Westport folk and bluegrass festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month and it promises to be the biggest festival to date. Seventeen of the best local, national, and international folk and bluegrass acts will play in 11 different venues around the town over the weekend.
The festival will open on Friday June 10 with a lunchtime gig at 12.30pm at The Creel Cafe with father and son Pat and Ricky Kelleher from Cork. Later that day at 6pm, all are welcome to Blousers pub for the first session of the festival - hosted by the backbone of Irish bluegrass Richard Hawkins and the house band, all musicians are invited to join in for two hour session. The showcase concert of the night will take place in the unique surroundings of The Holy Trinity church with three bands on the bill - The Bog Standard string band (Dublin ), Old Hannah (Sligo ), and one of the festival's headline acts - The Foghorn String Band (USA ) who are the leading band in the revival of old-time music in the US, the band played to sell out crowds in Ireland many times, but this will be their first official visit to Westport, the gig will start at 8pm sharp, tickets are €17.50.
At 10pm that night, the traditional folk and bluegrass pub trail will kick off with no fewer than five different gigs. The Kentucky Cow Tippers (UK ) are in The Jester, The Hubert Murray band in McGing's pub, The Prairie Jaywalkers will play The Clew Bay Hotel, Pat and Ricky Kelleher will play in The Mill Times Hotel, and one of the most loved bands to play the festival - The Molly Hicks will return to to Cobblers bar - all of these gig are free.
Saturday June 12 will start at 11.30am with a songwriting workshop in the town hall with Tony Reidy and Derek Mcloughlin (€5 ), at the same time, a luthier's showcase by which top instruments makers will show and explain about their work will take place at the reception area of the town hall (free. )
The first gig of the day will take place at The Clew Bay Hotel at 12.30pm with one of the other festival headlines - Red Wine who are highly regarded as one of Europe's best bluegrass band (free ). At 1.30pm - master fiddle player - Stephen 'Sammy' Lind will run a fiddle workshop at the town hall (€10 ), this one is a must for any fiddle player. From 2pm McGing's pub will once again open its doors to The Big Session where all musicians and music fans are invited to join forces with some of the festival's main acts for what has become one of the festival's highlights (free ). Canadian singer/songwriter Dana Sipos and her band will play an intimate gig at The Pantry and Corkscrew Restaurant at 3.30pm (free ). An exiting new addition to the festival is The Mystery Gig - Sharon and Arnie of The Red Room are two of the main old-time/bluegrass ambassadors on the island and they will present some of their favourite acts in Matt Molloy's bar at 4pm, you never know who might show up (€5 ).
Shane Sullivan who played the festival a few times in the past will return to Cobblers bar at 6pm (free ). Saturday's main concert will take place at the Westport Town Hall Theatre at 8pm (sharp ) with another three acts bill. Brother and sister Hubie and Sara MacEvilly who are one of only two acts to play every festival since 2007 will open the night, next on the bill will be one of the most promising bluegrass acts in Ireland - Cup O'Joe, the three siblings from Armagh making a name for themselves as the next big thing in Ireland and Europe, Red Wine will close the the concert (€17.50 ). As if all of this was not enough, Erdini (Donegal ) will play the Jester pub from 10.30pm for the night's closing party.
Sunday June 12 will be another packed day, it will start with The Gospel Hour in The Holy Trinity church at 11.30am where The Foghorn String Band will take to the stage again for bluegrass songs of praise (free ). Once the crowd will get their "religious fix", UK act - The Kentucky Cow Tippers will play The Clew Bay hotel at 12.30pm (free ). Tim Rogers will return in one of the festival's most loved sessions where he invites some of his friends for a few hours long of old-time music in Blousers pub from 2.30pm. At 6pm there will be another chance to catch Cup O'Joe at McGing's pub (free ). The festival's final show will take place in Matt Molloy's yard bar at 8pm where The Clew Bay Folk Club main musicians will showcase their talent and the invite the "first lady of five strings banjo of the US" - Roni Stoneman to wow the crowd. - Roni who brought the house down in 2013, was asked to come back to Westport as part of what might be her last Irish tour (€12 ). All venues have limited space and it is highly recommended to arrive early. Tickets for the main event are on first come first serve basis and it is very much advised to buy them in advance online through the festival's website or in SuperValu.