the 8th westport folk & bluegrass festival
13th Jun 2014 - 15th Jun 2014
The 8th Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival will, as before, be a high-quality, multiple-venue event in Westport. The festival is a three-day event, attracting local, national and international artists and audiences. Since the inaugural event in 2007, the festival has grown every year. The first year there was one headline act, a band from Cork, with five acts supporting – three concerts in total. Every year it has continued to expand, with last year’s event (2013) comprising of 15 concerts in nine venues, 16 acts (including artists from Ireland, the UK. Holland and the US), and a workshop.
This year we once again plan to expand – a greater number of concerts in a greater number of venues with continue with improved sound quality. In particular, we plan to bring more international acts to the festival. Many of the groups are large, giving more opportunities for interaction between musicians from here and abroad. Obviously, this involves a higher cost to the festival, but we feel the investment in fostering links and cross-border education and skill swapping is central to what the festival is about.
We are also planning to include more workshops with visiting artists, involve local schools and increase the emphasis on the much-loved and well-attended sessions, which sees Irish musicians collaborate formally and informally with artists from Europe and America. The aim of these events is cultural-knowledge sharing, skills sharing and strengthening links between Irish and international artists.
The ethos of the festival is the promotion of musicians, local, national and international, who are committed to the folk and bluegrass genre; the fostering of collaborative, welcoming environments where musicians both professional and amateur can interact, form friendships and learn from one another; the creation of an accessible, warm, enjoyable atmosphere where everyone – all generations, all walks of life, locals and visitors – feel included, have fun and look forward to the festival as an annual must-see event. The sessions and workshops foster learning, with locals playing with and learning from national and international artists – and vice versa. The audience profile is comprised of everyone from seasoned folk and bluegrass ‘buffs’ to casual music fans.
Each year, there are free concerts in the many venues around the town. Last year we expanded from, one, large headline event to two (the only pay-in concerts). We estimate that last year, around 1,700 people attended festival events.
Westport is already recognised as a hub for visual and literary artists, and there is a thriving music scene in the town. The Folk and Bluegrass Festival aims to help develop a vibrant, diverse and sustainable arts profile at a local level.