Tis the month of all things Irish! Let’s visit a couple examples of the shared heritage of Bluegrass and Irish music. The first is a traditional Irish ballad played Bluegrass style by the Bluegrass Patriots from Fort Collins, Colorado and released in 1991, When You and I Were Young, Maggie.
When You and I Were Young Maggie by The Bluegrass Patriots

The second one is and old Irish song, The Little Beggerman or The Red Haired Boy in the Bluegrass world. The first of these is the Red Haired Boy with no words by the super group, Tony Rice, Mark Schatz, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush and Mark O’Connor. The second is a vocal version of the same song performed by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem with words, a dance and intro by Pete Seeger.

Red Haired Boy – Tony Rice and Friends

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem – The Little Beggarman

As I spoke about last month, Bluegrass and more specifically, Bill Monroe, had many styles of music influencing his personal vision for what his music would include. Jazz, swing and blues all blended with old English ballads and Irish and Scottish fiddle tunes.

Devil’s Dream, St. Anne’s Reel and The Temperance Reel are a few more examples of shared fiddle tunes in the Celtic, Old Timey and Bluegrass standard repertoire.

Speaking of all things Irish, let’s talk about the famed, luck of the Irish! Buffalo, we are incredibly lucky to have the upcoming line up of Bluegrass national talent coming to our area. Three giants of their instruments, a very popular new band breaking into the top tier but still playing smaller, intimate venues for now are in our near future and a one day music festival headlined by one of the top national Bluegrass bands touring in the US!

If you’re a banjo player, you have heard of the amazing accomplishments of Bela Fleck. He hit the national scene with his tenure in the ground breaking New Grass Revival. Later he broke the mold by fronting his own modern Jazz combo, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones wining five Grammy awards along the way. These days, he is teamed up with the very talented, clawhammer style banjo player, Abigail Washburn who is married to Fleck. Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn will be in Buffalo on Wednesday April 3rd at Kleinhans Music Hall.



The mandolin world has quite a few stars of the instrument but very few have made the impact of Chris Thile. At age 43 the California native teamed up with the Watkins siblings, Sara Watkins on fiddle and Sean Watkins on guitar, back when they were just kids. The band they formed, Nickel Creek, achieved critical acclaim and a Grammy before they announced a hiatus in 2007. Sara went on to play in the band, I’m with Her, an Americana band consisting of singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan. In 2020, their song “Call My Name” received nominations for two Grammy Awards: Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song, winning the latter. Thile recorded several solo albums and formed the highly successful band, The Punch Brothers. Now in 2024, Nickel Creek is back on the road following the release of a new CD, Celebrants. Nickel Creek will be in town on Saturday, March 23rd at the UB Center For the Arts.

Australian guitar wizard, Tommy Emmanuel is teaming up with Cris Jacobs, Baltimore singer/songwriter at Babeville on Tuesday May 21, 2024. Emmanuel has been called the best Acoustic guitar player in the world and speaking as someone who’s seen him live and up close, I agree with the compliment and would add that he is one of the best entertainers I’ve ever seen too! Those who attend on May 21 will see Emmanuel using every corner and surface of his guitar to fill out his guitar and vocal performance.


With a reputation for energetic live shows, impeccable musicianship, the Slocan Ramblers will be at the West Falls Center for the Arts on Saturday, Mar, 9. The Slocan Ramblers (featured on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN, 2020 IBMA Momentum Band of the Year Award Winner & 2019 Juno Award Nominee) are Canada’s bluegrass band to watch. Rooted in tradition, fearlessly creative and possessing a bold, dynamic sound, The Slocans have become a leading light of today’s acoustic music scene.







The Rail Riders Jamboree is coming back to Holiday Valley in Ellicottville on Saturday, March 23. The Grammy Award winning, Nashville based Infamous String Dusters are the headliners of the Rail Riders Jamboree along with the regional favorite American band, Dirty Blanket and the local award winning Wild Knights. Tickets for this show include a Friday night pre festival party. Tickets at https://www.tixr.com/groups/railriderjam/events/rail-rider-jamboree-90269


Bluegrass Shows Coming Up

Thursday, Mar. 7, noon-2:15 PM – The Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars – Sportsmen’s Tavern – Buffalo, NY

Saturday, Mar. 9, 7-9:30 PM – The Slocan Ramblers – The West Falls Center for the Arts – West Falls, NY

Sunday, Mar. 10, 2PM-7 PM – The Bennington Lanes Bluegrass Jam – Bennington, NY

Thursday, Mar. 21, noon- 2:15 PM – The Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars – Sportsmen’s Tavern, Buffalo, NY

Saturday, Mar. 23, – The Rail Riders Jamboree – Holiday Valley Ski Resort – Ellicottville, NY

Saturday, Mar. 23, 7:30-9:30 PM – Chris Thile and Nickel Creek – UB Center for the Arts

Saturday, Mar. 30, 8-11PM – Creek Bend – 42 North Brewing Co. – East Aurora, NY

Wednesday, Apr. 3, 7:30-9:30 PM – Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn – Kleinhans Music Hall

Tuesday, May 21, 7-9 PM – Tommy Emmanuel and Cris Jacobs – Babeville – Buffalo, NY

May you have a great March and St. Patrick’s Day season. Keep your eyes open for Emerald Isle band and Almost Seamus band this month. (www.BuffaloBluegrass.com will have their schedules).

Until next time,
Keep on Pickin’!

Mark Panfil
Creek Bend and BuffaloBluegrass.com


Angela Hastings

Author Angela Hastings

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