23 January 2018

19th Shannonside Winter Music Festival report

L-r: Blaine Sprouse, John Reischman, Mark Schatz, Greg Blake, Keith Reed, Sally Van Meter

Thanks to Des Butler for this report and photos on the last weekend's 19th Shannonside Winter Music Festival:

Well, what a musical extravaganza the 2018 Shannonside Winter Music Fest turned out to be. It must be said that in my opinion there were no mediocre or 'OK' bands playing here. The bands that I went to see and hear were all very good to excellent. My focus was on the bluegrass, country, Cajun, and blues genre bands playing at the festival. There were six other musical genres to be experienced at the festival, but it would be impossible to see them all with so much music going on all day every day and well into the small hours of the morning.

Topping the bill in the bluegrass sphere was the Greg Blake Band from the US. The musical pedigree of this band as with their playing is phenomenal.The band members here are some of the most highly regarded bluegrass musicians in the US today. With John Reischman on mandolin and Blaine Sprouse on fiddle combined with the great voice and playing of Greg Blake himself ensured the audience eighty minutes of sheer bluegrass musical enjoyment with tight harmonies and some great solo playing from all the band members. I just wanted their concert to not end and for the music to continue ad infinitum.

Our own Woodbine, always enjoyable to hear, kept the homefront bluegrass flag flying giving two performances at two venues on Sunday. Woodbine, always a treat to listen to perform, gave us some of the best of traditional and contemporary Bluegrass.

Jimmy Bozeman and the Lazy Pigs

The country music slot was amply filled by Jimmy Bozeman and the Lazy Pigs (US/CZ) with their interpretation of some country classics mixed in with some excellent honky-tonk, Americana, and country blues.

Sarah Savoy and the Francadians

For Cajun fans we had excellent performances from Sarah Savoy and her band who hail from down in the Bayou Country of Louisiana, US, and also from our very own Two Time Polka from Cork, viva Musique Acadienne.

DD and the Delta Boys

Blues fans were not disappointed with an excellent performance from DD & the Delta Boys from Donegal with their interpretation of some Chicago and Delta blues classics. This band exudes energy and I for one would love to see more of them; hopefully the will be engaged for the next Winter Fest.

I am afraid I cannot comment on a lot of the other bands' performances, as it would be impossible to see them all over three days.

Pat Kelleher and John Nyhan (centre foreground)

My enjoyment of the festival was complete with the bluegrass jam sessions that went on way into the early hours every night. These sessions were ably led by the great talents of John Nyhan, Pat Kelleher, and Bill Forster, to name but a few, with Greg Blake joining in on the Sunday jam finale (see attached photos).

Greg Blake and Bill Forster (second and third from left)

All kudos and thanks for the organisation of this great festival go to Brendan Walsh and his team, and the Sixmilebridge Folk Club, also the inexhaustible John Nyhan who works tirelessly organising the bands and providing first-class sound at many of the performances.

Update 24 Jan.: Thanks to Denis McCarthy for his comment on this post, below.

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At 11:30 am, Blogger Denis McCarthy said...

The Greg Blake Band delivered one of the all-time great gigs at Kilworth last night. While we would expect nothing less than the best from such a stellar group of singers and instrumentalists, the band exceeded our expectations with an outstanding performance.It would be impossible to select one member from a group of virtuosos, but in Ireland we rarely hear the dobro played at the level at which Sally Van Meter did last night. John Nyhan for President!


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