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Seasons Greetings Idaho Bluegrass Music Lovers! As the snow has dusted the ground and the leaves have fallen, it is a perfect time to learn a new fiddle tune or play songs with friends. There is so much going on in our local and regional bluegrass world. We are very excited to share some of the events the IBA has planned for the upcoming season.



Thank you to the 2019 board members for their service to our organization. The all-volunteer board members include Brent King, Adam King, Petra Schwarthoff, Mark Stolpe, and Joe Gobel.

The annual IBA members meeting is December 4th, 2019, at Pioneer Building, downtown Boise from 5:15-6:30PM. New board members/officers will be elected at that time. The following people have been nominated for a board position in 2020: Mark McDonough, Cahill Jones, Adam King, Petra Schwarthoff, Mark Stolpe, and Joe Gobel. If you would like to have a say and a vote in this organization, please plan to attend. Remember, only paying dues members are allowed to vote in elections.




The Idaho Bluegrass Association is excited to announce we will be hosting a one-day bluegrass music festival Saturday, January 25, at the Ironwood Bar in Boise from 12 noon to 7PM.
There will be 13 bands.
That’s right, 13 bands. Here is the list: Reilly Coyote (Bernie Reilly), Dry Buck, Jetboat Ramblers, Country Club (Jonah Shue), Sugar Beats, All the Bad Times, False Bottom String Band, Aldape Bootstompers, Fiddle Express, Slackline, Wild Dirt Flower, and Edsel and DeLorean. You can find out more about the bands at the IBA website. We are also happy to announce a special guest performance by John Lowell, of Growling Old Men. Please join us for a fun, music packed day of bluegrass. Donations at the door $15.


Music Camp dates are April 30--May 3, 2020. Enrollment is now open for all levels of fiddle, guitar, and mandolin players and beginning dobro players. Last year some sections, particularly guitar, filled up quickly, and overall the camp sold out. If you are interested in attending the camp in 2020, please enroll soon to secure your spot.

The location is the home of the National Old Time Fiddle Contest in Slocum and Hooker Halls in Weiser, Idaho.

We are delighted--and fortunate--to have returning instructors Megan Lynch Chowning (fiddle) and Chris Jones (guitar).  Additionally, we are excited to introduce two new, also nationally known, instructors: Sharon Gilchrist (mandolin) and Ivan Rosenberg (beginner dobro, fiddle, mandolin, and guitar). They are both amazing players in high demand for their instructing expertise. As a bonus, Ivan will hold a focus session during the camp for students interested in resonator guitar. Detailed biographies for our 2020 instructors are on the Music Camp web page.

We listened to student comments and reviews from last year's camp and are excited to introduce "master-class" sessions for advanced players and a dedicated "new-beginner" track for all instruments. Each of the instructors, in addition to their regular curriculum, will hold master-class sessions wherein each advanced student will have a one-on-one interaction with the instructor and receive real-time feedback. These sessions also will be greatly helpful for beginner and intermediate students to observe.The new-beginner classes with Ivan will focus on fundamentals in a small group setting at an appropriate pace.


Registration for the 2020 Weiser Banjo Camp is now open! Camp runs from May 14-17, 2020. A $100 deposit is all that's needed to reserve your spot. Camp, including meals, is just $325. Greg Cahill and Bill Evans will be joining Dave Keenan and Jason Homey this year. We expect to fill up our registration (70 students) quickly. Find out more about the instructors and the event, and register at


Thank you to all of you who have paid your annual dues. Your donations are greatly appreciated and essential to keep our organization vital and moving forward. Voluntary donation of $15 per year is recommended and covers the calendar year January through December.

You’d rather donate time rather than money? Great! Volunteers are welcome and needed. We have many ongoing and developing projects including taking bluegrass music into the public schools, playing at assisted living facilities, planning next year’s bluegrass festival, and more. Please contact us. Or maybe you have a suggestion or feedback?  We want to hear from you!


John Lowell Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist

John will be in Boise in January and perform at the Idaho Bluegrass Winterfest January 25th, host a guitar workshop January 26 and perform at a house concert January 26. See the IBA website for details.


Montana based singer, songwriter and guitarist John Lowell jokes that he’s been playing “long enough to know better.” But the fact is in the 40 plus years that John has been plying his craft, he has written dozens of songs, been featured on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar magazine, judged the guitar competition at Winfield Flatpicking Contests and performed on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. His playing is featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.” His song “Sarah Hogan” has been recorded by at least a dozen other artists, and his first solo CD, “I Am Going To The West” spent 16 weeks on the National Roots Music chart.

John has played in several groups in the Mountain West over the years including Wheel Hoss, Deep River, Kane’s River, the Two Bit Franks, the Lone Mountain Trio and the internationally acclaimed duo the Growling Old Men with his friend Ben Winship.

For more information, please go to


John Lowell released his dream project “This Long Stretch of Gravel,” an album of duets with his musical heroes, in October. Performing all original songs by Lowell, this album features Missy Raines on bass throughout the album and guests Darol Anger, Joe Newberry, Joe K. Walsh, Claire Lynch, Ron Block, John Reischman, Chris Jones, Stephen Mougin, Jason Thomas, Andy Hall, Jeremy Garrett, Becky Buller, Chris Coole, Joy Adams, Bill Payne and Ben Somers. The project was mixed by IBMA engineer of the year Ben Surratt.

