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The Sound of Emerald Light

From the land of Joyce and Guinness comes the freshest sound around


I’ve been having a good feeling about the Irish lately. James Joyce is from Ireland; so are leprechauns, and Guinness stout—many very good things. Especially Joyce, El Señor-who-paints-the-shape-of-consciousness-with-his-words. In fact, to honor that most spendiculous one (we are not worthy, we are not worthy...) I will write the rest of this story in quasi-Joycean lingo.

—Hubris, Señor, please, you are making us nervous, fly lower.

And those of you who don’t give a rat’s casserole about James Joyce or my own private epiphanies and just want the scoop on Solas, an Irish band whose music will haunt you in a very good way, will find solace in the fact that I will now proceed to get back on task, internal monologue style.

Take two.

He’d been having a good feeling about the Irish lately. Sitting at his keyboard, his fingers typing a preview for the band that the Boston Herald called “The Best Traditional Irish Band in the World.” It was good. He liked Irish music. The tin-whistled song of Gaelic Angels made him think that maidens might be close by. Real good. Bright melodies with melancholy undertones and upbeat rhythms telling the story of a spirit resisting and persevering through music; solace in music.

—Señor, his editor said, you speak in riddles.

So does Calendar Kid. Señor.

—Señor, you are running out of space. I said five hundred words. Please get to the point.

Editors are the enemy, of course. The oppressors. You must use this antagonism to sharpen the blade. Joyce did. It’s all about creative tension. Necessity, the mother of invention. But if a novel is the greatest novel in the world, and hardly anybody can read it and understand it, is it really the greatest novel?

And, does the same hold true for music previews?

And, how do lemons divide up sunlight?

And, what do you get when you cross the Gaelic thing with oppression by stodgy Victorian windges, and squeeze between the edge of the continent and the wild North Sea?

“Solas” is the Gaelic word for “Light.” You get lilt, swoon, reel, groove, jig. Time in 4/4 that sounds like more, with syncopated notes wrapped around themselves, oceanic swing.

Deirdre Scanlon’s voice, rising and falling like the shadow of a cloud over a ridge, but faster. This is music for chasing leprechauns beneath rainbows. Banjo, guitar, flute, accordion. The sound of warm inside. Keep you warm like whiskey laddy. Powerful music; delicate groovical fluidity.

The last song on their new CD: “I Will Remember You.” He had heard that sweet song before. Many times, yes. How is this? Solas covering Sarah MacLachlan? He read the CD jacket and discovered it was Seamus Egan of Solas who wrote the song. The writer thinks he prefers the Solas version. Scanlon’s voice. MacLachlan’s voice. You decide.

—That is correct, sir, yes.
Solas plays UM’s University Theatre next Thursday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. Butte’s own Dublin Gulch kicks off. Tickets are $18 in advance (available at Worden’s and all TIC-IT-EZ outlets), $20 day of show.

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