Liz In Conversation with Ímar 22nd April 2023
Join Liz on 23rd April when she will be in conversation with Ryan Murphy from the band about their new album ‘Awakening’, which is the bands third album.
Band Members Adam Brown , Tomás Callister, Ryan Murphy, Adam Rhodes , Mohsen Amini.
There are many reasons to be excited about the Glasgow-based five-piece Ímar – not least a line-up featuring current and former members of Mànran, Mec Lir, RURA and Talisk, whose collectively crammed trophy-cabinet includes several BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and All-Britain/All-Ireland titles. By far the best and biggest reason, however, is how excited the band are themselves.
“As soon as we all sat down to play together properly, it just worked,” says bodhrán player Adam Brown (RURA), originally from Suffolk. “We were a bit stunned, to be honest; all looking round at everyone else, thinking, ‘Is it just me, or was that really good?’”
“It’s definitely more of a pure-drop trad sound than most of the other bands we’re involved in,” adds Cork-born uilleann piper, flautist and whistle player Ryan Murphy (Mànran), “but I think that’s partly why it feels so natural. We’re going back to the music we started out playing – which is ultimately the reason why we’re all here as musicians.”
Ímar’s formation also embodies a more personal reconnection with its members’ formative years, dating back long before their recent camaraderie around Glasgow’s justly celebrated session scene. All five of them – also including fiddler Tomás Callister and bouzouki ace Adam Rhodes (Mec Lir), both from the Isle of Man, plus Glasgow native Mohsen Amini (Talisk) on concertina – originally met as teenagers through Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the Irish traditional music network that tutors budding players throughout the British Isles and beyond, and stages the annual schedule of Fleadh competitions.
It was via the latter that Ímar’s paths first crossed, as its future members began to amass what’s now a heavyweight collective haul of top prizes – nine All-Ireland and eight All-Britain titles between them – while Murphy is also a double winner of the prestigious Oireachtas contest. Bringing the tally of accolades up to date, Amini won the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award with Talisk, as well as a Danny Kyle Open Stage Award at the Celtic Connections festival, and is also 2017’s BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year and 2018’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year. In 2015, meanwhile, Brown celebrated RURA’s crowning as Live Act of the Year, at the Scots Trad Music Awards.
“We all have a really strong shared background in Irish music – even though we all live in Glasgow, and only Ryan’s actually from Ireland,” Brown says. These foundations underpin many of Ímar’s distinctive qualities, in both instrumentation and material, while also highlighting the cyclical evolution of Scotland’s wider folk scene. Go back a couple of decades or so, and Irish repertoire still predominated at many Scottish sessions and gigs, whereas today Ímar’s sound stands out boldly from the crowd.
20th The Greystones – Sheffield
21st Kings Place Folk Week – London
22nd Wiltshire Music Centre -Bradfor-On-Avon
23rd Cambridge Junction – Cambridge
24th The Fleece Inn – Bretforton, Evesham
25th Norden Farm Centre – Maidenhead
26th Otley Courthouse – Otley
27th Brewery Arts – Kendal
28th Tollbooth – Stirling
29th St Margaret’s – Braemar
30th Summerhall – Edinburgh
12th Skye Live – Portree, Isle Of Skye
24th Dungavine Tunefest – Dungarvan, County Waterford, Ireland
8-9th Rudolstadt Festival – Rudolstadt, Germany