Irish band Solas performs |

Irish band Solas performs

America’s No. 1 Irish band, Solas, returns to Grass Valley as part of a 2013 national tour for a Center for the Arts performance at 8 p.m. Friday.

For 15 years, Solas has performed a repertoire of original and traditional songs. In 2008, Solas performed in Grass Valley under the pines at the KVMR Celtic Festival at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

From Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty” to Springsteen’s “Ghost of Tom Joad” and Tom Waits’ “Georgia Lee” to traditional jigs and reels, Solas appeals to music fans of all stripes.

Solas is Gaelic for “light.” Regulars on National Public Radio’s program, “Mountain Stage,” Solas has 11 albums under its belt.

In 1996, Solas burst onto the Irish music scene. Today, anchored by founding members Seamus Egan (flute, tenor banjo, mandolin, whistles, guitars, bodhran) and Winifred Horan (violins, vocals), Solas is rounded out by Mick McAuley (accordians, low whistle, concertina, vocals), Eamon McElholm (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and newest member and lead singer Niamh Varian-Barry.

Solas’ bandleader, Egan, was a teen prodigy, recorded his first album at 16 and toured with Ralph Stanley and Peter, Paul and Mary.

The group counts Bela Fleck and Emmylou Harris among its fans along with rap producer Timbaland.

Egan was inspired by his family history to create the band’s latest ambitious project, “Shamrock City,” which tells the story of Butte, Mont., a copper mining town at the turn of the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of Seamus’ great-great-uncle, an Irish immigrant named Michael Conway. With audio recorded in Philadelphia and film footage in Butte, “Shamrock City” illuminates life as an immigrant during the Industrial Revolution. The 2013 EP includes five songs available at gigs, visuals and stories incorporated into the live show.

Solas is drawn to musical social commentary and political songs. With the “Shamrock City” project and current tour, the band is seeking stories from fans to share about their own family histories. Stories are posted weekly on the band’s website.

Through their “Shamrock City” project, the band aims to create a more meaningful and open dialogue about many of the issues we face in today’s America.

Tickets for Friday’s show are $22 for members, $25 for non-members and available online or by phone at the Center’s Box Office, 530-274-8384, ext. 14, and at BriarPatch Co-op

Information about the group is available at

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