Tag Archives: Solas

Artist profiles: Solas

Solas in 2006

Solas is the most important Irish music band based in the United States. The group plays fiery instrumental medleys for which they’ve become famous as well as evocative songs.

In September 2005 Solas performed a very special 1th anniversary concert in Philadelphia proving that even after a decade they were still as fresh and edgy as ever. 2006’s live CD release Reunion: A Decade of Solas vividly captured what many described as a once-in-a-lifetime show.

In 2008, Deirdre Scanlan replaced original vocalist Karan Casey, who left to pursue a solo career. From Nenagh County Tipperary Deirdre is an All-Ireland champion vocalist whose solo debut in 1999 Speak Softly confirmed her status as one of Ireland’s most accomplished singers.

Solas in 2010

About Solas’ founders:

Born in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, Seamus Egan won All-Ireland championships on flute, tin whistle, mandolin and banjo, and wrote a score for the Irish stage show Dancing on Dangerous Ground.

New York fiddler Winifred Horan is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and was a member of both Cherish the Ladies and the Sharon Shannon Band.

Dublin guitarist and singer John Doyle performed previously with Susan McKeown and the Chanting House and has recorded with Eileen Ivers, James Keane and Liz Carroll.

From Callan County, Kilkenny, Mick McAuley plays button accordion concertina low whistle and also sings for Solas whom he joined in 1997 after touring and recording with Niamh Parsons and Ron Kavana.

In 2010, vocalist Niamh Varian-Barry from Cork replaced Mairead Phelan as lead singer of the band. In 2013, Niamh was replaced by Noriana Kennedy.


Solas (Shanachie, 1996)
Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers (1997)
The Words That Remain (1998)
The Hour Before Dawn (2000)
The Edge of Silence (2002)
Another Day (2003)
Waiting for an Echo (2005)
Reunion: A Decade of Solas (2006)
For Love and Laughter (2008)
The Turning Tide (2010)
Shamrock City (2013)
All These Years (2016)


Artist Profiles: John Doyle

John Doyle

John Doyle is one of the most talented and innovative musicians to come out of Ireland in recent years. Now a resident of Asheville (North Carolina), John Doyle was born in 1971 in Dublin, Ireland, into an extended family of musicians and singers. He was playing professionally by the age of 16 when he and singer Susan McKeown joined to form The Chanting House, which later added the prodigious talents of Seamus Egan and Eileen Ivers to the group.

A few years later, John and Egan came together with John Williams, the wonderfully inventive accordion player from Chicago, talented fiddler Winifred Horan, and Waterford-born singer Karan Casey, to form the enormously influential band, Solas.

John’s powerful guitar playing provided the signature rhythmic backbone for the band, and his delicate and emotional finger-style playing and creative vocal harmonies can be heard on all Solas’ recordings for Shanachie Records. Solas performed to sold-out audiences around the world, appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, E-Town and World Cafe, and received three NAIRD awards and a Grammy nomination.

John composed music for the film Uncle Robert’s Footsteps and the play Down the Flats, and appears on the soundtracks for The Brothers McMullen, Soldier and PBS’s Out of Ireland. He has performed at scores of major festivals worldwide, including the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, Washington Irish Festival, Milwaukee Irish Festival and major festivals in Denmark, Belgium, Brittany, England, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Finland and Ireland.

John is also a highly sought-after sideman and has recorded and/or toured with Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers, Tim O’Brien and The Crossing, Frank McCourt, Linda Thompson, Kate Rusby, Mick Moloney, John Williams, Seamus Egan, Cathal McConnell, Kim Robertson, Brian Conway, Joannie Madden, James Keane, Joe McKenna, Karan Casey, Cathie Ryan and James Leva.

John’s much anticipated first solo recording, Evening Comes Early, was released on Shanachie Records in 2001, and his second solo CD Wayward Son was released in 2004 on Compass Records.


