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Musician Seamus Egan brings solo project to ‘Pops 5’ with Spokane Symphony

March 1, 2019

When musician Seamus Egan called earlier this week, he was in his hotel room packing up his suitcase before checkout.

When I asked if he wanted to focus on that then talk, he quickly declined.

“I can pack out of hotel rooms in my sleep at this point,” he said.

After 20 years in Irish-American band Solas, Egan’s not exaggerating.

But more recently, Solas is not the reason for Egan’s hotel stays. For the last year and a half, Egan has been performing his own material, tunes both new and old, with the Seamus Egan Project, a group with a rotating lineup.

The Seamus Egan Project will perform with the Spokane Symphony, led by conductor Morihiko Nakahara, as part of Pops series at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox on Saturday.

Egan will be joined by singer/composer/Solas bandmate Moira Smiley, composer/producer/guitarist Kyle Sanna and guitar/mandolin/banjo player Owen Marshall.

Playing with a symphony has never been a regular part of Egan’s career, so he’s especially looking forward to the show.

“You get to hear the music that we’ve written and played for a while in a completely new context with wonderful orchestration,” he said. “Being up there with that big wall of sound sitting behind you, it’s a thrill.”

The Seamus Egan Project came about after Solas decided to take a break after celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Egan realized he had music that didn’t really suit Solas and started looking for an outlet that would fit and be flexible, a space for both old and new material, including “Everything Always Was.”

“Everything Always Was” is Egan’s first solo instrumental album in 23 years, after 1996’s “When Juniper Sleeps.”

He’d wanted to do another solo album for some time, but Solas’s extensive touring and recording schedule often meant all of his time was spent on the band.

“With the band taking a break after our 20th anniversary, it seemed like if I don’t do it now, I’m not quite sure when I would do it,” he said. “It was really about having the time to take a bit of a breath and start dusting off some old ideas that had been sitting on the shelf for a number of years and seeing what survived and what could get reworked and also writing some new pieces.”

Egan recorded the album across the East Coast. Entering the studio as a solo artist was a new experience for Egan after so many years with Solas, but he was excited to take on the challenge of developing a “new methodology, new vocabulary and a new way of thinking about things.”

“You realize you develop these crutches by dint of circumstance and then suddenly when that isn’t there, you have to replace that with something that you hope works for you and for the folks that you’re working with,” he said. “That’s a little bit daunting but it’s also exciting and exhilarating and it leads you to think about things differently and approach them differently.”

Egan has admittedly already blown past one album deadline he set for himself and is fast approaching blowing by another.

He plans to put finishing touches on the album after the tour ends in Virginia on March 16. Egan hopes the album will be released in the next couple of months.

But as one tour ends, another one begins. Egan will be back on the road in early April and is excited to play a few festivals in the summer.

“There’ll be a lot of the Project out and about on the road, so we’re looking forward to that,” he said.