This post is a contribution from Lilly Pavlak, who runs Lilly’s Bluegrass Agency in Switzerland. She also works as a music journalist in Europe. We thank her for sharing this report, and the photos from the festival.
Last week I returned from 10th European Bluegrass Music Festival and Band Contest, a unique European event, held for the second time in La Roche-sur-Foron, a pretty little medieval town in the French Alps, near Mont Blanc.
It was a festival of superlatives !
Organised by Christopher Howard-Williams, the chairman of FBMA and supported by the town’s mayor, the Tourist Bureau and many others (120 volunteers!). After the rain last year, this time the weather was beautiful.
Thirty bands came to play from eleven different countries: France, Czech Republic, Spain, Estonia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Russia, Slovakia and U.S. – over twenty hours of free concerts.
The whole city beat to the rhythm of Bluegrass music with bars hosting bands for a “fringe” festival on Thursday evening and the local movie theater playing Deliverance. Friday was a gala concert with French bluegrass comedy act Zip Code 2025, Bluegrass Stuff from Italy ‚Äì last year’s contest winner ‚Äì and headliners from the U.S. Hickory Project.
Saturday and Sunday was the European band competition and, on Saturday, this year’s winners of the European Bluegrass Pioneer Awards were proclaimed. The beautiful hand-made wooden awards went to Jaanus Vainu from Estonia, Loek Lamers from Holland and Petr Kus from Czech Republic.
The winners of the band contest are :
- 1st place Kralik & his Rowdy Rascals from Czech Republic
- 2nd place Country Saloon from Russia (for the second year running)
- 3rd place G-Runs & Roses, a young hot band from Czech Republic
As well as the music several other attractions were organized to suit all tastes and ages, such as the festival market, music market, pony rides, climbing wall, masterclass workshops, bluegrass gospel singing at Sunday Mass and so on. An estimated 10,000 spectators came to the festival this year and enjoyed this great event over three days !!
If you are planning to be in Europe for the first weekend of next August, don’t forget to stop by www.larochesurforon.com.
For me it was the event of the year 2007!!!!!!!!!!