Dublin Irish Festival

Irish-American band Solas blessed by longevity

Fiddler Winifred Horan, a founding member of Irish-American band Solas, never considered the possibility the band would be around for 15 years.

"Geez, I can't believe it when I say it," she joked about the milestone.

"It wasn't our intention, but only because we never had any kind of plan. We've been lucky. We've built an audience, mostly from being on the road, and that audience has been faithful."

"The road" has been good to Solas. The band has traveled the world, a lifestyle that's been both a perk and a curse, Horan said. This spring alone, Solas has toured the U.S., traveled to Japan and played a series of dates in Ireland. Horan refused to complain, but confessed to being "delighted to have a couple weeks" to recover before hitting the late-summer festival circuit.

A return visit to the Dublin Irish Festival is welcome, Horan said.

"Even though it's a massive festival, it's well-organized and well-run. Our sets there have always been really fulfilling, and we get to see some of the other acts, too."

Solas will play each day of the festival, allowing the band to delve into the full breadth of its repertoire. A refusal to pigeonhole itself stylistically has been another factor contributing to the band's longevity, Horan said -- and fans are OK with that.

"We've always had a pretty eclectic taste, and that's reflected in the music. Any band or musical entity is meant to evolve and grow. Who wants something to stay exactly the same for 15 years?"

The band still leans heavily on traditional Irish dance music, but incorporates both folk and rock cover songs and its growing catalog of original songs. Horan said Solas' sets still largely are built around last year's Shamrock City, a storytelling concept album that features the most original music on any record in the band's history.

"Part of the reason we're still going is that we're finding new ways to express ourselves."

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