Monday, August 07, 2006

Dublin Irish Festival

This past weekend was the 19th annual Dublin Irish Festival at Coffman Park in Dublin, Ohio. Aisling, the traditional Irish music band I play in was on stage at the Sports Bar stage on Sunday and my O'Carolan workshop (hammer dulcimer) was on Saturday. We all had a great time there and the festival was as good as ever. It was our 9th appearance at the Dublin Irish Festival, and the first with our new line-up. I didn't take as many pictures as I've done in the past, but here are some from the weekend.

On Friday night Steve and I worked as stage managers for the Irish Pub stage. This evening started with O'Kelly and Cotter (Morton O'Kelly on flute and Eddie Cotter Jr on bodhran).

Here's another view where Eddie doesn't have a microphone in his face.

The second act up was Conway and Dolan (Brian Conway on fiddle and Brendan Dolan on keyboard and flute).

These two were joined by legendary flute player Felix Dolan, who was playing keyboard here. I had a good time chatting with Felix backstage. He remarked on my wearing ear plugs. Maybe I'm overly cautious, but with all the noisy woodturning and carving equipment I use, I take extra precautions to protect my hearing. The stages tend to have the sound system up way too loud and I don't want to be exposed to excessive decibels all weekend long.

Here's the audience in the Irish Pub during the Conway and Dolan set.

Hey Stuart - what's under the kilt?

Stuart is in Aisling and came by to visit while we were doing our stage managing. He had just purchased this kilt over at a vendor near the Celtic Rock stage.

Aisling members: Stuart and Andi

Brian Conway after completing an awesome set. Brian is a three-time All-Ireland fiddle champion; twice for Jr and once for senior.

All of the Aisling band members have had a busy summer of travel and it was hard to get all of us together at the same time to practice. Usually we had four of five members at a rehearsal. Friday night was the first opportunity since early July that we were all together so we had a band rehearsal at the Dublin rec center.

Mary Bertke on banjo and Craig Caldwell on guitar.

Stuart Brand on fiddle and trying out his new kilt.

Steve trying to take a nap during rehearsal.

Craig also made his Aisling debut on Uillean pipes during our set.

Saturday night we went to see Solas. They're incredible!

Here's Craig during our stage time on Sunday. His slow air on pipes went very well.

The finale on Sunday evening is always a lot of fun. John Whelan was in charge and he did something a little different this time around. Instead of organizing local bands to play with some of the headliners, he would come running off stage and grab players to come up on stage to play whatever he called out. That was fine for me since I just brought my bodhran to play - I can play along with just about any tune. I had two stage times up front with a microphone and the fiddlers from The Bridies said nice things to me afterwards about my "awesome playing." That's good for building confidence, and it's nice that some of the headliners are friendly.

Here are some behind-the-scenes photos I took during the finale.

The new line-up of The Kells. Pat Foley on the left replaced Eddie Cotter Jr. on bodhran, Brian McCoy is the virtuoso flute and whistle player and Kim Rutan rounds it out on guitar and vocals.

Dave Hawkins is back to the festival after a few years sabbatical.

Aisling members Stuart Brand and Craig Caldwell. I have no idea what they are looking at, but it must have been interesting.

Cathie Ryan (left) with Ladies of Longford members Hilda Doyle and her daughter, Heather.

Felix Dolan (green hat) chatting with Cathy Ryan. You can see John Whelan in the background talking to Tom Davis.

That's me with Brian McCoy and Albert Alfonso, the maker of my bodhran.

Albert is quite a character, and he's the only bodhran maker I've met who has dared to kiss me on the neck. I won't post the follow-up picture of my reaction to this. . .

Albert can get away with this simply because he makes great bodhrans. He's a pretty decent player, too.

Stuart was taking the photos of Albert kissing my neck, so when I asked him to pose with Bob he decided to mimic Albert. I won't post the follow-up pic to this one, either.

Here's the set where Steve was up on stage with the biggies. He's second from the right in the blue shirt. That's Felix Dolan on the far right and Morton O'Kelly on the other side of Steve.

During one of my stage times I took a lot of photos. This is the percussion section trading riffs.

Steve chatting with Mary Bertke and Marian Funk.

John Whelan doing his thing and having a grand time. He really enjoys the interaction with the other players. It's fun to watch from stage. You can see how big the Traditional Stage venue is from this angle.

Behind the stage waiting for a chance to go play.

The audience for the finale.

On stage is where the party is! Everyone has a good time here.

John Whelan flirting with one of the fiddlers from The Bridies.

And, my traditional post-finale picture with John Whelan. He sure sums up what the Dublin Irish Festival is all about - good music, good craic, and a lot of lovely people that come together to celebrate Celtic traditions.

For more pics, see the Aisling blog.

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