* Solas, with Solas (Shanachie Records, 1996)
* Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers, with Solas (Shanachie Records, 1997)
* The Words That Remain, with Solas (Shanachie Records, 1998)
* The Hour Before Dawn, with Solas (Shanachie Records, 2000)
* Evening Comes Early (Shanachie, 2001)
* Wayward Son (Compass Records, 2004)
* In Play, with Liz Carroll (Compass Records, 2005)
* Double Play, with Liz Carroll (Compass Records, 2009)
* Turning Tide, with Solas (Compass Records, 2010)
* Exiles Return, with Karan Casey (Compass Records, 2010)
* Shadow and Light (Compass Records, 2011)
* Live, with Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker (Vertical Records, 2012), recorded on the 2009 tour


* Irish Rhythm Guitar: Accompanying Celtic Tunes (Homespun Tapes, 2004)


Scottish Fiddle and Song, Solas and Altan Highlights of Celtic Connections 2008 on Sunday, January 20


Sunday’s program for Celtic Connections 2008 includes Irish Celtic stars Altan, renowned American group Solas, Songs of Scotland, fiddler Gavin Marwick and numerous workshops.


Public Workshops
Women’s Samba
Sun 20 January, 11am
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Exhibition Hall

This is definitely the way to start a Sunday morning-a wonderful, releasing, therapeutic class of samba drumming. Big Groove will lead a workshop especially for women to build confidence and have fun exploring samba rhythms. Energizing, invigorating and empowering- loads better than staying home and washing your hair!
Gaelic Song
Sun 20 January, 11am
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Buchanan Suite

Gold medal winner and Young Trad Tour finalist Darren Maclean is a lovely singer from Skye.

Darren will share his songs and enthusiasm for Gaelic singing with students in this come&try session. No knowledge of Gaelic is necessary.

Traditional Scots Song
Sun 20 January, 11am
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Lomond Foyer

Having found your own voice, come and learn some songs with Maureen Jelks. Originally from Dundee, Maureen is one of Scotland’s foremost singers in the tradition. This is a great workshop for those who love to sing but have little or no technical training. Maureen will encourage you to find your own harmonies and develop the confidence to sing with your own voice.

Sun 20 January, 11am
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Clyde Foyer

The Lanarkshire Guitar and Mandolin Association are on a mission to get everyone in Scotland to play the mandolin. They will bring loads of instruments and boundless energy and enthusiasm -it’s absolutely infectious! Come and have a go! It’s great fun and you might just reveal the Captain Correlli within you!

New Voices Series
Gavin Marwick
Sun 20 January, 1pm
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Strathclyde Suite

Few fiddlers can have had their fingers in more musical pies than Edinburgh-born Gavin Marwick. A past or present member of Iron Horse, Burach, Cantrip, Ceilidh Minogue, the Unusual Suspects and Bellevue Rendezvous, among others, he has also worked extensively in theatre and broadcasting.

Equally renowned as a performer and composer, he has played probably thousands of gigs and festivals around the world, travels which serve as the underlying theme for Journeyman, a newly arranged selection of Marwick’s tunes from the past two decades, for which he’s joined by longtime pals Fraser Fifield (sax/whistles), Gregor Lowrey (accordion), Ruth Morris (nyckelharpa), Cameron Robson (bouzouki/guitar) and Bob Turner (piano).

Sponsored by Sunday Herald

Public Workshops
Improvers Fiddle
Sun 20 January, 1:30pm
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Buchanan Suite

The strathspey is a melodic and rhythmic tune distinctive to Scottish music and Lori Watson, fine Borders fiddler and tutor at Glasgow Fiddle Workshop will introduce her students to playing strathspey tunes and techniques.

Public Workshops
Big Ballad
Sun 20 January, 1:30pm
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Lomond Foyer

Do you want to explore the Big Ballad and discover why this style and subject matter is so important to the rich tapestry that is Scottish song? Gordeanna McCulloch and Anne Neilson are two of Scotland’s finest singers and wonderful exponents of the ballad genre. They will lead this workshop featuring the big narrative ballads of Scotland. Learn something about the background to these fascinating songs, learn about the people behind them and the ways in which their stories unfold. These are the soaps of yesteryear and yet their stories are as contemporary as we are. You are welcome to bring personal recording equipment.

