By BRIAN BINGAMAN
A Celtic roots music and step dance group, with members hailing from Philadelphia, Ireland, Canada and Nashville, will be at the Sellersville Theater this month.
It bodes for a particularly energetic performance since the five-piece Runa is releasing their fourth album, “Current Affairs,” the night of the show.
“Most of the songs we do tend to be traditional; we also do our own arrangements. We tend to write about the same things that we did 400 years ago,” said Runa’s manager and lead singer, Shannon Lambert-Ryan, a resident of Philadelphia.
The 13-track “Current Affairs” was recorded in Cape May, N.J., in Lambert-Ryan’s grandparents’ home, half a block from the beach. However, sessions were convened during the winter, and the bay was frozen over. “There were huge ice chunks all across the beach. It was creatively inspiring,” she recalled.
“The band’s new album features three Grammy Award-winning guest artists: Ron Block (Alison Krauss & Union Station), Jeff Taylor (Paul Simon, Elvis Costello) and Buddy Greene (Kentucky Thunder)!,” Lambert-Ryan wrote in an email. “In addition to Irish and Scottish songs and tunes, this album will have some bluegrass influences as well.”
Despite their globally spread out backgrounds, Runa’s genesis happened right here, at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. “I essentially grew up at the Philadelphia Folk Festival as a volunteer working for performers’ hospitality,” Lambert-Ryan said.
It was at the 2006 Folk Fest that she took the main stage as a member of the Guy Mendilow Band. That was the day she met the man she would marry, guitarist Fionán de Barra, whose musical pedigree includes performances with “Riverdance.” That same summer she met Canadian percussionist Cheryl Prashker.
“She had joked with me … ‘If you ever want to play that music out, I love Scottish and Irish music’,” Lambert-Ryan said.
Networking later brought David Curley and Maggie Estes on board to round out Runa’s lineup. “We all sort of converged on relatively the eastern half of Pennsylvania, which made rehearsing easier,” she said. “The internet and email has come quite in handy … and Skype and all that.”
Besides the new album, other things that have made this an interesting year for Runa include winning two Irish Music Awards (Top Group and Top Traditional Group) and an Independent Music Award for Best Song in the World Traditional Category for a track off their “Somewhere Along the Road” album. On St. Patrick’s Day, the group performed live at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC, and the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks have asked them to perform the National Anthem at the Major League Baseball teams’ respective Irish Heritage Night home games.
Get more at www.runamusic.com.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Runa, with supporting act Michael Braunfield.
WHEN: 8 p.m. June 20.
WHERE: Sellersville Theater 1894, 24 W. Temple Ave. at Main Street, Sellersville.
TICKETS: $19.50 and $29.50, with discounts for theater members.
INFO.: Call (215) 257-5808 or visit www.st94.com.
Follow Brian Bingaman on Twitter @brianbingaman.