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    by Published on Sep-28-2021 7:00am  Views: 4679 
    Sharon Gilchrist


    Sharon Gilchrist is the first person to tell you she was extremely shy and soft-spoken growing up. Hints of those earlier years linger on camera when she teaches online, but her quiet demeanor and easygoing style belie a confident, concise method of teaching that has earned her a reputation as one of the very finest on the mandolin scene. Sharon is instantly approachable and connects strongly with her students, earning her a large, enthusiastic and ever-growing audience eager to better themselves as mandolinists.

    Equally adept on upright bass, her career as a professional musician has largely been in a supportive role and includes stints with The Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet, John Reischman and Scott Nygaard as The Harmonic Tone Revealers, Darol Anger, Mary and Mars, Ger Mandolin Orchestra, Uncle Earl and many more.

    These days Sharon keeps busy with a full schedule of courses she teaches online at Peghead Nation where founder Dan Gabel says she's their most subscribed instructor among all instruments. A recent 8-week Zoom course Sharon taught that ended in April garnered an impressive 200+ subscribers. We caught up with her after a recent move across the country to find out what she's up to and to see if we can learn some of the secrets of what makes her teaching style magical.
    ...
    by Published on Aug-31-2021 7:00am  Views: 2694 
    Mike Marshall

    From time to time we have an opportunity to republish feature interviews that are worthy of the content. Mike Marshall was the subject of an extensive interview last month by music journalist Markus Brandstetter of the web site Hyperlocrian.com, an independent music blog based in Berlin. Entitled Talkin' Bluegrass: An in-depth conversation with Mike Marshall, the interview is unique in that the content is also present below as a video. Our thank to Markus for sharing this information.


    Mike Marshall is without a doubt one of the ...
    by Published on Aug-17-2021 7:00am  Views: 3410 
    An Update to Out of Stock - A Pandemic Supply and Demand Story


    Three months ago we published Out of Stock - A Pandemic Supply and Demand Story, a story in the words of store owners that surveyed seven different retailers with differing types of inventory about how the pandemic had changed their way of doing business.

    This past week we wanted to check back to ask for an update. This is their story, six retailers who weighed in with their views of their businesses in the pandemic.

    Fiddler's Green Music Shop

    For Fiddler's Green the inventory ...
    by Published on Aug-10-2021 7:00am  Views: 4581 
    John Reischman

    Photo credit: Stephen Schauer

    John Reischman is a Grammy award winning mandolinist whose music has helped to bridge the gap between old time music and new acoustic music within the bluegrass community. There was a time where John was most well known for being an original member of the Tony Rice Unit; a band that helped define "new acoustic music" as the combination of bluegrass, swing, jazz, and folk music on acoustic instruments along with artists such as Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, and David Grisman.

    However, these days, John is likely most well known for his composition "Salt Spring," which has become a jam standard tune. It's very uncommon for tunes written after around 1975 to become standards but "Salt Spring" is inescapable in certain communities. John has a knack for writing catchy, interesting melodies that are fun to play. His tune "Itzbin Reel," originally recorded with the San Francisco based supergroup The Good Ol' Persons, was also a jam favorite, though never on the ...
    by Published on Jun-17-2021 7:30am  Views: 4946 
    Bluegrass Pride


    For the second year in a row the Mandolin Cafe is proud to be a sponsor of Porch Pride, a month-long series of virtual, live streaming weekend performances in celebration and support of the LGBTQ+ community. As part of the festivities we snagged a feature interview with C.J. Lewandowski of the Po' Ramblin Boys put together by Nashville-based writer Abby Lee Hood. We're also proud to sponsor Maddie Witler's appearance June 27 at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

    Happy Pride Month, bluegrass lovers! June brings an annual celebration of the LGBTQ+
    community and with it, Bluegrass Pride is over the moon to bring back our second annual Porch ...
    by Published on May-18-2021 7:00am  Views: 5704 
    Out of Stock - A Pandemic Supply and Demand Story


    15 months into the COVID-19 pandemic the retail stringed instrument market is in uncharted waters.

    Inventory is markedly down. A sizeable increase in first-time buyers flooded the market last year and continues, as almost every retailer notes. Many manufacturers have been unable to keep pace with the demand while experiencing their own operational challenges.

    Some manufacturing employees moved on and some companies downsized or restructured. In addition to new buyers, many musicians not impacted by the pandemic saw their stimulus checks as the opportunity to upgrade or expand what they owned.

