Irish-American Band Looks Back to its Future

The story of the Irish-American group Solas is, in some ways, the story of Irish music over the past 20 years: a straddling of tradition and innovation; a push into new territory that still holds fast to its musical homeland.

The group has released an album to mark its 20th anniversary, All These Years, and is embarking on a year-long tour. Befitting this band of thoughtful musicians, they are not simply looking backwards.

The band's origins were almost as informal as a seisun at a local pub. Multi-instrumentalist Seamus Egan, who was born Pennsylvania, but raised in Ireland and resettled in America, said he was invited to gather a few musicians for a music festival in Massachusetts and pulled together fiddler Winifred Horan, guitarist John Doyle and accordionist John Williams. They found themselves, Egan said, "going up for the weekend without much really much of a plan and even really any kind of rehearsal."

After a good reception by the audience and a shared sense that they worked well together, Egan said he began to think: "I'd love to have a band and make one album," adding, "That was the sole extent of my ambition."

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