Each year in the month of May, the largest bluegrass event in Europe takes place, the European World of Bluegrass (EWOB). This year’s event kicks off later this week, running May 13-15, 2010. Since IBMA recently announced the lineup of showcase bands for this year’s World of Bluegrass event in Nashville, it seems appropriate to highlight the European Bluegrass Band of the Year from last year’s EWOB.
Each year at EWOB two votes are taken. The performers present at the event vote to award the best of their peers, and the audience present at the event votes in the Audience Popularity Awards. The European Bluegrass Band of the Year is voted by the performers, and the winner each year is invited to perform at IBMA the following year.
Downtown Ramblers, from Gothenburg, Sweden, won the distinction at EWOB 2009, now they’ll be back later this week to perform at EWOB 2010, and they’ll be visiting the states this fall to perform as an official showcase band at the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass.
The band says their music is based on traditional bluegrass, but is obviously influenced by their own Swedish folk music, as well as pop and jazz. Accordingly, they have developed their own distinct sound which they describe as “nordic urban bluegrass.” The band had it’s genesis in late 2005 when it began as a country band, including a drummer. Even at that time the band was influenced by and covering some tunes from Alison Krauss and Union Station. Gradually the focus shifted in a more traditional bluegrass direction, the drummer and original bass player left the band, a new bass player joined, and the Downtown Ramblers became what they are today.
The band won the Swedish Bluegrass Championship in 2007, released their first CD (self-titled) in late 2008 with all original material, and a few short months later, in May of 2009, they were voted European Bluegrass Band of the Year.
The award gives us the chance to go to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass 2010 (IBMA, www.ibma.org) in Nashville, USA. We plan to do all we can to represent European bluegrass there.We hope to keep touring all over the world as much as possible. We have also started to plan our next CD, which hopefully will be released during 2010.