Bluegrass Ambassador’s 

Sessions, Volume 1

Formed over 16 years ago, this Chicago-based foursome have become true Bluegrass Ambassadors, having toured 25 countries, both on their own efforts and also as cultural representatives working with the US State Department. Tours include the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East, and others, where the band offers concerts, workshops, and teachings and create new music infusing the songs and folklore of the many local areas they visit. 

The band is Chris Dollar (guitar, vocals), Jon Goldfine (bass, vocals), Jake Howard (mandolin, vocals), and Ben Wright (banjo), vocals). In Volume 1 of the Sessions, the group has selected folk tunes from nine different countries, gave them bluegrass instrumentation and included local artists to present the songs in their local language. There is “Qilpillama”, a traditional Uzbekistan song and features Feruza Ochilova on vocals, “Awinyo”, a love song from Uganda with Joe Kahiri, and “Kom Van Dat Dak Af”, a Dutch rock song covered by the Prowlers.    

Another Prowler cover is “Sura Yako,” a love song from Kenya, and there is “Heute Hier, Morgen Dort” from Germany with David Lubke on vocals From Pakistan is “Dil Dil Pakistan” with Fareed Haque’s vocal and Kim Leland Schwartz on GuiStar. 

Xang Heang sings lead on the Cambodian rock song “Chnam Oun Dop-Pram Muy,” and from the Czech Republic is “Jozin z Bazin” with a number of locals on vocals and Kazoo. Finally, the band offers an American bluegrass song “Away Away,” written by the band’s Chris Dollar and features artists Feruza Ochilava, Kahiri, and Xang Heang on vocals. This is a very nice project and introduces not only the international community to a variety of different country’s folk music but also shows how an American music such as bluegrass can become even more popular around the world. 

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