Tony Rice benefit in Paris

Tony Rice - photo by Terry BarnesBluegrass folks are sometimes given to brag about the worldwide appeal of our music. Here’s a story that shows just how true it is.

A group of French bluegrass musicians have organized a benefit concert for Tony Rice for this weekend in Paris. Just as was done earlier this year in Nashville and Hamden, Connecticut, they wanted to make a contribution to help support Tony while he undergoes therapy for arthritis, and to try and reclaim his voice.

We heard this morning from Christian Séguret, who shared the story of how this concert came to be.

Christian Séguret“The concert idea came from Sanseverino, a very popular French singer who has been a fan of Tony’s work for years. There are two bluegrass musicians in Sanseverino’s band, myself and banjo player Jean-Marc Delon. So the three of us decided to go ahead and organize the concert.

Thanks to Sanseverino’s connections, we were able to get a theater in Paris for free: la Maroquinerie, which will host the show on Sunday, May 11th at 7:00 p.m. The theater, as well as general organisational skills were provided by Asterios, the company that manages Sanseverino’s career. They must be thanked for their generosity.

Many artists volunteered to play at the concert, and the show will feature the Muddy Hill Boys, Turquoise, Quartier Français, Grasstics, Massoubre & Séguret, Annabel, and several other guests, and Sanseverino will close the show. Different artists donated albums that will be sold at the concert. All proceeds will be donated to the French Bluegrass Music Association, affiliated with IBMA, which will write the check to the Tony Rice Foundation.

Tony came to France a couple of time. The first time in 1977, with the David Grisman Quintet, and seing him on stage was a huge shock for many French musicians, myself included! He came back to play the Angers Festival, around 1986, with his own band, making new friends and fans around the country. Just as he is in the States, Tony is a legend over here, and the news of his health problems made many people sad and concerned.

As Jeanmarie Peschiutta, singer with the band Turquoise put it out, ‘it’s time to give back to Tony.’ Everybody, of course, is donating their time in this process, including the soundman, staff from FBMA, journalists, graphic artist, and so on. It will be a great evening of bluegrass music, and a very happy moment.

Thank you, Tony Rice.”

Another French grasser, Dominique Guillot, tells us that each group will play a short set of 15 minutes in order to fit in all the entertainers that want to help out.

Dominique GuillotThese bands are different from each other and we can say that all styles of bluegrass will be represented, traditionnal, newgrass, instrumental. Some of them are made up of professional musicians, like Turquoise or Sanseverino in which we find Christian Séguret, Jean Marc Delon, Jean Marie Peschiutta and Natalie Shelar… others are not professional musicians but some of these are among the best in France and the evening should be of high quality. Others are not really professional musicians because it’s difficult to exist in France when you play bluegrass but some of these are among bests in France like Thierry Massoubre, Annabel or Olivier Andres.

There will be a very nice guitar duo paying homage to the style of Tony Rice Doc Watson also composed of Dorian Ricaux and Laurent Vue, and a newgrass band, Quartier Français, who has just released a new CD very influenced by pop rock music. Even some musicians are coming from Belgium to join the party like The Louvat Brothers who have begun to be known in USA where they play regularly.

Hats off to all involved in this concert. We all hope that the love shown for Tony on both sides of the Atlantic will offer him as much encouragement as it does means to keep body and soul together.

photo of Tony Rice by Terry Barnes

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.