I have been going to the Annual IBMA Conference and Music Festival since it was held in Owensboro and Louisville and then Nashville, but I would have to say that this years event in Raleigh, NC, was the best ever! On a personal level for me it was a triumph,being booked and confirmed for Merlefest 2014, the World's most prestigious Roots Music Festival. The real honour here is the fact that you can't 'pitch' for a gig at Merlefest,you have wait to be invited. It goes to show that all the hard work with my original Music and Songs over the past 11 years has not gone un-noticed. I have said it before, and I'm not shy about saying it again, but the support I got from Clem O'Brien and Dick Gladney has played a vital role in taking my Music to this level. IBMA in Raleigh was just like having all my Birthdays on the one day ! The City is a very welcoming place to be, and when it's also full of all one's Musical heroes, how can you go wrong ! During the week, I performed seven Showcase gigs, at places like the Lincoln Theatre, The Longview Centre, The Convention Centre at the Marriott Hotel, and the Tir Na Nog Irish Bar on Blount Street. The nucleus of my Band for these shows comprised of yours truly on Vocals and Guitar, and Richie Foley, from Cork Band, Land's End, on Mandolin. I recruited a variety of fine local musicians to assist, including Missey Raines on Bass, Pete Wernick on Banjo, Dan Mahony on Dobro [ what a great Player !], Tom Driessen [Yes, Casey's Dad ! ] on Bass and Rob Parks, also on Bass. We played for the Merlefest Folks, for the Greyfox Festival owners, and a whole raft of Venue Owners and Festival Organisers