Kids On Bluegrass is a program where talented teens and youngsters are highlighted during the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass each year. Special bluegrass kids are identified from around the country, and formed into a band to both entertain attendees and highlight the fun of picking’ and singing’ to other young people.
The 2015 edition of the Kids On Bluegrass Band are looking forward to an exciting opportunity this summer when they travel from the US to France and a performance at the big La Roche Bluegrass Festival in La Roche sur Foron. This free festival brings together top acts from both the US and Europe, and hosts the annual Best Bluegrass Band in Europe competition, where 10 groups from all across the continent are invited to perform.
2015 being the 10th anniversary for La Roche, director Christopher Howard-Williams wanted to change things up a little bit. Instead of running the band contest, they have invited all past winners to come and perform, and asked both the IBMA’s Kids On Bluegrass Band and Cheerful Diligence, a teen bluegrass group from Russia to appear.
Current band director, Kim Fox, has chosen the members of this group, which include Frannie DiGiovanni on guitar, Cara DiGiovanni on fiddle (both from Greenbrier, TN), Jonah Horton on mandolin (Wilkesboro, NC), Helen Foley on bass (Los Altos, CA), and Isaac Ferrell on banjo (Pickens, SC).
The La Roche Festival will cover the expenses for the kids, airfare and accommodations, and will take care of housing while they and their families are at the festival.
Kim said that she first met Christopher Howard-Williams when he hired her family group, 3 Fox Drive, to perform at the festival in 2008. They became fast friends, and caught up each year at World of Bluegrass.
“Over the years, Christopher has observed the rehearsals and performances of IBMA’s Kids on Bluegrass. He has mentioned to me on several occasion that he would love to bring some of the kids to perform in France. This year, Christopher has made good on his word. He and the rest of the La Roche Bluegrass Festival Team, have invited me to select a group of kids from my program and are providing them an all-expense paid trip to their festival. The kids will be performing 2 shows and jamming with musicians from all over the world. As a special treat, they will get to meet and jam with band called Cheerful Diligence, a group of young people from Russia.”
The kids participating in the event include Frannie (guitar) and Cara DiGiovanni (fiddle) from Greenbrier, TN, Isaac Ferrell (banjo) from Pickens, SC, Jonah Horton (mandolin) from Wilkesboro, NC and Helen Foley (bass) from Los Altos, CA.
The La Roche Bluegrass Festival runs from July 29 – August 2, and Kim says that the kids and their families are either coming early or staying after to spend some tourist time Europe. Fox will be there supervising the young pickers, and performing with her brother Joel, sister Erin, plus Dale Ann Bradley and Phil Leadbetter.
Events at La Roche occur at various spots in the small town in the French Alps, near the Swiss border. Both the US and the Russian kids should have a heck of a good time.