30 September 2013

Bunratty: the new banjo festival

The BIB editor reports:

Contending both with intense regional excitement about the match on Saturday and with the celebration of the result throughout Clare on Sunday, the Bunratty Banjo Pickers Festival was successfully launched this past weekend, and there is reason to hope that it will be back next year. Thanks in particular to Brendan Walsh and his team, and to John Nyhan, for making this event happen.

Bluegrass enthusiasts were amply rewarded by Down The Road from Nashville, TN (photo above). Jeff Burke (guitar, lead vocals) and Josh McMurray (banjo, harmony vocals) play a wide range of vocal and instrumental classics from the Flatt & Scruggs repertoire, and they are an object lesson in recreating with a duo music originally played by a full band. Jeff's guitar break on 'Foggy Mountain Special' faithfully reproduces Lester's; elsewhere, he plays hot breaks after the Doc Watson pattern. Josh has an exceptionally powerful right hand and an exceptionally agile left hand, coordinated with imagination and sensitivity. Don't miss an opportunity of seeing them in the coming week at one of these venues:

Mon. 30th: Village Arts Centre, Kilworth, Co. Cork, 8.15 p.m., supported by Jacob's Ladder (six-piece gospel group). Tel. 087 7921771
Tues. 1st Oct.: TBA
Wed. 2nd: St John's Arts Centre, the Square, Listowel, Co. Kerry, 8.00 p.m. Tel. 068 22566
Thurs. 3rd: Dolan's Bar, Dock Road, Limerick, 9.00 p.m. Tel. 061 314483
Fri. 4th: The Tallyho Bar, New St., Longford, 9.30 p.m. Tel. 043 3346594
Sat. 5th: Rodden's Bar, Main St., Buncrana, Co. Donegal, 9.30 p.m. Tel. 074 9320790
Sun. 6th: Matt Molloy's Bar, Bridge St., Westport, Co. Mayo, 9.00 p.m. Tel. 098 26655

For more info: 087 7921771.

NB: two luthiers, both based in Ireland and producing banjos of very high quality in materials and workmanship, plus original construction features, were exhibiting at Bunratty. Most of their displayed instruments were tenors, but both also make 5-strings, and both can be recommended to the player requiring a custom job, or simply a top-grade banjo with an individual character. Look up the websites of

Al's Banjos
Alan O'Rourke, Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow; 087 2749673; e-mail

Emerald Banjos
Graham Jones, Labasheeda, Co. Clare; 065 683 0141 or 0879 817 985; e-mail

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