29 June 2011

Wish I was in the Western Country...

The editor reports:

On Sunday evening, Fiddling Tim Hawkins and I returned to Dublin from Mayo and the 5th Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival, where we had had a whale of a time.

The BIB doesn't write its own event reports, and this is not intended as one: we can't mention everyone, and could not do justice to the acts we didn't see. But we met no one who wasn't having as good a time as ourselves (the weather mattered little, as Westport has many hospitable interiors). Some high points, for us:

1 the bluegrass session on Friday evening, hosted by the Bluestack Mountain Boys and joined by other pickers, including all the members of A Band Like Alice - one of those times when it was possible to feel the energy coming up through the soles of one's feet;

2 the old-time fiddle workshop given by Tim Rogers after Saturday lunch, followed by a good old-time bash inside McGing's while the main bluegrass session went on in the beer garden;

3 the main concert, with the Dust Busters recreating the string-band sounds of the 1920s and 1930s with more combined fidelity and vitality than I've heard since the New Lost City Ramblers in the late 1960s; and

4 meeting everyone - including Dave Stacey from England, who not only makes outstanding old-time banjos (his 'Sodbuster' model is the latest in the range, and he had brought a dismountable short-scale travelling banjo with him) but makes fine old-time music with them. Meeting Dave and his wife Megan was among the many pleasures for which we have the Festival, its organiser Uri Kohen, and Westport to thank.

PS: Uri sends this link to a Flickr album of fifty-six photos from the weekend. More are expected, including video footage.

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