28 June 2017

Memories from Dunfanaghy

BIB editor's note: The excellent Oxford American online magazine published earlier this month the article 'That winsome moan' by Ian S. Port, which investigates the possible origin of southern slide guitar in Hawaiian guitar playing. I sent the link to Belfast dobro maestro Colin Henry, and this is Colin's reply (with links added), published with his consent:

I have to say I have always been somewhat sceptical about the story that the lap-style slide guitar was 'discovered' by Joseph Kekuku when his knife (or comb) fell on his guitar sitting on his lap and made a slidey sound! If he had less hair or had eaten a sandwich we might never have heard of the Dopyera Brothers or the mighty Jerry Douglas!

As an aside I had a great gig with Niall Toner on Saturday night at the first Dunfanaghy BAND Festival. I was standing in on Dobro for the mighty Johnny Gleeson, Niall's regular Dobro player. It was a good night, well attended. Niall was in top form and graciously called my son James up to play some tunes on banjo. I informed Niall that he now had hooked father and son on bluegrass music. I told him that the first live bluegrass band I heard was the Sackville String Band and of course the first live 5-string I heard then was your good self. I was hooked on bluegrass from there on in. Roll on a 'few' years and my son gets his start on stage with none other than Niall!

The Dunfanaghy Festival was overall a great festival. Very well organised by Lisa and Garry McGrath. The performances all seemed well attended and the town was buzzing.
Thanks also to Alec Somerville for his own recollections from the BAND Festival, including this priceless photo:

I am playing a banjo made entirely of MATCHSTICKS, while Geordie MacAdam plays a fiddle made of LOLLIPOP STICKS! Both made by Geordie, and both sound great... Wilson Davies on guitar strives to keep a balance of sanity between Geordie and me... this was just a spontaneous jam when Geordie showed me the banjo (I was the first to play it). The Festival was great, no doubt you will be hearing.

More photos are on the BAND Festival Facebook.

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