Tony Trischka and Mike Marshall, two legends in the acoustic string music scene in the US, will perform in a rare duo setting together as headliners at this month’s Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival. The free 3-day event is held outdoors on the Pijnackerplein square in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, and runs June 22-24.
They join nearly two dozen acts from across Europe to play both traditional and more innovative bluegrass for the audience in the streets. Bands will appear from Austria, England, Poland, Belgium, and Scotland, plus a hearty sampling of groups from The Netherlands. The streets surrounding the square are also filled with art and children’s activities.
Trischka and Marshall will also offer a pair of free workshops for interested musicians, Tony teaching banjo and Mike mandolin.
The festival is run by Guido de Groot, a cartoonist and interior designer, who is also a great bluegrass fan. He lives in the Pijnackerplein neighborhood, and had been struck by the fact that the square has a lovely bandstand, but there was never any music played there. So he invited some friends to come and play some bluegrass there, which initially served as a block party for about 400 people.
Soon it was much too big for that purpose, and the Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival was born. It is supported by area businesses, including banks and arts organizations, and donations from the city, plus income from selling food and drinks. Now as many as 10,000 people come for the festival, which attracts locals and visitors from across The Netherlands and other European locations.
Festival organizers also use the occasion to help educate the public about bluegrass music, including programs in the schools. Several schools are now involved in a program that teaches young musicians the basics of bluegrass, and then features them as the opening act on the festival stage. The program is growing year over year, and Liorah Hoek with the festival tells us that they have high hopes to see it continue.
They also look for unique crossover acts that might draw people who wouldn’t otherwise show an interest in bluegrass. This year they have paired a Dutch bluegrass band with a popular rap crew, hoping that rap fans will get a chance to discover that they like bluegrass too.
Hoek invites everyone to make a trip to Rotterdam to see their beautiful city, and enjoy some great music at no charge. Plus she says that they have the cleanest festival toilets in the western hemisphere!
See full details online.