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28
Mon, Sep
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Historic house rocks and bops to festival fever

News
Westport House
The sun brought huge crowds to Westport House on Sunday afternoon.

Historic house rocks and bops to festival fever



Áine Ryan
aineryan@mayonews.ie

WHEN Banna Piob Chuan Modh, the Clew Bay Pipe Band, took to the main stage of the Westport Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Sunday afternoon, and played Marcha de San Patricio,  there was a palpable sense of bringing it all back home. Minutes earlier a feeling of local pride had already rippled through the crowd  when local publican and  Chieftains flautist Matt Molloy stood for a solo.
Sunday afternoon and the grounds of historic Westport House are awash with family-friendly festival fever. Multi-coloured flags – orange, purple, yellow, pink, blue – billow and flap in the balmy sunshine. Saturday’s grey skies have been banished as cirrus nymphs flit in from the Atlantic. Indeed, the entire town seems suffused by festival fun as welly-clad revellers – from toddlers to grannies – wander to and from the lush, green grounds through the newly opened gate on Church Lane.
Hands up here. This reveller must admit that if  The Mayo News did not have demanding deadlines today  (Monday) and if there was a single musician or a band still fit to play a chord, strum a riff, beat a bass drum, or blow a trumpet, I would still be there slipping and sliding in the mud.
Oh! And not to be all feministic about it: Imelda May you are a legend. What a beautiful big bump in that sexy leopard skin dress. Well, she is  seven months pregnant, 37 years of age and still creating mayhem with her  rockabilly sounds. Of course, she can feel secure with handsome husband  and lead guitarist  Darrell Higham beside her on stage. And when she sings  Kentish Town Waltz everyone sways to the intimacy of its heart-felt and honest lyrics about the struggle the couple had while living in north London.
Meanwhile, Seasick Steve appears perfectly chilled while admiring the vista, overlooking the lake and the peddalo swan boats,  from the rear balcony of the stately house. Armed  with a bottle of red wine, from which he swigs intermittently, he could be in a pre-gig meditative trance but for the interruptions of a steady trail of fans.
The septuagenarian blues singer, who has a weird collection of guitars, confirmed his seasick credentials when he confided to one cheeky fan that his visit to Achill, on Saturday, would be his only voyage to a Clew Bay island.
Whether any of the veteran Dubliners took to the wild Atlantic waters after their set on Saturday afternoon is a matter of speculation; they were certainly in classic rousing form for their renditions of The Irish Rover and The Marino Waltz. And, little chance of this iconic band being whisked away in blacked-out Mercedes, they were still mingling with the crowds late on Sunday afternoon. This was around the same time as a cortege of fancy cars arrived with band leader and musician, Jools Holland. 
Even though the natural light was dying and dusk descending, an energetic vibe still electrified the crowd as rhythm and blues singer, Ruby Turner and Mark Almond featured with the orchestra.
When the rain literally bucketed down the previous day, Saturday, as The Waterboys became Mad as The Mist and Snow, nobody really cared. When everyone crushed into Stage Two for Horslips and bopped and rocked to An Dearg Doom, the past decades melted away. When relative newcomer Wallis Bird broke her first string of the festival, at the acoustic stage, the crowd kept swaying and she kept playing. 
Glastonbury, Woodstock, Electric Picnic, eat your festival hearts out. The music and mud in Mayo is the best in the world.         

HAVE YOUR SAY email aineryan@mayonews.ie with your comments

Ryan Sheridan Seasick Steve
Left: Ryan Sheridan on the main stage at the inaugural Westport Festival of Music and Performing Arts on Saturday afternoon. Right: Seasick Steve was one of the main attractions on stage on Sunday.

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HAVE YOUR SAY email aineryan@mayonews.ie with your comments