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    by Published on Mar-10-2020 7:00am  Views: 5916 
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    Don and Sam Bush with Jethro's famed red Gibson mandolin. Photo courtesy Ronnie McCoury.

    Don Stiernberg

    I owe an awful lot to Jethro Burns. Everything I've done professionally in my life was either taught to me by or inspired by him. Certainly, when playing, performing and teaching I'm still trying to follow his example. He also shared generously in the realm we might call "world view," realistic guidance on what to expect, how to interact with others, the pursuit of one's own identity and self confidence. He was as much a genius in those areas as he was with music. As Mr. Dawg once said, "he taught us all what to and what not to take seriously." How does one thank a guy like that? I'm not sure we can.
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    by Published on Mar-10-2020 6:59am  Views: 4280 
    Jethro Burns

    Photo credit: E.J. Stiernberg

    Jethro Burns' 100th birthday was approaching and it was clear the Mandolin Cafe would pay tribute to the master who deeply influenced so many. Help was needed to make sure it came off right. Who we'd ask for assistance included but one name: Don Stiernberg. One-time student, fellow gig companion, recorded with and helped preserve Jethro's legacy with several of his last recordings, life-long friend and confidant. Don was with Jethro to the end, and understands Jethro on another level.

    Heartfelt remembrances from legendary musicians moved by the memory of Jethro rolled in. After this article featuring original music and a conversation between David Grisman and Don Stiernberg, a biography of Jethro (also by Don) appears prior to links to a Part 2, accessed just below and at the bottom of this article. What a list of contributors!

    Thanks for help making this happen, Don. This could not have happened without you. Here's to the next 100 years of listening to Jethro's magic.
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    by Published on Mar-03-2020 8:00am  Views: 4299 
    Sierra Hull in Concert at Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago


    CHICAGO, ILL. - Sierra Hull performed at the Old Town School of Folk Music, near Lincoln Square in Chicago last Thursday. Joining her onstage are Mike Seal on guitar, Geoff Saunders on bass, Christian Sedelmyer on fiddle, and drummer Mark Raudabaugh Jr., a new addition to the band.

    The stage is set with lanterns in the background and a richly patterned carpet for those watching from the balcony. Front and center are an array of instruments Sierra plays throughout the night with exactly the kind of easy confidence you would expect from someone who debuted on the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 10. A musician as prolific as Sierra Hull doesn't need much introduction.

    With her new album 25 Trips out on the ...
    by Published on Jan-25-2020 12:15pm  Views: 3788 
    Photo Shoot: Po' Ramblin' Boys in Calgary, Canada

    Foothills Bluegrass Music Society presents Grammy nominee The Po' Ramblin' Boys in concert.

    CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA — Decked out in signature rhinestone bow ties, the Po' Ramblin' Boys sold out a normally quiet venue in Calgary, Alberta this past Thursday evening. The Irish Cultural Center had a full house of several hundred concert-goers of plaid shirts, rockabilly grandmas, and a decent amount of younger bluegrass fans. There are Celtic knots on the walls and half the audience is drinking a tall Guinness.

    This marks the second trip to Canada ...
    by Published on Oct-28-2019 6:20am  Views: 4845 
    David Benedict - Mandolin Mondays


    Around the time of Mandolin Mondays Episode #150 we asked host David Benedict if he'd be the musical subject of Episode #200 to be paired with a feature interview to update us on his career.

    And here we are!

    Our thanks to David for creating and caring for this series that exposes us to so many talented mandolin players we all enjoy, and allowing us the honor of hosting and helping promote the wide variety of musicians from all over the planet that have appeared as guests.

    Want to join us in extending a thanks to David for his efforts? There's a great way and it benefits you as well, but you'll need to hurry! When we publish this there will be two days left on his Kickstarter project where he's raising funds to support a transcription book for his marvelous solo ...
    by Published on Oct-08-2019 7:45am  Views: 7472 
    R.L. Givens

    An interview with legendary builder Bob Givens published over 40 years once again comes to light.


