Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival 2012.

Johnny Keenan Banjo
Festival 2012.

While the crowds could have been bigger, the
organisers can feel well pleased with the overall success of
the J.K.B.Fest, which was held in Tullamore, Co.Offally, over
the past weekend. The combination of Sunshine and Music
provided the ingredients for a magical and uplifting
experience that helped to ease the doom and gloom which
currently envelops our country.It was so nice to see people
milling around the town enjoying the lots of free
entertainment on offer in the local hostelries and on the main
stage in the town square. This truly has developed into an
International event and attracts fans and musicians from all
corners of the globe. We had band’s from Spain, Czech Republic
and the USA. The many workshops, lectures, the Fest. Club and
the main evening concerts were held at the spacious Tullamore
Court Hotlel, and were well attended and well organised. The
gatherings (Pickin’  Parties), proved to be a great success
and were a great way to end the day on the following morning,
if you get my drift. Some of the many highlights for me
personally were, the Saturday night concert, especially the
performance by headline act Blue Highway, featuring Rob Ickes
on Dobro, and the Niall Toner Band. Niall heads off to
Nashville today to attend the I.B.M.A. Fest in Nashville, and
will spend a month in the USA touring, and promoting his new
album which is on general release there. Suzy Bogguss who gave
an outstanding performance and posed freely for pictures
later. Gerry O’Connor, was amazing on Banjo. The jewel in the
crown though for me was the 10.00am Mass on Sunday in the
Cathedral, where the musicians played and members of Blue
Highway  sang a capello. It was a truly memorable experience
and greatly appreciated by the large gathering present. 

Traditionally staged in Longford, this was it’s first year in
the new setting of Tullamore, Co.Offally, and hopefully it
will quickly establish itself as the major festival it
undubtedly is, and receive the support it deserves. One
suggestion I would make in this respect is perhaps it would be
better to put more emphasis on the International Music side of
the Festival, rather than a Banjo Fest.

It really is a lot more than a Banjo Festival.

Roger Ryan

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