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This is the original page I did after my first and second Merlefest a few years back and was just to explain to people why I did these pages. It is all still relevant and I have nothing more to add except my love for the music and the people who make it is stronger than ever. I have cut and pasted it below but in case you dont want to read all that waffle about your host then here are the links to the pics to save you some time

The Pictures Merlefest 2001 Merlefest 2002 Merlefest 2003 Merlefest2004

I have been playing music all my life. I have also been writing about my own favourite type of music for some time. The music of North America from the Appalachian Hills to the California Coast has always been special to me. So last year when as part of my work I got the chance to go the very best of the North American acoustic music festivals I jumped at the chance. Myself and Lisa, my wife set out for the beautiful mountains of North Carolina to a weekend which will live with us for a long time to come. I wrote many articles about it for various web sites and newspapers and have spoken about it on radio.
This year again we made the trip and this time Lisa is 7 months pregnant. It was even better than last year. We made many good friends at Merlefest and will continue to go every year. Next year we will be there with our new son who already has a t-shirt I just couldnt resist buying. So many people have asked to see the pictures from that amazing 3 days in
North Carolina that I have decided to put as many of them on this site as I could. I have also included some of the articles I wrote for online.ie as well as London's Irish Post Newspaper. So enjoy my own little journey to Wilkesboro and the magic of Merlefest 2001 and 2002.

But first in case you are wondering about who I am am why I love this music so much then read on. Below is an edited version of my misspent life from the pages of my traditional music forum at www.online.ie

Just who do I think I am?
John CutliffeMy name is John Cutliffe from Donegal now living in Atlanta Georgia but lived for almost 12 years in London. Then I moved back to my native Ireland for 2 years to live and work in from a cttage on the sea. I am a musician and have grown up playing Irish traditional and bluegrass music in pubs. I also played with pop and rock bands over the years including Killybegs based Pluto. During the wilder days in London our Irish bluegrass band the Pyros teamed up with the late Frank Tovey (AKA Fad Gadget) and the recorded 2 albums with him on Mute Records, Grand Union and Worried Men in Second Hand Suits and an album with Rory McLeod on Cookin' Vinyl called Traveling Home.

We formed The Pyros some years earlier in our home town of Buncrana and were something of a cult band in Donegal and the North West of Ireland. Various lineups have featured the cream of Donegal musicians including Kevin Doherty (Four Men and a Dog) and Ciaran Tourish (Altan) with the 3 original members, Paul Rodden, Laurence Doherty and myself. During this time we got the chance to meet and play with some of the best trad and contemporary musicians in the world. These included the other members of Altan, Gerry O Connor, the late blues hero Ted Hawkins and rock legends such as former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough. Since moving to London I was lucky enough to play and work with more and more great musicians and started JigTime as a way of promoting Irish bands and other events of a Celtic nature. I also spent a year playing with Durham based band The Whisky Priests. My other promotional activities included booking a wide range of one off gigs and sessions including providing up to 20 musicians and bands for The Cheltenham Gold Cup and Murphy's Gold Cup racing weekends. I have also been a contributor to various publications including writing reviews of albums and gigs for Ri Ra magazine in London and the UK's biggest Irish newspaper The Irish Post.
Another wonderful 2 years was spent forming and playing with the band Beware of the Dog with former "4 Men" percussionist and front man Gino Lupari in which I played guitar and wrote a lot of the material. In my last musical recording project in the UK I was lucky enough to be writing and recording an album with one of my all time heroes, former world champion boxer Barry McGuigan. Then it was back to Buncrana and played both rock and traditional music again and lived in a lovely cottage by the sea working as a writer and graphics/picture editor for online.ie.

Then a twist of fate and a love story worthy of an epic movie dragged me across the big pond to the US where I continue to write about and play music for the past year have played and recorded with many fine musicians and bands here in the deep south.

Who knows what the future will bring. No matter what may it be peaceful for you all.


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