    In the simplest of terms, most stores have a lot more visible wall space and most music websites are rife with listings advertising "Sold Out," "Coming Soon" and "Out ...
    by Published on Apr-06-2021 7:00am  Views: 5396 
    Caterina Lichtenberg - Solo

    From time to time we have an opportunity to republish feature interviews that are worthy of the content. Caterina Lichtenberg was the subject of an extensive interview last month by music journalist Markus Brandstetter of the web site Hyperlocrian.com, an independent music blog based out of Berlin launched this past December.


    Whether you're a classical mandolinist, a bluegrass player or just an avid aficionado of the little, double-stringed instrument: You have most likely made acquaintance with the name Caterina Lichtenberg. Or, to be more accurate: Professor Caterina Lichtenberg.

    Lichtenberg is not only one of the best known contemporary classical mandolinists, she also holds the only existing professorship for classical Mandolin at the music conservatory in Cologne. Lichtenberg, much like ...
    by Published on Feb-16-2021 8:00am  Views: 5630 
    Scott Napier

    Kentucky School of Bluegrass instructor reissues his 2010 solo album and 2016 instructional DVD

    Photo credit: Bourbon & Brides

    Cue up Larry Sparks' 2005 album, The Coldest Part of Winter." Take a listen to track five, Scott Napier's "Parkway Blues." Pay attention to the arc of the melody; the way it handles the road, how it holds the corners. Now, consider the fact that Napier wrote the tune one dark night on the Bert D. Combs Mountain Parkway, mandolin in hand, driving the long, isolated stretch back home with his knees.

    It brings a new dimension to the concept of commitment, eh? Napier is definitely committed to the mandolin, as composer, player and teacher. Heck, he's even committed to his actual instrument, a 1939 Gibson F5 that recalls, in key attributes, the storied ...
    by Published on Dec-08-2020 8:00am  Views: 8291 
    Jody Stecher - Dreams from the Overlook


    The songs and tunes on Dreams from the Overlook are perfectly spare, sweetly melodic and, by turns, funny, ruminative and mesmerizing, with punning instrumentals like "Bread and Taxes," "The Wrong Fish" and "The Cousin Brothers" couched alongside comically-christened vocal numbers like "Ragtop Ford" and "Don't Despise a Spider."

    An ambitious 31-track double disc, Overlook, seems, as the title suggests, like something you might have imagined. But here's the rub. It's not your dream; it's Jody Stecher's.
    ...
    by Published on Nov-10-2020 8:00am  Views: 10296 
    Adrian Gross


    The first time I talked to Adrian Gross was in the fresh fruit department of my local supermarket. I spotted the young man carrying an A-style mandolin case, so naturally, had to approach. Little did I suspect he would soon be the phenomenal mandolin player for Canada's best known and probably most successful touring bluegrass band ever, The Slocan Ramblers. The band has released three albums and recently won the IBMA Momentum Award for Band of the Year.

    A native of Montreal, Adrian moved to Toronto when he entered the Humber College jazz program as a guitar major. As a kid, Adrian fell in love with the sound of gypsy jazz after seeing the Woody Allen Movie Sweet and Lowdown (he thought the fictional film was about a real musician). Adrian is a highly versatile player and jazz is still an important part of his musical life but these days he rarely ...
    by Published on Aug-18-2020 7:00am  Views: 6423 
    Daniel Patrick of Mandolins and Beer


    The date was August 17, 2019 and a new podcast we'd been hearing about had launched. Mandolins and Beer, previously Daniel Patrick's ambitious "Lick of the Day" postings, took a break and shifted gears when David Benedict of Mandolin Mondays and Mile Twelve Bluegrass band appeared as Daniel's first audio interview guest. We were hooked.

    A year later with 54 episodes under his belt it's Daniel's turn in the spotlight. With luminaries like Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange, Caterina Lichtenberg, Doyle Lawson, Adam Steffey, Sierra Hull and so many more, the queue to be a guest on Daniel's podcast has grown, and for good reason. Whether your musical interests are bluegrass, jazz, classical, Irish and all things progressive, or traditional, it's hard to beat the enthusiasm, inspiration and plain joy ...
    by Published on Aug-11-2020 7:00am  Views: 8189 
    Dominick Leslie

    Hawktail mandolinist has a number of new releases out now.


    Dominick Leslie may not be mandolin's best kept secret, but his hardcore fans can't help but muse on why he's not better known — yet.

    That may be about to change. Despite the musical mayhem wrought by the current viral crisis — from cancelled tours to shuttered venues — Leslie has been busily building his profile with a number of new releases, including Hawktail's remarkable sophomore effort Formations, which landed in January.
    ...
    by Published on Aug-04-2020 7:00am  Views: 5780 
    Fiddler's Green Music Shop


    In the midst of 2020's pandemic the story of one music store stuck out with plenty of sadness, but also one of hope and a positive message. It was a story needing told.

