not a member? click here to sign up
Tullamore The Merrier
Wonderful news for the Offaly town – a top banjo festival is headed its way...
, 25 Sep 2012
If you’re heading to Longford for the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival, you need to reset your satnav and go to Tullamore instead. After a decade in Longford, the festival has relocated to the Offaly town.
The reluctant decision has been taken to move to Tullamore, where at least there was the offer of some financial support. So let’s applaud Chris Keenan for making the tough decision to leave a town that had been home to the festival in favour of one where a little more respect was forthcoming.
Leaving aside political machinations and turning our attention to the line-up, we find ourselves in altogether more cheerful territory as the hordes of Atlantic-crossing, Channel and Irish Sea-defying old-timers, bluegrassers, redneckers and ordinary decent banjo aficionados can look forward to one of the festival’s most promising bills yet.
This year the festival runs Thursday 20 – Sunday 23 September. Headlining the festival’s main venue, The Tullamore Court Hotel, are the Barcelona Bluegrass Band, Blackjack, George Harper and Friends and Bending the Strings (20), Suzy Bogguss, We Banjo 3, Electric Ceili and Chris Meehan And His Redneck Friends (21), Blue Highway, Mundy, Gerry O’Connor and Niall Toner (22) and Paul Brady, Don Rigsby and Charlie Sizemore, Beoga and the winner of the busking competition featuring in the closing concert (23).
There’s also a programme of sessions and workshops throughout the weekend. Tenor banjo tutors will include: Gerry O’Connor, Enda Scahill, Liam & David Howley, Tom Cussen. Guitar tutors will include George Harper, Tim Stafford, Charlie Sizemore, Rick Shea with other workshops still to be confirmed.
Heading off to the US straight after the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival, the Niall Toner Band play their first US dates since signing on the dotted line with bluegrass label Pinecastle Records. They are accompanied by their label mates I Draw Slow.
It has been a great year so far for the band, who also played the Salty Dog stage at the Electric Picnic. The cherry on the bun is going to come on Tuesday 25 September with the launch of Onwards and Upwards, Toner’s first US release. The ribbon-cutting will be at Jack’s Barbecue on Lower Broadway in Nashville, a famous eatery that has been in business since before Hank Williams used to drop in the back door for a beer and a plate of ribs during his break from the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.