Seamus Egan brings Ireland to the Island

COURTESY PHOTO | COURTESY PHOTO From left, Moira Smiley, Seamus Egan and Kyle Sanna performing in concert. All three will be making music creekside at Sylvester Manor on September 16, 2017.

COURTESY PHOTO | COURTESY PHOTO
From left, Moira Smiley, Seamus Egan and Kyle Sanna performing in concert. All three will be making music creekside at Sylvester Manor on September 16, 2017.

Seamus Egan spends a lot of time on the road. On Monday, the multi-talented musician, a founding member of the band Solas, returned home from a gig in Alaska.

“We were up there five days and six nights,” said Mr. Egan by phone shortly after landing in Philadelphia, where he lives. “There was an active solar flare going on there. The last night leaving the hotel to go to the airport, we saw a few bits of it.” 

Currently, he and his musical friends are touring as The Seamus Egan Project and on Saturday, he performs the last creekside concert of the summer at Sylvester Manor alongside singer Moira Smiley (who appeared at the Manor last fall with Jayme Stone’s Lomax Project) and guitarist Kyle Sanna.

Mr. Egan, who plays tin whistle, flute, guitar and banjo, performs in the 49th state often, and when asked why the music scene is so active there, responded, “Isolationism. The folks that gravitate toward Alaska are about doing their own thing and having a sense of independence.”

Though he’s not yet been to Shelter Island, perhaps Mr. Egan will find a bit of that independent spirit here. In truth, Mr. Egan has long had a foot in two worlds. Born near Philadelphia, at the age of 3, his parents moved the family to their native County Mayo in Ireland. There, he was introduced to music courtesy of lessons at the local town hall.

“My parents figured since they moved us over there, we should learn a bit of the culture from whence we came,” he said. “That’s how it started, but I didn’t take much heed of it as a kid.”

Mr. Egan’s family moved back to Philadelphia when he was 13 and his musical career took off after a chance meeting with Mick Moloney, the renowned Limerick-born musician who was heavily involved in Phildelphia’s Irish music scene.

“I had heard him on the radio in Ireland, and he was the reason I wanted to play banjo and mandolin. He was generous to take me under his wing,” said Mr. Egan who, during his teenage years, played with Mr. Moloney and other top notch Irish musicians. “They’d come through town and I’d meet people I only heard on the radio or an album. As a kid, it was a ton of fun.”

Mr. Egan has made music ever since and along the way, has seen much of the world — including the Northern Lights. Though Island fans can expect to hear him on guitar, mandolin and whistle, one thing they won’t hear Saturday is his singing.

“I dabbled in singing when I was younger, but I realized it was not a gift bestowed on me,” he said.

Fortunately, Ms. Smiley will be doing vocal duties for the evening. When asked what the group will play, Mr. Egan said, “Some of it is stuff I’ve written and recorded that I’m playing in a different context. I’m also exploring stuff we recorded with Solas, but did not perform live very often. I’ll also be playing stuff I wrote in the meantime and hope to be in the studio to record as an album early next year.”

But remember, no singing for Seamus Egan this weekend by the creek at Sylvester Manor.

“That’s for everyone’s well being,” he laughed. “Moira’s voice is what everyone should hear … not my croaking.”

The Seamus Egan Project performs at Sylvester Manor at 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 16. A contra dance follows. Tickets $30 in advance ($35 at the door) at (631) 749-0626 or sylvestermanor.org.

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