Celtic and bluegrass sounds will mix at Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival

Uri Kohen, the founder and ongoing producer of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival in County Mayo, Ireland, has come up with a unique hybrid session for the three day festival this June. Noted bluegrass and Irish music players will collaborate to perform some traditional Celtic songs and tunes in a bluegrass style.

Like a number of other European bluegrass events, the Westport festival is held in a number of different venues in the seaport town of Westport, located on the Atlantic side of the island. The local community of roughly 6,000 people welcome visitors from all over the British Isles and Europe to enjoy the historic Georgian architecture in this heritage town, as they sample bluegrass and old time music from the US and Europe.

We asked Uri to explain the hybrid show he has planned for this year.

“We have curated a very special session, which is a new addition to our festival, and one that have not done before in such a format. Three top local, Irish traditional, and folk musicians, Freda Hatton, Julie Langan, and Declan Askin, will be joined by one of Ireland most prominent bluegrass and old-time musicians, Brendan Butler, to create a very unique session.

The four will rework Irish traditional tunes in a bluegrass style, and will provide a unique Irish folk style to much loved bluegrass classics. More so, as it a session, they will provide the opportunity to musicians from either of the genres to contribute their sounds and style and create something truly unique. This gig is in line with our festival’s ever quest to discover and promote the deep roots of American old-time music and bluegrass in Irish folk and traditional music.”

In addition to top US performers like The Kody Norris Show, Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman, and Bill and The Belles, Uri is bringing over Dr. Greg Reish of The Centre of Popular Music at the university of Middle Tennessee and Spring Fed Records, to make a presentation about the restoration of the Haley Family recordings.

Kohen again…

“Ed Haley was a legendary early 20th century Appalachian fiddler whose music has influenced generations of old-time and bluegrass musicians. Although he never recorded commercially, in the late 1940s Ed and his wife Ella made a series of home recordings on lacquer discs. In this workshop, co-producer and Spring Fed Records director Greg Reish will describe the painstaking process of restoring and reissuing these rare recordings in a landmark boxed set, released in 2022. He will also discuss the Haley family’s complex and lasting legacy in the canon of American old-time music.”

Also appearing over the June 9-11 weekend will be The Luis Gomez Quartet from Spain, The Rustic Robots from the Czech Republic, The Rocky Top Stringband from Ireland, and several others.

From all accounts, it is a charming festival with a great deal to offer in a weekend away.

Full details can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.