Just try to time travel back to the seventies, in Paris, France. You will meet stunning musicians like Bill Keith.
Bluegrass life is strong in the hearts of bluegrass lovers in France, but don't dream : you will not hear bluegrass music on French radios or on TV. Most people here do not know anything about bluegrass and we do not have weekly jams everywhere like in the U.S. That is why gatherings are so important here. The bond between French bluegrass players is old and strong.
But things seem to improve these years.
One can sometimes witness touches of bluegrass sound or instruments among popular French singers, some of them even choosing a bluegrass band for stage performances or CD recording.
Video : Sanseverino, Les ïles du Salut.
The most important bluegrass event in France, and now in Europe, is La Roche Bluegrass Festival, in the charming city of La Roche sur Foron, in the French Alps, near Switzerland. This large event is held each year on the first weekend of August, and also hosts a three days workshop on bluegrass instruments and practice, the week just before the concerts.
Video : La Roche Bluegrass Festival.
In the past years, this festival has hosted wonderful american artists such as Blue Highway, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, Franck Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Molly Tuttle, Rapid Grass (this list could be very long), as well as great European bands : Le Chat Mort, Black Jack, The Sons of Navaronne, and many (many !) more.
The 15th edition should have been held in August 2020 but was cancelled because of the covid-19 pandemic. It will take place in August 2021.
Bluegrass jams happen all year long in different parts of France such as Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Chambéry, Rouen...) and gatherings are regularly held in some regions, such as Île de France, Brittany, Occitanie and more, sometimes along with workshops.
The Country Rendez Vous Festival in Craponne sur Arzon has long been a host for a few bluegrass shows and jams. The festival team is now working on a new formula for the years to come.
Meanwhile and in many places in France, people get interested in mandolin, banjo, dobro or fiddle and many French musicians coming from other music styles now know what bluegrass is. Some of them even know how to play a few classics!
We also have pretty good players and bands, and interest in bluegrass singing is growing.
A few French bluegrass bands.
Video : The Muddy Hill Boys.
Video : Roots & Drive.
Video : Bluegrass 43.
Video : Mart'o Pickers Bluegrass Band.
Video : Dusty Millers.
If you ever plan to come to France and want to share a few tunes and songs, this web site france-bluegrass.fr is a good place to start !
This post was written by Ti' Pierre