Bluegrass, European Style

10 Years of European World of Bluegrass Festival (Strictly Country Records)
Various Artists

By Bob Mitchell

Hundreds of guitars, fiddles, banjos, vocalists, mandolins, bass fiddles, Dobros and a world-wide community of bluegrass are captured in this enjoyable recording. Over the last ten years, the European World of Bluegrass Festival in the Netherlands hosted 377 concerts featuring 182 different bands from 24 different countries. Liz Meyer, dubbed the "European Bluegrass Diva" by "Bluegrass Now" is an extraordinary music ambassador and the major force in keeping the movement alive and preserving the music on two magnificent CDs.

Meyer, originally from Washington, D.C., now makes her home in Amsterdam. She has assembled a stunning compilation with 48 bands from 15 countries, including some of Europe's finest alongside 15 bands from the United States and Canada. Artists such as Bill Clifton, The Chapmans, Chris Jones, Claire Lynch and Randy Waller.

Meyer, courageously and tirelessly, coordinated a fabulous collection showcasing incredible talent and commitment to traditional bluegrass. The most pleasant surprise is the high level of musicianship evident in the European bands. These musicians have done their homework and they clearly demonstrate a remarkable ability to understand and play the subtle fundamentals of a complex music born so many miles from their home.

Several weeks ago I visited Bill Monroe's home place and I am certain Monroe would bestow an approving tip of his big hat for these amazing musicians and their efforts.

Yes indeed, bluegrass is alive and well not only in the United States but also in Europe. As Liz suggests in her liner notes, "Maybe world peace can start with a banjo intro." Sounds like a reasonable idea to me.

On a five-point scale of excellence this release merits a five. For more information go to www.StrictlyCountryRecords.com or www.ewob.eu