Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bluegrass, Broadcasts and Ballyporeen Choir on Tour

Billy McCarthy conducts an interview

Pickers session at The Spinnaker

  • Terry takes the floor

Alice and her Ukulele

Maith an fear thú Frank 

Flute solo

Guesting with Margaret and Claire at Killea Church

Some of the best radio broadcasts I heard this week came from Bluegrass festivals. On the national station I loved the easy rapport Sandy Hersch and Niall Toner had with their good humoured guests on their joint broadcast from Omagh. There were some wonderful regional American accents and who knew there was a bluegrass scene in Italy. Can it really be 17 years since the Bluegrass Festival weekend was inaugurated in Dunmore East.  In honour of the occasion, WLR stalwart Billy McCarthy conducted his morning radio show from Azurro Restaurant in the South Eastern fishing village. Having connections here , I listened with keener interest than usual to this mid morning broadcast and indeed went along to watch the final segment of the programme being recorded .  Producer Jennifer Long  assembled a delightfully diverse range of genuinely local voices to  broadcast on the ether on a gloriously sunny morning.  Many of them familiar,  they included local restauranteurs, a publican, Tidy Town folk, a  lifeboat man, local history experts, singers, bluegrass musicians , divas and sailors and a celebrity chef.   McCarthy's easy and understated interviewing style concealed what a consummate performer he is. It was a refreshing change to have a morning show presenter who does not use guests as a foil for his own witticisms . McCarthy knew many of his guests which added  a depth to his dialogues but he drew interesting information from all his  relaxed interviewees.   This was the sort of programme local radio can do so well and it would make a good audio snapshot for the archives of the local history group.

The bluegrass  festival was great fun as always although portable floodlights and metal fencing did cast a forbidding  shadow this year, a necessary evil it seems. My favourite sessions are the informal jamming sessions and the Spinnaker seemed to be the best spot for casual musicians to turn up and join in some action. The Molly Hicks  in Azurro were fun . Having done a round of the village pubs,we finally escaped up the hill to Hayes Pub, Killea  known locally as Aggies where we have enjoyed many a convivial singsong and tonight was no exception  with Tipperary -Waterford rivalry  set aside for the visit to the pub by the Ballyporeen Church Choir  with their director Mary O Gorman on their Summer outing. Considering that Wikipedia gives the population of this Tipp village as being 300,  the 15 strong choral contingent represented a very significant proportion of the population. Moreover the proportion of tenors and basses would be the envy of many choir directors.  They sang and danced with  Eamonn Breathnach acting as MC, aided and abetted by Mary Mahoney, Shane Walsh , Terry Butler and myself on fiddle  The many singers took their turn with gusto and some were quick to add a step here and there and all joined in the choruses.  It was late when the ensemble boarded the minibus and as we know .. 'its a long way to Tipperary'....

My report on another night in Hayes Pub Killea is here.

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