IF YOU GO
What: Brock McGuire Band.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Barking Legs, 1307 Dodds Ave.
Every year, the distance between the Appalachians and Ireland expands as shifting tectonic plates separate Europe and North America. Yet musicians on both sides of the Atlantic increasingly are becoming aware of the deep-seated connections between traditional Irish music and old-time/bluegrass.
Last year, Ireland’s Brock McGuire Band set out with five bluegrass luminaries such as mandolinist Ricky Skaggs and guitarist Bryan Sutton to make the metaphorical 7,000-mile round-trip in four minutes or less.
Their efforts resulted in “Green Grass Blue Grass,” an album hailed as “a treasure of trans-Atlantic ear candy” (Bluegrass Unlimited) and “an impressive collaboration between masters of several genres” (IrishEcho.com).
“It just fell into place beautifully. That was such a surprise for us and a delight,” said accordionist/melodeonist Paul Brock, who co-founded the band with fiddler Manus McGuire about a decade ago.
Saturday, Barking Legs will host the quartet, which last year was named Instrumental Band of the Decade by Irish American News.
Brock McGuire Band is the second group created by its namesakes, who previously formed the band Moving Cloud. They are joined onstage by celebrated traditional pianist and composer Denis Carey and tenor banjo player Garry O’Meara, who replaced longtime group member Enda Scahill at the start of the year.
In addition to taking up Scahill’s banjo baton, O’Meara also has introduced a new dynamic as the band’s first vocalist. While only a pair of songs are performed each show, their inclusion adds a refreshing change of pace, Brock said.
“It has pretty seamlessly worked into the program,” he said. “It’s a new departure for us, and we’re feeling our way with it, but I see that we’ll be sticking with that development.”
Each member of the band is an accomplished solo artist in his own right and is given time to demonstrate his individual talents, but the majority of the set is devoted to performing the trans-Atlantic material off “Green Grass Blue Grass,” Brock said.
By emphasizing the connections between musical first cousins separated, Brock said the band is helping to reinforce that, while the gulf may be widening, their bond is stronger than ever.
“That connection is very, very important to us, and we’re always on the listen for it,” he said. “That’s something that the audience feels very interested in.
“When we make that connection for them, we get a great response.”
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...