Sounds of Solas

WHEN NEO-IRISH BAND Solas returns to Tucson, it'll sport a different sound than its last visit in March 1999. In addition to new members, the band has added percussion and bass to its traditional sound. According to multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan, "We've undergone a lot of changes in the last year and a half."

Those changes include four new members. Egan, fiddler Winifred Horan and whistle and concertina player Mick McAuley are continuing with the band. Deirdre Scanlon has replaced vocalist Karen Casey. Scanlon is a three-time All-Ireland singing champion from Tipperary. Guitarist John Doyle, recently in town with Eileen Ivers, left the band after finishing the new album The Hour Before Dawn. He's been replaced by Donal Clancy, son of Liam Clancy of the Clancy Brothers. The tour also includes bassist Chico Huff and percussionist Steve Holloway.

"It's a great energizer to have all those instruments on stage," Egan says. "It gets you thinking and playing in a different way."

Solas has gotten lots of praise for its revved-up Celtic sound. While capable of handling pure traditional tunes, the band is known for mixing diverse influences.

"We're not interested in making the same record time after time," Egan notes. "So we try to push ourselves to do things that don't necessarily come right away. Part of that on the new album was to create it in the studio and erase that line between rehearsing and recording. As a result some of the tracks are takes that were for all intents and purposes rehearsals. It got us thinking a bit different."

Egan, who was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Ireland, added, "One positive thing about Irish music over the years is that it has been able to resist becoming a museum piece."

Solas will perform on Saturday, November 4 at 8 p.m. at Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $18 with a $2 discount for In Concert! members. Tickets are available at Hear's Music, the Folk Shop and Antigone Books, or by phone at 327-4809. For more information, call In Concert! at 327-4809.