Thursday, March 8, 2012
“This whole tour is a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day,” Danú accordionist Benny McCarthy says. “It’s great touring in the U.S. because we get to celebrate it for a month.”
After more than 15 years as a band, Irish folk outfit Danú started limiting its touring schedule to about five weeks each year to avoid burnout and ensure their live performances would remain fun and fresh. These days, touring feels more like a vacation than work.
“Don’t tell anyone, but we have a great time on the road,” McCarthy says a couple of hours before a show in Ardmore, Okla. “We have such a good time together enjoying our music and each other’s company.”
There’s plenty of company to be had between the seven members of Danú, which is named after a Celtic goddess. The group includes Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh on vocals, whistle and flute, Donal Clancy on guitar, Eamon Doorley on bouzouki, Oisin McAuley on fiddle, Tom Doorley on flute and Donnchadh Gough on bodhrán and uilleann pipes.
The members are universally in love with the traditional music of their homeland. McCarthy deserted his fascination of breakdancing and BMX bikes for Irish folk when he was a kid, after becoming enamored with the music he heard on a commercial for petite baguettes. (It was the fiddle-fueled “Marino Waltz” by The Dubliners.) “Then I found out that there were a lot of people out there who were playing this music and a lot of festivals to go to,” McCarthy says.
Sure enough, he and his fellow bandmates first met in 1994 at the Celtic-centric Oireachtas Festival in Waterford, Ireland.
“The whole thing just seemed to fall into place and the world became our oyster,” he says.
These days Danú – visiting the Sunset Center on Friday night – offers a balanced mix of both new and older traditional Irish folk compositions. Their most recent album, Seanchas, features everything from the turn-of-the-century jig “Snug in the Blanket” to Andy Irvine’s folk classic “Never Tire of the Road.”
“The Highest Hill,” an original arrangement from their album When All Is Said And Done, is a combo of both American and Irish folk; the playfulness between the fiddle and flute – with a guitar interlude – are pleasantly kinetic.
Though Danú has released seven studio LPs throughout the years, their music truly flourishes in a live setting because most of their songs – new or old – are about drinking and just enjoying life. The scene that comes to mind while listening to any of their tunes: a century-old bar with a large, wood-burning fire blazing before a large group of folks enjoying each other’s company as they as they sing and dance and guzzle pints of room-temperature Guinness.
“Irish music is a very social kind of music,” McCarthy says. “Whether we play a jam session in a pub, a house party or a concert in a theater, people always get involved.”
DANÚ performs 8pm Friday, March 9, at Sunset Center, San Carlos at Ninth, Carmel. $30; $40; $50. 620-2048.