As a teenager growing up in Huntsville, Alabama… the town where I took my first guitar lessons also happened to be the location for my grounding for a love of music. In the mid 70’s I recall listening often to the Dr. Demento Radio show with my Dad or watching Wolfman Jack’s Midnight Special or Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert on the television. This was a time when music seemed to seep into every pore of my body and soul.
More than the powerful influence of radio and television, it was the live Festival events we went to annually in Renfro Valley, Kentucky area to witness and live among the players as they mingled among the attendees. One minute you’re walking by a guy with a hot dog on a stick, the next minute a character in a shiny suit, enormous hat and glistening banjo waltzes by in the other direction.
Although I’ve been to many Festivals around the world both as a player and an attendee none seem to stand out more for me than the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival – located in the tidy town of Clonakilty, a little south of Cork, Ireland.
Eight years running, and I’m more than honored to have been invited to participate as both a player and instructor for six of them.
Watching the event grow over the years has been a real delight as I’ve seen music grow in the local school system, buskers of all ages lining the streets, and pub sessions that appear to run 26 hours a day.
It’s the norm to try to see a local act in one of the many popular pub locations such as DeBarras, Shanley’s or O’Donovans hotel and have a hundred folks pack in a room that comfortably holds 60. As coffees and pints pass overhead, a path is always cleared for a new musician to enter the stage arena. I may be getting a bit dramatic here, but I’ve never seen a fight or altercation break out once again proving that live music soothes the soul.
Every once in awhile I hear someone talking with their partners about taking a trip of a lifetime to a remote island in the South Pacific or somewhere far from the beaten path. Well, here’s an idea: book a long weekend rendezvous next 19-21 September in Clonakilty, Ireland and you are likely to have one of the most memorable musical experiences of a lifetime.