle next month.

Their tour will include stops in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland from April 6-14. Pubs, clubs, and theaters are on the itinerary, with plenty of time left over for sightseeing along the way.

 “I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland,” says guitarist and vocalist Jackie Frost. “I especially am interested in meeting and learning from the musicians there, since our music is so similar and so much of our music evolved from theirs.”

“Bluegrass music has a lot of Irish influence,” continues bass player Billy Budd. “This will be East of Monroe’s first visit there, and we are excited to visit a country with such a rich musical history.”

“[Fiddler] Wally [Hughes] and I did a tour in Ireland last April and we can’t wait to return,” says Lisa Kay Howard-Hughes, who plays mandolin for the group. “One thing that really struck us is how serious Irish audiences were about the music. They really focused on the performance in a way that makes us, as the performers, feel good, like we are being listened to. Of course it’s also insanely beautiful there. And on a personal side note, I’m meeting my Irish cousins for the first time on this trip, who coincidentally are professional musicians as well.”

Banjo man Terry Wittenberg adds, “We are looking forward to meeting the friendly folks of Ireland!”

And guitarist/vocalist Gary Ferguson notes that he is “looking forward to returning to Ireland to play for the wonderful Irish audiences. It will be great to see old friends again!”

They will be performing material from their recent CD, By The River’s Edge.

Dates scheduled for the tour include:

  • April 6 – Private function, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
  • April 7 – Moy River Folk Club, Sligo, Co. Sligo
  • April 8 – The Red Room, Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland
  • April 12 – Matt Malloy’s/The Acoustic Yard, Westport, Co. Mayo
  • April 13 – St. John’s Theatre, Listowel, Co.  Kerry
  • April 14 – The Blackrock Club, Cork

We spoke last week with Billy Budd, who promised to share highlights and photos from the trip with us as they go. Keep an eye open for that next month.

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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.