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Lunasa's range doesn't stop at Ireland's musical shores

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Irish acoustic band Lunasa Credit: Eric Politzer

Blondie and the Beatles have changed the brogue of the Irish band Lunasa, its guitarist says.

Ed Boyd says the musical histories of some of its members have given a distinct twist to the band's traditional sound.

“That's one of the great outcomes of being human,” he says.

Lunasa, an acoustic Irish quintet focusing on instrumental music, will display that musical mixture March 9 at the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland.

Boyd, who has been with the band only a little more than a year, is the newest member of the group. Among the bands Boyd has played in is Flook, an Irish band that performed here in a concert with singer Karan Casey in 2003.

That visit, he says, introduced him to Pittsburgh, a city he says he thinks of in terms of Paul Simon's “poetic” reference to it in his song “America.”

He says his days of playing “everything from jazz to skiffle and rockabilly” have brought to the band a style that fits well with that of bassist Trevor Hutchinson. The bassist has played with groups such as the Waterboys, a Celtic-rock band, and he brings that sort of sound to Lunasa.

Together, they change the lilt of the music of piper Cillian Vallely, fiddler Sean Smyth and flutist Kevin Crawford. Smyth and Crawford both also play whistles.

Isn't in amazing how “complicated” music can become, he jokes.

Despite the changes he and Hutchinson offer, Boyd says, Lunasa stays fairly traditional.

“They have the sound of the bands that brought about the Irish revival in the '90s,” he says of the original members.

The band, named after the Irish god Lugh, patron of the arts, is most known for its lean, acoustic setting. But it has an album on the way with an Irish orchestra that supplies a subtle heft to the proceedings. The arrangements also push the music more into the 21st century.

Boyd says he replaced Paul Meehan, who decided he wanted to return to his career as a nurse and stay home rather than tour. But Boyd says he enjoys the traveling lifestyle, particularly as it has been refined by Lunasa, “who have been on the road 16 years and have it down to a fine science.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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