Monday, May 30, 2005

More Pics of NEBgB in Europe

Here are a few more pictures of The New England Bluegrass Band's tour in Europe:

Chris with our new friend Arthur in the UK

Cecil and NC Musician Carl Jones Sharing mutual friendships in Scotland

Rowdy New Fans & Friends. Claus and the gang at the Hillbilly Gueshouse in Neuseudende, Germany

Great Czech Band "Fragment" at the Big Bear Festival

In Ulm, Germany with our hosts Monica and Eberhard

Swiss Roadside attraction

Lincoln at the Spring Bluegrass Festival in Willisau, Switzerland

Check back, there may be more soon!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Ulm,Willisau, Odoorn...Home!

After over 3 weeks on tour in the UK and Europe, we are back home in the U.S.A.   With your permission I would like to keep the option of continuing to post some comments and pictures from our tour.  OK, so I don't HAVE to have you your permission, but if no one is reading this, I will just commit thoughts of our tour to my personal journal.   (Ooh, now that's the racy one!)
From Germany... (again)
So our last few days on tour was spent navigating from Ulm, Germany where we got to the opportunity to play for a fine, fine group of music enthusiasts "Country & Western Friends Koetz 1982."  President Peter Wroblewski and VP Freiderich (sp?) A really attentive group who were very generous in listening as well as in feeding and watering us!   Again, big thanks to all, especially Monica and Eberhard. 
On to Switzerland...
After the much too short stay in Germany, we busted out headed for  the Spring Bluegrass Festival in Willisau, Switzerland.  The beautiful geography of the mountains (many snowcapped still) and lakes on our travels was a pleasure to see while driving.  We passed through Liechtenstein, a country of approx. 62 square miles and stopped for a more detailed map.  (the local map makers slice the pages in such a way that you can unfold just the section that your travelling is exposed and the other parts stay folded origami and very functional once you figure the puzzle out.)   Oh, here's an interesting point for all you hygienic freaks.  Using the head (WC) I found a large mechanical gadget that closely resembled what we might call a commode.  After a brief analysis, I used this then pushed a button, which started a sequence of lights that followed a mechanical series of mechanical operations where a armature came out of the back, latched on the the seat and then at the next light the seat itself started rotating under the armature, which of course was sanitizing the seat.  After about an hour I came back to the van and explained everything to the boys.  (Ok, it was not an hour, but I did start to push the button again before I left to see it repeat!)   We saw sailboats, sailboards, folks were in gliders up in the sky and paragliding just like in some photo from Outside magazine or adventure race.  Switzerland seemed to me to have such a great contrast of the historic (old) and progressive world all seemingly seamless. 
When we arrived in the beautiful village of Willisau, we winded our way through small streets and homes up to the side of a hill where an old school was located.  The festival was held in the fine location of this school.  ("Old School" is a great thing isn't it!!??)  We were met immediately by Bruno Steffan one of the organizers and bluegrass afficianado's, who made life easy for us immediately.  Showing us to our dressing / rehearsal room, and taking a good share of our luggage with him.  We were met soon by The President of The European Bluegrass Music Association Paolo Dettwiler, who also made us very welcome and gave us all the details about the festival.  We also met Kent (??) from the Swiss Bluegrass Music Association who I think migrated back to Switzerland from Milwaukee, WI.  It was obvious in a short time that these guys and their organizations had this festival nailed down!   The festival was SOLD OUT!  Always a sign that someone is doing something (if not everything) right!   Wowee, well done!
The lineup included the Chris and Sally Jones band which included Chris and Sally, fine, fine people and as you know if you've heard them, great talents.  They were joined by Jon Weisberger on bass and Ned Luberecki on banjo, both of whom were also extremely talented players, plus just fun guys to hang out and pick and talk about bluegrass and our travels together.  At one point Jon and Ned had the ole ipod fired up and took us on a late night bluegrass stroll through Jimmy Martin land!  Truly stunning music and talent, (Jimmy passed on while we were overseas  as you likely have heard.) an pretty surely unrepeatable kind of magic in it.  Also were new made friends Bill and Maggie Anderson from upstate New York (near Ithaca I think.)  They do a fine job in playing and singing old style ballads and tunes.  They were our companions at EWOB in Voorthuizen and helped on navigate (geogrphically and culturally) on more than one occasion.   Also on the bill was a band called "The Challenge," a five piece from the Czech. Republic I thing, or is it Switzerland?   They had some fine lively picking and singing in their sets.
