This post is a contribution from Joe Walsh, mandolinist and manager of a new Transatlantic bluegrass experiment, currently on tour in Europe called The Peregrines. Joe and the rest of the guys will be sending us occasional reports as their tour progresses.
The Peregrines 2016 Europe tour got off to a roll this morning at London Heathrow, after an overnight flight (for me) from Boston. Unfortunately it was only a roll forward in the rental car, which with a fence approaching would only get me so far. No matter where I looked for reverse (with my left hand on the stick shift!!) I couldn’t seem to find anything but forward. Off to a smashing start!!!
After finally finding reverse, I took one last look at the maps I’d grabbed screen shots of and headed off to find the M25, the A10, the A107, and at the end of all that, the boys! Let me introduce them…
The Peregrines is a new band name for a trans-Atlantic collaboration between a couple of American musicians and a British bass/sax player that’s been ongoing for a few years. New on this tour, we’re joined by a burning American fiddler. Here’s the roll call:
Grant Gordy is a celebrated creative voice on the acoustic guitar. Known for his fearless improvisatory explorations, his six year tenure in the David Grisman Quintet, and from some prominent shout-outs from Bryan Sutton (in his IBMA award acceptance speech, for one), Grant is heir to the lineage of great flatpicking guitar innovators such as Tony Rice, Russ Barenburg, and Scott Nygaard. He’s a force in a suit jacket!
Ben Somers is a London-based multi-faceted musician, a studied rock of a bass player, and great songwriter/singer and (ace in the sleeve) a ferocious saxophone player. He’s a first call player for many styles of music in the UK and in Europe, and has toured all over with folks like Ben Winship, John Lowell, the New Reeltime Travelers, and rock star Seal. And for a band that’s touring its way through Europe, he’s got another key asset (in addition to yodeling) in his bag of tricks: he’s got stage banter in five or six languages.
Joining Ben, Grant and I on this tour is incredible fiddler Bobby Britt. Known far and wide for his huge, driving sound on the fiddle, and for his work with great bluegrass bands Town Mountain and Open Road, Bobby is a modern master of bluegrass fiddle. Bobby will be celebrating his graduation from the Berklee College of Music this Saturday by playing in Copenhagen with us. And (bad news for me!) he wears a suit jacket as well.
Me, I’m holding down the mandolin, driving, and glasses wearing duties. I’m also taking seriously the task of surveying all the cheeses one may encounter along the way.
We four will be taking turns sending in notes from our peregrination (sorry!) across the continent as we work our way through the Netherlands (Utrecht on Wednesday and Thursday this week), Denmark, Germany, France and England over the next few weeks. Come say hello if you’re in striking distance!