(HOPEWELL, NJ) -- Karan Casey, one of Ireland’s finest singer-songwriters – and a leading advocate for gender balance in the Irish folk and traditional music scene – will make her first U.S. tour in three years from September 1-18, a slate of 13 performances that will highlight her recent work, including her album Hieroglyphs That Tell the Tale and new, as-yet-unreleased material. The tour comes to The Hopewell Theater on Friday, September 16.
Her passion for storytelling through songs, her ability to give centuries-old lyrics and themes a universal, modern setting, and her belief that music can help change the world have enabled Casey to forge a deep connection with audiences everywhere.
A Waterford native, Casey was among the vanguard of the Irish music revival’s “third wave” of the late 1980s/early 1990s, a founding member of the seminal Irish American band Solas before launching her solo career in 1999, and going on to record 11 albums. Though steeped early on in Irish traditional and folk music, Casey has long followed an eclectic path, whether studying classical music (she is a talented pianist), fronting jazz bands or working with Frank Harte, a much-revered folk/traditional singer from Dublin. The list of artists she’s performed with is similarly diverse: James Taylor, Maura O’Connell, Karen Matheson, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Tim O’Brien, The Chieftains, The Dubliners, and Béla Fleck, among others.
Praised as a first-rate interpreter of traditional and contemporary songs alike, Casey has over the years added another dimension to her music: songwriting, a talent she first displayed on her 2005 album Chasing the Sun and to full effect in 2014 on Two More Hours, her first recording of entirely original material. Casey has lately explored new modes of performance through accompanying herself on piano as well as branching out into spoken word and theatre. Her musical play I Walked Into My Head directed by Sophie Motley was performed in 2021 at the Kilkenny Arts Festival.
On her September 2022 tour, which will include her fourth appearance on NPR’s legendary Mountain Stage syndicated folk music radio program, Casey will be accompanied by a pair of accomplished musicians, both members of popular Irish band Beoga: Niamh Dunne (fiddle, vocals), who comes from a rich family heritage of Irish traditional music; and Seán Óg Graham (guitar), a talented arranger, composer and producer who is in great demand as an accompanist.
Hieroglyphs That Tell the Tale (2018) has the hallmarks of Casey’s all-around excellence: her expressive, heart-on-the-sleeve voice; her ability to immerse herself in different genres, including alt-country, rock, gospel and blues as well as Irish and folk; and songs – two of them written by her – that empathize with the beleaguered, disdain the forces of strife and sorrow, and celebrate the triumph of the heart and richness of the soul.
On the album, Casey covers “I’m Still Standing Here,” Janis Ian’s ode to resilience; Bob Dylan’s bleak but insightful “Ballad of Hollis Brown”; the cutting “Man of God” by Eliza Gilkyson, on the exploitation of religion for personal gain; and Patti Griffin’s “Mary,” a portrait of mother Mary as the tragic but resolute personification of mothers everywhere.
Joining her on various tracks are a who’s-who of female singers like Maura O’Connell, Niamh Dunne, Pauline Scanlon, Karen Matheson, and Aoife O’Donovan, and musicians like Catriona McKay and cellist Kate Ellis.
Unquestionably a highlight of Hieroglyphs is Casey’s own “Down in the Glen,” her deeply moving take on the 1916 Easter Rising that focuses on two heroic but forgotten women: Julia Grenan, a nurse who stayed in the Irish rebels’ beleaguered Dublin headquarters, and her lover Elizabeth O’Farrell, who accompanied rebel leader Pádraig Pearse to surrender the Irish Republic flag to the British. As Casey noted in a 2019 interview, O’Farrell was airbrushed out of photos taken of the event – an all-too-common occurrence in Irish history where “the role of women, whether in the Rising or elsewhere, has often been forgotten or ignored.”
Casey’s concern for the marginalization of women led her to spearhead the #FairPlé (“Fair Play”) campaign in 2019 to promote gender balance in the production, performance, promotion, and development of Irish traditional and folk music. #FairPlé (“plé” is the Irish word for “discussion”) prompted the rise of a movement called “Mise Fosta (Me Too),” which aims to address concerns about women’s personal safety and security in Irish music circles, from performance situations to recording studios to touring.
“We started a conversation that needed to take place,” she says “I am proud of the work that we’ve done. It’s not been without difficulty, and disappointment, and I was perhaps a little naïve about how entrenched some of the attitudes are toward women. But the idea behind #FairPlé wasn’t to make people feel bad. It’s to the benefit of everyone if women feel safe, feel equal, and feel included.”
Casey’s repertoire has long included traditional, contemporary or original songs that speak to the condition of women, and her still-unfinished new album – some of which she will debut on the upcoming tour – follows that precedent: “It’s a deeper, longer conversation about women,” she says.
Returning to the U.S. – where she lived for several years during the 1990s – is always a special occasion for Casey, who has often spoken of the influence of American music, and artists such as Nina Simone, on her career. After more than two years of dealing with isolation and other effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, the September 2022 tour makes this latest visit all the more welcome.
“Coming to the US all those years ago allowed me to explore – and to be – who I wanted to be, and I’ve always had a special place in my heart for America since then,” says Casey. “I’m really looking forward to it."
Tickets for the Joe's Pub show are available for purchase here. Tickets for the Hopewell Theater show are available for purchase here.
KARAN CASEY US TOUR 2022
Karan Casey (vocals, piano) - Niamh Dunne (fiddle, vocals) - Seán Óg Graham (guitar)
Sept 1 Barnard, VT Feast and Field / BarnArts
Sept 3 Cumberland, RI Blackstone River Theatre
Sept 4 Randolph, VT New World Festival
Sept 5. Truro, MA Payoment Performing Arts Center
Sept 6 New York, NY Joe’s Pub
Sept 7 Vienna, VA Jammin Java
Sept 8 Charlottesville, VA Blue Ridge Irish Music / The Haven
Sept 9-11 Greensboro, NC North Carolina Folk Festival
Sept 13 Rockville, MD St. Mark Presbyterian Church
Sept 14 Somerville, MA The Burren. SOLD OUT
Set 15 Old Saybrook, CT Katharine Hepburn Center for the Arts (The Kate)
Sept 16 Hopewell, NJ Hopewell Theater
Sept 17 Frostburg, MD Appalachian Festival / Frostburg State U. Frostburg Palace Theatre
Sept 18 Harrisonburg, VA Mountain Stage James Madison U. Forbes Center for the Performing Arts
TOP PHOTO BY AMELIA STEIN
New Jersey Stage © 2023 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 | email@example.com
Nobody covers the Arts throughout the Garden State like New Jersey Stage!
Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on our RSS feed