On Thursday September 22, the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival 2011 gets underway. Tagged as a celebration of Irish Traditional and American Bluegrass music, this year’s festival contains a sensational line up once again includes the inimitable Leroy Troy.
Also known as the ‘Tennessee Slicker’, Leroy Troy recently undertook a visit to Ireland and as part of his whirlwind tour he spent a short time in Longford where the Leader caught up with him.
“My music is really what I would call Hillbilly music. You can’t really call it real Blue Grass music,” said Leroy. “I’ve played the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Longford many times and I have to say that the folks there have always been real good to me.”
Leroy Troy (45) has been entertaining audiences throughout the world for over 30 years. Originally from Goodlettsville, Tennessee, Leroy plays what is known as clawhammer or frailing style banjo. He also performs humorous or comedy songs from the old time music genre. The Tennessee legend debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in 1988 and was the National Old-Time Banjo Champion in 1996.
“Why do I keep coming back to Longford you may ask?” laughs Leroy. “Chris Keenan is the answer – she keeps asking me back. Truth be told, I have a lot of fun here. The folks that come along to hear us play are real good to us.”
Comparing Ireland to Tennessee, Leroy believes that the Irish summer is a welcome reprieve from the heat of the southern states of America.
“It’s 100 degrees back home. It’s so good to feel the cool air here in Ireland,” he said. “You really do have a beautiful country. It’s lovely and green and the folks here are great.”
Looking at his music career, Leroy feels that his childhood environment in Tennessee led to his love of music and his career as a banjo player.
“I’ve grown up around music all my life and have been influenced by all kinds of Hillbilly, Bluegrass and other types of music and artists such as Stringbean, Bashful Brother Oswald, Bill Monroe and Grandpa Jones. It’s a part of who I am,” he said. “Today I play a lot of instruments including banjo, bass fiddle, guitar, and scrubboard.”
Looking forward to the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival, Leroy is encouraging all Longfordians to come along and support what promises to be a great range of acts.
“Come and check it out. If you’ve never been to the Banjo Festival before then you’re in for a real treat,” he said.
For further information about the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival (September 22-25, 2011) visit www.johnnykeenan.com.