Solas, Live in Studio 4A
Listen to Bob Edward's story.
Irish Band Bends Tradition, But Clings to Celtic Roots
Listen to Solas' performance in NPR's Studio 4A.
March 15, 2002 -- In its six years as a band, Solas has earned rave reviews. The Boston Herald called it "the best Irish traditional band in the world." But with a band made up of natives of both Ireland and America, it's understandable that Solas (Gaelic for "light") sometimes sounds a bit less traditional.
During a recent visit to NPR's Studio 4A, Solas members Mick McAuley (accordion), Winifred Horan (fiddle), Donal Clancy (guitar), Steve Holloway (drums), and lead singer Deirdre Scanlan, performed songs from their new CD, The Edge of Silence. Founding member Seamus Egan talked with Morning Edition host Bob Edwards about blending traditional Irish music with more contemporary songs.
Egan was born in Pennsylvania but raised for a time in Ireland, where he learned to play music. His instruments now include flute, banjo, mandolin, tin whistle and guitar. Several of his songs as a solo performer appeared on the soundtrack to 1995's The Brothers McMullen.
Egan tells Edwards that on the band's latest album -- its fifth -- Solas teamed up with rock producer Neil Dorfsman of Dire Straits, Sting and Paul McCartney fame to try a move away from its staple traditional Celtic music.
Egan says Dorfsman "was real sensitive to the fact that we didn't want to lose our way, but also that we did want to have a different approach to things. I think it had gotten to a point where it just kind of piqued our interest to see, well, rather than taking outside influences and putting it on traditional, maybe start from the flipped positions -- start with the non-traditional and bring in the traditional influence in on top of that and see if that works."
So the The Edge of Silence includes Tom Waits' "Georgia Lee," Jesse Colin Young's "Darkness Darkness" and Bob Dylan's "Dignity."
Still, Egan says, "The songs we ended up choosing for this album... didn't seem all that far removed from what it is that we've done in the past."
And how have the band's traditional Irish fans reacted? "They seem to be OK with it... I don't know what they're saying after we leave, but it seems like it's OK," Egan says, then laughs.
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Solas Web site.
Article about Solas founder Seamus Egan.
The Celtic Cafe.