    In order to understand the origins on this interview with R.L. "Bob" Givens it's necessary to take a step back into another time.

    A long defunct and now relatively obscure music catalog of the time, The Guitars Friend (no apostrophe), in publication between 1973 - 1983, was created by Laurence "Laury" Ostrow, an acquaintance of and seller of Givens' instruments. As part of the content of The Guitars Friend series Ostrow produced and published a short but meaningful interview with Givens, whose work is still highly respected. He preceded most of today's modern mandolin builders in turning out true world class A and ...
    by Published on Oct-01-2019 7:15am  Views: 9663 
    Dennis Vance


    Dennis Vance is seated at his desk amid a sea of mandolins on a brutally hot, 110 degree summer day at The Mandolin Store in Surprise, Ariz. assisting a customer by phone.

    The store is small enough that a private conversation is out of the question so it's easy to listen and sense most end with the caller feeling like they made a friend, comments I've seen mirrored online more than a few times. Many of Vance's customers not only bought their first mandolin here, but their second, third and more, and few calls end without Vance tilting his head back for a proper belly laugh.

    If you get the idea he enjoys running The Mandolin Store, you'd be correct.
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    by Published on Sep-03-2019 8:00am  Views: 8680 
    Fiddling with Mandolin on Aaron Weinstein's Chesky Jazz Debut 3x3


    Joe Venuti.

    "That was it," says 34-year-old jazzman Aaron Weinstein.

    An Illinois native, Weinstein had been playing old time fiddle since he was in short pants, learning licks and tunes from Old Town School of Folk Music mainstay Paul Tyler and Missouri master Charlie Walden among others.

    But then, at age 13, Weinstein heard Venuti, the undisputed father of jazz violin, playing "Sweet Georgia Brown" on a cassette tape found in his parents' bureau drawer.

    "When I first heard a recording of Joe," he beams, "that really was it. It was the first jazz I'd heard, and it happened to be a violin, and it happened to be Joe Venuti playing that violin."
    ...
    by Published on Jun-04-2019 8:00am  Views: 13133 
    Lauren Price

    Photo credit: John Flavell

    Somewhere in a corner of heaven, in a humble spot that recalls the crisp morning air of Rosine, Kentucky, Bill Monroe sits smiling. He's looking down on Lauren Price, knowing his legacy is not only safe, but still alive and kicking.

    The mandolin is in flux at the moment, with many young players bucking — sometimes gently, sometimes not — against what came before, basing their styles on a post-Newgrass world and finding inspiration from rule breakers like Chris Thile and Sierra Hull.

    Price is not one of them. At age 24, she may belong to the future, but she has one eye and a solid right hand turned distinctly towards the past.
    ...
    by Published on May-21-2019 7:15am  Views: 10142 
    Dan Beimborn

    CJ Lewandowski is back again, to tell us the story behind his Gibson F5 #85202. The set-up and prep work included 2 luthiers, parts from several community members, and even a visit to a chiropractor! You can hear all the particulars he's gone through to get this great piece of history ship-shape and stage-ready. In the latter half of the video you can hear the results for yourself as he plays some licks on this barking bluegrass cannon that has been nicknamed "The ...
    by Published on May-14-2019 8:00am  Views: 12526 
    Monroe Mandolin Camp

    Monroe Mandolin Camp convenes September 18-22 at the DuBose Conference Center in Monteagle, Tenn. with Mike Compton at the helm.

    The videos presented here by D'Addario and Mandolin Cafe, both camp sponsors, have Mike breaking down the style and talking about right- and left-hand techniques using the tune "Methodist Preacher."

