Quartet puts 'uncommon twist' on tradition tracks

Photo by Wooden Ship Productions
| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 6:21 p.m.

Fiddler Aiden Burke wants to make it clear the name of his band has nothing to do with unconsciousness. Comas is pronounced KO-muss, an Irish word that means “energy or power,” and he says it represents the direction he and his bandmates wanted to go when they formed the band in 2003. The quartet will bring its form of energetic, traditional music to the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts on Nov. 21.

Comas is a band that focuses on traditional music but tries to give “a common tune an uncommon twist,” he says. The group will take a traditional song and give it a new arrangement or blend it with a tune one of the members has written to create a new look at it.

All four of the members write, says guitarist-singer Philip Masure, creating a great deal of possibilities in that direction.

Masure of Flanders, Belgium, brings to the band another uncommon element — a continental outlook. But he says folk music shares many similar sides, regardless of the nation of its source. His country, he says, has been the site of many battles and invasions, so there has been a great deal of international mingling of musical sounds.

He sees that sort of sharing in American folk and bluegrass music, as well.

The band also includes Isaac Alderson on flutes and uillean pipes and Jackie Moran on bodhran, percussion and vocals.

Masure says the new elements the band gives to songs often come from improvisations that develop during rehearsals. On trips such as the current three-week tour, he says, “We get plenty of time to rehearse, sitting around the hotel or in a promoter's home.”

Comas performs at 7:30 p.m. at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Shadyside. Admission is $23; $12 for students. Details: 412-361-1915 or www.calliopehouse.org

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

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