- 29 Apr 13
She’s always followed her muse. But now folk star Sarah McQuaid is adding some intriguing new innovations to her live act.
Described in her press release as a ‘rising folkie’ you might argue that Sarah McQuaid’s star had long since ascended to the heavens. She is on tour across Ireland and the UK at the moment. If you follow her tour diary you’ll know these forays generally consist of Sarah and trusty tour manager Martin trekking wherever the shows take them.
This time, however, things will play out slightly differently. In Scotland, she’ll perform four concerts ‘in the round’ with fellow songwriters Bill Adair and Richard Grainger. In Farncombe, Surrey, she’ll be backed by Godalming Community Gospel Choir. In June, as part of the Golowan Festival in Penzance, she’s supported by three secondary school students from Mounts Bay Academy, where Sarah gave a songwriting workshop earlier this year.
“As a solo artist, I don’t often get the chance to perform with other musicians and singers. I’m happy to be doing so much collaborative work on this tour. I know the gigs in Scotland with Bill and Richard will be great. I’ve done a couple of ‘in the round’ performances over in the States. It’s nice to be able to exchange
ideas and harmonies in an off-the-cuff, informal way.
“When Julian Lewry at Farncombe Music Club asked me if I’d like to try working with a gospel choir, I got excited. I sang with a children’s choir for many years and today participate with my local church choir. It’ll be a real honour to have the choir in Godalming joining me.”
With a voice likened to malt whiskey, melted chocolate and “honey poured into wine” she’s carved out a reputation as a captivating performer, capable of seducing an audience just as readily with cheeky banter as with stunning musicianship. Her musical output reflects an eclectic background. Born in Spain, she was raised in Chicago, holds dual US and Irish citizenship, and now lives in rural England. Refusing to be pigeonholed, she spans the genres with her beautifully crafted originals and interpretations of material from around the globe and down the centuries.
The Irish leg of her tour concludes at Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre, Naul (April 26) and Walton’s New School of Music, Dublin where she’ll be giving a one-hour DADGAD Guitar Workshop (27). Later that evening she plays the Conary Community Hall, Avoca, Co. Wicklow.
Elsewhere there will be a cracking concert in the Taibhdhearc on April 26 when The Cabin Collective make their Galway debut. The nine musicians in the new band include Leo Moran of The Saw Doctors, Waterboy Antony Thistlethwaite, Noelie McDonnell (who wrote the hit ‘Nearly Four’) and Keith Mullins, who supported The Saw Doctors for 19 dates last winter in the UK. The show is part of the Cúirt festival.
Birds of Chicago is a collective based around JT Nero and Allison Russell. Their respective bands, Po’ Girl and JT and the Clouds, have collaborated extensively and, on 2011’s Mountains/Forests, released under the JT Nero banner, they tapped into the bewitching power of their voices. The project featured the full cast of characters that would round out the Birds of Chicago ensemble, including Michelle McGrath, the luminous singer and picker from the hidden hills of southeast Ohio. You’ll hear echoes of mountain gospel, street corner doo-wop, and classic soul. Their Irish shows are in Raheen House Hotel, Clonmel (25); Ulster Museum, Belfast (26); Roisin Dubh, Galway (27); Debarra’s, Clonakilty (28); The Loft, Limerick (29); Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey (30) and Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo (May 1).