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* Gigs: Brother Mule and John Dowling in St Ives
Posted May 08, 2008 - 12:23 PM
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Events Brother Mule and John Dowling play the Western Hotel in St Ives on 15th May 2008...

Live at the Western Hotel
Thursday 15 May

Brother Mule
Brother Mule in concert is a musical conversation between three of America’s most gifted acoustic musicians. The bandmates share the spotlight in a three-ringed circus of extraordinary talent and variety. Brian Wicklund ignites the stage with his fiery fiddling, Ben Winship plays tasty mandolin as he croons one of his finely crafted songs, while Eric Thorin pushes the boundaries of bass playing as an extreme sport.

Their debut recording, Big Twang, earned them the Indie Music Award’s Best Americana CD of 2005. It’s a showcase of original and traditional vocals and instrumentals spanning genres of swing, old time, Celtic, old country and acoustic funk.

“If you aren’t tapping your feet to that music, you’re dead.” Michael Bolton, Homer, AK

“Masterful musicians who create a great friendship between themselves, and share it with, the audience.” Mary Ver Hoef, Seattle

and the welcome return of

John Dowling
USA Bluegrass Banjo Champion - 2002 - Winfield Kansas
BBC Radio2 Young Folk Award Champion - 2000 - London UK

John started playing music at age 5 when, encouraged by his family at home in Cornwall, he started classical violin lessons. While this taught him a lot, he did not find the “fun” in music until at 12 years old he heard a 5 string banjo playing on the sound track of a Burt Reynolds car chase film.

At 14 he acquired his first banjo and, from that moment on, he’s devoted all his efforts to perfecting his unique way to make music. While studying A Level music at Truro College, John met keyboard player Jez Wing. They seemed to bond musically, writing new and exciting pieces for banjo and piano. They had no preconceptions stylistically on which to base their compositions, but open minds and varied musical backgrounds led to such interesting pieces as “Made with Blue and Red”, which can be found on the Black Cat Theory debut CD, (the name they eventually chose for themselves). In 2000, they entered the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award to simply showcase their material. To their surprise they won first place.

Shortly after, they added drums and double base to the line-up to give a fuller sound. They played at such places as Cambridge Folk Festival and Modal, as well as being given free recording studio time by the BBC. However, due to educational and other commitments, the band members had to go their separate ways.

John moved to the North West where the music scene is buzzing. He teamed up with ACLAIM (Acoustically Live and Inclusive Music), teaching banjo and doing school workshops. In July 2002, he read an article about The Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, which sponsors eight instrumental contests including the USA National Bluegrass Banjo Championship. He made a fleeting comment to Bryn Williams, Chairman of ACLAIM, saying that he would love to enter that contest.

To his surprise, Bryn told him that he would sponsor him to go. Previous winners include such big names as Mark O’Connor, Alison Kraus and Chris Thile.So two months later John went out to the States on his own, with nothing but his banjo and a bag, to see how the experts would judge his ability. Although he was up against the likes of the great Jeff Scroggins – past two time winner – he still managed to win the first prize, taking home with him a very large trophy and a new banjo worth $4500. John is the first European to have ever won this award.

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