Weekender

Lúnasa brings Irish festival feel to Acoustic Brew

Irish music sensation Lúnasa will bring Celtic sounds to the 25th anniversary season of the Acoustic Brew Concerts series on Feb. 25.

Lúnasa have performed more than 1,500 shows across 36 countries since the band formed in 1997. It has appeared at internationally renowned venues such as The Hollywood Bowl, National Concert Hall (Dublin), Sydney Opera House and Moscow International House of Music and have been invited to appear at the White House. The Acoustic Brew show at WPSU Studios in Innovation Park marks the second night of the band’s U.S. tour, which runs through the end of March.

Lúnasa members include Kevin Crawford (flutes, low whistles and tin whistles), Trevor Hutchinson (double bass), Ed Boyd (guitar), Seán Smyth (fiddle and low whistle) and Cillian Vallely (uilleann pipes and low whistles).

Named after Lughnasadh, an ancient harvest festival, Lúnasa was founded when Smyth, John McSherry and Steve Cooney teamed up to tour Cooney’s solo album, “The Blue Fiddle.”

“The name Lúnasa comes from the Gaelic calendar and was one of the Celtic festivals of old,” Hutchinson said. “It’s also Gaelic for the month of August.”

A native of Cookstown in Northern Ireland, Hutchinson started playing music in rock bands in the late 1970s.

“I always think that the music you grow up with, especially in your late teens, has a lasting influence on you,” he said. “For me, that would have been everything from ’70s progressive rock and funk, to all the post punk bands and anything with a good bass line. I got into folk and Irish music much later, although I suppose it was always there in the background.”

Lúnasa’s music is very much rooted in the Irish tradition, as it features a mix of traditional tunes and some self-composed ones.

An all instrumental group, Lúnasa features fiddle, flute and Irish pipes, along with guitar and double bass.

“We like to put a lot of emphasis on the accompaniment and try to use the rhythm section as a signature element in our sound,” Hutchinson said.

Lúnasa has sold more than a quarter of a million albums in the course of the band’s career and boasts a back catalog of seven highly acclaimed and award-winning studio albums.

The first album, “Lunsasa,” was recorded while the group was on tour in 1996. Since then, the band has undergone several personnel changes, and in April 2010, Lúnasa’s newest album, “Lá Nua,” was the first release on the band’s own record label, Lúnasa Records. That same month, the band also performed on the Natalie Merchant album “Leave Your Sleep.”

Hutchinson said the band is excited to be performing for Acoustic Brew and plan to play a mix of tunes from their past few CDs, along with some new material that they are in the process of recording for release later this year.

“Our U.S. tours are always hugely enjoyable and I’m sure this won’t be an exception,” Hutchinson said. “We always get a great welcome here in the US. We’ve been touring here for nearly 20 years now, so it’s great to catch up with everyone.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Acoustic Brew Concerts: Lúnasa
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25
  • Where: WPSU Studios, 100 Innovation Blvd., University Park
  • Info: www.acousticbrew .org
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