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Ulster American Folk Park

Bluegrass 2018: Full Weekend Pass

There’ll be strumming on the porches of the log cabins, dancing in the cobbled streets and jamming outside the General Store!
27th Annual Bluegrass Music Festival

Fri 31 Aug 2018 - Sun 02 Sep 2018

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There’ll be strumming on the porches of the log cabins, dancing in the cobbled streets and jamming outside the General Store!

This year’s line-up includes the multi award winning Bluegrass & Gospel duo Darin & Brooke Aldridge, acclaimed traditional music veterans Mike Compton and Joe Newberry, Demolition String Band, Whiskey Deaf, Fellow Pynins and Allen Family Reunion all direct from the USA and Canada. Old Salt Collective from Belgium as well as Midnight Skyracer and Old Baby Mackerel from England. With home grown talent from throughout the North and South of Ireland including among others Two Time Polka, The Henrys and Northern Exposure you’ll uncover rhythms that are sure to have your hands clapping, feet tapping and heart racing all weekend long!

Please note: the Full Weekend Pass does not include entry to the Spirit of Bluegrass Gospel Concert.

What can I enjoy?

Friday Bluegrass in the park

Time: 2pm ‘til Late

Enjoy our toe-tappin, knee-clappin, finger-pickin’ mini music-marathons on Friday and Saturday. From 2.00pm on Friday you can relax in the Festival Village as mandolins, banjos and fiddles keep the Main Stage alight all afternoon.

Opening the Festival with their high quality and fresh sounding traditional bluegrass standards will be the very talented Allen Family Reunion from London, Ontario who can trace their roots back to Omagh, Co. Tyrone.

They’ll be followed by another talented Family unit The Henrys who are at the forefront of the bluegrass and roots music scene across the island of Ireland featuring in particular the stellar voice of Janet Henry and the Dobro flourishes of husband Colin, long time partners of the Festival. It’s then over to Mike Compton & Joe Newberry, masters of old-time mandolin and banjo and guitar who dig deep into early country music and blues. Mike Compton is a Grammy award winner and IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year nominee and was a sideman for the great John Hartford for several years. Known far and wide for his banjo playing, Joe Newberry is also a prizewinning guitarist, songwriter and singer.

Next on the bill will be Fellow Pynins who will have your spine tingling with their spellbinding harmonies and musicianship. Wielding clawhammer banjo, bouzouki, mandolin and guitar their whimsically woven folk tales and songs tell stories of old, dreams of death and entering the chasm of the human experience.

Our own Geordie McAdam will then take to the Main Stage to mark his 27th year on the bill with some fantastic old time fiddle music, wit, charm and humour sure to bring a smile to your face and get you dancing along.

As dusk falls on Friday the Demolition String Band will be pickin’ and singing old-school around a single microphone, juggling banjo, mandolin and guitars while weaving rustic, taut harmony vocals with tall tales and truth, joy and heartbreak, despair and redemption.

Up next will be Old Salt Collective who pull their influences from the streets of New Orleans up through Appalachia to the folk revival of the North Eastern States and jumps the pond to the many sounds from old Europe where the band currently resides in Ghent, Belgium.

Friday night will finish off with English super group Old Baby Mackerel playing bluegrass music that makes you “yee-haw” harder than a nine pound hammer. Good, old-fashioned songs about whisky, murder and railroads played at 500 bpm. Expect furiously fast, knee-slapping bluegrass, mixing skilful musicianship, five-part harmonies and raucous, over-the-top hillbilly antics. That’s all on the first day and night!

Friday line-up

  • Old Baby Mackerel (England)
  • Old Salt Collective (Belgium)
  • Demolition String Band (USA)
  • Whiskey Deaf (USA)
  • Geordie McAdam (Down)
  • Fellow Pynins (USA)
  • Compton & Newberry (USA)
  • The Henry Family Band (Co. Down)
  • Allen Family Reunion (Canada)

Saturday Bluegrass in the park

Time: 12.30pm ‘til Late

From 12.30pm on Saturday we have five stages of music in full flow. You can also bring along your own guitar, fiddle or banjo and join fellow musicians at the Pickin’ Patch in the Pennsylvania Barn or listen in to the Compton & Newberry Q&A at The Mc Conversation. All this good musical fun can be enjoyed with fantastic fusion food served by the award winning Yellow Door Deli and washed down with quality craft beers brewed by the nearby Pokertree Brewing Company.

