Banbridge BuskFest hits all the right notes

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Banbridge BuskFest, a major musical event in the province’s cultural calendar, hit all the right notes again this year when locals and visitors flocked to the town on Saturday 12 August to enjoy an afternoon of eclectic entertainment performed by a new pool of fresh talent from all corners of Ireland and the UK.

The judging panel, led by BBC Radio Ulster’s Ralph McLean, described the event as a “magnificient display of musicality”. Judges faced a tough dilemma deciding which acts put on a pitch perfect performance.

The buskers paid homage to all genres of music and had honed their vocal and instrumental skills to the highest levels, with polished performances by soloists, groups, saxophone players, guitarists, opera singers, traditional bands and even a ukulele band.

Weston Clendinning from Richhill took the top prize of £1,000 and was named Best Overall Winner. Judges agreed he was born to perform and destined for great things given his great vocal range and skill at playing the guitar and drums. As part of his prize, Weston will also be able to showcase his talents to a global audience with a live acoustic video recording sponsored by The Garage Project.

Christopher McKevitt from Newry took the Best Individual title and pocketed £500. While singing and playing the guitar to an exceptional standard, he was great at interacting with the audience and his permanent smile was contagious.
Lurgan trio ‘Sins of a Cynic’ also netted £500 for the Best Band category. The lead singer possessed an amazing voice and together their superb three-part harmonies infused joy and life into their music.

Claiming the Best Junior category and £500 was Belfast duo Charlie Magill and Aodhan Moran for excelling in lyrical renditions and pleasing harmonies.

Sam Leeson, also from Belfast, came out on top in the Best Performance category for his musical talents. Banbridge Chamber of Commerce sponsored this £250 prize.

The Spirit of BuskFest category, with the £250 prize sponsored by The Outlet, went to Hugo Boitel-Gill from Holywood. A seasoned competitor at the event, Hugo took the Best Junior category in 2014. Judges described his skill at playing the guitar as “technically brilliant”.

Last year’s Best Overall Winner, Matty Rea from Belfast, took to the stage and opened the prize-giving part of the event in Solitude Park. Following his high-octane performance, the winning acts were invited to the stage to receive their prize and provide an energetic encore of their performance.

Now in its 14th year, Banbridge BuskFest has brought significant cultural, social and economic benefits to the local area over the years.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council wishes to thank all competitors who performed at this year’s event and made it highly memorable for the locals and visitors who turned out on the day.