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Bringing Bluegrass Music to the Netherlands

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

It's been a pretty surreal weekend here in the Netherlands- this is my first time going abroad for music and I've loved every moment of it!

It has been very exciting to bring bluegrass music to places where many have never heard it before.

The trip was a part of an event called "ASML on Stage" and it featured musicians from all over the world. Check out my quick appearance in the YouTube promo here:

"The Dutch love that Bluegrass Music!"

After the show, we busked in the city until almost 4 in the morning!

Bandmate "Alan Zinzer's" Reflection

"Back from Holland and Sweetcake Mountain’s first European tour…and still “unpacking” the experience.

Eddie, our amazing bassist, was unable to join us, due to his recovering from an injury incurred while bravely rescuing some puppies from a burning building (that’s the story and I’m sticking with it). So we missed him and his sunny disposition…and we really did miss him.

For the European tour, we recruited a ringer ( Austin Scelzo), a professional musician who opened up new worlds for me watching how he rehearsed and performed. Austin is irrespressable and talented! For the on-stage formal performances, Austin played bass...but for every hour on stage, we spent nine busking in Holland’s ample public parks and squares and that’s when the band performed with double fiddles. The sound of one off-the-hook fiddle playing the melody and another joining on thick-mountain harmony literally stopped people dead in their tracks. And when me and Mat Kastner give him a funky, good rhythmic base, Steve’s banjo starts speaking in the syncopated tongues of the swamps and hills of the inspired tragedy we can home.

We were surprised at how people loved swamp yankee bluegrass—especially young men late at night who stuffed money into our pockets, brought us beers and acted as security when the crowds got big and rowdy—these young men seemed to respond to something in the music that reminded them that overlooked people sometimes have to manufacture their own dignity in societies that would deny and discount them. Often, the cry-break pathos of bluegrass speaks to the pain of dislocation (in Bill Monroe’s case, moving from his Kentucky home to join his brothers to sell their labor to a grimy Indiana refinery). Modernity has done nothing but accelerate these processes of dislocation which only deepens the appeal of traditional genres like bluegrass.

We were six people on this tour—two in their 20s, two in their 60s and two in their 70s. And we did it right—we did like a swamp yankee bluegrass band should—we slept six to a room in $25/night hostels, woke up and started playing bluegrass and didn’t stop til 4am. In between we ate doner kabobs and we talked about—you guessed it—bluegrass. For us, it wasn’t so much a music tour as a removal from our normal lives to share—in pure, raw-boned fashion—this music that never ceases to thrill and inspire us.

Craig Rogoff, our brilliant fiddler, arranged the tour, got the whole thing funded and oversaw the logistics of his merry band of geriatrics. We watched him handle every stressful situation with calm and generosity and our respect and love for this young man spills the banks of our hearts."

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