TradFest 2019 Final Concert @ Dublin Castle - 27th January 2019

The final concert of this year’s TradFest featured three acoustic acts all of whom were all on form. The opening act was Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards who are essentially a string quartet playing roots and Americana music. The line up of two fiddles, upright bass and cello was used effectively to play such diverse directions as cajun and Appalachian tunes that were all delivered with a sense of fun alongside the obvious instrumental skills. All four also featured on vocals as the song required. One song was, we were informed, about procreation and prophylactics. They also mentioned that things were little weird in their country right now! But that was balanced with a query as to what the members of the audience felt was their most romantic album choice. They wanted to discuss this at the merchandising table after their performance and it seems that there were may who wanted to express their choices and talk to the band.

Next up was Teddy Thompson. He was appearing solo and in that capacity showed himself to be a fine guitarist as well, as a powerful singer and off the cuff raconteur. Choosing a selection of songs from albums that were prefaced with some humorous comment he noted that he was not exactly a traditional artist but he was, none-the-less, glad to be appearing in “this antiseptic ballroom.” A lot of the songs seemed from his pointed comments to deal with failed relationships. Songs about “not getting the one you want” or of attempts to “stick it” to the one you did have at one point. He has a new album ready for release later in the year and features a new song from that. His final song was “as upbeat as my beat gets” he joked before leaving the stage to much applause.

Headliner Jerry Douglas came stage full of upbeat anecdotes but was cut short by some technical problems with his Dobro. That was sorted relatively quickly and he told us that his last visit to Dublin was with Alison Krauss and that was “amazing” and he hoped this would be too. He opened with a song from the man who inspired him, namely Josh Graves, before moving on to some of his other favourite bluegrass players. Such as Jimi Hendrix’s version of Hey Joe which Douglas sang in a voice suited to the song. This was followed by a medley of tunes that he noted had been, in part, inspired by the likes of Davy Spillane and Moving Hearts. Other writers who he performed versions of their songs were Paul Simon and Chick Corea. He related again that he had always loved being in Ireland. He finished his set with an uptempo instrumental before being called back for an encore and deciding that a slow song would be best as he didn’t want anyone driving home too fast after an uptempo song, so he played his version of Both Sides Now. He then suggested that we could turn to our significant other and say “wasn’t that a nice concert.”

Review by Stephen Rapid  Photography by Kaethe Burt O'Dea