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Galway’s largest and longest-running learners’ session, Dusty Banjos, are about to launch their first professional recording, “Live at the Crane”.

The session “Dusty Banjos” was started in Galway in 2002 by local musicians Mary Lovett and Community Music Crew (CMC), as a stepping-stone for adult students of Irish traditional music. CMC had found many obstacles facing adult learners that are not experienced by children and young people, and set out to provide a space that would address, and hopefully alleviate, some of these barriers. The take-up has been incredible, with many hundreds of student musicians availing of the classes and sessions to date.

Current membership includes Irish people taking up or returning to Irish music, those learning a second instrument, non-Irish musicians wanting to learn Irish music, visitors and students who want to learn a few tunes as part of a cultural exchange, and many others.

Membership is open, and people can join the group for as long as it suits them. Many past and present members have gone on to start their own sessions both at home and abroad, and are writing, performing and recording their own music.

Dusty Banjos now also operates as a band, with fixed leaders and a floating, ever-changing circle of regulars. The band plays regularly in Galway and around Ireland at sessions, festivals and community events. In recent years they have played weekend events in Hamburg, Kiel, Lübeck, Berlin, Prague, and closer to home in Connemara and West Cork.

Members of the student group are encouraged to join and play with the band, to increase confidence and get used to playing in public sessions. In November 2008 the group applied to the Arts Council’s Deis Scheme for a grant to record a live CD. The application was successful, and “Live at the Crane” was recorded in the Crane Bar, Galway, in January 2009. 48 members of the group played on the recording, and the result is a lively, “ceilí”-sounding CD, with 14 sets of popular standards. The CD will be launched on Monday 23rd November in the Crane Bar (doors 8pm). This is a community event, admission is free and all are welcome. Musicians (including learners) are welcome to come and join the session. “Dusty Banjos – Live at the Crane” is currently available from The Crane Bar itself, from Powells music store, Paul Doyle Musical instruments, The Bens music shop in Clifden and via the website. It is now available for download from iTunes, Amazon and other online stores.

Clips from the CD can be listened to on the Resources page at, and live Dustys sessions can be watched on YouTube.

Further information from Mary Tel: (087-7733804) or Heather Tel: (095-44845), or visit the website at

Permalink - Posted: November 11, 2009 at 4:34 pm