Johnny Holden and Paul McCabe show spirit of Roots Festival

THE spirit of the 15th Roots Festival was epitomised on Friday by the two men running Cleere’s pub on Parliament Street, Kilkenny. Paul McCabe and Johnny Holden drove to Dublin in separate cars to make sure English band Blue Horyzon got to Kilkenny on time to play their gig in Cleere’s that night.

THE spirit of the 15th Roots Festival was epitomised on Friday by the two men running Cleere’s pub on Parliament Street, Kilkenny. Paul McCabe and Johnny Holden drove to Dublin in separate cars to make sure English band Blue Horyzon got to Kilkenny on time to play their gig in Cleere’s that night.

The band members arrived at Dublin port at 7.15pm and Johnny and Paul had them in Cleere’s for 9pm and ready for heir gig at 9.30pm. The youngsters from Cornwall were one of the surprise hits of the weekend. Before they came over they had asked organisers if they needed passports to come to Ireland. And at the time of going to press, they still hadn’t left the Marble City.

It was that kind of weekend when local people mingled with visitors from the US, mainland Europe and all over Britain in what is a huge success story. This festival which generates a huge amount of column inches in all sorts of publications and is highlighted on radio and television stations here and abroad, has a massive fan base with most of the pay for gigs sold out well in advance of the weekend. Another highlight of the weekend were the free gigs and local groups like tTV Jones and The Tomahawks belted out great music in venues like Ryan’s of Friary Street and other city centre establishments.

The highlight for many was the presence of Amanda Shires from Texas now living in Nashville. She was incredible and played to full houses every where she went in the city and she managed to upstage Alabama Shakes in The Set Theatre, John Street on Sunday night with her free spirit, fiddle playing and lyrics delivered with pitch perfect clarity.

John Cleere, founder and the man who runs the event with a small, close-knit team said he was delighted with the weekend and with the way people really enjoyed the music, atmosphere and Kilkenny,