Public Workshops
Beginners Mandolin
Sun 20 January, 1:30pm
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Clyde Foyer

So you’re a convert and you want to learn more. Well here’s your opportunity to extend your skills on this delectable wee instrument. The Lanarkshire Guitar and Mandolin Association will provide instruments and expert tuition. Fiddle players and guitar players will also find this workshop enhances their skills to complement their playing.

Danny Kyle’s Open Stage hosted by Gibb Todd
Sun 20 January, 5pm
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Exhibition Hall

Hosted by Danny Kyle’s good friends Gibb Todd and Liz Clark, the Open Stage is a chance to see new musical talent as they try to win a coveted support slot at next year’s festival – and all absolutely free!
In partnership with the Evening Times

Two Tall Girls: Sophie Bancroft & Christine Hanson
Sun 20 January, 6pm
City Halls, Recital Room

The statuesque pair in question are jazz/folk singer-songwriter Sophie Bancroft and Canadian-born cellist Christine Hanson, whose new duo partnership was premiered with three sellout shows at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe.

Altan & The Brendan Voyage featuring Liam O’Flynn with The Orchestra of Scottish Opera conducted by David Brophy
Sun 20 January, 7:30pm
£20, £18
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Main Auditorium

The first major work to integrate traditional music with classical orchestra, Shaun Davey’s ‘The Brendan Voyage’ (1980) receives its long-awaited Celtic Connections premiere, featuring its distinguished original soloist, Liam O’Flynn, on uilleann pipes, with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and will be conducted by David Brophy.

A landmark in the development of Irish music, the piece was inspired by historian Tim Severin’s 1976 recreation of St Brendan’s legendary crossing from Kerry to Newfoundland in a traditional leather-hulled boat.

The 50-member orchestra returns in the second half to accompany Ireland’s top traditional band, Altan, for a reprise of their successful shows in Dublin and Galway last September with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, featuring arrangements of songs and tunes from their 20-year back catalogue by leading Irish composer Fiachra Trench.

Founded in 1980, the highly-regarded Orchestra of Scottish Opera, well known to Celtic Connections audiences from previous festival collaborations, is increasingly in demand as a concert ensemble, staging its own regular performances in Glasgow since 2004.

Julie Fowlis with Chris Wood
Sun 20 January, 7:30pm

A double-bill encounter between two outstanding contemporary exponents of their respective traditions, both credited with reinterpreting this heritage for a new generation to discover.

The release of Julie Fowlis’s second album Cuilidh, in March 2007, was an early high point in a whirlwind year for the North Uist-born singer, gaining unprecedented media attention for a Gaelic artist. A hectic festival schedule included appearances at Glastonbury, Tönder, the Outsider and Runrig’s Beat the Drum, with Fowlis also performing memorably on Jools Holland’s Later.

She’s accompanied tonight by Eamon Doorley (bouzouki), Tony Byrne (guitar), Duncan Chisholm (fiddle), Ewen Vernal (bass) and Martin O’Neill (bodhrán).

Lauded by musical luminaries as diverse as Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Laurie Anderson, the singer, fiddler and guitarist Chris Wood creates masterly new versions of venerable English songs alongside his own, equally eloquent compositions, often earning comparisons to Richard Thompson. His second solo album, 2005’s The Lark Ascending, has been widely hailed as a contemporary classic. Chris will be joined on-stage by well-known Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart.

The Pearlfishers with Finniston
Sun 20 January, 7:30pm
The Classic Grand

Recently celebrated in a one-hour Radio Scotland feature, The Pearlfishers have been part of Scotland’s alternative cultural landscape for a good two decades now, their ever-shifting personnel and intermittent recorded output threaded together by the 60s-steeped vision of singer-songwriter David Scott.