So we seemed to run out of CD's while there in Switzerland.  This was a fine, fine thing!  Thank you!  Danke!  (etc.)   After going back to our hotel, we decided to stop by the bar for a refreshment.  This turned out to be more daunting than we'd anticipated.  It seems that the bar downstairs had a very urban, Euro-pop-trance music clientele.  Initially ignored by everyone including the bartendress we decided it's best if we just retire, until I decided to use my Mississippi charm anyway, and pushed my way to an opening of the bar/counter.... with hospitable puppy dog eyes, eye drew the attention of the hostess.  Dressed in black fishnet stockings, boots up to her knees and enough mascara to qualify this as gothic mistress.... I look around, I'm the only band member there, and ask for beers to go.....   Why bother asking what kind?   Beers in hand, I exit to Jon's hotel room where we shared stories and of course Jimmy Martin Music.   Good end to the day!
After a breakfast of breads, breads and more breads, jams and coffee of course!  We hit the road after a brief photo op with the Chris and Sally Jones entourage.... and off we go back to the Netherlands.  A few stops along the autobahn where we fed and watered the boys.  Pitched some frisbee and I think Zack may have hit 184!   Kevin Lynch recommended the van we leased for this trip but he said get the larger engine if you can!  Now I know why, Kevin is probably a speed demon!   (not just his mandolin)
Odoorn, NL (via Buinen)
So we make it back to the home of Ab and Joan Geerling, our fearless, fine hosts for much of our stay in the Netherlands.  Again they welcomed us with good food, a great music collection, and most hospitable dispositions!   Joan it turns out is quite a singer, and a big fan of Old Country music.  She had us listening to a lefty Frizzel CD that in Chris's words was just "Genious!!"  Which is true, what a bell tone like voice.
So, now, Monday, we get to rest and ready for our final gig in Europe at Odoorn.  Turns out, Odoorn is located near an old Fire Tower, built up on one of the few hills (I'm sure man made) that exist in this part of the Netherlands.  In fact, I must admit that much of the Netherlands reminded me of the Delta country where I grew up in Mississippi.  Mile and mile of neatly plowed fields of dark, rich earth tilled to a fine fairtheewell.  Oh and like the delta, not a hill in site as far as the eye can see.  Beautuful woods and fields I must admit.  So, we have a canopy and a good (if small) crowd of fans there and proceed to have a great show, again with people clapping and singing along with our songs. (Which are not normally well known!)  Just a fine show, fine folks and many old friends of Roger and Lincolns earlier visits.  Afterwards, the show's producers served a meal that was like many meals we had while on tour, "The Best Food Ever!"    Our thanks to all the great music fans and producers!   We look forward to getting a copy of the show recorded live!  
LIVE MUSIC:  I have a number of recordings from our shows in Europe that may be suitable for producing a "Live in Europe" CD.   I've got to get time to download the songs and listen carefully, discuss with the band and figure out how to do it best.  If anyone has interest in some of this music, please let me know.
After the show, we returned to Buinen (20 min.) with Joan and Ab, relaxed, communed, and more snacks, tea and coffee then, off to dreamy land.  A wake up, another great breakfast and off to Amsterdam (schipol airport) to get Zack on his early flight home.  At the last minute then, Roger went in and asked about returning one day early.  (Chris, Lincoln and I wanted one more day~night in Amsterdam!)  So, Roger flies out with Zack and the Three Musicateers head for the Hans Brinker.  (A hostel in the heart of the city!)   
I'm going to sign off for now before I implicate myself and others.   I will come back to finish the trip report and perhaps share some few details of our experience in Amsterdam as well as more reflections of the trip from the UK and Europe in general.
Pics????  Yes, we'll get some more up soon!
Hey Pat Monahan!  Thanks for the great suprize package!   Man would I like to make a trip report from the Northwest now!!!!  

