Though you may not see them out at the festivals that often, there are few bluegrass bands that perform more regularly, or before more people each year than The Petersens. The family band has worked the Little Opry Theatre in Branson, MO this past eight years, where they appear multiple times each week.
But last month they packed up the whole family for a trip to Ireland where all four siblings had the chance to visit historic sites, and bring their Missouri bluegrass to audiences across the country. The tour also included shows in England and Scotland, with a stop at Oxford where fiddler Katie Petersen studied in 2015.
Banjo picker Ellen Petersen tells us that they feel a kinship with the people they met.
“Our favorite parts of Ireland are the people and their love of music. People listen very intentionally to the music and take everything to heart. Everyone is also very hospitable and feels like family.”
The band consists of the Petersen sibs, plus mom, Karen, on bass. In addition to Katie and Ellen, Matt is on guitar, and Julianne on mandolin with “adopted brother” Emmet Franz on reso-guitar.
For 9 days in January they did daily shows in the UK and Ireland, including co-bills with US grassers Special Consensus, and Irish family group, Cup O’Joe. Emily says that they especially enjoyed those shows.
“We loved being on stage with other performers who share our commitment to preserving the bluegrass traditional style and songs. The energy in the room was amazing.”
Ellen also shared a number of photographs they took along the way.
“So many of the venues we played in have a rich history, which makes playing them very special. Our love of playing these venues is similar to our love of playing bluegrass music—it’s cool to be a part of bringing them to life again to a new generation.”
The Petersens have started in again in Branson, doing their bluegrass show on Saturday evenings and a Gospel show on Sunday afternoons. Then, starting March 13, they will play Wednesdays through Sundays at Dockside Theater at Silver Dollar City, and Tuesdays at the Little Opry Theatre.