ITHACA, NY — The artful musicians of Lúnasa took their name from the ancient Celtic harvest festival in honor of the Irish deity Lugh. Formed in 1997, the band included former members of a wide range of popular Irish bands. And since its inception, the group has been committed to complex rhythms and sophisticated musical arrangements. The group has also collaborated with other iconic artists such as Natalie Merchant, Mary-Chapin Carpenter and Tim O’Brien. According to their website, the band have “since sold over a quarter of a million records and performed over 2,000 shows in 36 countries.” Below, bassist Trevor Hutchinson spoke about his experiences with the band and the upcoming live performance at Cornell University on March 18.
Ithaca Times: For decades, Lúnasa have been performing Irish music and are known around the world for their sold-out shows. But do you talk about how you started performing Irish tunes and how you were drawn to the music? How did you choose the instrument you play with now?
Trevor Hutchinson: My involvement in Irish music came later than the rest of the guys; I grew up listening to the Beatles and the Stones and played electric bass in rock bands for several years. It was while working with Sharon Shannon who had joined the Waterboys during my time with them that I was drawn to the traditional Irish genre. I also started playing double bass at that time, which I think worked better with the overall sound.
IT: Can you talk about how you first joined Lúnasa and how was it for you when you started with this band given your past work with other artists?
TH: Lúnasa was originally formed as a one-off project for an Australian tour I was offered, so we put together a lineup and recorded a CD specifically for that tour, not realizing we’d still be together 25 years later late. It was interesting in that we had full control over the direction of the music without any record company or management input. So we made a lot of mistakes along the way, but at least those were our mistakes and I think we learned a lot from that process.
IT: All the members of Lúnasa play with verve, but how does the band focus on keeping moving forward and finding new directions like with your last album titled “CAS”? How did it go for you and the other band members?
TH: Every album is always a challenge trying to capture something of the live energy. We always wanted to incorporate songs into our music and we took the opportunity to ask some artists we had worked with over the years to collaborate on the “CAS” album. It was very refreshing to change the accent of jigs and reels etc a bit. The songs needed a softer, more ambient approach which I think balances well with the energy of the tunes.
IT: Is a new album possible next year?
TH: Now that we’re back on the road after two years, we hope to start that conversation. Free time proved to be very difficult in terms of registration as we are all scattered in different countries. We managed a few online gigs, but they were quite difficult from a technical point of view.
IT: What will this upcoming performance at Cornell look like for you and what will be unique for you about it?
TH: We’re looking forward to the Cornell gig, we always have an amazing crowd there and hopefully the energy we felt getting back on the road will be even better by then. We also have our first violinist Sean Smyth back with us for this tour, which adds another dimension for us.
Lúnasa will perform at Bailey Hall at Cornell University on Friday, March 18 at 8 p.m. For tickets, https://www.cornellconcertseries.com/lunasa-2022/