30 July 2021

Remembering Athy Bluegrass Festival 1991 (and some more history)

All praise to Tony O'Brien for his commemoration on Facebook of the thirtieth anniversary, last weekend, of the very first Athy Bluegrass Festival. Tony has posted photos and videos, and many friends of the Athy festivals (including visiting musicians who have played there over the years) have sent in their comments.

Shortly before the 25th Athy festival, Richard Thompson posted a substantial feature about Athy on Bluegrass Today (4 June 2015). Tony's contributions to that feature constitute an important part of the record of bluegrass music in this island.
Footnote: The claim of the North-West Bluegrass Festival, first held in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, in Nov. 1990 (see the BIB for 19 June 2019) to be the first bluegrass festival in Ireland, should not be overlooked. The 1991 Athy festival, however, was on an altogether different scale, with three well-known US bands and a strong host band in a concert hall, plus a programme of auxiliary events.
Two other significant additions to bluegrass history have appeared recently on Bluegrass Today: Pete Wernick's account of the recording of Rounder 0006 in 1971, which launched the musicians into professional careers and a wider influence than they ever expected; and Kathy Kallick, in the first instalment of a major interview with Dave Berry, describes her experiences as a woman in bluegrass (and in all-woman bands) over the years. Both very well worth reading.

© Richard Hawkins

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