Looking back on summer 2022: Stillhouse Junkies and The Slocan Ramblers

I’ve been somewhat remiss in updating my blog posts over the last few months, for the happy reason that I was really busy getting real-life tours and gigs up and running again this year! I’m now working on multiple tour plans for 2023, as well as embarking on my podcast development project over the winter, but I thought I should make time for a little appreciation post to look back on the fabulous UK gigs that were performed by Stillhouse Junkies (in June) and The Slocan Ramblers (in September). Stay tuned for our 2023 tour news, and in the meantime do follow the two bands below on social media, check out their websites (linked here) and buy their music!

Stillhouse Junkies are renowned for their energetic stage show that showcases impressive musicianship (on guitar, fiddle, mandolin and double bass), three-part vocal harmonies and a mix of fine original songwriting and masterful cover versions. The Stillhouse Junkies tour planned for March 2020 was the first one we had to cancel when Covid struck, so it was quite joyful to finally welcome them to the UK in June, where they made lots of new fans including great crowds in Saltaire and Scarborough. The band also bookended their UK dates with festival performances in Ireland and the Netherlands. When touring came to a halt in 2020, Stillhouse Junkies created the Rolling Junkies Revue, a programme of mini front-yard gigs around their home town of Durango. Since things opened back up, they have been touring relentlessly once more. The trio caused a huge stir at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s conference and festival in autumn 2021, and came away with that year’s 2021 Momentum Band Award. Their impact was described thus in Bluegrass Today magazine: “The old expression that you really have to see and hear it for yourself absolutely applies here, as words fail in describing how powerful this group was in multiple showcase performances at World of Bluegrass.” They were quickly signed up to Nashville label Dark Shadow Recording, and the new (third) Stillhouse Junkies album Small Towns was released this September.  Here are a couple of video clips showcasing this infectiously fun, musically brilliant trio.

After their 2020 tour plans had to be shelved, The Slocan Ramblers made up for it this year with a 3-week September tour as well as a flying visit to Northern Ireland in May to headline the big Bluegrass Omagh festival. We booked previous tours for the lads in 2018 and 2019, so it was great to finally welcome them back! Formed in Toronto in 2011, they’ve established a strong fanbase in the USA, as well as in their home country of Canada and here in the UK. The band has won many awards including the 2020 Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Album of the Year and a 2019 JUNO nomination as well as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2020 Momentum Band of the Year Award. The fourth Slocan Ramblers album, 2022’s Up The Hill and Through the Fog, is already gathering plaudits, including two 2023 Canadian Folk Music Awards nominations. Nashville mandolin ace Casey Campbell did a sterling job filling in for founding member Adrian Gross on the September tour, alongside the ever-brilliant Frank Evans (banjo), Darryl Poulsen (guitar) and Charles James (bass). We were delighted that The Slocan Ramblers attracted full houses around the country including in Petersfield, Filey, Swansea and our own Meltham gig, as well as their Didmarton Bluegrass Festival debut.  Bristol Folk House sent me this review from Bristol 24/7 magazine: “As each musician takes their turn soloing and showcasing the audience respond, somewhere between unbridled enthusiasm, open-mouthed disbelief and awe.” Check out a couple of video clips from the tour below: