The end for the Bluegrass Ireland Blog?

Richard Hawkins, the editor of The Bluegrass Ireland Blog since November 2005, has announced his forthcoming retirement from this role. 

In a statement on the Blog, he indicated …..  

“I intend to give up work on the Bluegrass Ireland Blog (BIB) within the coming three months – in any event, not later than 18 September. This is not a sudden decision: I have had it in mind for over a year. By September, it will be twenty-seven years since I took over the editing of the Irish Bluegrass Music Club Newsletter, and almost eighteen years since the BIB was launched. I believe the blog has served a useful purpose, but the time has come for a change.

Running a blog is essentially easy. However, the way I chose to do it requires a good deal of input, and I am now finding that keeping this up is becoming too heavy a responsibility. Moreover, the blog as it now stands may not be what is needed in the present and foreseeable circumstances of bluegrass, old-time, and related music on this island. A news medium should be in touch with as many people as possible who are active on the scene, and should keep abreast of the ways in which the music is developing.

If any person (or persons – a team might be the best solution) should appear in the near future, prepared to maintain a news medium for this purpose, I shall be happy to hand over to them at any time; but in any event, my own commitment will end on 18 September.”

He told me subsequently …. 

“My decision was based on the fact that on 18 September I’ll be 85. Maintaining the BIB takes time that could and should be spent on other things, and I’ve come to the conclusion that its really useful purposes could be better served by a new guiding hand.

The essential function of a bluegrass+etc. news medium for Ireland is to let people know as much as possible of what’s happening where and when. All that’s needed for this is a person or persons who care(s) enough about bluegrass to spend time finding where the news is, looking it up, and posting it.

The way I’ve run the BIB has been governed by extraneous factors that are not essential to this core function. I wanted the BIB to be a shop window for the scene here [in Ireland], showing that there was good stuff in stock, and a lot happening. I also wanted readers to feel that something new was always going on to the BIB, so it was worth looking at frequently. I wanted to pass on the kind of gossip about pickers and instruments that I’d be glad to hear myself. I wanted to remind people here that there’s a big world of bluegrass outside Ireland, including some unlikely places. I didn’t want the bother of discussion and argument, so (taking a lead from the original Bluegrass Blog) I avoided giving it any ‘forum’ element. This may have been a mistake – people do like seeing their names and opinions in print, and I’ve often felt that the BIB may have lost readers through not giving them that opportunity.

In earlier years I had the advantage of being prepared to cope with the work associated with all this, plus the advantage of not being consciously in conflict with anyone else on the scene. The first was necessary; the latter was not sufficient. Relations with everyone else need to be developed and cultivated. So, someone who gets on with people and likes contact with them would do a better job than me and my hoard of back numbers of Bluegrass Unlimited!”

From Wembley, in what used to be Middlesex and is now north-west London, Richard Hawkins moved to Dublin in 1970. 

Hawkins has been involved with the banjo and its music for over fifty years, “Long enough to know better,” he notes. 

During that time, he has been a member of the House of David Jug Band (1965/1966); the popular Dublin outfit The Sackville String Band, (during the period 1975 to April 1979); a band loosely known as Toner’s Bluegrass Boys (1990 to 1993); and the group Woodbine (2008 to 2017).

Hawkins was Editor of the Irish Bluegrass Music Club Newsletter / the Bluegrass Ireland Newsletter from 1996 to 2007. 

He is a member of BBMA and IBMA. 

Richard Hawkins will be a hard act to follow. 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.