This year’s Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival will be graced by many notable and award winning musicians. Among them is Gerry O’Connor of Four Men and a Dog fame. Speaking to the Leader recently, Gerry explained why he loved returning to the Longford banjo festival each year.
“I’ve been at the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival every year since its inception. They keep asking me back. I knew Johnny Keenan in Dublin in the 1970s, so that maybe the reason,” he said.
Regarding his music, Gerry feels that it comes from a meeting of Irish and American traditions.
“My music is seen as Irish and American traditions coming together. The Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival shows just how versatile the banjo can be and I suppose I’m one of the exponents of that.
“My music comes from a traditional base but over the years I’ve been influenced by lots of different types of music – influences from outside and from all facets of music such as pop, rock and jazz,” he said.
While at the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival, Gerry will conduct a workshop on the Sunday.
“There I will be teaching people different aspects of playing the banjo and show people different influences. With the youngsters I just show them techniques that will hopefully make the instrument easy to play,” he said.
Speaking of the importance of the festival to the Longford community, he said: “It really is a festival that has survived against all the odds. When you look at Electric Picnic, Fleadh Cheoil etc., you see that the vital ingredient is support. That support is then rewarded by the amount of revenue it attracts to that town. I hope people get to it and help to keep it going. It’s amazing what can happen when there’s a bit of a belief.”
Gerry O’Connor will take to the main stage on Sunday night (September 25) at the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in the Longford Arms Hotel Ballroom. For further information visit www.johnnykeenan.com.