Enniscorthy Guardian - - NEWS - With Maria Nolan

As the ‘sea­son of mists and mel­low fruit­ful­ness’ her­alded its ar­rival with En­nis­cor­thy’s an­nual Black­stairs Blues Fes­ti­val, the melan­choly strains of the blues wafted from our many hostel­ries, drink­ing es­tab­lish­ments and inns in what has been one of the most fruit­ful fes­ti­vals for the town to date.

Spon­sored by Heineken Ire­land along with Wex­ford County Coun­cil, Catty Town, En­nis­cor­thy Guardian, En­nis­cor­thy Credit Union and many oth­ers, this is one of our long­est run­ning fes­ti­vals. Now in its 23rd year it is ri­valled only by the En­nis­cor­thy Straw­berry Fair and con­tin­ues to bring fan­tas­tic lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional mu­si­cal tal­ents to our town as well as their many loyal and ded­i­cated fol­low­ers.

Fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers Ibar Carty, Mairead En­nis and John Mur­phy put a com­pre­hen­sive pro­gramme to­gether for this year’s Fes­ti­val of 29 free live gigs tak­ing place in 13 dif­fer­ent venues around the town with well-known mu­si­cians from many parts of the globe in­clud­ing the United States and the UK as well as many parts of Ire­land, and they can be well pleased with the re­sults. To say that the town was rock­ing would be an un­der­state­ment.

All types and forms of Blues were heard and en­joyed over the three days, from coun­try blues, delta and piedmont to the more ur­ban va­ri­eties of Chicago and West Coast and even some swamp blues from a va­ri­ety of gifted artists like Clive Barnes, Pistol Pete Wearn, Eric Bell Trio, Jackie McAu­ley Trio, Hod Rod Hearse, Stonecold Ho­bos, Heavy Weather, Kick the Bucket and Benny Blue and the Han­govers.

My own par­tic­u­lar favourites were the classy duo Malkum & Chris who kicked off the fes­ti­val at En­nis­cor­thy Li­brary on Thurs­day evening last and the Quigley, Finn Band who raised the roof at a jam-packed Holo­hans on Satur­day night.

Malkum & Chris have been play­ing to­gether and de­light­ing au­di­ences since 1969 with their own spe­cial brand of delta and piedmont and last Satur­day they hosted a blues work­shop at En­nis­cor­thy Cas­tle. The vet­eran blues­men on har­mon­ica and steel gui­tar are mu­si­cians and en­ter­tain­ers with sto­ries to match their mu­sic which I could have lis­tened to all night along.

These two re­ally have ‘got the Blues’ and have played with the best in the busi­ness and have the sto­ries to prove it. I loved their lyrics and the way they in­ter­acted with the au­di­ences and re­ally seemed to be en­joy­ing them­selves and hav­ing a good time. They weren’t just singing the songs they were liv­ing them and most prop­erly al­ready have!

Singing drum­mer Jim Finn from Sydney, Aus­tralia and Dublin blues rock gui­tar leg­end Gerry Quigley sim­ply owned Holo­hans on Satur­day night as they belted out a cap­ti­vat­ing col­lec­tion of pow­er­ful blues mu­sic en­tranc­ing the packed house and leav­ing them beg­ging for more. What could be bet­ter than that!

The 23rd fes­ti­val has been a huge suc­cess and well done to every­one in­volved. Our pubs and restau­rants were full to ca­pac­ity, the air pul­sated with mar­vel­lous mu­sic and there was a gen­eral aura of ex­cite­ment and en­joy­ment on our streets. What­ever about singing the blues, En­nis­cor­thy cer­tainly wasn’t feel­ing the blues last week­end.

Gerry Quigley & Jim Finn Band at Holo­hans. Malkum Gib­son and Chris Klee­man at En­nis­cor­thy Li­brary.

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