31 October 2017

Brennen Leigh & Noel McKay (USA): looking back on their Irish tour

Brennen Leigh, Uri, Noel McKay

Thanks to Uri Kohen, the moving spirit of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, who writes:

Last March, I was lucky enough to take part in the IBMA Leadership Bluegrass programme in Nashville. Over there, I met Brennen Leigh who participated in the programme too. After hearing her music, and falling in love with it, I invited her to perform in Ireland.

In the number of months that followed, we planned the first ever Irish tour for herself and her music and life partner Noel McKay. Under the umbrella of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, and with the great help of some of the good people of Ireland, we got ten tour dates together.

The tour started with six gigs over one weekend in Bunratty Bluegrass Festival. From there they travelled to Limerick and then to a brilliant gig in Tipperary, which was organised by Michael Lyons (father of Evan Lyons). Before the gig, they played a live session in Tipp Fm, and the show was followed by a late-night session with Evan and Brennen's brother, who flew specially from the US. The duo then went to Sligo and then to Castlebar (Mayo), where they played one of the tour's outstanding gigs in a wonderful new music venue - Bridge St.

The Mayo leg of the tour continued with a small gig in Westport and then to the Balla Bluegrass Festival. At the festival they played at The Olde Woods, and for the first time (probably ever) the pub was silent for the full length of the show as the duo mesmerised the crowd with their unique songs, harmonies, and superb guitar playing. They finished the tour with an early gig in Headford (Galway).

The tour was held as a huge success and they were showered with love by the people who came to see them. I am already looking forward to bring them back to our shores in 2018. Thanks again for everyone who helped make this tour a success, and I am looking forward to bring more amazing talents from overseas to our island.

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