We’re delighted to share the news that two of our client artists The Slocan Ramblers (Canada) and Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno (USA) will be featured performers at Bluegrass Omagh 2022, a major live music event in Northern Ireland. I’ve been working with the organisers over the last few months on plans to send these two outstanding artists to this acclaimed festival which takes place on Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th May 2022, in the unique surroundings of the Ulster American Folk Park, an indoor-outdoor museum covering over 60 acres. The Folk Park tells the story of successive waves of emigrants who left the shores of Ulster in the 18th and 19th centuries for a new life in America. Their songs and stories took root in the New World, and in the Appalachian region in particular.
The tunes and ballads brought by settlers hailing from Ulster (as well as from other parts of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales) melded with African-American music and dance traditions in many parts of the eastern USA. Old time music, country and bluegrass all developed out of these uniquely American combinations, making the Folk Park a highly appropriate location for a bluegrass (and old time and Americana) festival! I would genuinely recommend the festival (and a good look around the Folk Park) to any music lovers who fancy a trip to this picturesque corner of Northern Ireland, with the vibrant city of Belfast and the spectacular Antrim coast within easy reach (the landscapes of the latter now famed worldwide, thanks to their use in Game of Thrones locations).
Most True North Music regulars will be familiar with brilliant Canadian quartet The Slocan Ramblers who will be one of the main Omagh headliners. Winners of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2020 Momentum Band Award, their many plaudits include Traditional Album of the Year at the 2020 Canadian Folk Music Awards and a 2019 JUNO nomination. A barnstorming live band, the Slocans perform a blend of traditional and contemporary roots music, with a mix of fine original songs, bluegrass classics and quirky covers. Their three previous tours of the UK have seen them perform many sold-out gigs across the country, including a couple of our own Yorkshire gigs. Their Bluegrass Omagh festival appearances will be the only dates on this spring trip to Europe, but we are busy planning September UK tour dates for this side of the Irish Sea – stay tuned!
Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno are two of the brightest young talents on the USA roots music scene, and combine old time Americana, folk and country music, with compelling songs, gorgeous harmonies and exquisite musicianship on acoustic guitars, fiddle and clawhammer banjo. Their debut album was released in 2021, produced by acclaimed Grammy-winning Cajun musician Joel Savoy. Vivian grew up in Virginia and began writing songs and performing at the age of nine. Riley has also been immersed in traditional music from an early age. Originally from Seattle, he’s an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and co-founded barnstorming stringband The Onlies when he was just eight years old! There are many other fine acts on the festival bill including Seth Mulder & Midnight Run, a popular and dynamic band from Tennessee playing a high-energy brand of traditional bluegrass; virtuosic American fiddler and banjoist Aaron Jonah Lewis (of Corn Potato String Band); UK favourites The Often Herd and local Northern Ireland heroes Cup O’Joe.
The Omagh Bluegrass festival has met with much acclaim over the decades, including an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Bluegrass Event of the Year nomination in 2015, and has hosted dozens of major names in bluegrass and roots music. This flagship bluegrass event is celebrating 30 years of existence in 2022, so let’s hope Bluegrass Omagh will continue to thrive long into the future! For more information and to book your tickets, visit the Bluegrass Omagh website.