RHYTHM OF THE SHANNON
Sharon has just released a new album with the RTE Concert Orchestra
By David Hennessy
Known for her renditions of Galway Girl with both Steve Earle and Mundy as well as her collaborations with greats such as The Chieftains, Christy Moore and her time in The Waterboys, Sharon Shannon is one of Ireland’s greatest loved traditional musicians. Fresh from releasing her album Flying Circus that features the RTE Concert Orchestra, Sharon is coming to the UK and The Irish World caught up with her just prior to her visit.
Although some of her recent Irish gigs have been “back to basics” and purely solo, Sharon told us she much prefers playing as part of a band and that is why she is bringing a band for her upcoming UK shows: “I love playing as part of a band. I very rarely do a gig completely solo. There’ll be a four piece band: Jim Murray who is a fantastic guitar player and I’ve been playing with for years, a Manchester musician Sean Regan playing fiddle and and then we have Jack Maher, a fantastic guitar player. I really enjoy playing with the three lads.”
In the sleeve notes for Sharon’s latest album, the renowned accordion and fiddle player describes collaborating with the RTE Concert Orchestra as an honour and a dream come true: “I first time I got to play with him was a special concert in the concert hall six years ago. It worked out so well and we really enjoyed it, we got cracking with a few other arrangements. We’ve been working on it on and off for about five years and then we started the recording process two years ago. The end product is something that I’m really proud of and it’s completely different to everything I ever did before. I’m really happy with it and delighted to finally have it released earlier this year.
“With the work being done and album done and a good few gigs under our belts, we can go anywhere in the world with our orchestral set and do a gig with the local orchestra. That’s what it means to us and it’s something that we’ll always have.”
As well as playing for leaders such as Bill Clinton and Mary Robinson, Sharon has toured all over the world. Has she noticed how Irish communities overseas are growing in these days of emigration? “Absolutely, yeah. It’s always great to see the people come down and they always give you a great welcome. For them, it’s a piece of home and you can feel off them how happy they are to get their slice of home every so often. I’m going to Australia after Christmas and I’ll meet lots of Irish people out there, I’m sure.”
She has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Meteor in 2009 but what is the thing Sharon is most proud of? Well she understandably finds it hard to single out one thing: “There have been loads and loads of high points I suppose, it’s hard to pick which one stands out. Having a whole Late Late Show dedicated to me when I was only 22 years old was an amazing honour. And to be part of The Waterboys and tour with The Waterboys playing these huge arenas and massive festivals was amazing. I did a good bit of work with Christy Moore. It’s been a rollercoaster and of course, there have been a lot of low points but all the good stuff outweighs the bad.”
For the full interview see November 24 edition of the Irish World