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Tuesday 2 September 2014

'Solas' to light up the Spirit Store' with new project Shamrock City

Published 10/04/2013 | 05:20

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Solas, the Irish-American traditional band, come to The Spirit Store on Friday night as part of an Irish tour to promote their most recent project ' Shamrock City' which looks at the lives of Irish immirgrants to the United States in the early years of the 20th century.

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Fifteen years ago, in a manner befitting their name (Gaelic for 'light'), Solas burst onto the Irish music scene and instantly became a beacon – an incandescent ensemble that found contemporary relevance in timeless traditions without ever stooping to clichés. Anchored by founding members Seamus Egan (flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistles, guitars, bodhran) and Winifred Horan (violins, vocals), Solas is rounded out by Mick McAuley (accordians, low whistle, concertina, vocals), Eamon McElholm (guitars, keyboards, vocals), and newest member and lead singer, Niamh Varian-Barry.

Through fresh and unexpected arrangements of age-old tunes, compelling and topical originals and covers, and unparalleled musicianship, Solas continues to define the path for the Celtic music world and drive the genre forward.

Their most recent recording project was 'Shamrock City' which arose out of Seamus Egan's interest in his family history. Shamrock City tells the story of Butte, MT, a mining town at the turn of the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of an Irish immigrant and Seamus' great-great uncle, Michael Conway.

In 1910 he sailed from Cobh, Co. Cork in Ireland to Philadelphia and then made his way to Butte to work in the copper mines. Six years later, at the young age of 25, he was dead from a blow to the head. With audio recorded in Philadelphia and film footage in Butte, Shamrock City seeks to not only uncover the life and young death of Conway, but to also illuminate life as an immigrant during the Industrial Revolution.

Solas are also drawn to musical social commentary and they've covered political songs by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Josh Ritter.

With the Shamrock City project and current tour, Solas seeks to reach beyond the music by creating opportunities for fans to share their family histories at tour stops and online.

The Argus

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