Four Wheel Drive is probably the most talked about and lauded European bluegrass group of this past decade and they are set to hit Roscrea on Wednesday the 7th of April next where they will perform at the Damer Court Hotel commencing at 8.30pm. Tckets for the much anticpated gig are moderetly priced at just €20.00. To book, please call the hotel on 0505 23300. Tickets plus Dinner and a drink (4 course meal) costs just €47 and a ticket plus Dinner plus B&B is available at the very special rate of just €85.00.
The earliest roots of the Four Wheel Drive story can be found in the late 80's when the Dutch mandolin player Paul Van Vlodrop was asked to gather a group of musicians to play background music for an American theatre play. Since then the group has stayed together in different line-ups featuring some of the finest European bluegrass musicians.
In 2000 their first album No doubt about it was released on Continental Records (now Rounder Europe) . This CD got things really going for the band. Bluegrass Unlimited, the most popular American bluegrass magazine, published a highlight review and a full length article on this group, something very rare for a European band. The cd can be downloaded from I tunes.
In 2002 4WD won Best European Bluegrass Band Award at the EWOB (European World of Bluegrass) and were sent to the States to represent Europe at the world famous World of Bluegrass Festival, where they received standing ovations at the fanfair . They also performed at The Station Inn in Nashville, the American mecca of bluegrass music but also at The Cobblestone, one of the oldest and prestigious folk venues in Dublin.
On top of that they won the Audience Popularity Award at the annual Ewob festival in Voorthuizen in 2006 as well as in 2007 and last but not least they received the 'Gram Parsons Award' presented by the DCMA (Dutch Country Music Association) for best acoustic band of the year no less than 7 times.
Their repertoire is a keen mixture of hardcore bluegrass, country flavored songs and mostly self written catchy instrumentals. They do not hesitate to throw in an a'cappella-song once in a while either !
The versatility of this group of well seasoned traditional musicians with a stunning instrumental and vocal technique allows them to make a cross-over from American oldtime and bluegrass styles to the European folk tradition. In doing so they seem to please folk oriented audiences all over Europe.
In the last couple of years they were considered a revelation at prestigious festivals like the Omagh Appalachian & Bluegrassmusic Festival in Northern Ireland as well as at the Skagen Folkfestival in Denmark and the Bluegrass & Celtic Music Festival in Namur (B)
Four Wheel Drive prefers to play for just one microphone which adds a nice entertaining effect to their stage show.
A couple of years ago Four Wheel Drive met with female singer Jolanda Peters from Holland while working together on a musical theatre show called 'Somewhere Between'. Things immediately clicked and Jolanda was asked to sing the Townes Van Zandt song 'If I needed You' on the new 4 Wheel Drive CD Another Town. It quickly became one of the band's most requested songs and the rest is... history.
Jolanda is an outstanding singer with a remarkable soulful voice well capable of moving people.
What others had to say....
Four Wheel Drive certainly possesses the chops to be fan favorites worldwide. No question : 'Another Town' is another quality album from another quality European bluegrass band - Tom Walsch - Bluegrass Now Magazine
Ob in Up-Tempo-Nummern, Balladen oder Instrumentaltiteln, die Gruppe 4 Wheel Drive ist und bleibt eine Klasse für sich. - Walter Fuchs - Germany
4 Wheel Drive représentait l'aspect le plus traditionnel du bluegrass. Le trio vocal est parfait avec un excellent son et une parfaite chorégraphie autour du micro unique, à l'ancienne. - Le cri du coyote, septembre 2007
The musicianship on 'Another Town' is, as the genre demands, top-notch, and the choice of material is impeccable. R2 - Rock 'n Reel magazine, UK
'Another Town' is a very impressive cd and I have serious doubts any American group could replicate a traditional European style of music so authentically. - Eresian Banda Loop, Wisconsin, USA
I first heard 4WD in 2002 in Omagh and they were an instant hit with me. I'm not an expert on bluegrass music but I know what I like and I thought they made great music - Nancy Morris (UK)
When Jolanda starts singing something happens, something that does not happen every day. – anomynous fan from Belgium.
I agree that 4 Wheel Drive were superb : some very good singers and performers. They are regarded as being the best bluegrass band in Europe I believe. Online review of the Skagen folk festival, 2007.
P e r s o n a l i t i e s
Joost van Es Although he is the youngest member of 4 Wheel Drive, band leader Joost van Es is a legend in his own right: undoubtedly the most important bluegrass fiddler to emerge from Holland, and widely recognized as one of the finest bluegrass musicians in Europe. Van Es had his classical violin education and played klezmer, gypsy swing and Balkan music before finding his true musical love: the bluegrass fiddle. Recently he backed up Bill Clifton during his last European tour, as well as Lou Reid & Carolina. He also worked with most of Holland’s country acts, such as Ruud Hermans, Major Dundee and Savannah, Desperado and the Hillbilly Boogiemen.
Alfred Bonk Alfred Bonk lives in Bremervorde, Germany (near Hamburg). Alfred is a teacher of sports, german and biology. His first bluegrass band was the 'Roving Gamblers' (1982). He also is a member of and did several recordings with 'Sacred Sounds of Grass' with whom he played a lot of gigs, including three USA tours and various festivals. He is also a singer in two a-capella-groups. Alfred is an enthousiastic new member of the band, and puts a lot of energy into the music, with his characteristic high voice and his steady bass playing. He plays music and sings whenever possible.
Paul van Vlodrop Without Paul van Vlodrop, 4 Wheel Drive probably never would have existed. In 1987, a Dutch theater company asked this Dutch mandolin/banjo player to put a group together as a ‘live soundtrack’ to one of their productions. In the original, American version of Sam Shepard’s A Lie Of The Mind, the Red Clay Ramblers played old time-based music during the acts. The Rotterdam RO-theater wanted a bluegrass band for the Dutch translation of the play. At the moment, Paul van Vlodrop is the only remaining original member. Paul was a member of The Country Ramblers (NL), Smoketown Strut (B), and Freewheeling (NL/G/F). He also worked with Byron Berline. Paul plays both mandolin and banjo, and is known as one of the finest bluegrass musicians in Europe ever.
Jan Michielsen The Belgian Jan Michielsen is the perfect bluegrass guitar player: you only realize what he’s doing for the music once he drops out. Michielsen’s playing – unobtrusive, tasteful and with a killer timing – has been heavily influenced by Larry Sparks.
Jan Michielsen has been bandleader of Smoketown Strut (Belgium) for more than two decades.With Smoketown Strut, they released four records, one of which featured the legendary Jim Eanes.
Jürgen Biller Though he’s not a full-time member of 4 Wheel Drive, the German banjo player Jürgen Biller is a very important part of the classic 4 Wheel Drive sound. Biller reputedly learned the banjo by locking himself in his cellar for a couple of years, only to emerge as the true virtuoso he is now. Mostly known for his authentic sound and dazzling speed, Biller is regarded as an authority in the field of traditional banjo playing. He has worked together a lot with the German bands Helmut & The Hillbillies, Hard Times, today with One4Five. He has been backing up both the legendary Jim Eanes, and Bill Harell.
For a great Hoote-n-nanny......see you on the night