Veteran Irish-American quintet Solas is a far cry from the Celtic party bands that'll soon descend on pubs around the nation for St. Patrick's Day celebrations. They have offered an honest and rather socially conscious perspective on traditional Irish music for two decades. The group's latest album, Shamrock City, takes inspiration from the century-old immigration story of co-founding band leader and multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan's great-great-uncle, Michael Conway; the first half of their program tonight focuses on interweaving the album's songs with stories, photos and video to illuminate Conway's journey to Montana.
The remainder of the show will explore the band's previous 10 albums, which pair ancient tunes and contemporary covers with originals that occasionally mine American roots as much as Irish heritage. Though its instrumental talent shines throughout—especially on spirited reels and jigs—the spotlight will often swivel to the exquisite vocals of new lead singer Niamh Varian-Barry. —Spencer Griffith