From 6pm through to 11.30pm you can enjoy another unique line-up featuring Midnight Skyracer a new all-female 5 piece bluegrass band playing hard driving traditional and modern classics, lesser known songs and a few originals featuring an all-star line-up of some of the UK and Irelands top instrumentalists and singers. As dusk begins to fall on the Festival Compton & Newberry will again delight you with their duet singing and two-man string band ranges between traditional songs, instrumentals, ‘mother’ ballads and original tunes.

Our exclusive American headline act for the 27th Festival then takes to the stage featuring husband and wife duo Darin & Brooke Aldridge and their stellar band that draw on the traditions of their native North Carolina. The duo has placed several tracks at the top of the charts on Americana/Roots, SiriusXM, Bluegrass and Gospel charts. They have received multiple nominations from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPGBMA) and Inspirational Country Music (ICM). Both highly acclaimed vocalists in their own right, Darin and Brooke combine rich harmonies with impeccable musicianship to create the unmistakable sound that has made them one of the hottest young acts in acoustic music and they’ve surrounded themselves with a band of equally amazing pickers. Darin spent 6 years as a member of the acclaimed County Gentleman and is a highly sought-after multi-instrumentalist. Brooke has been lauded for having one of the most powerful voices in music of any genre and that is why she is the current International Bluegrass Music Associations’ Female Vocalist of the Year.

Saturday night will finish off with Glastonbury, Electric Picnic and Omagh Bluegrass Festival veterans Two Time Polka whose classic Cajun rhythms, punchy vocals and brilliant musicianship combines with a swing-sound that defies toes to tap and makes dancing infectious.

The Mc Conversation featuring Mike Compton & Joe Newberry

Time: 1.00pm – 2.00pm, Saturday 1 September - Mellon Centre for Migration Studies

A unique opportunity to sit for an hour in the company of Mike Compton & Joe Newberry two of the finest American folk music treasures on the circuit today and learn more about their musical lives to date and maybe their plans for the future? Asking the questions will be our Festival Compere of 20 years standing Frank Galligan.

Mike Compton is a Grammy award winner, IBMA Mandolin player of the Year nominee, a steady sideman for John Hartford from 1994 until Hartford’s death in 2001and mandolinist for the Nashville Bluegrass Band who headlined our Festival in 1999. Mike is inarguably the world expert on Bill Monroe style mandolin and is also steeped in old-time fiddle tunes, early string band music and Delta blues. He’s entertained from Carnegie Hall and the White House and now he graces our Festival.

Known far and wide for his powerful banjo playing Joe Newberry is a prizewinning guitarist, songwriter and singer to boot. In addition to his work with Mike, Joe plays with old-time music legends Bill Hicks, Jim Watson & Mike Craver of the Original Red Clay Ramblers who alongwith Joe were Festival favourites here in 2005. He performs with guitarist Jon Shain and has been a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. He won the songwriting prize for Gospel Recorded Performance at the 2012 IBMA Awards for his song Singing As We Rise and was co-writer with Eric Gibson of the 2013 IBMA Song of the Year for They Called it Music.

The ‘Mc’ Conversation is named after well-loved and respected music broadcaster and former Festival compere Tony McAuley & music scholar and archivist Rodney McElrae, who shared his knowledge so generously during his library talks over many years. Both men had a long and passionate interest in the Festival.

Saturday line-up

  • Darin & Brooke Aldridge (USA)
  • Compton & Newberry (USA)
  • Demolition String Band (USA)
  • Fellow Pynins (USA)
  • Whiskey Deaf (USA)
  • Allen Family Reunion (Canada)
  • Old Salt Collective (Belgium)
  • Midnight Skyracer (England)
  • Old Baby Mackerel (England)
  • Two Time Polka (Co. Cork)
  • The Henry Family Band (Co. Down)
  • Broken String Band (Co. Down)
  • Northern Exposure (Armagh)
  • Geordie McAdam (Down)
  • Woodbine (Co. Kildare)
  • Eilidh Patterson (Derry)
  • Cool Hand String Band (Co. Tyrone)
  • Bluegrass Festival Choir (Fermanagh & Omagh)

Sunday Bluegrass in the Park

Time: 12.30pm to 6.30pm

Stroll through the outdoor museum as a mix of  international and home-grown talented acts fill the air with the infectious sounds of bluegrass and old-time music.

Listen to a performance by the popular Bluegrass Festival Choir and marvel at the number of home-grown acts now playing Bluegrass and Old-Time music across the country that will have you singing and dancing along with our visiting artists from near and far!

Further information