18 July 2017

Ardara 2017 - a young persons' time

Thanks to Colin Henry for this report on last weekend's Ardara festival and the evocative photo abovr, of which he modestly says: 'Not a a great quality photo but this sums it up - Evan and James at the late-night session.'

I have always enjoyed Ardara Bluegrass Festival since its inception. The music is always good, the jam sessions are the stuff of legend, and the hospitality is mighty. This year was no exception and indeed, with the presence of three American bands in the form of the Peterson Family from Branson, Missouri, the Berea College band, and Lorraine Jordan with the Garrett Newton Band, and in addition to all that Jeff Scroggins and his son Tristan, this was maybe the best festival so far. The town was buzzing and the concert was a full house and then some. The quality of the American musicians and singers is a model for all bluegrass players here in Ireland. My own favorite of the bands was the Peterson Family, but it was a close call as all were exceptional.

A special mention for Jeff Scroggins and Tristan. Both are no strangers to Ireland and their performance at Ardara was brilliant and mesmerising. It didn't stop there, however, as they both joined every jam session going, created their own and literally played to dawn. Never mind that I am a dobro player, I learned a lot from both father and son.

My abiding memory overall is that this was a young persons' year. The youth of the Peterson family, the youth of the Berea College, the youth of Garrett Newton, the youth of Tristan Scroggins. To top it all off we had young Evan Lyons from Tipperary and my son James. They all played in a monster session on Saturday night after the concert in the Beehive. I couldn't resist joining them, but youthful stamina and musical excellence meant that I quietly retired at 3.00 a.m. and left them to it. I think the bluegrass torch has been well and truly passed to a new generation, both across the pond and here in Ireland... it looks to me like it is in good hands. A special big thanks to Pat Magill for keeping the torch lit!

Update: A feature on the weekend has just appeared on Bluegrass Today, including more photos and a quotation from Sean McKerr, who appears in one of them.

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