The toe-tapping rhythms of mandolins, fiddles and guitars will be heard at the Ulster American Folk Park later this month as it tunes up for the 27th Annual Bluegrass Music Festival.
Taking place from Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September, the Festival will bring award-winning American, Canadian and European bands to Omagh as well as acclaimed acts from across Ireland.
Headliners include International Bluegrass Music Awards multiple nominees Darin and Brooke Aldridge – one of the hottest young acts in acoustic music in the US – as well as traditional music veterans Mike Compton and Joe Newberry and English band Old Baby Mackerel.
Other big names from the US include Demolition String Band, multi-talented duo Fellow Pynins and Oregon five piece Whiskey Deaf, while the Festival kicks off on the Friday with the Ontario band Allen Family Reunion which originally formed in 1980. Now reunited and joined by the original band members’ grown up children they have created a blend of fresh sounding yet traditional music.
Belgian band Old Salt Collective, and English newcomers Midnight Skyracer, an all-female five piece bluegrass band, whose youngest member is Armagh native Tabitha Agnew, and Glastonbury veterans Two Time Polka will join the non-stop music marathon of live acts performing across the Folk Park over the weekend.
Local acts will also take to the stage during the three day festival including County Down troupe The Henry Family Band. This foursome is at the forefront of the bluegrass and roots music scene across Ireland featuring the stellar voice of Janet Henry and the Dobro flourishes of husband Colin, accompanied by their highly talented children James and Olivia.
County Armagh band Northern Exposure, which has been a pillar of the bluegrass scene in Ulster for over 20 years, joins the line-up on Saturday ahead of County Down favourite Geordie McAdam while the Broken String Band, also from County Down, is back to delight fans for another year.
Talented singers from Fermanagh and Omagh make up the Bluegrass Festival Choir which will perform on Saturday evening.
Visitors can also wander around the Folk Park’s exhibit buildings and bring their own fiddle or banjo for a jam session in the Pickin’ Patch in the Pennsylvania Barn, or join Mike Compton and Joe Newberry in The McConversation in the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies to learn more about their musical lives on Saturday.
This year’s festival concludes on Sunday with an atmospheric Spirit of Bluegrass Concert featuring Darin & Brooke Aldridge in the unique setting of the Folk Park’s 18th century Old Meeting House.
Richard Hurst, Visitor Services Manager at the Ulster American Folk Park, said: “The Bluegrass Music Festival at the Ulster American Folk Park is an event like no other in Northern Ireland’s calendar of family entertainment. The three days of music set against a backdrop of Ulster American history make this late summer festival a unique experience for all our visitors.
“Nominated for Best International Festival at the 2017 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, the event is a fantastic weekend break or day out for newcomers, families and devout music fans of all ages.”
He added: “I hope that this year will bring even more new visitors to the Ulster American Folk Park and a new generation of Bluegrass fans to our event.”
This year’s Bluegrass Music Festival is supported by funding from Tourism NI and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
Aine Kearney, Business Support and Events Director, Tourism NI said: “Tourism NI is pleased to support the Bluegrass Music Festival and now in its 27th year, this is a well-established event, attracting both local and international visitors. Events such as the Bluegrass Festival are firmly established within our tourism fabric, adding value to the positive perceptions and profile of our destination and have been recognised as having an important role in contributing to the economy.”
Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Howard Thornton said: “the Bluegrass Music Festival at the Ulster American Folk Park is one of the most popular festivals of its type in Europe. Folk Park organisers, such as Richard Hurst, ensure that the festival patrons have been regularly exposed to the best exponents of bluegrass music from across the globe and consequently the festival has always attracted large crowds to the Ulster American Folk Park and to the district. It has also been a hugely significant contributor to the local economy over the years and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is once again delighted to be a festival sponsor.”
The Festival kicks off on Friday 31 August, with performers from 2pm until late. On Saturday music will start at 12.30pm and continue until midnight. Sunday’s programme will run from 12.30pm to 6.30pm. For further information on the Festival and to book online visit www.nmni.com /uafp or call Telephone Ticket Hotline on 028 8224 3292. Camping Facilities available
Festival Line Up
* Friday 31 August Old Salt Collective (Belgium)
* Saturday 1 September Darin & Brooke Aldridge (USA)
* Sunday 2 September Compton & Newberry (USA)
* Demolition String Band (USA)
* Fellow Pynins (USA)
* Whiskey Deaf (USA)
* Allen Family Reunion (Canada)
* Old Baby Mackerel ( England) Midnight Skyracer (England)
* Two Time Polka (Co. Cork)
* Woodbine ( Co. Kildare)
* Northern Exposure (Co. Armagh)
* Broken String Band (Co. Down)
* Geordie McAdam (Co. Down)
* The Henry Family Band (Co. Down)
* Eilidh Patterson (Derry)
* Bluegrass Festival Choir (Fermanagh & Omagh)
* CLOSING EVENT Sunday 2nd September Spirit of Bluegrass Concert featuring Darin & Brooke Aldridge www.nmni.com/whats-on/bluegrass-2018-gospel-concert 6.30pm – 8pm, Meeting House