Venue Address (Get Directions)Pump House Concerts
Date and Time
Sunday, September 16th, 2012 at 6:30pm
Sarah McQuaid is a gifted and captivating performer whose warm, haunting alto is delicately cradled by her “sparkling guitar” (Sing Out!). She is both song crafter and song collector, equally at home with traditional Irish and Appalachian folk songs, Elizabethan ballads and 1930s jazz numbers.
Her musical output is a direct and unfolding reflection of her own eclectic background: Sarah was born in Spain, raised in Chicago, holds dual US and Irish citizenship, and currently lives in rural England. While the genre, era and geographical location of her songs may change, at their core is a musician who has soaked it all in – and, luckily for us, is able to eloquently express the stories she’s gathered.
Born in Madrid (to a Spanish father and an American mother), raised in Chicago and holding dual Irish and American citizenship, Sarah McQuaid was taught piano and guitar by her folksinging mother, and remembers being inspired by meeting her distant cousin, well-known singer/songwriter/storyteller Gamble Rogers, at her grandmother’s house in Indiana. From the age of twelve she was embarking on tours of the US and Canada with the Chicago Children’s Choir, and at eighteen she went to France for a year to study philosophy at the University of Strasbourg.
She moved to Ireland in 1994 and lived there for 13 years, working as a music journalist and active member of Dublin’s arts community. In 2007, she re-released her critically acclaimed 1997 debut solo album, When Two Lovers Meet, and launched her solo career with a performance on Irish national television as the musical guest on John Kelly’s popular Friday evening arts show The View.
The same year saw her moving to England and playing major festivals like Sidmouth and Trowbridge, and in 2008 she released her second album, I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning. In contrast to the first album’s focus on Irish traditional songs and instrumentals, the follow-up was a celebration of old-time Appalachian folk, with Sarah’s arrangements punctuated by her own fine compositions and a cover of Bobbie Gentry’s classic “Ode To Billie Joe.”
Sarah is also the author of The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book, described by The Irish Times as “a godsend to aspiring traditional guitarists,” and has presented workshops on the DADGAD tuning at festivals and venues around the globe.
Sarah’s first two albums were re-released as a double-CD set in North America in February 2010 and immediately went to No. 1 on both the album and artist Folk-DJ chart. At year’s end, she had the No. 6 album on the Folk-DJ chart for 2010 overall, and was offered an official showcase at 2011’s International Folk Alliance Conference.
Her new album, The Plum Tree and the Rose, was released in March 2012 on the Chicago-based Waterbug Records label. It was No. 3 on the Folk-DJ Chart for March 2012, and by April was No. 5 on the Euro Americana Chart; in June, it was No. 6 on the Roots Music Report Folk Top 50..
Now living in Cornwall with her husband and their two children, Sarah currently spends six months of each year on the road in the UK, Ireland, Continental Europe and the USA.
“A great songwriter and traditional singer, and a wonderful guitarist.” — Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2, UK
“Brilliant musicianship, a warm and welcoming stage presence and a voice as rich, matured and knowing as the finest thrice-distilled Irish malt whiskey.” — Geoff Wallis, fRoots, UK
“Sparkling guitar and compelling alto voice ... reminiscent of Pentangle’s best efforts.” — Tom Druckenmiller, Sing Out!, USA
“Likely to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.” — Aled Jones, BBC Radio 2, UK
“Pure magic!! We are running our folkclub for 16 years now but I never experienced such a thrilling interaction between artist and audience.” — Piet Snellen, De Fookhook, Netherlands
“A world class talent ... burns with a brilliant allure. Lucid and quite magical at times, Sarah McQuaid transcends mere craftsmanship with inspiration and innovation on this record.” — Clive Pownceby, Living Tradition, UK
“Low key but glorious and incendiary, the writing and performance keep you riveted throughout.” — Chris Spector, Midwest Record, USA
The Pump House is a neighborhood-run listening room in a converted water-pumping house built by the WPA in the 1930s. Sarah is delighted to announce that her great friend and much admired fellow singer-songwriter Steve Madewell (http://www.madewellmusic.com) will be opening this show! For more info, visit http://www.facebook.com/PumpHouseConcerts or ring +1 (517) 927-2100.