After two pandemic years with no live music, we are finally witnessing a proper Irish summer here in Galway City that once seemed frozen in time, and the ice has finally melted. The region is bursting with concerts and festivals again, with new artists popping up every week. Last week we had the great honor of attending Brian Finnegan's show in Lisdoonvarna, which was special and emotional for us, but perhaps the story and review of that show is for another article. Today, I want to talk about the artist who performed before Brian Finnegan - the singer-songwriter, fiddle player and multi-instrumentalist Clare Sands.
I had already heard about Clare and listened to 'Abair Liom Do Rúin', one of her songs with collaboration of great guitarist Steve Cooney (which, by the way, is on our playlist of news in trad!), but it was there, watching her on stage that I realised how powerful she is.
Clare was alone on stage, with a voice microphone, a viola (not a violin!), an acoustic guitar, a cymbal, rattles on one ankle, pedals and a computer. Super charismatic and smiley, she led the show that took place in a hotel room as if she were on stage at Rock in Rio, getting everyone to sing, dance and vibrate with her. Her electrifying energy makes everyone mesmerized with her visceral stage presence, showing that she has the power to change the mood of anyone who is in a bad day. The mix of synthesizers, acoustic instruments, poems recited by pre-recorded voices, sensitive and revolutionary lyrics are elements that make her music so unique, as well as the way she led from one song to another, telling us about her travels and experiences throughout the coast of Ireland.
Clare is the sixth generation of fiddlers in her family and learned to play from her father. In addition to having strong roots in traditional Irish music and singing in Irish and English, she is also influenced by blues, electronic music and sounds from other cultures. Clare's career has been booming over the past two years and her singles feature guest appearances from renowned Irish trad/folk artists such as Susan O'Neill, Steve Cooney, BRÍDÍN, Hothouse Flowers and Tommy Sands.
Her two most recent singles, 'Sail On' and 'Awe na Mná (Praise the Women)', are songs that turned into two beautiful videos.
'Sail On' talks about the freedom of all forms of love, and was inspired by Tadhg Ó Ciardha;s painting, the kiss of two women in traditional clothes from the Aran Islands.
'Awe na Mná' is a tribute to women of all ages, who have always stood firm and strong fighting against all adversity. The clip was made by women from the four provinces of Ireland and is full of colours.
We always say here in our articles that traditional Irish music is alive and constantly changing, and the list of current artists releasing unique and original material continues to grow, just as Clare Sands managed to innovate in her own way and put this ancient culture on a modern level, without leaving its roots.