Many don’t know that the co-writer of the fine Sarah McLachlan hit I Will Remember You was Seamus Egan, founder of Solas. They perform at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe this Thursday night, 7/26.
Listen here for their version of this beloved tune. You’ll hear the energy that charms musical groups when new, raw, separate, and big talents mingle with the sheer joy of finding each other.
Except with Solas, that’s still happening after more than 15 years together.
You’ll hear an Irish band that seems to expand the entire Celtic genre. Their first four albums earned them the devoted following, and the love affair between the band and their fans has grown ever since.
Many consider them the most talented and exciting Irish traditional band in America. Solas’ current lineup features leader and multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan (flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, tin whistle, guitar), Winnie Horan (fiddle), Mick McCauley (accordion), Eamon McElholm (guitar, keyboards) and Deirdre Scanlon (lead vocals).
Each of the members are virtuosos on their instruments, and Egan, Horan, and McCauley have all recorded solo projects. But it is not the individual efforts, rather it’s their ensemble playing that distinguishes Solas as World musicians.
They started in the mid-1990s as something of a supergroup side project for several musicians who were already touring with other bands. Gaining major recognition when they performed on A Prairie Home Companion in 1996, they have since become one of the most popular Irish music groups in the world.
They blend traditional Irish songs with tradition-based songs of their own composition. They also occasionally foray into an Irish-ed version of a pop or country song, such as their version of Rickie Lee Jones’s Sailor Song on their 2008 release For Love and Laughter.
Solas is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan. Some trivia – he co-wrote the song I Will Remember You with with Sarah McLachlan and Dave Merenda, and the band’s own version appears on their 2000 release The Hour Before Dawn.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1969, Egan moved to Ireland with his family when he was three years of age, and a few years later he began taking lessons on the tin whistle. At age 14, he returned to the United States, and already displayed a precocious talent on the whistle, flute, banjo, mandolin, and guitar. At 16, Egan cut his first album, Traditional Music of Ireland, and before he turned 20 he was already a seasoned professional musician.
The band’s evolution is built on the refinements Solas introduced with The Hour Before Dawn. The album found the group covering songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, and Tom Waits, and the disc was co-produced by Neil Dorfsman, best-known for his work with Dire Straits. The album found Solas making more personnel changes as well; Donal Clancy (the son of Irish folk legend Liam Clancy) stepped in as guitarist after the departure of John Doyle, and bassist Chico Huff and percussionist Steve Holloway, who had been touring with the group, joined them in the studio as well.
Recently, Egan has been inspired by his family history to create Shamrock City, which tells the story of Butte, MT, a mining town at the turn of the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of an Irish immigrant and Seamus’ great-great uncle, Michael Conway. In 1910 he sailed from Ireland to Philadelphia and on to Butte to work in the copper mines, only to die at age 25. Shamrock City seeks to not only uncover the life and young death of Conway, but to also illuminate life as an immigrant during the Industrial Revolution.
When not busy with the group, Egan pursues a solo career and composed the score for the musical Dancing on Dangerous Ground. In addition, Winifred Horan also performs with the Celtic supergroup Cherish the Ladies, and has released a solo album of her own.
It’s a treat that Solas appears at the Opera House on Jim Thorpe’s Date Night. What better show for a date?
Also appearing is another fine Irish import – The John Byrne Band.