Rock crew Festival in Oldcastle

Sorry, I know I’ve been sort of ‘missing in action’ over the last while and haven’t had a chance to write anything here in the blog in ages. I’ll write a few words now about the Rockcrew Festival in Oldcastle, while it’s still fresh in my mind, and when I get a moment I’ll try to backtrack over the other stuff and write a few words about those events as well.

Anyway, I suppose the good news is – the weather behaved itself for the festival (especially on Saturday when we played) and that helped enormously. This was their first year to run it and I think they got off to a great start. The really did a lot of hard work as regards publicity and also on setting everything up.

For a start, the location certainly helped to make it something special. It was in the gardens of Lough Crew and the gardens and surroundings in general made a lovely and rather unusual setting for a rock/rhythm & blues festival. There was ample parking space, ample staff to help you with your questions and direct you to where you needed to go. Toilets were clean (nice for a festival) and there were sufficient places to get food and drink. They had a very nice relaxed backstage area for the artists and kept us supplied with all that we wanted throughout the day. They also had a nice low-key approach to security, which is good in my opinion. They showed you they were there but they weren’t ‘in your face’, so nobody felt challenged or anything stupid like that.

The festival kicked off on Friday evening around 7pm. I wasn’t there myself but I heard good reports about it – and about Don Baker’s performance in particular. Saturday started at 4.30pm and like I said, these were the only two (mostly) rain-free days in weeks.

They had two good stages and alternated the bands on each stage. A band called The Houseshakers were on before us. They’re from Dublin and turned in a good set of standard blues-rock covers. I finally got to meet Brian Meakin (as he was in The Houseshakers). I’ve seen his name on the Ballyshannon line up several times (as he had mine) so we finally got a chance to say a few words to each other. Nollaig Bridgeman was playing drums with the band and Nollaig is a legend in the Irish music scene. Good to see him still at it!

We had a great turnout for our show and a great response as well. It was absolutely LOVELY to see people singing along with the new songs (off Beyond The Tears). Very satisfying that!! I had Tommy (Molloy) on drums for this gig. I hadn’t played with Tommy since the Castlebar Blues Festival so it was nice to team up with him again. Sean was on bass and Gerry on accordion. People seemed to enjoy the Irish element of the music as well as the blues. I suppose some of the audience were old enough to remember Horslips…

I’d had a chance to talk to Henry (McCullough) before the gig. He’s a very nice, quiet guy. I’d heard him earlier that day on the Charlie McGettigan show – where he cleared up the fact that it wasn’t actually him who played that classic riff on Joe Cocker’s version of “With A Little Help From My Friends” but Jimmy Page. I did not know that! Henry had James Delaney on piano/keyboards. Some of you will be familiar with that name as he’s the guy who also played with Davy Spillane for awhile. Great player!! I had the opportunity to see Bagatelle for just a number or two. Gosh, I hadn’t heard “Summer in Dublin” in ages. How time flies!

So, all in all a good time was had by all. I hope the organisers are also happy with this first edition. I heard lots of people say they’d come again next year if it’s on so let’s keep our fingers crossed for that. We need all the good, well-run festivals we can get – and the admission was a very reasonable Euro20. Now you can’t beat that, can you?

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