Belfast Telegraph

Friday 9 October 2015

Folk hero strums up a riff for new guitar room

by Natalie Irvine

Published 11/08/2010

Neil Kearney welcomes American folk legend Arlo Guthrie (right) during an intimate gig at the new Holywood Guitar Rooms
Neil Kearney welcomes American folk legend Arlo Guthrie (right) during an intimate gig at the new Holywood Guitar Rooms

American folk royalty strummed its way into north Down last week, when Arlo Guthrie, son of Woody |and a renowned musician in his own right, pulled up to a Holywood High Street shop and played an exclusive acoustic set.

Guthrie’s intimate performance last Friday, August 6, formed part of the official opening ceremony for the Guitar Rooms.

The new business is owned by local music enthusiasts Neil Kearney and Vince Gilbert.

Vince said: “We are honoured that Arlo took the time out of his busy schedule to open the Guitar Rooms and treat us to such an intimate and special performance.

“He is an amazing musician who has been an inspiration to so many throughout his long career.

“We look forward to welcoming many more music lovers and special guests through the doors,” he added.

Neil Kearney, former proprietor of Belfast’s Guitar Emporium, said: “We have been open and running for the past few months here in Holywood.

“The Holywood people are really getting behind us — we are constantly busy, not only with local customers, but with international ones too.”

The Guitar Rooms is a unique music shop specialising in second hand, vintage and one-of-a-kind stringed instruments. Neil and Vince can source and supply guitars from anywhere in the world, as well as verifying guitar history and make — something very popular with their international trade.

They also provide a repair and restoration service for stringed instruments.

In addition to being a one-stop shop for guitar enthusiasts, the Guitar Rooms also offer budding Jimi Hendrixes the opportunity to hone their craft through group and one-to-one sessions.

The coming months will see a variety of workshops and master classes on offer including Austrian finger style guitarist, Thomas Leeb — who has picked up a number of influential fans such as Newton Faulkner and the late Eric Roche.

Guthrie’s visit to the guitar rooms coincides with his current world tour which saw him play in Belfast’s Black Box on Thursday, August 5.

The eldest son of America’s most beloved singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie, Arlo grew up surrounded by folk singers such as Lee Hays and Leadbelly.

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