09 October 2018

A dream come true - and a bright future

Thanks to Uri Kohen of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival (above, in yellow cap, among fellow delegates) for this very positive news from his recent experiences in the States:

Last April, I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in the 'South Arts - American Sounds' program in the USA. The program included eight delegates from Ireland, England, Australia, Serbia, Belgium, Switzerland, and France who were invited to see and hear the current bluegrass talents and to give our views of how to better promote American acts outside the USA.

The program started in Raleigh, NC, where we had workshops, exhibitions, and many showcases of the best bluegrass around at the moment. We were also lucky enough to see some of the greatest bluegrass acts on the planet - this was a dream come true for me. Our last two days in Raleigh were during the IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, probably the biggest bluegrass event on the planet, with over 100 acts and more than 250,000 people over two days.

We then flew to Orlando, Florida, where we took part in another program - Performing Arts Exchange - and were introduced to many art forms based in the South as well as bluegrass.

The whole experience was a big eye-opener, but also a stamp of approval that we are doing the right thing. I forwarded the message, on behalf of all of us, that Ireland is open for business and we will welcome with open arms every bluegrass act that wants to make the trip to our shores.

Last but not least - I booked some existing acts for the 2019 Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, and I truly believe that the future of the Irish bluegrass scene is very bright.

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