Painting Westport’s grass blue
Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival
June 29-July 1
More free gigs than you can shake a banjo at, a major headline event and a whole lotta foot stompin’
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 (formerly the MacEvillys) will play in The Clew Bay Hotel; Woodbine will play in The Atlantic Coast Hotel; McGing’s pub will host Mikey & the Scallywags; James O’Connor and Audrey Trainor will play in Cobblers Bar; while The Jester will take Hickory Wind.
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 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, The Molly Hicks and The Thunderbridge Bluegrass Boys. The show starts at 9pm (doors open at 8.30pm).
Sunday’s proceedings start early, at 12.30pm. Music lovers looking for a lunchtime fix can head to The Clew Bay Hotel for a special performance by Woodbine.
The last of the festival’s gigs sees Tim Rogers and Friends gather at 4pm in Geraghty’s 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.