    Acting as preservationists for the innovative, original and groundbreaking music as created by Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, who were every bit active co-collaborators in the creation of this music, Monroe Mandolin Camp offers ...
    by Published on Apr-30-2019 8:00am  Views: 12635 
    Article Preview


    Over the last few weeks, Darryl Wolfe and I have both been having some great conversations with mandolinist C.J. Lewandowski from the band Po' Ramblin' Boys. C.J. recently acquired a vintage Gibson Fern F5 a lot of Cafe members would enjoy hearing about.

    About the author: Dan Beimborn is the host of the Mandolin Archive and Chief Linux mommy for the Mandolin Cafe's dedicated web server. He ...

    by Published on Mar-26-2019 10:00am  Views: 11390 
    Jacob Jolliff

    Photo credit: J. Scott Shrader.

    Ten minutes a day. Every day.

    That's all Jacob Jolliff's father asked.

    But that simple demand set the young Oregon native off on a life journey filled with good practices. Not metaphorically, but literally. Even now, as a top level professional making a handsome living with his mandolin, Jolliff still routinely practices many hours a day and that's on top of gigging, teaching, writing, recording, and less important things like sleeping or taking in calories.

    Jolliff, like many phenoms, started out in a family band, in his case a gospel-based duo with his dad, Bill.
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    by Published on Mar-14-2019 9:10am  Views: 11863 
    Andy Statman Rides the Monroe Bus


    Andy Statman had a dream. Bill Monroe was in it. That should come as no surprise. Just as klezmer master Dave Tarras is in every note Statman blows on the clarinet, Monroe is in every trill he picks on his Kimble F5.

    As a musician, Statman believes in a strong basis, and he has studied Monroe, transcribed his licks and codified his playing style. In a word, he appreciates Monroe.

    So, the fact that, in his dream, Big Mon stood strong but forlorn on the Texas blackland prairie, decrying ‘no one appreciates me,' struck Statman as strange. His simple reply was, ‘I appreciate you, Bill.' The next morning, in a taxi, practicing a new, as-yet-untitled tune on the way to a studio session not far ...
    by Published on Mar-12-2019 7:30am  Views: 12139 
    Tristan Scroggins

    Photo credit: Nico Humby

    Facebook and Instagram are full of energetic young mandolin players from all over the globe eager to share their latest videos. So many that it can be tedious wading through them all. If you were looking for something to really knocks your socks off, well, that takes a bit of effort.

    Enter Tristan Scroggins, drawing reaction from fans and fellow musicians of all levels for his unusual approach to the mandolin. His frequent postings on social media are providing, as we speak, a real time journey into his exploration of, and some might say, an expansion of the definition of crosspicking, sometimes tackling familiar tunes most would not dare to attempt in the style.

    Where it will take him even he's not certain. What the technique is ultimately called in the inner circles of the mandolin community matters not. It's great music, and that speaks for itself.

    More than a one-trick musician, he can stand up and belt hard core, up-tempo bluegrass breaks in modern or Monroe style or dive into classical violin music on mandolin to suite his performance needs.

    Growing up in a bluegrass band led by his father, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, young Scroggins soaked up music from a wide range of influences, everything from bluegrass to classical and whatever was available within the rich culture of Colorado's Front Range acoustic music scene.

    As a relatively new resident of Nashville it's not unusual to see him guesting with Molly Tuttle, Dailey & Vincent, Missy Raines and other seasoned performers who recognize his talent, or appearing on videos at Carter Vintage Guitars playing a variety ...
    by Published on Jan-08-2019 8:30am  Views: 13980 
    Ashley Broder


    Ashley Broder is at the forefront of a new breed of mandolinist, millennials, many classically-trained, pushing beyond bluegrass in favor of taking the instrument to new places.

    Based in Santa Barbara, Calif., Broder is not at a loss for gigs. Described as a "mandolin phenomenon" by the San Diego Tribune, she currently performs with five acts, allowing her to explore different avenues of sound; and she carries a full teaching schedule, as well.

