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7 years and still growing!

This September will mark the 7th annual Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival, and each year the event grows and further explores its musical roots. Taking over Longford town each year, the Banjo Festival brings together musicians and fans from around the globe to experience four days and nights of indoor and outdoor concerts, street & pub sessions, jams, and extensive workshops.

Beginning with an Irish & Bluegrass theme, the festival has grown to include a folk element. Last year’s appearance of Guy Clark, one of America’s most prolific songwriters, truly got the ball rolling. Opening the audience’s ears and hearts, Guy Clark’s performance captivated a packed house of Irish, bluegrass and folk music lovers, leading to more than one standing ovation!

From Ireland, they have ALTAN, who are one of the hardest touring bands of this country. Generally accustomed to international venues, it’ll be a welcome treat to the fans at home. Also making a rare performance will be DOLORES KEANE. One of the finest traditional singers ever to be heard, there will surely be some hearts thumping as Dolores performs such greats as Caledonia, Never Be The Sun, Teddy O’Neill, and many others. Another rare treat will be the Dubliners’ own BARNEY McKENNA. What a great opportunity to experience Ireland’s elder stateman of the banjo, performing his own selection of songs, stories, and great banjo picking.

AT THE RACKET, featuring two great banjo players, JOHN CARTY and BRIAN McGRATH will perform in concert, as will THOM MOORE & SEAMIE O’DOWD. And no self respecting banjo festival would be complete without Ireland’s most innovative and exciting banjo players, GERRY O’CONNOR.

As it happens each year, even more of America’s great talents make their way to Longford for the Banjo Festival weekend. Some of this year’s features include: The ever great, and popular PETER ROWAN returning to Ireland for the very first time with a full bluegrass band in tow. Singer/Songwriter TOM RUSSELL will perform in concert. A regular visitor to Ireland, Tom (whose songs have been recording by Johnny Cash, Nanci Griffiths, Dave Alvin etc) will also tutor workshops. Also, TONY TRISCHKA with his DOUBLE BANJO BLUEGRASS SPECTACULAR, for which he was nominated for a Grammy award this year. DON RIGSBY will certainly bedazzle Longford with his magnificent bluegrass singing, and will perform along with festival favourites PETE (’Dr. Banjo’) & JOAN WERNICK. Other favourites making a return will be the CARTER BROTHERS BAND, LLUIS GOMEZ QUARTET (from the Catalan region of Spain), RANCH HOUSE FAVOURITES from the Netherlands, who always get the crowd up and dancing….and many more!

According to the Banjo Festival’s main organisers, Chris Keenan & Kathy Casey, this year’s lineup has truly achieved a wonderful balance of all three genres of music. ‘We strive each year to build on the successes of the previous year,’ says Kathy Casey, ‘It’s not easy, but we just keep working from out wish list!’

‘That’s right, it’s not easy because with success comes more intense pressure to keep upping the ante,’ states Chris Keenan, ‘but I think there is still alot more out there to explore and hopefully we have many good years ahead of us!’

….just imagine what the next 7 years hold in store!

Weekend passes are always a good bargain and are now onsale.

Full line-up and details are available at
ph: 087-281-7825
international: +353-87-281-7825

Permalink - Posted: May 20, 2008 at 12:14 pm