Two new bluegrass bands emerge in the UK

We’ve been notified of the launch of two new bluegrass groups in the UK, made up of the members from a pair of young family groups in England and Ireland, and some of their hot pickin’ friends.

If you’ve followed the bluegrass and acoustic music scene in this part of the world, you should already be familiar with The Carrivick Sisters, Laura and Charlotte, who have performed on British folk stages since they were in their early teens. More recently they have served as one half of the acoustic quartet, Cardboard Fox, and now form the basis of Midnight Skyracer.

Laura is on fiddle and reso-guitar, with Charlotte on guitar. The group is completed by Leanne Thorose on mandolin, Eleanor Wilkie on bass, and Tabitha Agnew on banjo. Young Tabitha, at only 18, is the baby in the band, but has already made her presence felt in the UK acoustic world through her work with her two brothers in Ireland’s Cup O’Joe. She is an exceptionally skilled banjoist, especially given her age, and has garnered wide attention through videos with her brothers online.

All the girls sing, taking turns at the leads. In this debut video shot by Charlotte’s husband John Breese, Leanne is out front on their cover of Mountain Heart’s 2006 hit, I’m Just Here To Ride the Train.

On the other side of the gender divide is The Propane Brothers, featuring the two Agnew brothers from Cup O’Joe (Reuben and Benjamin) on guitar and bass, with Kieran Towers on fiddle, Joe Tozer on mandolin, and John Breese on banjo.

The Propane Brothers

All these guys have been working in bluegrass and acoustic music for several years, but this is their first dedicated, unapologetic bluegrass effort. Despite the growing popularity of the music in the UK, it remains true that in a region with such a rich tradition of their own native folk music, something crossing over from the States still takes something of a back seat.

The Propane Brothers have also shot a live video, performing Randall Hylton’s classic Cold Sheets Of Rain.

They aren’t exactly the flip side of Midnight Skyracer, but it’s pretty close. All the guys and gals know each other, even the ones that aren’t related by birth or marriage. Breese plays bass with Cardboard Fox, as does Tozer on mandolin, and Towers has recorded previously with the Carrivicks.

Both bands are accepting bookings now. Grab them both and you’ve got yourself a mini-festival!

It’s wonderful to see bluegrass blooming all over the world.

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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.