Bluegrass music originated in the American south, so when you hear someone talking about bluegrass, it’s natural to expect a little twang.

Yet for the last 20 years, listeners to Washington, DC’s Bluegrass Country radio have become used to hearing bluegrass with a Down Under accent on Music from Foggy Hollow, a show hosted by Mike Kear that originates in Sydney, Australia.  On Sunday, February 20, Mike airs his 1000th show on Bluegrass Country.

Actually, it’s a New Zealand accent, as Mike’s a native New Zealander, who hosts a weekly show on HawkFM radio in Sydney.  He’s well known in the bluegrass world, and was named Broadcaster of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2020.

Mike first heard bluegrass in 1968 when New Zealand’s Hamilton County Bluegrass Band had their weekly prime time TV show in that country. He was immediately hooked on the excitement in the music and never stopped loving it. After moving to Australia in 1981, he joined the bluegrass society there, and soon found his way into a band, singing lead and playing rhythm guitar.

Mike started doing bluegrass radio as a guest DJ on a Sydney station and soon found himself as one of the permanent presenters there. When the show ended, he went straight into his own show, Music from Foggy Hollow, on Sydney’s Hawkesbury Radio, which continues today on HawkFM.   Mike presents a show of mostly new releases – 90% of the songs he plays are unreleased or released in the last 6-8 months – with a touch of Australian bluegrass, humor and bluegrass news.

Through a bluegrass online community, Mike became acquainted with Gary Henderson of WAMU Bluegrass Country.  Gary phoned him in 2000 and asked if he’d be interested in doing a show for three weeks.  That’s 1000 shows ago, and as Mike says “I think I’m past the trial stage now.”

It’s a lot of work putting together a 5-hour show for the Australian station and then editing it to 3 hours for presentation on Bluegrass Country.  Mike figures his 1000 shows represent 5000 hours of on-air time, plus about 15,000 hours of preparation, website development and maintenance, correspondence, and collecting the jokes for which he’s become famous.  His website carries a weekly selection of jokes, along with playlists from all his shows.

“I take a systematic approach to selection of material for each show so all new music gets appropriate airtime.” Mike says. “There’s a good balance between progressive material as well as traditional sounding music, instrumentals and vocal cuts.

“I believe the biggest contribution I can make to bluegrass is to help get the artists and their music exposed to listeners, fans, promoters, festival organizers etc. and help bring new fans to acoustic music the way it’s supposed to be.”

Bluegrass Country is proud to have Mike Kear as part of our bluegrass family.  Music from Foggy Hollow is heard every Sunday at 10 am, and again on Tuesdays from 7 to 10 pm, eastern time.

Read more about Mike in this Bluegrass Today tribute.