Fiddlin’ with the world
KEYSTONE – Eileen Ivers helped put Irish music on the world stage with her fiery fiddle playing in “Riverdance” for three years. But, she stands out most for folding Latin and African rhythms into the spirit of Irish music.
Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul play at 2 p.m. Sunday at Copper Mountain.
Ivers has enlisted an African bassist, a Latin percussionist, an Irish-born piper, a blues singer from the Bronx and a Harlem-born tap dancer to accentuate her Irish flair. The band blends jazz and jigs, hip-hop and reggae, flamenco and bluegrass.
“It’s a multicultural band, but we all celebrate the similarities in music,” Ivers said. “At the end of the day, it’s dance music. You want to get people dancing and feeling the groove. It’s more of a show than just a band.
“It’s an emotional event because Irish music is that. It has its ups and downs, and at the end, we get it rocking. It becomes a big old party. It’s very real music. It definitely comes from the heart.”
Ivers began playing fiddle at age 8, when an Irish immigrant moved to her Irish community in the Bronx.
“He really taught me the spirit and the love of the music,” Ivers said. She competed in the All-
Ireland Fiddle Championships every year as a youth, winning it seven times.
“Ireland has always been a big part of my life,” Ivers said. Her parents immigrated to America and worked hard to send money back to their relatives. “In the beginning, it was my folks that just wanted me to learn, but now violin is an extension of my personality. You can express so many things through it. When you can touch so many people, it’s a blessing.”
Ivers touches audiences not only through her Irish heritage, but also through her multicultural, seven-member band.
Bronx native and Immigrant Soul vocalist Tommy McDonnell has been performing professionally since he was 15, including stints on “Blues Brothers 2000,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Saturday Night Live.” His soulful vocals add a multidimensional thrust to the music.
Dublin-born guitarist John Doyle has composed music for Irish films and plays and recently released an instructional video of Irish rhythm guitar on Homespun Records.
Bassist Bakithi Kumalo was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and earned a reputation as a prodigy by developing a unique style of bass playing. In 1985, he played with Paul Simon on the “Graceland” album, which helped him break into the American music scene. He also has played with Chaka Khan, Harry Belafonte, Cyndi Lauper and Gloria Estefan.
Emedin Rivera’s pulsating percussion underscores the driving traditional Irish reels, jigs and melodies of the band. He has performed with Belafonte, LaToya Jackson, Menudo and Gregory Hines and has been featured in films and nationwide commercials.
Jerry O’Sullivan plays a variety of instruments, from the low whistle to the uilleann pipes (a complex bagpipe). He has recorded for composer John Williams on the film “Far and Away” and played with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Tap dancer and vocalist Tarik Winston met Ivers when they toured with “Riverdance.” His Broadway credits include “High Rollers Social,” “Black and Blue” and “The Tap Dance Kid.”
Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul released its self-titled album in February on Koch Records, blending Celtic and world music into a rich celebration of sound.
Event: Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3
Where: Burning Stones Plaza, Copper Mountain
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