Masters of Tradition

A spectacular five days of pure music. Without a doubt, the finest traditional music festival anywhere, held in the equally impressive Bantry House, Bantry, Co. Cork.

Artistic director Martin Hayes opened the festival with a breathtaking solo set followed by a great set featuring Kerry accordionist Danny O’Mahony. The second half of the concert was performed by Micheal O Suilleabhain who was in flying finger form and played a couple of nice versions of “Lament for Limerick.” The late night concert on opening night was chaired by Waterford piper David Power, a mighty piper and a very nice man as well.

One of the Thursday night highlights was Frankie Gavin with Steve Cooney who followed the fine solo piping set by the aforementioned David Power.

Friday night opened with Martin’s sister Helen Hayes singing a few songs before one very nervous Jimmy Keane took the stage.

It had been a good fifteen years since I played an unaccompanied solo set (oddly enough it was also in Cork during the Dear Old Erin’s Isle concert series held at University College Cork). At one point, my brain was telling my fingers “ G with the middle finger, A with the fourth, G again with the third, F# with the index and back to G with the middle...”.

Well, my fingers were having none of it! They were playing note and finger combinations which I did not think possible on my accordion nor with my hand. In the end, it was probably not even noticeable to anyone but me, but since it was noticeable to me, it made for one uncomfortable Jimmy playing onstage wishing the huge twelve foot glass courtyard doors behind me would open up and swiftly carry me up the 100 steps to the vista point behind the House. All joking aside, it was a thrilling experience which I would do again in a heartbeat. (Note to self -- play more solo sets in the future...)

Joe Burke and Ann Conroy Burke closed the first set of the evening with both being in great form. The late show that evening featured Frankie Gavin. Galway was fully represented that evening!

Saturday saw a much more relaxed Jimmy along with long time friends Dennis Cahill & Martin Hayes. Dennis and I opened up the late night concert before being joined by Martin for a couple of extended sets (my favorite kind as well as Martin’s).


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