Friday, May 20, 2005


Hello again.  After playing a daytime show in Heerenveen, NL and a nice stay with our hosts Anneke and Gerhard we were up  early on the road to Ulm, Germany where we are staying with another host couple Monica and Eberhard. 
We will play a show tonight that was put together by a country music association, members of which approached us at the show in Neusedende about playing here.  Ta da!   It's great when things work out like this.   A Radio Host here in Germany (Friederich) contacted us about getting our CD before we started the tour.  I met him in Neusedende and he help make the introductions that made tonights show possible.  It's good for everyone since we were playing in Switzerland tomorrow (Sat) and needed to travel in this direction for that. 
More pics soon...
Factoid, Ulm is the birthplace of Einstein. 

Thursday, May 19, 2005

You asked for more pics...

Here are a couple taken back in the UK...

Here's a photo from our first night in the U.K at Heart of England, photo with the proprietor Ron. Thanks to Graham Wildborn for sending this one.

Introducing the band at the Junction Hotel/Pub in Rainford Junction near Liverpool. The Honorable Dave Bresnan President of the British Bluegrass Music Association

At the home of Anneke and Gerhard Haan

This pic is at the home of our host Anneke and Gerhard Haan with members of a Russian Country Band.

More from the Big Bear Festival

These were taken by Alle Hamstra at the "Strictly Country Records' "Big Bear Festival in Zuidlaren, Netherlands on Monday May 16.

Thanks Alle!!!

More Photos

Our hosts and great friends Trix and Arthur Robinson from Scarborough, UK

The New England Bluegrass Band performing at The Strictly Country Records' Big Bear Bluegrass Festival in Zuidlaren, NL

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Big Bear Buinen and Gronigen

Wednesday 18 May -  We played the Big Bear Festival in Zuidlaren for Rienk Jannsen and his great company "Strictly Country Records" on Monday in a wonderful concert setting.  We were part of the day's shows that included Chris & Sally Jones Band, Jim and Jennie and the Pinetops, Fragment (A great Czech. Band) Bill and Maggie Anderson and a Mother and Daughter Duo from Alberta Canada, The Myrols and more.  Afterwards there was jamming in the shower/locker rooms with Chris, Roger and Lincoln trading licks with Ned Lubrecki (banjo) (sp?) and Jon Weisberger (bass) of Chris and Sally's band, great stuff.  After the show, Rienk took all the bands out to a great meal and some fine cameraderie.  
We had yesterday (Tue) off and took care of a few chores.   Chris, Linc and I drove back into Gronigen, our favorite little City here thus far.  Once we got the parking figured out, we dove back down into the city center (Centrum) where all the cobblestone and brick streets are laid out like a wheel with the Centrum as the hub, greenways with walk and bike/scooter paths encircle the center, that in turn is bordered all around by canals where you see neat house boats and canal barges tied up neatly.  "Neat" could be the buzz word for "Dutch" IMHO.
√Ź read in "Lonely Planet"a guide to Western Europe a section on the Netherlands that helped me understand how the society here can have such a liberal society and still maintain a healthy society.  I quote:
Society & Conduct:  The Dutch are know for their tolerance, which perhaps has stemmed from "verzuiling" (pillarisation).  This is the custom of dividing society into compartment or pillars which although seperate from each other, support society as a whole.  In this way any group that demands a place in society can have it, and the balance is kept by and overall attitude of √°greeeing to disagree.
Don't know much, but seems like a healthy idea to me....

Monday, May 16, 2005

more about Neusuedende, Germany

Hi All,
I have played this venue many times before. It was always a fun place to play, and always for an enthusiastic crowd. This time was no different. In fact, it was probably the MOST enthusiastic thus far in my experience. The boyz in the band played really well and made me feel like playing even more. Our shows went well and the people responded in like. In fact, our first set received three encores! And then our second and last show received four encores!!! Unreal! That really made us feel welcomed, so far away from home.
And now it's on to the Big Bear Festival in Zuidlaren.  Our accommodations here are in Buinen, NL courtesy of Joan and Ab Geerling; who have been very gracious in taking us in for an undetermined period of time.  (We have open dates which may be filled soon.)  The breakfast this morning was great!
Roger & the Boyz

Friday, May 13, 2005

Pictures... At Last

Here are some pics of the band in the UK...