Reviews of “This Long Stretch of Gravel”

“I was honored when John asked me to play on his recording and I can't believe all the great musicians in the world of bluegrass music that he has included on his songs. The songwriting is great and the performance by all is superb. Huge kudos to John for such a wonderful release!” Greg Cahill, Special Consensus

“I’ve been a fan of John Lowell’s enigmatic voice and vivid, gritty storytelling for a long, long time now. I’m thrilled to be part of this lovely collection of original western Americana music.” Becky Buller, IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year

“John Lowell has lingered too long in acoustic music's shadows, and "The Long Stretch Of Gravel" reveals the fine musicianship that his friends and fans have long admired. His notable collaborators support him impeccably here, but I'm most impressed by John's original songs.” Tim O’Brien, musician, songwriter

"Montana may be on the margins of the bluegrass mainstream, but it is ground zero for John Lowell music, and that makes it a musical winner. The friends who appear on this project already know, and now it’s time for everyone else to find out.” Jon Weisberger, IBMA songwriter of the year, musician, journalist

Some thoughts from John Lowell’s collaborators on “This Long Stretch of Gravel”

“I first met John at the world's most aptly named music camp - Sorefingers - in the U.K.,” added old time banjo player Joe Newberry. “From the moment we started playing together, I felt like he and I were kindred spirits, and I quickly learned that he has that effect on everyone he meets. His writing, singing, and guitar playing all come from a very deep well, and I look forward to making music with him for a long time.”

"I was a John Lowell fan before we started playing together and remain one even though I've witnessed first hand what a clown the guy can be,” said Ben Somers, bass player and touring musician. “We first met on a tour in Germany with 'The Growling Old Men', John's group with Ben Winship and Leon Hunt. We instantly hit it off musically and socially. I learned a great deal from John on that tour about consistency, musicality and humility. One moment from that tour frequently pops into my mind and makes me laugh. We were part way through the first set in The Rattlesnake Saloon in Munich. John had just sung a verse and chorus of Jim Reeves' 'I've Lived A Lot In My Time' and gone on to take a beautiful 'John Lowell' guitar solo, subtle, musical and fluent. On the video that I managed to take, John finishes his solo and right in the 2 second gap where he should be breathing before the chorus he turns to me and comments on his solo by saying ‘ah s***’ - again showing the guy's humble and humorous nature.”

“I first met John over 25 years ago when we were both subbing with the Bluegrass band Loose Ties on a southwest tour. It was great to get to know him and play music together. The tour was a blast and included some great shows as well as some time off at a remote ranch in rural Arizona that included a party that could have been out of cowboy Fellini movie. I’m very happy to be a part of John’s excellent new CD all these years later!” recalls John Reischman, mandolin player and leader of John Reischman and the Jaybirds.

“When someone’s music is like an old friend and you’ve just met, that’s John Lowell’s gift,” said Bill Payne, legendary keyboardist and founder of Little Feat. “John Lowell is a man at ease with himself. The musical terrain he occupies, whether his songs or others, is steeped in the tradition of storytelling. The combination of honesty and authenticity bolster the ease of the relationship between himself, his music, and his audience. John’s abilities as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and human being are inseparable. If you ever have the chance to meet him in person you’ll find his handshake is heartfelt, his smile genuine, and his quiet demeanor humble. He has a knowledge and respect for music that is as serious as a Montana winter but delivered with the grace and confidence of someone who has led the life of sharing what he loves. I respect him and am honored to call him a friend.”

“John singlehandedly made the music world bigger for me: hearing his songs, his singing, his playing, all of which blew me away (and continue to!), all coming from a fellow living up in Montana,” said mandolin wizard Joe K. Walsh. “It was so inspiring to hear music of that extremely high level being made by someone living outside of the usual spots, off the musical map that I had constructed in my mind, and doing so with such a recognizable voice. The humanity he conveyed in his writing and singing, the beautiful approach to craft evident in everything he plays: he sets a wonderful bar that the rest of us can aspire to.”

“I got wind of John Lowell and his talent all the way from Montana years ago through a former band mate, Jason Thomas,” said Claire Lynch, legendary vocalist and songwriter. “At the time they were playing together in Kane's River. Their music was original and fresh and I took note. Over the years we've maintained a mutual respect for songwriting and artistry. It's an honor to be included on this project!”


Monday, December 2
5 – 8pm
McCall - Intermediate Jam
Broken Horn Brewing Company

7 – 9pm
Twin Falls - Jam
Gertie's Brick Oven Pizzeria, 602 Second Avenue South, Twin Falls, ID

Tuesday, December 3
6 – 8am
AM Breakdown with Ryan and Willy – Radio Boise
Radio Boise, broadcasting at 89.9 FM and 93.5 FM - Right in your home!

7 – 9:30pm
Performance Jam
Boise / Meridian KOA Journey

Wednesday, December 4
5:30 – 7pm
IBA quarterly meeting
Wiseguy Pizza Pie

6:30 – 9pm
False Bottom and Friends
Powderhaus Brewing Company

6:30 – 9pm
Intermediate Bluegrass Jam with Jason
Revitalize Juice Bar in the Pioneer Building (6th and Main downtown Boise), 106 N 6th St #106, Boise, 

7 – 9pm
Boise - Jam at Shoreline Plaza
Shoreline Plaza 675 S. 13th, near Shore Line Drive

Thursday, December 5
6 – 8pm
And Friends @ El Gallo Giro
El Gallo Giro, 5285 Glenwood Boise, ID 83714

6:30 – 9pm
Beginner Bluegrass Jam with Jason
Revitalize Juice Bar in the Pioneer Building (6th and Main downtown Boise), 106 N 6th St #106, Boise

Friday, December 6
7 – 11pm
Bluegrass and Birds
with Idyltime, Lonesome Jetboat Ramblers & Square Dance
The Mardi Gras

and mark your calendar:
Tuesday, December 10

IBA Showcase 7pm with "The Trees, the Trees" and friends
Liquid Lounge - downtown Boise


Have a great holiday season and hope to see you at a jam soon.


Cheers, Joe Gobel

IBA president

Copyright © 2019 Idaho Bluegrass Association, All rights reserved.

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