My 8th tour of Ireland was a joy of an experience as I was constantly reminded that this paradise remains a special place no matter how many times I visit. Immersed in the magic of the Emerald Isle for the annual September tour, I encountered great players, breathtaking scenery, and unexpected opportunities that popped up faster than a crafty Leprechaun.

As I peered through my rosy glasses on the roads from Dublin toward the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival, with diversions to Waterford and Wexford, Armagh and Drogheda, Galway and Achill, Castlebar and Athlone, I had to realistically admit that every country I tour does have a flaw or two. But Ireland, with its “stone walls of death” (as described by a first time tourist) that are often hidden by the overgrown hedges along the roads, has managed to retain that traditional charm among the mysteriously hidden tollbooths of the M50 and the growing international population.

A musical birthright seems to be deeply rooted in the souls of the Irish. I am convinced that everyone Irish can play an instrument and can sing on key at the drop of a Guinness. Folks young and old consistently demonstrate not only a love of their own musical culture, but have a set of open arms that wrap around the world as they seem to accept nearly everything musical and welcome anyone who can spin a limerick.

 During this tour I was embraced by the friendship and playing of everyone from Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth to Stephen Housden of the Little River Band and just about anyone else who could pluck or bow a note, hum a tune, clap their hands, or blow a whistle.

The gifts of the people of Ireland extend far beyond music. I met up with a world-class potter and filmmaker, drooled over the creations of a very talented cake maker, accepted an impromptu ride from a cool guy named Eddie (who left his own bustling business to take me to the venue), and observed the simple joy of the bond between a man and his dog.

Originally posted 2010-10-07 20:59:09.