tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2015-1-15


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Interview With Karan Casey

The Triskel Christchurch’s 2015 live music programme starts off with a concert of the highest order, a double bill of vocalists Karan Casey and Maura O’Connell which has been produced by Music Network Ireland. Speaking with Ronan Leonard, Karan gave the an insight into what Music Network does and how she got involved with them, “Music Network is a national project, they are a part of the Arts Council but a branch of its own, they organise different tours in the year, traditional music, jazz and classical. They try to get into the arts centres and also areas that perhaps that wouldn’t ordinarily get gigs like that – you can end up anywhere in the country, for instance this tour will be finishing up in Clifden.”

On their own website Music Network say that “our vision is that of a culture which increasingly values live music as an integral part of our everyday lives” and as Karan explained the organisation are very proactive about creating projects, “they really put their support behind the collaboration aspect of live music. Deirdre Moynihan from Music Network rang me up last August and asked if I’d like to do one of their tours and then we started figuring out who I’d like to do it with. I’ve always admired Maura, I think she is an astonishing singer and it’s absolutely fantastic for me that it’s worked out.”

Maura O’Connell has won many plaudits over the years, she first came to prominence with her performances with De Danann, and after pursuing a solo career she has been nominated for a Grammy twice, and has collaborated with artists as acclaimed and diverse as Bonnie Raitt and Dolly Parton to The Chieftains and Van Morrison. Of course to many in Ireland she will always be remembered for her songs on ‘A Woman’s Heart’ in 1992.

Karan and Maura have crossed paths a few times over the years and Karan was thrilled to be working on a full project with her, “I met her for the first time on St Patricks Days about 15 years ago, we did a radio session together and I sang a few songs with her at Celtic Connections in Glasgow. Since then we’d meet on and off and see each other perform at various festivals, but it really does feel like I know so well through her singing and her songs. She’s really given a gift to people, her spectacular choice of songs and her emotional singing.”

Karan herself has had a wide and varied career, she was based for several years in the US with Solas and has gone on to become a highly-acclaimed solo artist, as well as releasing 6 albums on her own and has featured on over 50 albums. She has sung with the likes of James Taylor, Liam Clancy, The Dubliners and Imelda May, and is widely considered one of the most influential and innovative vocalists in Irish or American folk music.

Since both Karan and Maura have very extensive back catalogues, the process of picking what songs they will perform has involved plenty of communication, “we’ve been feeling our way through things, e-mailing back and forth with ideas for songs we can do, just ironing things out. Once we are in the rehearsal room we’ll figure a lot of that out, we’re picking songs we like that the other person has done and I suppose it’s also a meeting of minds around the more folky/traditional repertoire. We’re going to do as much songs as possible together, the setlist the first night probably won’t be the same setlist the last night! It’s a great creative opportunity to come up with ideas. It will be a sort of look back at our careers too, we’ll be doing Maura’s hits for instance, she told me she’d be killed if she doesn’t do them!”

The two musicians they have selected to accompany them were chosen carefully, “I’ve just done a tour with Lunasa in the USA, and their guitarist Ed Boyd will be joining us for these gigs. I’ve known him for years and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this to work with him. He also plays with Buille and has often come to Cork and I’d be envious just watching him practice, this will be a great opportunity for us to try out some things.”

Maura, Ed and Karan are very excited about the final member of the quartet, “we were all big fans of Martin Tourish’s accordian and whistle playing, and we were looking looking for an adventurous trad player because he’ll need to cover a lot of ground, as Maura and I will be just singing.”

Karan Casey and Maura O’Connell play The Triskel Christchurch on Thurs 22 January. Tickets are €18/€16 and available at their box office or via


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