Wales show, John Blissett & Friends at the Soldiers Club

Wales at the Cllough (near Conway)

Streets of Edinborough

Castle in Scarborough

UK East..Scarborough

After a beautiful day in Edinborough we rolled out on the A-1 and A-19 down the eastern coast of Scotland and worked our way through the hills - Moors on the way to Scarborough. (Yes THAT Scarborough (Fair) ) Our newfound friend Arthur and his wife "Trix" (Beatrix) made us very welcome in their lovely home overlooking the bay here. Situation on the westgate (rd) between the bay below and the Castle above. Lovely, lovely lovely. Sunny morning after coffee, Lincoln and I left the boys a-sleepin' and took a walk up to the castle walls. We skirted along a footpath at the base of the castle wall and kept working our way around until we were high above the surrounding hill, looking down on the city, the bay and above the stone keepers cottage and walk.

Stopped by another beautiful church (St. Mary's) and saw the Emily Bronte Grave site. (Ann Bronte) Linc and I went to the public market (stalls with all sorts of stuff) and made it back for breakfast with the boys.

Tonight we head out at 6:30pm to go to the port in Hull where we're catching the overnight ferry to Rotterdam. We have about a 3.5 hour drive to Neusedende, Germany (near Oldenberg) where we're playing at the Hillbilly Guesthouse Festival. Chris Jones, Jim and Jennie & The Pinetops are there too along with some European bands. Will report on that soon! Best, Cecil

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Scotland & Edinborough

 Hey again,  we got to Edinborough (yes I checked) late yesterday afternoon.  A very cool drive up, nice and sunny.  Passed by Lockerbie, all looked peaceful.  Hilly lowlands with sheep, hedgerows and stonewalls climbing seemingly up straight hills like a long standing stone scupture. 
Edinborough is an incredible City.  The Castle of course looms grand over the City, the cobblestone streets and alleyways (Close), archetecture and everything is just perfect.  (For a visiting traveller anyway.) 
Our show for the Scottish Bluegrass Music Assoc. last night was in Linlithgow about 30 min. away.  Near full house again and another enthusiastic welcome and invite to come back.  Loving that.  The accents here take full attention in order to comprehend what's just been said or (worse) asked.   Far further out there than the fun mimicking by Ray and Tom at the Striker! 
We busked in the street today and did quite well!   More castles to go.  
Will check in again soon, hopefully with photo's.
Best, Cecil 

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

UK & Liverpool Area

Hey again! After the row in Wales on Tuesday, we had a comfortable departure from Conwy and the good folks Blissett.

We arrived at the hotel in Rainford Junction (Near St. Helens) and rested comfortably. After the navigation provided by Chris, we arrived at our venue, The Junction Hotel. Dave Bresnan, President of the British Bluegrass Music Association hosted in a stellar manner. Treated us to excellent victuals (Yes Beef Pie is Comfort Food!!!!) Did I mention the beer? Boddington's of course, but we were also treated to beer from the world olded brewery (fm Germany) a wheat beer with a bit of a sweet finish. Fine, fine fine!

With a packed house in the function room at the Junction, we were well received. It still amazes us how knowledgable the audiences are here about bluegrass. Arthur the instrument and pick master that we met at the Tel-Fest came in his motor home and shared a meal and some great history and stories with us.

The weather has been beautiful for some reason and no one is complaining!

We are on to Scotland today (approx. 4 hrs drive) We've been told it's an easy and beautiful drive so we're pretty excited just at the prospect of driving 4 hours. (How's that for a switch?)

Should get access to internet computer with upload capabilities there so will get some pics out later.

The New England Bluegrass Band
Mr Sippy Productions
674 First Crown Point Rd.
Strafford, NH 03884
(603) 335-7233

Monday, May 09, 2005

In the UK now

After a drive through the Netherlands and Belgium (passed through the Flander's Fields (where 300,000 soldiers lost lives in WWI.) Caught the ferry from Calais France to Dover, UK. Yes we all caught the white cliffs, but could not remember that song by Eric Johnson.

