Lúnasa

Lúnasa

BandWorldCeltic

Lúnasa’s inventive arrangements and bass driven grooves have steered Irish acoustic music into surprising new territory. The recordings have been hailed as some of the best and most important world music albums anywhere, while the blend of intelligence, innovation, virtuosity, and passion has brought them to the forefront of Celtic music.

Biography

THE STORY SO FAR:
In October 1997, Ireland’s all-star quintet Lúnasa released their début CD Lúnasa, a searing mix of concert and studio tracks gathered from their first prolific year together. It was immediately hailed as one of the freshest recordings of Irish music in years, called “moving, pulsating, and thrilling to the very marrow” by fRoots magazine and “a true must-have disc” by The Irish Voice. From the start, Lúnasa met with instant acclaim. Their first album became an immediate best-seller in Ireland, topping Hot Press’ folk charts and nominated one of the year’s top ten by the Irish Echo in the USA.

Since that auspicious beginning, Lúnasa has become one of the most sought-after bands on the international Celtic music scene. The band’s inventive arrangements and bass-driven grooves are steering Irish acoustic music into surprising new territory. On their first American visit, word-of-mouth led to sold-out shows and rave reviews. “A standing-room only crowd in New York confirmed Lúnasa’s reputation” … wrote The New York Times. “This is the hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet.”

Like the younger generation of Nashville musicians such as Béla Fleck or Edgar Meyer, pushing the boundaries of bluegrass into jazz and beyond, Lúnasa are redefining Irish music by going right to the heart of its rhythms. With its distinctive use of the upright acoustic bass — brought front and center by Trevor Hutchinson’s remarkable playing — teamed with percussive guitar, the group seeks out the essential heartbeat of a tune. “There are lots of great melodies in Irish music but often people don’t hear the rhythms underneath,” says founding member Sean Smyth. “We try to relate the swing or energy out of the music, using new rhythms, letting each instrument add its own unique layer. We’ll play the same tune over and over searching for the groove, exploring it. We let the music find its pulse.” The result is a sound that, though distinctly Irish in flavour, touches on jazz and other improvisational music forms.

Named for an ancient Celtic harvest festival in honour of the Irish god Lugh, patron of the arts, Lúnasa is indeed a gathering of some of the top musical talents in Ireland. Its members have helped formed the backbone of some of the greatest Irish groups of the decade – Bassist Trevor Hutchinson was a key member of The Waterboys, and later he,

with guitarist Donogh Hennessy, would form the dynamic rhythm section of The Sharon Shannon Band. Fiddler Sean Smyth is an All-Ireland champion who has played with
Donal Lunny’s Coolfin; Kevin Crawford, considered to be among the finest flautists in Ireland played with the acclaimed traditional group Moving Cloud; and, piper Cillian Vallely (of the same talented musical family as brother Niall Vallely of Nomos).

As confirmation of their excellence live, Lúnasa won the “Coup de Coeur Mirror” prize for their performances at the Quebec City Summer Festival July 2003. This prize is defined as follows … “Recognizes an artist, in any popular music genre, who the jury agrees has given a truly outstanding performance. The concert must stand out from all the others on the basis of one or more criteria …”.

In 2004, seven years and three albums on from that acclaimed début, the band revisited the immediate, live-in-the-studio recording style on The Kinnitty Sessions. Recorded before an invited audience of friends and supporters in the supposedly-haunted walls of Ireland’s Kinnitty Castle, the album is clearly the work of an ensemble in peak form. Sharpened by constant touring and endless refinement of the material in a live setting, The Kinnitty Sessions was the most inventive and intense recording yet from Lúnasa, capturing the vitality and interplay of their concert appearances with a rich, crystal-clear studio sound. The album received a nomination for Folk Album Of The Year in the BBC Radio 2 Awards. It was also voted Best Traditional Album of 2005 by the readers of Irish Music Magazine.

At the end of 2004 guitarist Donogh Hennessy decided to take some time out to develop his own projects. He was replaced by Paul Meehan – one of the most dazzling young guitar/multi-instrument talents in the Celtic genre today.

Between their stunning début (available in a remastered/expanded edition as Compass Records COM 4317) and the heights scaled on The Kinnitty Sessions, Lúnasa released three superb albums for the US Green Linnet label. Otherworld (1999), The Merry Sisters of Fate (2001), and Redwood (2003) were each met with wide critical accolades, and furthered the development of the band’s richly detailed, driving vision of acoustic music. The albums were supported by worldwide touring, including Ireland, the US, the UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, Holland, and Spain.

In 2001 Lúnasa went to Hollywood (and performed in front of 13,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl). In 2005 Hollywood came to Lúnasa … in the form of their debut composing for a fe

Lyrics

All sets

Written By: Lúnasa

Our music is instrumental so there are no lyrics!

Discography

2013 - Lúnasa with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra
2010 - Lá Nua
2008 - The Story so Far
2006 - Sé
2004 - The Kinnitty Sessions
2003 - Redwood
2001 - Merry Sisters of Fate
1999 - Otherworld
1998 - Lúnasa live

Set List

A selection of sets from across all of our albums.