13 July 2016

First Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree - a great success

Last weekend's Woodbine Bluegrass Jamboree surpassed all expectations. Neil O'Rahilly writes:

Just had to write a 'thank you' to Woodbine and all in Athy for the great weekend Bluegrass Jamboree and the great concert on Saturday night with outstanding performances from both Woodbine and the Hamilton County Ramblers. As always, the welcome Joan and I get in Athy is truly humbling.

And thanks to Des Butler for this report on the weekend, and his photos:

It's great to know that bluegrass music is still alive and well at its oldest festival venue in this country, and that while the 'Athy in July' Bluegrass Festival might have ended in 2015, it has morphed into a 'Bluegrass Jamboree' that delivered a great two days and nights of solid bluegrass music entertainment last weekend - all down to Tony O'Brien and his family keeping a great show on the road.

The opening performance, by two highly talented teenagers, Evan and Amy Lyons, demonstrates that bluegrass music's future here is assured, with both giving excellent performances with cover versions of some bluegrass classics, and both of whom also contributed greatly to the jam session after the show on the Friday night.

Friday late jam: Amy Lyons, Liam Wright, Evan Lyons, P.J. Power

Friday late jam: pickers include Dessie Crerand (fiddle), Tony O'Brien (guitar)

Amy Lyons (foreground)
The Chanders Family (Robert and two sons) contributed greatly with some excellent folk ballads, culminating with Robert doing two Valerie Smith covers that he is able to interpret so well. Woodbine followed with a performance that I personally consider to be one of their finest, all members playing out of their skin, ably assisted with the exceptional fiddle playing of Martin Cooney on the Friday night and Dessie Crerand on Saturday night.

Early Saturday afternoon in Pat Dunne's (the bar was packed by the end of the session)

The Hamilton County Ramblers lay down their powerful sound

Saturday afternoon saw solid entertainment for all comers with a jam session in Pat Dunne's Bar with no less than thirteen musicians, all playing in unison, by close of session. Saturday night had 'top of the bill' The Hamilton Country Ramblers from Tennessee bringing the full-to-capacity house down with some hard-driving bluegrass. Long may the Athy Bluegrass Jamboree continue.

Finally, from Tony O'Brien himself (whose birthday fell on the second day of the Jamboree):

Just to say Woodbine are delighted with the support for our first Jamboree. It was a fantastic success all round and we look forward to making it an annual event.

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