Trip to Kenilworth England where we checked into nice B&B's and got settled in. Played the evening in a venue (Heart of England) that was very reminiscent of the 1950's places where Jimmy Martin and J.D. Crow might have played. The crowd was great and VERY knowledgeable about music. Many knew in great details the old players and even obscure american artists that we'd only heard about.

MAY 7 On to the next venue near Ombersly, UK.

WAY off the beaten track. Played at a "mini-festival" at the "Wharf" a country restaurant on the banks of the Severin River (Picture above with our festival host Terry, who was just a blast!). Nice large hall to play in and there was bluegrass music jams in every room. You could hear all the familiar songs and tunes. Great folks. Met the Chairman of the Bluegrass Music Association Dave Bresnan, who helped make the UK tour possible. Played to an absolutely PACKED house for our set at the end of the night. KILLER show and multiple encores were demanded. This feels real good.

After the show Chris, Zack, Linc and I decided to tour the campgrounds for jams. Stopped by another tent where I heard some amazing reggae music (my daughter would have loved this!) Chris nosed us in the flap and we enjoyed some amazing reggae jams. Zach got hot on the guitar as did another local fellow. Finally we closed the evening out around 3am with some sort of skiffle grass that was in the words of Chris just "Sick." Seriously, some crazy unusual picking and singing that was awesome.

May 8 Off to Wales (Did I mention the Welsh?) Northern Wales near Conway (sp: Conwy) to the home of our next event producer. The drive was amazing. Through Shropshire and countryside that looked for everything like middle earth in the Lord of the Rings. VERY cool. Fields of Yellow flowers dotted by giant oaks perfectly formed in every direction as if pruned my some giant landscaper. Hedgerows that nothing could penetrate that go on for miles.

MAY 9 - We arrived safely with our hosts last night. We are in a small town with the north sea on one side and the mountains of Wales behind us. Beautiful place. Breakfast was great. After we ate the black pudding, I asked our host and cook Sue, what is black pudding made of? She replied "oh that's made locally here from pigs blood and fat!" Sometimes it may be better to ask in advance, but probably not. So we're off to tour some castles and hillsides before our show tonight.

Signing off for now! Will get back on soon. Let us hear from you!

Cecil sends best

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Amsterdam Day 2

5 May
Howdy Folks!
Our short tour into the heart of Amsterdam was quite fascinating. Clean, efficient, beautiful city. Seems that bicycles are the most important form of transportation here and the trains all run on time. We were introduced to an "Info. Shark" last night, my first. While staring at a street map, we were approached by a gentleman who offered us information about how to get where we wanted to go. Despite Chris's uncertainty it became evident that this man knew EXACTLY what he was talking about. Though we tried to ignore him, his command of geography won us over and for this a mere 2 Euro.'s. Panhandling never felt so appreciated.
Yesterday was Liberation Day in the Netherlands.  Celebrating 60 years liberation from Nazi occupation.  Queen Beatrix presided over a very solemn and moving ceremony highligted by 2 minutes of total silence.  Not one sound could be heard on the streets, in the shops or anywhere.  I've never witnessed anything quite like it.  I'm glad I we saw this. 
So, off to get the lost luggage today and on to Voorthuizen for the festival appearance!
Best for now,
ps.  Thank Larry, Marisa and Yes Ken, I'll send a report back on the EWOB festival. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

greetings from Amsterdam

Hello All!
We've made it here ok, except for Cecil's luggage. There's always something...

Staying at the HEM Hotel here in town. The boyz in the band headed into town. I'm gonna chill and dine here...try and work off some of this jet-lag. We play our first gig tomorrow night at 11pm, and then it's off to the United Kingdom for approximately a week.
We'll write again soon!
Roger Williams

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

NEBgB Leaves For Europe

The New England Bluegrass Band leaves TODAY for its tour of Europe. Check back here for news from the Netherlands, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland and more!

Lincoln, Roger and Cecil heading off to Europe...