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Bluegrass band from Penzance move closer to American tour

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: September 09, 2013

By Josh Barrie

  • From left, Josh Warner, Liam Fitzharris, Kirk Bowman and Mikey Ponsford play tunes in the woods.

  • The band relax in Cornish fashion.

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A BLUEGRASS band from Penzance has moved a step closer to the American dream after winning Cornwall's Got Talent.

Flats and Sharps won the crowd over on Thursday night with classic tunes such as Man Of Constant Sorrow – and took home £1,000 in prize money.

Guitarist Josh Warner said it was "unexpected" but "amazing to have won" and that the money has been set aside for a planned US tour next summer.

The final was held at the Queen's Arms Hotel in Penryn, and Josh said it was a great event with lots of fantastic acts.

"You watch these kinds of things on TV but when you see it live it's incredible – the other performers were really good," he said.

"We didn't expect to get far. To win is unbelievable – we're going to put the money towards a trip to America in June 2014 to get some contacts and find out more in the home of bluegrass. We want to go to Nashville, Tennessee."

The group – Josh on guitar, Mikey Ponsford mandolin, Liam Fitzharris, double bass and Kirk Bowman on banjo, have grown increasingly popular and earned widespread acclaim.

All aged 20, the four met while studying at Penwith College and after a successful first gig, formed in 2011, going on to play at events such as Newlyn Fish Festival and Lafrowda in St Just.

The band was even used at the opening of Ralph Lauren's first European store in Convent Garden, while they also played at the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Youth Proms.

Josh said the latest recognition and prize was a "big step forward" and he felt the dream of being a fully self-sufficient musician might become a reality.

"It's all we want to do," he said. "We hope to be living off the band and want to spend time touring.

"If the trip goes well it might change everything.

"We don't want to be millionaires, we just want to do what we love to do. Mikey wants to live in a tree."

Following the victory, Flats and Sharps have a busy few weeks ahead, preparing to play weddings, gigs and other venues around the county.

The guitarist said that a move up to Bristol in the near future may be on the cards, with an attempt to try to establish themselves farther afield – al though he added that the four are stereotypically Cornish.

"I'm a part-time farm hand along with Kirk.

"Our main source of income is the band but we earn extra money doing that.

"We all really like fishing as well."

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