    Broder began violin at age eight and studied strings up through community college, where she added cello to her résumé. Mandolin came very early, too, and Broder found ways to apply the rigor of classical technique to fingerboards and fretboards, subtly adapting bow strokes to the pick as well.

    "I just put all of my violin repertoire, whatever I happened to be working on, on mandolin," she says.
    ...
    by Published on Dec-11-2018 8:45am  Views: 12533 
    Bill Malone

    True Vine historian lending his voice to Ken Burn’s Country Music documentary.

    Photo credit: Bill Graham

    On a Wednesday morning, a master country music historian who has not shortchanged the mandolin sits behind a microphone. His insight from 85 years spent living and studying the "plain people's music" flows across the airwaves weekly from WORT, an FM radio station in Madison, Wisconsin.

    "That was 'It Ain't Gonna Rain No More,' recorded by Wendall Hall in the early 1920s," says Bill Malone, tall and still spry as he leans gently toward the microphone.

    You perhaps know the song's signature line from an old R. Crumb cartoon, or from listening to a version on the children's album by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia. Malone knows the song from its hillbilly music roots, or as the title of his enlightening 2011 book about Mike Seeger suggests, Music from the True Vine.
    ...
    by Published on Oct-16-2018 8:00am  Views: 72255 
    Andrew Marlin - Buried in a Cape


    Mandolin Orange songwriter Andrew Marlin is stepping out on his own for the new solo disc Buried in a Cape, a collection of self-penned instrumentals and modern fiddle tunes that shines a laser light on his prodigious eight string skills.

    As much as Cape is a showcase for Marlin's keen sense of melody and thoughtful technique, it is truly a group effort. With his producer's hat on, Marlin let his players fly, recording the entire affair in three days at Nashville's The Butcher Shoppe, which, the composer notes proudly, features the Ryman Auditorium's old reverb plate.

    "My mandolin was running through the same 'verb that, maybe, Bill Monroe's ran through!" he beams.
    ...
    by Published on Sep-25-2018 8:00am  Views: 62569 
    Andrew Collins


    Sixteen years ago I first met Andrew Collins in Toronto through the Mandolin Cafe's list of teachers. He was still in his early twenties and bursting with enthusiasm for the instrument and the music. One of the first things Andrew did was hand me his gorgeous Heiden F5 and say, "Try this." Since then I've seen a remarkably talented young musician grow into a masterful performer and a beautiful composer.

    Andrew established himself locally as the mandolin player for the popular bluegrass band the Foggy Hogtown Boys, and on a larger stage he made a name for himself composing and playing for the new-acoustic group Creaking Tree String Quartet. He made numerous recordings with both bands, as well as doing solo projects and working as a sideman for Annie Lou. He also opened his own recording studio and often teaches at Kaufman Kamp, Nimble Fingers, and elsewhere.

    In more recent days Andrew has been leading his own eclectic group, the Andrew Collins Trio, for which he plays mandolin, mandocello, fiddle, composes and sings. The Trio has twice won Instrumental Group of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. They tour frequently and have also been appearing at Merlefest and other festivals. Not long ago the ...
    by Published on Aug-28-2018 8:45am  Views: 77874 
    New Michigan-Made Northfield Instruments


    Many dialects are spoken in Marshall, Michigan, all of them musical — English, Chinese, Japanese, bluegrass, old time, choro, jazz ...

    Rochester, N.Y. native Adrian Bagale co-founded the Marshall-based Northfield Mandolins with acoustic designer Kosuke Kyomori and workshop manager Zhang Xi Sheng a decade ago, strongly believing, at least from the builder's perspective, in Longfellow's supposition of a "universal language." Bagale, a dedicated player who gigs occasionally, brought with him plentiful experience in the mandolin world, including stints with Elderly Instruments and Saga Music (which distributes Kentucky mandolins, Blueridge guitars and Gold Star banjos among many other products). He met Kyomori and Xi Sheng through those channels, on frequent overseas trips to oversee bringing Asian-made mandolins stateside.

