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Tribute to Barney and Earl

This year has witnessed the passing of two icons of the banjo in both Irish and Bluegrass music. Barney McKenna and Earl Scruggs were heroes of mine. Their expertise in their chosen fields of music greatly influenced me and helped me to develop into the musician I am today.

I have been so fortunate to have known and performed with Barney down the years and shared many a happy session of tunes with him. I played support to Earl Scruggs on his last and only visit to Ireland at the Johnny Keenan Banjo festival, and found him to be a true gentleman. Both men were modest and helpful in the extreme to banjo players they met, and were always ready for a chat about music and willing to give a few hints and tips about the technical side of playing the banjo.
  More importantly they were superb musicians with great technical ability, honed from decades of practise and a love of the traditions of their country's music. We all owe them a huge sense of gratitude for their achievements in the world of music. We won't see their likes again.

Gerry's work in 2011/12

This past year has been one of the busiest years for me. I guested on Christy Moore's beautiful album "Folk Tale" which received great reviews at home and abroad. Well done Christy. It's always a privilege to play with your heroes and I'm honoured to be on that recording. Sharon Corr also released a lovely album "Dreams of You" and we had a blast recording Cooley's Reel and Jenny's Chickens. Sharon Shannon Big Band had some terrific gigs as well with more planned in the future.

I'm currently playing with The Dubliners following Barney's passing, and the band are fulfilling tour obligations across Europe throughout the year, such is the demand and love of the fans to come and pay tribute to a legendary band. It's very humbling indeed for me and poignant, but as Barney always said 'it's too late to stop now'.

In July and August 2012 I'm on tour with Joe Bonamassa, the genius guitarist, singer from America. The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the gigs I'm really looking forward to. Also a filmed performance in Vienna will be a special night on this tour. Joe has had No1 albums in the US charts and is a must see performer for all you guitar aficienados out there.

Last August 2011, I went to Nashville with Barney McKenna to record an album with our good friends The Carter Brothers. It was Barney's wish to go and record there, and he did it. We are so glad we made the effort now, in light of recent events. Alison Brown, John Doyle, Cathy Jordan, Tim and Danny Carter, Padraig Drew all contributed to a special recording, Barney's last album at Compass studios. A date for release is yet to be set.

I turned my hand to production also and Oonagh Derby's album "Harmony Street" is a little gem. Lovely songs and excellently delivered by her on her debut album which just missed out on BBC folk album of the year 2011. I also produced and played on the album "Now" by fellow Dubliner and legendary balladeer Patsy Watchorn, released early 2012. It features famous Dublin ballads sung as only Patsy can.

Four Men & a Dog have a few festivals shows notably Cambridge Folk Festival July 2012. I also got to play Shrewsbury Folk Fest with my longtime friend Manus Lunny last Aug 2011 with my son Fiach on bodhran. That was special. We plan to do more in the future.

Check out the tour page for details of upcoming gigs and tours, and make sure you come and say hello.

Sincerely,
Gerry


"High Up Low Down" available at Claddagh Records


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High Up - Low Down

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