Bluegrass Parkway celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2012 and are the longest continuously performing bluegrass band in Australia. This landmark in Australian bluegrass history has seen the band play at most major and minor folk and country festivals throughout Australia and New Zealand and they have succesfully toured bluegrass festivals in the United States on a number of occassions.
What sets the band apart from others is the priority they have placed on presenting Bluegrass music in its most authentic form. Since early 1994 Bluegrass Parkway have performed around a single microphone, as was the norm for the pioneers of the genre in the 1940s. This came about after the band produced a presentation for the Toodyay Folk Festival in which they showed how Bluegrass legends such as Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys and the Stanley Brothers played Bluegrass music in the early days. The response from audiences was so positive that the band made the decision to keep doing it that way; besides, it was so much fun! Not only does the audience get a taste of Bluegrass music 40s and 50's style, it is also able to enjoy strong three and four part harmonies as well as witnessing some pretty fancy footwork. Since "retro" pioneering the single microphone, many bluegrass bands have joined Bluegrass Parkway and the single microphone revival!
Bluegrass Parkway can claim a special link to the home of Bluegrass music, Kentucky USA. Maria Duff plays bass in the band as well as joining Donal or Adam on twin fiddle tunes and hails from the heart of Bluegrass territory, Lexington Kentucky. She is a former member of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and is past President of the Western Australian Suzuki Music Association http://www.suzukimusicwa.com.au/About.htm
The strong, tasteful banjo playing in the band is delivered through the very experienced hands of Mick "Fabio" O'Neill. Fabio has also become a favourite with audiences through his bass singing in the quartet and he doubles as audio engineer for the band.
Paul Duff, the bands Mandolin player and band leader is renowned as one of Australia's premier mandolin builders, exporting the majority of his instruments to satisfy an ever increasing demand from the United States. Paul met Maria in the early eighties while touring America gaining experience in musical instrument building.
Wayne Perry is the newest member of the band and plays guitar and shares lead vocals. Wayne is well known around the bluegrass scene and takes over from Guy Paris who has decided to take a break and concentrate on semi retirement. Guy will still be popping up from time to time, filling in for Wayne when his 'real' job doesn't permit him to hit the road with the band.
Donal Baylor comes to the band with a wealth of musical experience in both Bluegrass and Western Swing fiddling. He has performed with a number of well known line-ups including Slim Dusty and The Baylor Brothers. Unfortunately, Donal is based nearly 3000klms from Perth in the nation's capital, Canberra and when he isn't available for local gig's we call on bluegrass fiddler / mando player extraodinaire, Mr. Adam Gare to fill in for him.
Adam Gare is well known to Australian bluegrass fans for his work with the Melbourne band Uncle Bill and more recently the comedy act Sensitive New Age Cowpersons. Like Donal, Adam brings a strong knowledge of bluegrass fiddling to the band and we are definitely privileged to have the option of two of Australia's finest available to the line-up.
Bluegrass Parkway have produced five CDs.
The first recording 'Not Before Time!' was recorded in 1997 and was given that title because the band had been together for ten years before making it into the studio. When mentioning to audiences the fact that they had finally got around to recording, they were met with a chorus of 'Not before time!'
Following the success of the first CD, Bluegrass Parkway released its second recording 'Country Blues'. This CD saw the inclusion of the band's first original material in 'Maria's Eyes', written by Paul Duff. The CD also features a twin banjo rendition of 'Cripple Creek' with Mick O'Neill and Ian Simpson playing the traditional tune in harmony. The title track of the CD is taken from the old timey sounding tune 'Country Blues'.
In September 2002 Bluegrass Parkway released their third CD 'Hello City Limits' which highlights Donal's introduction to the band and features Donal and Maria on a number of traditional twin fiddle renditions.
The band released 'A Girl From The South' in 2007. It features an original song from Paul about Maria's experience in moving from Kentucky (the 'South') to Australia, the Great 'South' Land.
The latest release by the band is 'Southern Flavor' in November 2012 and highlights Wayne Perry's introduction into the band on guitar and vocals. The CD represents the bands current song list and a 25th anniversary compilation and a gospel album are both planned in the near future.
Refer to the Music page for full details of Bluegrass Parkway CD's
'Bluegrass Parkway is one of the best bluegrass bands I've had the pleasure to see'
Bruce Packard - Monaro Musings
'The best bluegrass band in the country!'
Digger Wilson - Town Crier
'Phil and I went to Sunday night's concert and were gobsmacked by the talent.'
Bluegrass Parkway rounded off an exceptional showcase concert opening their set with a haunting acapella gospel number highlighting the group's tight four-part harmonies. Bluegrass Parkway were, as ever, a joy to watch and a pleasure to listen to.
SEQ Country Round-Up - July 31 2007
A traditional New Years Eve at The Troub, began with a bit o’blues from Phil Manning. Then a wondrous set from Bluegrass Parkway huddled round an old style radio mic, the harmony coming in costume and voice.
Peter Dawson regarding the 2006/7 Woodford Festival
After taking in the Woodford sights for a while, the stifling noon heat forced Reddog and crew into the safety of the Concert Hall stage, where Bluegrass Parkway were delighting the crowd with their infectious stage presence and great mix of bluegrass and gospel sounds. Performing around a single mic in true bluegrass style, the relish with which each member took the piss out of the others (with constant sparring between the mandolin and banjo player about which was the more credible instrument) was entertaining enough, even without the infectious tunes that came with it.
Report on the Woodford Festival by Reddog