Lúnasa, one of the most influential bands in the history of Irish traditional music, celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2017. Named after an ancient Celtic harvest festival in honour of the Irish god Lugh, the group that Folk Roots magazine once called an “Irish music dream team” was formed from members of some of Ireland’s greatest bands and over the years has proven its mettle time and again, having sold over a quarter of a million records, performed more than 2,000 shows in high-profile concert venues across 36 countries, and collaborated with many notable artists outside the tradition. Two decades ago they ascended to the forefront of contemporary Irish music, and there they’ve remained, a leading voice in the genre and the standard against which others are compared.
In recent years, Lúnasa has continued to tour, dazzling crowds all over the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe. In addition to major collaborations with the likes of legendary singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter (2015) and bluegrass superstar Tim O’Brien (2016), they’ve introduced star musician Colin Farrell (Project West, Grada) to the band, who has been sharing fiddle duties with Smyth and who brings enormous talent and an innate understanding of the group’s sound.
Legendary Irish fiddler Kevin Burke once said that “maintaining the unique, intimate qualities of a musical tradition while at the same time meeting and fulfilling the demands of the contemporary music world is a difficult juxtaposition to achieve, yet Lúnasa have managed to accomplish exactly that.” From the start, the band’s complex arrangements and unique sound reshaped the boundaries of traditional music and energized audiences the world over. Twenty years on, the group continues to evolve, playing new music that is as state-of-the-art and aggressively infectious today as it was so long ago.