More free gigs than you can shake a banjo at, a major headline event
and a whole lotta foot stompin’
Who needs tents in soggy fields when you have Irish pubs?
Over the last weekend in June, national and international folk and bluegrass acts will be playing loads of free gigs in venues throughout Westport, Co Mayo. The bustling seaside town will be hopping to the sound of banjos and fiddles, hooting to Appalachian harmonies and swaying to soulful folk songs, as the local bars and hotels give themselves over once again to the Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival.
This year will feature over ten acts from different parts of the world, performing in eight different venues around the town.
As the event is all about the music and fun, all the gigs are FREE, except for the main Saturday-night show (June 30), which will feature The Higglers, The Molly Hicks and headliners The Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys.
So who’s playing, and where?
Things start kicking early on Friday night with Seán McKerr and Friends, who will play an early bird session in Blousers pub’s at 6pm. No less than five different gigs will take place around the town at 9.30pm – The Rocky Top String Band (Westport, formerly the MacEvillys) will play in The Clew Bay Hotel; Viper Central (Vancouver, Canada) will play in The Atlantic Coast Hotel; McGing’s pub will host Mikey & the Scallywags (Galway); James O’Connor and Audrey Trainor (Laois) will play in Cobblers Bar; while The Jester will take Hickory Wind (Westmeath).
Saturday’s entertainment begins with a lunchtime gig at the Clew Bay Hotel by Doghouse. For those who love to learn, fiddle, banjo and mandolin player Tim Rogers will host a workshop in the festival’s main artery, The Wyatt Hotel, at 2pm.
Later that afternoon, at 3pm, the Big Bluegrass Session – an established festival highlight – will take place. This involves most of the festival acts converging in McGing’s pub on High Street for a big ol’ session – and everyone is welcome to join in. Also at 4pm, fans will have another chance to catch James O’Connor and Audrey Trainor, this time in The Pantry and Corkscrew restaurant, which will put together a special menu to fill your belly and fuel your soul. A great afternoon of folk music, flowing wine and fabulous food.
The Saturday evening early-bird 6pm gig will see Westport favourites Tim Rogers and The Clew Bay Critters (Westport) play in Cobblers Bar.
That night it’s the big gig. The mojo show. THE WESTPORT FOLK AND BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL MAIN EVENT. For five hours (yes, FIVE hours) the walls of the Wyatt Hotel will reverberate with the sumptuously spirited sounds of The Higglers (Clare), The Molly Hicks (Galway) and The Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys (UK). The show starts at 9pm (doors open at 8.30pm).
Sunday’s proceedings start early, at 12.30pm, when music lovers looking for a lunchtime fix can head to The Clew Bay Hotel for a special performance by I See Hawks in L.A (California, USA).
The last of the festival’s gigs sees Tim Rogers and Friends gather at 4pm in Blousers Bar for an out-with-a-bang session. In what is now becoming a veritable festival of conviviality in its own right, a host of musicians come together to wind down, drink up and sing out three days of top-class folk and kick-ass bluegrass. A fitting end to a memorable weekend.
FRIDAY, JUNE 29
Sean McKerr & Friends Blousers 6pm
The Rocky Top String Band Clew Bay Hotel 9.30pm
Viper Central Atlantic Coast Hotel 9.30pm
Mikey & The Scallywags McGing’s 9.30pm
James O’Connor & Audrey Trainor Cobblers Bar 9.30pm
Hickory Wind The Jester 9.30pm
SATURDAY, JUNE 30
Doghouse Clew Bay Hotel 1pm
Bluegrass Mandolin Workshop The Wyatt Hotel 2pm
The Big Ass Bluegrass Session McGing’s 3pm
James O’Connor & Audrey Trainor Pantry & Corkscrew 4pm
Tim Rogers & The Clew Bay Critters Cobblers Bar 6pm
MAIN EVENT – THE WYATT – 8.30PM
The Higglers, The Molly Hicks, Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys
SUNDAY, JULY 1
I See Hawks in LA Clew Bay Hotel 12.30pm
Tim Rogers & Friends Blousers 2:30PM
All the festival events are free excepet the main show which will cost 15 euro
Tickets can be pre-ordered by email using the form below:
As a big reggae fan, I first heard about The Henry Girls as they toured with reggae star Natty Wailer. Straight away, I fell in love with their unique sound. The girls produced superb songs based on fantastic harmonies and music played on a wide variety of instruments.
I asked them to perform on the main stage of the 3rd festival as “the wild card”. Although they weren’t exactly bluegrass or folk, it was clear that they are something special. The crowd was taken back by their amazing performance and in 2010 they played the launch party gig of the festival.
David Hope has been a long-time friend of the Electric Cave Production, and he played more often than other artist in our “unfinished music series”.
When he gathered The Henchmem around him and shaped his sound, it was with great pride that I offered them a place on the 4th festival’s main stage.
The band represented the folk side of the festival and did it in fantastic style.
They were received wonderfully by the crowd who saw them for the first time.
When Sid Griffin approached me to play in the festival I was very excited. The Coal Porters were the band I knew best from all of those who wanted to play the festival.
Sid and myself share great love to the work and music of Bob Dylan and therefor it was a given that I’d be more than happy to have them as the headline act of the 4th festival (2010).
The Porters came to Westport and, after joining the session during the 2nd day, they took to the main stage and blew the crowd away.
It was a great show and once again the festival’s quality bar was raised.
For the 3rd festival we were looking for other European headliners.
The Bluegrass Boogie Man were the perfect band.
Their superb musicianship mixed with a great of sense of humour left the crowd hungry for more.
The band joined the crowd for a long night’s bluegrass session after their main stage performance, and promise to return in the future.
After the successes of the first festival, we went in search of the finest bluegrass act in Europe. Our search ended with Four Wheel Drive.
This super-talented band are much loved in Ireland and their performance as the headline act of the 2nd festival is still considered to be one of the festival highlights in the last five years.
Uri (festival producer) and the band became great friends and had the opportunity to meet several times since.
We sure hope to have them in Westport again in the future