    Fiddler's Green Music shop, formerly of Austin was recently purchased by long-time employee Ben Hodges. Ben and his family toiled hard over the years to find a way to fulfill their dream of owning the store. From this point forward, the story is best told in his own words.

    We wish Ben well going forward and hope you'll enjoy photos of the new store ...
    by Published on Jun-30-2020 7:00am  Views: 11739 
    Caterina Lichtenberg - Solo


    Caterina Lichtenberg's newest project, aptly entitled Solo, comes at a time we can all use some joy and a breath of fresh air. This brilliant collection — some familiar, some new — is a pure delight. Her interpretations and approach to these wonderful compositions remind us how a true master can take music to a new level and beyond. It's with pleasure that we're able to help spread the word about this new recording. Get it. Listen. Then listen again and again. You won't be disappointed.

    Scott Tichenor
    Mandolin Cafe
    ...
    by Published on Jun-03-2020 7:00am  Views: 6199 
    Nate Lee

    Exclusive first-listen to "Wonderbat," from Nate Lee's Wings of a Jetliner.
    ...
    by Published on May-26-2020 7:00am  Views: 7911 
    Lady Moon - Eva Holbrook

    A reprint from the Weber Mandolin blog published May 3, 2020, authored by Michael Eck.

    Lady Moon with her Weber sopranino.

    On November 27, 1970, British folk rock paragons Pentangle released their fourth album, Cruel Sister. The title track, a haunting meditation on an ancient Northumbrian murder ballad, was tinged with sitar from fingerstyle master John Renbourn and graced with a mournful, exquisitely detached vocal from London chanteuse Jacqui McShee.

    Fifty years later, on March 24, 2020, Lady Moon posted a YouTube performance of the song, funneling history down through the ages, and, directly inspired by McShee and company, through the decades.

    In the mesmerizing clip, Lady Moon begins, too, with fingerpicking, a hypnotic pattern underpinning her own equally haunting meditation. She's playing a 22"-scale mahogany-backed Weber Bitterroot octave mandolin, and when she digs in with the pick, the rendition begins to take on a certain thunder. At the midpoint, it just explodes, with notes and double stops pouring out of the instrument in a flurry worthy of Pentangle's late Bert Jansch or his brilliant contemporary ...
    by Published on May-12-2020 7:30am  Views: 7523 
    Kym Warner


    It's been an unusual spring in central Texas. The bluebonnets came early and the clubs closed down. Mandolinist Kym Warner has had time to contemplate, in the literal and figurative senses of that phrase — meaning he's had the hours to fill and the opportunity to think.

    Between work with Robert Earl Keen's touring band and a full plate of local bluegrass pickup gigs, the Australian expatriate was looking at a packed calendar. Instead, he's hunkered down in Austin with his wife, Greencards co-founder Carol Young, and their dog, Bentley. As Warner noted in a recent Mandolin Cafe roundup of musicians sharing their pandemic experiences—he's kept busy by writing originals, arranging covers, sussing out gear and doing some remote recording.
    ...
    by Published on Apr-28-2020 6:00am  Views: 11524 
    Cathy Pelosi and Tom Ellis

    While musicians saw summer tours, gigs and teaching opportunities at camps and workshops go by the wayside during the Cornavirus Pandemic, retailers and builders fared no better. Forced to close shop or operate with limited capacity — though some may soon re-open on a limited basis — the damage continues.

    We asked a group of prominent retailers and builders from across the U.S. (large and small) to weigh in and share their perspective.

    This is their story.
    ...
    by Published on Apr-21-2020 7:30am  Views: 11625 
    Andy Statman

    For now, gone are the crowds, the flights, the bus rides, the sound checks, nightly meet and greets with fans, appearances at mandolin camps, catching up with family and friends between travel and the next gig and more.

    We contacted a number of mandolin players that have made this work their calling and asked them to weigh in on how they're dealing with life during these unprecedented times. One, Andy Statman, is recovering along with his wife after both contracted the Coronavirus in late March.

    The experiences and changes vary widely, and serve as a reminder that the journey will be different for each of us.

    We thought it important to hear directly from the artists in their own words in a world where no one has been spared a major change. Next week we hope to do a similar report from a group of retailers and builders.

    This is their story.
    ...
    by Published on Mar-10-2020 7:00am  Views: 78771 
    Article Preview

    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.
    ...
    by Published on Mar-10-2020 6:59am  Views: 10383 
    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.
    ...
    by Published on Mar-03-2020 8:00am  Views: 15639 
    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: 8273 
    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: 9231 
    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: 16666 
    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 ...

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