Independence Day launch for Bath Americana celebration
This year’s Bath Americana Festival launches on Independence Day and runs until July 8 – playing host to a wide range of artists.
Highlights include an Independence Day picnic at the American Museum on July 4 featuring the Sharps & Flats, a new-generation ‘boy band’ with bluegrass and old-timey overtones, and the Buffalo Gals, who include everything from wild fiddling and clawhammer banjo picking, to Appalachian clogging.
Take a picnic rug or some chairs and sit back and enjoy an evening of pure heritage music, food and fun in the great outdoors of rural Claverton Down.
Chapel Arts Centre and Widcombe Social Club welcome a host of great bands including one of the UK’s leading all-female bluegrass bands The Jolenes.
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Tight mountain harmonies and hairstyles evoke an era of chrome-fendered Chevrolet coupes, growling Pontiac dragsters, vintage glamour and taboo foundation garments.
The Mendip String Band, featuring ace slide-guitarist Kevin Brown playing Western-Swing, country boogie, and hot blues rags, plus emotive vocals from Kevin Brown himself.
Out Of The Brew’s ceilidh ensemble can often boast a total of eight musicians, including two girl fiddlers but the five-piece core of the band create a fusion of Irish-American and traditional music and where real ceilidhs are concerned, they use an experienced ‘caller’.
Theirs is a fascinating combination of vocal harmonies and intriguing mix of acoustic instruments and they are no strangers to the vibrant local music scene.
Keith Pearson’s Coup De Grass feature a former World Harmonica Champion, and present dazzling banjo and harmonica solos, through to poignant ballads of outstanding beauty.
So Last Century String Band conjures up images of an age long past, when names like The Carter Family, Louvin Brothers, Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers and The Stanley Brothers were on every American farmer’s lips.
Dan Edwards (banjo), Michi Mathias (fiddle) and Jaime Regan (guitar) play a style of music which pre-dates bluegrass and reflects the trials and tribulations of the people of the American southern mountains.
This gifted trio play with enormous enthusiasm and a passion for detail, aiming to adhere to tradition but injecting the music with their own arrangements.
People will hear foot-stomping square-dance tunes, rousing gospel songs, slightly risqué jug-band numbers, weird crooked modal melodies and ballads about whiskey and railroads.
Identical twin sisters Charlotte and Laura Carrivick have grown up playing and writing music together. Their unique style shows their strong bluegrass influences without obscuring their English roots.
With tight harmonies that only siblings can achieve, they perform their original songs on guitar, fiddle, mandolin, dobro and clawhammer banjo.
They have performed both in the UK and internationally.
Instrumentation predominating throughout the five-day festival will be acoustic guitar, fiddle, mandolin, five-string banjo, lap-slide steel guitar, harmonica, autoharp and diatonic accordion, with a little rockabilly bass thrown in for good measure.
There is a serious side to this music when it comes to preserving ancient sounds and songs but much of what you will hear has been described as ‘blue-collar folk music’; country blues, laments, hymns, fun songs and honky-tonk dance tunes of the working man.
Artistic director, Bryan Chalker, said: “It’s more than fitting that this World Heritage Site should play host once again to a magnificent pot-pourri of hallowed sounds from the musical Americas because, in a sense, we are simply bringing them back home! The City of Bath has a proud history of embracing the arts in all of their varied forms and these delicious Appalachian and Arcadian threads will add a fresh dimension to past pleasures”.
Tickets are available at www.bathboxoffice.org.uk or by calling 01225 463362.