Marking the end of their latest hiatus, 2007’s Up With the Larks is another idiosyncratic gem, chock-full of the lush vocal harmonies, vibrant guitars and vivid lyrical imagery that have long been the Pearlfishers’ trademarks.

Finniston’s recently released debut album Organised for Hi Fi showcases their truly interesting and sublime take on modern guitar pop sound. As a group which originally started as a brother and sister duo, there is an open honesty to their song writing.

Harp Heaven
Sun 20 January, 8pm
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Strathclyde Suite
Sponsored by The Clarsach Society

Almost certainly the first time that twelve top Celtic harpists have shared the same stage, tonight’s specially-created performance will no doubt include a wealth of heavenly sounds – together with a liberal dose of musical devilment.

The harp is currently enjoying a particularly exciting renaissance in Scotland, as reflected here in the diverse styles of Corrina Hewat, Mary MacMaster, Patsy Seddon, Catriona McKay, Maeve Gilchrist, Ailie Robertson, Fraya Thomsen, Gillian Fleetwood and Rachel Hair. Joining them from Ireland are Cormac DeBarra and Laoise Kelly, with Germany’s Jochen Vogel completing the line-up, for a programme that will range from solo spots to the full dozen-strong ensemble.

Tayside Tae Tennessee
Sun 20 January, 8pm
St Andrew’s in the Square

Singer-songwriter and fiddler Laura McGhee is joined by US roots and blues stars including Jim Lauderdale and Josh White, Jr., to explore the links between Scottish and Americana music.

Songs of Scotland
Political Songs hosted by Doris Rougvie
Sun 20 January, 8pm

Over the last two years the Songs of Scotland series has looked at different regions of Scotland and the songs that have emerged from these areas.

For the 2008 festival the series looks at different themes that occur in Scots song, mixing Gaelic and Scots, and how they have inspired songwriters and singers throughout generations.

Each of the ten themes will showcase a selection of songs, so each night will see the audience taken on a journey of discovery through different languages, dialects and stories, all linked with one common theme.

Solas with Antje Duvekot
Sun 20 January, 8pm
Old Fruitmarket

Even before they’d released an album, the Boston Herald called Solas ‘the first truly great Irish band to arise from America’. Following their triumphant Reunion CD and performances, celebrating their tenth anniversary in 2006 with a full complement of past and present members, few would tend to disagree.

Combining their love of Irish tradition with jazz-inspired improvisational flair and an array of global influences, Solas currently feature multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan and his co-founder Winifred Horan on fiddle, with Mick McAuley (accordions/whistles) and Eamon McElholm (guitar/keyboards).

Solas also had a hand in the buzz that’s fast developing around German-born, Boston-based singer-songwriter Antje Duvekot, covering one of her songs on their Edge of Silence album, before Egan produced her acclaimed 2006 release ‘Big Dream Boulevard’. Championed by cult urban troubadour Ellis Paul as ‘the next great American folk singer-songwriter’, Duvekot’s captivating voice and poetic lyrics have drawn comparisons to Patty Griffin, Suzanne Vega and Dar Williams.

Celtic Connections Festival Club hosted by Gibb Todd
Sun 20 January, 10:30pm
Central Hotel

The late night club ensures there is even more music to enjoy after all the gigs are over. Join local and international artists as they make special unbilled appearances or join in one of many sessions happening in the bars.

With food and drink in plentiful supply you can happily keep going into the early hours of the morning whilst witnessing some of the best musical collaborations of the festival.

Master of ceremonies, Gibb Todd returns to present each act on stage and Doris Rougvie hosts The House of Song in a peaceful oasis away from the main stage.

The 15th Celtic Connections festival takes place over 19 days in January and February in 14 venues across Glasgow, Celtic Connections is the UK’s premier Celtic music festival, with over 300 concerts, ceilidhs, talks, free events, late night sessions and workshops.

Tickets can be booked:

In person Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
2 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow, G2 3NY
City Halls and Old Fruitmarket
Glasgow, G1 1NQ
By phone 0141 353 8000
Online www.celticconnections.com

For further information  check www.celticconnections.com.