Tuesday, September 13, 2022 IMT presents Karan Casey Trio and The Alt (co-bill)
Saint Mark Presbyterian Church | 10701 Old Georgetown Rd, Rockville, MD 20852 | 7pm
Tickets: $30 advance (+$2 service fee) / $35 at door (Children & Students w ID) $25 advance (+$2 service fee) / $30 at door
Karan Casey Trio
KARAN CASEY, one of Ireland’s finest singer-songwriters – and a leading advocate for gender balance in the Irish folk and traditional music scene – will make her first U.S. tour in three years from September 1-18, a slate of 13 performances that will highlight her recent work, including her album Hieroglyphs That Tell the Tale and new, as-yet-unreleased material. Her passion for storytelling through songs, her ability to give centuries-old lyrics and themes a universal, modern setting, and her belief that music can help change the world have enabled Casey to forge a deep connection with audiences everywhere.
A Waterford native, Casey was among the vanguard of the Irish music revival’s “third wave” of the late 1980s/early 1990s, a founding member of the seminal Irish American band Solas before launching her solo career in 1999, and going on to record 11 albums. Though steeped early on in Irish traditional and folk music, Casey has long followed an eclectic path, whether studying classical music (she is a talented pianist), fronting jazz bands or working with Frank Harte, a much-revered folk/traditional singer from Dublin. The list of artists she’s performed with is similarly diverse: James Taylor, Maura O’Connell, Karen Matheson, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Tim O’Brien, The Chieftains, The Dubliners, and Béla Fleck, among others.
On her September 2022 tour, which will include her fourth appearance on NPR’s legendary Mountain Stage syndicated folk music radio program, Casey will be accompanied by a pair of accomplished musicians, both members of popular Irish band Beoga: Niamh Dunne (fiddle, vocals), who comes from a rich family heritage of Irish traditional music; and Seán Óg Graham (guitar), a talented arranger, composer and producer who is in great demand as an accompanist.
Casey’s concern for the marginalization of women led her to spearhead the #FairPlé (“Fair Play”) campaign in 2019 to promote gender balance in the production, performance, promotion, and development of Irish traditional and folk music. #FairPlé (“plé” is the Irish word for “discussion”) prompted the rise of a movement called “Mise Fosta (Me Too),” which aims to address concerns about women’s personal safety and security in Irish music circles, from performance situations to recording studios to touring.
Casey’s repertoire has long included traditional, contemporary or original songs that speak to the condition of women, and her still-unfinished new album – some of which she will debut on the upcoming tour – follows that precedent: “It’s a deeper, longer conversation about women,” she says.
Returning to the U.S. – where she lived for several years during the 1990s – is always a special occasion for Casey, who has often spoken of the influence of American music, and artists such as Nina Simone, on her career. After more than two years of dealing with isolation and other effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, the September 2022 tour makes this latest visit all the more welcome.
“Coming to the US all those years ago allowed me to explore – and to be – who I wanted to be, and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for America since then,” says Casey. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
The beautiful mountain Knocknarea in Ireland’s County Sligo is said to be the final resting place of the ancient Irish warrior-queen Maeve. The ‘Alt’ is a storied glen on the side of Knocknarea, and it was in the shadow of this glen in the little village of Coolaney that the three master Irish traditional musicians in The Alt—John Doyle, Nuala Kennedy, and Eamon O’Leary—first gathered to rehearse. Each player in The Alt is a leading light of today’s folk scene and though this could be easily called a supergroup, at its heart The Alt is really a celebration of friendship and song. The old ballads, winding tunes, and freshly discovered songs that each artist brought to the table reflect the pure love of the song that has made Irish music so beautiful and compelling over thousands of years. It’s this same love of the song that the Irish brought to America, nestling into their new homes in Appalachia and forming the bedrock that would bring us American country, bluegrass, and old-time music. The Alt are fully aware of this history, and in fact chose to record their debut album in the quiet isolation of a small cabin in North Carolina’s Appalachian mountains. Alone with just the scurrying sounds of little mice accompanying them, each of these master musicians was able to use their partnership to touch at something deeper in the music, something swift and beautiful and magical that has always run beneath these songs.