Pan-Celtic Combo 

Runa combines traditional Irish music with Americana in Friday concert at Berger

click to enlarge arts_mini_0507.jpg

A fresh Celtic roots band Friday to perform traditional Irish and Scottish music, along with tunes influenced by the New World.

Runa, which replaces the originally scheduled Old Blind Dogs, has a mix of nationalities that helps shape the eclectic song list. Two of its five musicians are from the Ould Sod, one hails from Montreal, another from Kentucky's bluegrass country, and one from the Philadelphia Irish community.

The musicians' unusual mix of styles and skills has won plenty of praise.

"Celtic music at its very best," declared Gene Shay on Philadelphia's influential roots station WXPN-FM. Their new CD, "Current Affairs," the band's fourth, was deemed a "masterpiece" by the Celtic Crier. And LiveIreland named Runa top Irish traditional band by LiveIreland in 2013.

The band's lead vocalist, Philly native Shannon Lambert-Ryan, and her husband, guitarist Fionán de Barra of Dublin, created the band back in 2008. They came from wildly different musical backgrounds.

DeBarra deployed his guitar skills on Riverdance tours of the U.S. starting in 1999, while Lambert-Ryan is a trained actress who's appeared in movies (she was in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village") and a classical singer who's even sung opera in Italy.

In Runa, she successfully traded arias for haunting Irish tunes, singing in both Irish and English. In 2012, she nailed a nomination for Best Female Vocalist in the Irish Music Awards.

Irishman Dave Curley, a Galway man, an alumnus of the Irish band Slide, sings, plays mandolin and bodhrán, and sashays out onto the stage in step dances with Lambert-Ryan. Curley got a degree in Irish music and dance at the University of Limerick, which is producing a whole new generation of traditional artists.

Champion fiddler Maggie Estes White, the Kentucky native, edges the band toward Americana and Appalachian music. She's mastered both classical violin and bluegrass fiddle, and she occasionally drops in to play in the Grand Ole Opry in her new hometown of Nashville.

Percussionist Cheryl Prashker of Montreal likewise trained in classical music in college, but she went on to play rock and jazz in New York City.

Disparate as they are, the band members' skills all add up, a Philadelphia critic wrote, to "a lyrical sound" that is at once "unique" and "seamless."

More by Margaret Regan


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • The Final GLOW?

    Annual art and music fest in Oracle may be having its last hurrah
    • Sep 17, 2015
  • Garden of Earthly Delights

    Two painters at Temple Gallery take two routes to works about color, form and light
    • Sep 15, 2016

The Range

Joe Needs a Home

More »

Latest in Arts: Feature

  • Eva Perón —Saint or Shameless?

    A pro-grade student production of Evita lets you decide
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Good as Gold

    Three artists in Etherton’s Color Theory show celebrate the colors of spring and stardust
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Justice Denied

    Then-and-now photos at Tucson Desert Art Museum document the horrors of the Japanese internment
    • Mar 30, 2017
  • The Age of Anxiety

    Two painters at Davis Dominguez paint figures and landscapes that embody the edginess of modern life
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation