14 June 2022

Westport weekend in retrospect

Thanks again to Des Butler for these photos and the following report on last weekend:

Well, thankfully Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival is back with a bang, and a great weekend of bluegrass, old-time, and folk music was to be had by all attenders.

The Friday night concert kicked off with the Horsenecks [photo above], an old-time and bluegrass duo with Gabrielle McCrae from Oregon on fiddle and Barry Southern from Liverpool on banjo. They gave us some fine renditions of Stanley Brothers material as well as some original tunes.

They were followed by the Slo Country Stumblers [above] who played some hard-driving fiddle tunes and spirited songs, heavily influenced by the string bands of the 1920s and '30s. Their sound was of pure Appalachian dance music and the more one listened the more one felt like dancing.
Saturday night's concert commenced with a delirious, head-spinning mixture of original roots, blues, funk, swing, and bluegrass music superbly interpreted by Stillhouse Junkies, a trio comprising guitar, bass, and fiddle. They were followed by Johnny & The Yooahoos [above] from Germany. They describe their music as a mixture of Indie Folk, Americana, and Retrobluegrass.
They were followed by Chicago's Henhouse Prowlers [above], who play a mixture of traditional bluegrass and what is being described as uptempo, retro, and sometimes progressive bluegrass music. All in all, the concert was most interesting, enjoyable, and highly entertaining.

As regards Retro and Progressive Bluegrass I would have to paraphrase a well hackneyed saying from a well known Sci-Fi TV series and film franchise to describe it; 'There's bluegrass there, Bill, but not as we know it.'
The Sunday concert which is described as 'The Folky Thing' saw Seamie O'Dowd and Tony Reidy [above] give some solid entertainment with interpretations of traditional folk songs and instrumentals. Tony's contributions going from the whimsical to emotional ballads that pulled at the heartstrings. Seamie O'Dowd is a ballad singer and multi-instrumentalist of immense talent. Having heard him in the past at Longford Banjo Festival when he was playing with 'The Unwanted', the resonance in his voice and his expert musicianship complement greatly his choice of folk material. He has shared the stage and played with such artists as Christy Moore, the Chieftains, Dervish, and Martin O'Connor, to name but a few.

There were many other fine musicians and singers who gave solid, entertaining performances at various venues throughout the festival, too many to go through here, but thank you for making it a great entertaining weekend of music and song, and God knows it was badly needed.

Many thanks to Uri and his team for organising this festival for the enjoyment of all. With the Athy, Mohill, Longford, and Bunratty festivals no longer with us and Omagh teetering, and with promoters of solid bluegrass bands such as John Nyhan (responsible for getting some of the best pure bluegrass bands ever to grace our fair isle) practically retired, Uri, his team and the Westport festival need to be promoted, supported, and nurtured for the future of our music here.

© Des Butler

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