This report from the just concluded Bluegrass Jamboree tour is a contribution from Tristan Scroggins, mandolinist with Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, one of the three US bands who entertained German audiences during the 2018 tour.
Hello from 30,000 ft above the Atlantic Ocean!
I’m writing this on my return flight after a very successful conclusion to the annual Bluegrass Jamboree tour of Germany. Since my last update, we’ve traveled to many places including Munich, Offenburg, and Augsburg to play the the remaining shows which continued to be well received.
Many nights would feature a local bluegrass band performing for guests in the lobby before the show started. They were all very entertaining and we were pleased to have them join us on stage for our encore. I was particularly impressed with Johnny and the Yooahoos, who opened for us in Waldkraiburg. Their harmonies, stage presence, arrangements, and instrumental talent were impressive – before they revealed that’d they’d only been playing bluegrass for around three years after seeing Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, and attending many former Bluegrass Jamboree concerts.
The Brother Brothers continued to move audiences with their beautiful singing. Having extremely similar voices, and both being able to sing tenor to each other, gave them a lot of well executed options for harmony. Adam Moss, the fiddler, provided tasteful ornamentation on their originals, but would also get to stretch out and do some bluegrass fiddling, particularly when my dad and I would join them for the Jim & Jesse song, Alone With You. David Moss, the guitarist who also plays cello but wasn’t able to bring one on this tour, provided a flowing rhythm, both flatpicked and fingerstyle, each night that I particularly enjoyed on their song, Ocean’s Daughter.
Bill and the Belles’ show went over extremely well each night. Their catchy melodies and airy harmonies had people clapping along, even when we were pretty certain they didn’t understand the words. I was particularly impressed on the nights that they’d play the Three In One Two-Step, a number from the East Texas Serenaders that combines three tunes and particularly showed off the fiddling of Kalia Yeagle, but that everyone got a piece of.
I had been creating random sets for our band, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, using a formula and a random number generator in an attempt to not get bored playing the same set every night, but around the 20th show we decided to shake it up and just do a set of all Bluegrass Album Band material. We did achieve some extra variety though by having Adam join us many nights for a twin fiddle number, and also after we replaced Matterhorn for Steve Goodman’s Colorado Christmas. We had to replace Matterhorn after tuning up to high D caused Jeff’s fifth string banjo peg to come out of its socket.
Among the sights we saw were the church in Leipzig where Bach worked as Kapellmeister until his death, the house that Martin Luther died in, many boughs of wild mistletoe growing in the trees alongside the road, and the ruins of a castle on top of a small mountain in Austria.
We performed in a beautiful theater in Augsburg where Nico, who had taken many great pictures during the trip, took a group photo of us which, in addition to the promoter, Rainer, and his wife, Ille, includes our bus driver, Gerda, and our excellent sound man, Daniel.
We continued to pass most of our time together playing cards which led to a Euchre tournament that I, devastatingly, lost. There were more Christmas Markets where some people bought gifts to bring back, but all gifts of sausage ended up in the hands of either Daniel, or Peter, our other bus driver, as it is against the law to bring back meat from Germany to the States.
Our final day was a bit harrowing as we had to be on the bus at 6:30 a.m. to drive to the airport. While the snow outside was beautiful, it also delayed many of our flights, trapping us for one more night in Europe. But beyond that, it was a very successful tour that we were all happy to have experienced.