11 July 2011

Bluegrass opens 11th Cairncastle Ulster Scots Festival (27-30 July 2011)

Broken Strings at the Ulster American Folk Park

Thanks to Adrian Rolston for news of the Cairncastle Ulster Scots Folk Festival, held in Cairncastle village, on the B148, four miles north of Larne, Co. Antrim. This year's festival is the eleventh, and to mark the occasion there will be a special opening evening of bluegrass music on Wednesday 27 July, featuring bands who are pillars of the bluegrass scene in Ulster and beyond.

Bending the Strings from Mullingar (right) will kick off the evening at 7.30 p.m. with their powerful repertoire of music from the founding fathers of bluegrass; they are equally at home among the classics of western swing.

The Juke Joint from Co. Armagh (left) are the band formerly known as the Tennessee Hennessees - all veterans of the bluegrass scene, with a hard-driving blend of bluegrass, rockabilly, and traditional country, inspired by the music, the hell-raising lifestyles, and the talent for entertainment shown by the pioneers of the 1950s.

The Barnstormers from Co. Londonderry, who have played at bluegrass events in Ireland and Scotland, are the third of the bands making their first appearance at Cairncastle. The final set will be played by the premier Ulster band, the five-piece Broken Strings from Co. Down, who played at the Festival three years ago. Treasured assets of the annual Appalachian & Bluegrass Music Festival at Omagh, Co. Tyrone (see photo at top), they have recently appeared on the BBC TV series 'Santer'.

The evening will be compered by Alistair McReynolds, a well-known bluegrass enthusiast who has written extensively on Scots-Irish history and culture, and in particular about the achievements of the diaspora in the USA. Ross Hume, who plays the great Highland bagpipes with Cullybackey Pipe Band, will play many tunes during the intervals.

The evening begins at 7.30 p.m. and admittance is £6.00. A location map for Cairncastle is on the 'Contact' page of the Festival website, where you will also find full details of the following three days of the regular Festival: folk bands, pipe bands, and ceilidh bands; solo and ensemble players on many traditional instruments; song, dance, workshops, lectures, and a musical bus tour are among the many features.

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