    As part of the process the three men learned economies of scale. They learned what worked, and what didn't. ...
    by Published on Aug-14-2018 8:00am  Views: 47436 
    We Banjo 3

    L-R: David Howley, Martin Howley, Fergal Scahill, Enda Scahill. Photo credit: webanjo3.com

    Irish and American, traditional and contemporary, all come together in a way that defies any musical pigeon hole for the band We Banjo 3. By whatever name you choose to call it, the driving force of the band is the stunning virtuosity of the four musicians who form its core: Enda and Fergal Scahill (brothers), and Martin and David Howley (yes, also brothers).

    In between a full tour schedule that keeps them busy on both sides of the pond, the band found time to release Haven, their new album which features a collection of traditional and original tunes that continue to expand on the ...
    by Published on Jul-31-2018 7:15am  Views: 46926 
    Adam Tanner - A State of Grace


    Feast Here Tonight is a two record compilation, issued by RCA Bluebird in 1975, of the pioneering 1930s duo recordings by Bill and Charlie Monroe. As a teenage Northern California bluegrass geek, Adam Tanner immersed himself in Feast and in Bill Monroe's early sound, chock full of long lines of tremolo, rhythmic stabs of melody and explorations of the chop, which, by 1945, would define the style.

    But it was a live Monroe take, recorded with Doc Watson on April 18, 1964, at Oberlin College, of an original called "Lonesome Moonlight Waltz," that would be a game changer for Tanner, who found, in its minor key groove, the European roots of the instrument — not the familiar Scots Irish fiddle tunes of the southern hills, but the ethereal, off-kilter keen of the Balkans and the trilling Italian origins of the mandolin.

    It's those elements that inform Tanner's new disc, A State of Grace, which also nods to influential works like the ethnic Americana of Andy Statman's Flatbush Waltz and the composed, fully-arranged grace of the undersung Norman Blake-led Original Underground Music from the Mysterious South.

    Tanner, who plays old time fiddle, guitar and mandolin, spent much of the early 90s grinding out loud, politically radical ...
    by Published on Jul-17-2018 7:30am  Views: 52260 
    Playback - D'Addario's String Recycling In a Nutshell


    When D'Addario recently announced they'd met and surpassed their goal of recycling 2 million strings as part of "Playback," the world's leading string recycling program, we decided to dig a little deeper into the program and share that success story with our readers.

    For those looking for a better result than seeing your old strings end up in the trash, the program and act of recycling couldn't be easier.

    All it costs is your time to join Playback (part of D'Addario's Players Circle loyalty program) and their free postage option:

    1. Collect a minimum of 2 lbs of strings, pack them
    ...
    by Published on Jul-10-2018 1:30pm  Views: 42606 
    Barbara Shultz

    Tucked neatly away beneath the Mandolin Cafe Forum, out of sight and mind of most of the community, a group of mandolinists gather daily in search of new music, new skills, new ideas, new videos.

    Tunes are shared, written music and MP3s are exchanged, advice doled out, suggestions are given and accepted. A complete musical community that is at once supportive, encouraging and friendly. This is not your typical internet social gathering.

    Meet "The Song-A-Week Social Group."

    Barbara Shultz, Mandolin Cafe member since April, 2005 is the group leader responsible for what we think is the single best, most effective and supportive "social group" of mandolinists on the internet.
    ...
    by Published on Jun-09-2018 9:00am  Views: 17457 
    After 30 Years in Business Retrofret Moving to New Location


    We profiled Retrofret Vintage Guitars about five years ago as part of our visit to the city. Thirty-five years in the business has established the shop and its owner, Steve Uhrik, as among the nation's elite dealers of vintage instruments, both electric and acoustic. And now comes news that the shop is moving to a new location. We asked Brooklyn resident Bradley Klein to check out the new digs.
    ...

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