Lúnasa in Long Branch, last year

 Our trivia question was:  What is Seán Smyth’s dayjob?
Sean Halpin, at the reception for the WSHSO Friday, told me without missing a beat:

“G.P. His whole family are G.Ps.”

That’s a doctor, to us here in NYC.  Not a whole lot of musicians with that dayjob!  Sean doesn’t want us to say he plays the accordion, so shhhh.  (we know he does!)  He supports the Tulla Trad Fest held year in Mid-September, which has hosted Liz Carroll, Martin Hayes and Willie Kelly among others! 
He writes:

Hopefully Tulla will see the redevelopment of the Old Convent Building in the town as Archive Centre and Centre for study of the East Clare Style of Music.
Magnificent work to date by people like Breda Mc Namara and Mary Mc Namara with their Committee has seen a CD of many old recordings of East Clare musicians being produced along with a book to commemorate 50 years of CCE in Tulla.

I love that East Clare sound, the Martin Hayes way of turning a tune (Martin and Dennis Cahill played at the White House this year!).  For me I see more dynamic variations– Sean said it’s like squeezing an orange in and out, pulsing.

More info about Lúnasa and a picture of Natalie singing to Kevin and Cillian after the jump! in case you’re waffling– the show’s TONIGHT at Highline, at 8, but doors open at 6, and it’s a good place to have dinner and hang!

 A little band history:   the band was started by Seán Smyth, Trevor Hutchinson, and Donogh Hennessy in 1996.  They are named for the Irish harvest festival Lughnasadh, which the world learned to pronounce after Brian Friel put it in the title of a play that later became a movie with Meryl Streep (that’s Dancing at Lughnasadh).  Michael McGoldrick and John Mcsherry played on the first album.  Kevin Crawford (the flute player interviewed on the podcast) joined in 1997, Cillian Vallely two years later. 

Natalie Merchant singing to Kevin and Cillian in Glasgow, last year (I was there)

Last year, the band decided to go independent, and self- released Lá Nua (which means brand new day) in April.  I interviewed them then for Irish Music Magazine; I also saw their performance with Natalie Merchant at Celtic Connections and the band perform with her on her most recent album, Leave Your Sleep.

Lúnasa is known as a Supergroup, in that all its players are individual stars.  The current line-up is
Seán Smyth , Kevin Crawford,   Trevor Hutchinson, Cillian Vallely, and Paul Meehan.

I can’t recap any better than the hardworking leaders of New York Celtic Music Meetup Group, who are attending tonight:

Bassist Trevor Hutchinson was a key member of The Waterboys, and later he, with guitarist Donogh Hennessy, would form the dynamic rhythm section of The Sharon Shannon Band. Fiddler Sean Smyth is an All-Ireland champion who has played with Donal Lunny’s Coolfin; Kevin Crawford, considered to be among the finest flutists in Ireland, played with the acclaimed traditional group Moving Cloud; and piper Cillian Vallely (of the same talented musical family as brother Niall Vallely of Nomos) played with Whirligig and Chulrua and also piped for Riverdance. Paul Meehan, formerly of Buille, North Cregg, Na Dorsa and the Karan Casey Band, rounds out Lúnasa on banjo and guitar. They were rightly called an “Irish music dream team” in the magazine Folk Roots.
Lúnasa latest album “Lá Nua”, the band’s first studio release in four years, was No. 2 in the Irish Echo’s Top 10 Albums of 2010. Lúnasa were also named “Performers of the Decade” on
Gwen Orel
About the Author

The only New York journalist who writes for both the Forward and Irish Music Magazine.