Groundbreaking Irish-American fiddler Eileen Ivers can keep up with classical virtuosi while keeping up the warmth of a kitchen party with her group, Immigrant Soul. She can shred, play reels through a cry-baby pedal, inspire with a bittersweet air and with her signature intensity, all while transmitting her deep love for tradition. The audience and stage become one through the interactiveness of the music, the joy of the musicians and the passion with which Ivers shares the stories of these traditions.
Looking back on repertoire that has connected the Celtic dots from Galicia to the Canadian Maritimes, from 17th-century songs to high-energy originals, Ivers and Immigrant Soul bring their unflagging energy and potent performance to stages across the U.S. this spring, from Kentucky toKalamazoo.
The young Ivers never expected to become a professional musician with numerous Al l-Ireland Fiddle Championships and Grammy™-awarded projects under her belt-she's a mathematician by education. Yet her unintentional career has taken her from co-founding Cherish the Ladies and touring with The Chieftains, to guest starring with acclaimed symphonies, collaborating with celebrated jazz and pop artists and her most recent televised performances with Sting. Ivers expertise and artistic diversity led her to forge a new, front-and-center role for the fiddle in Celtic performance, in particular, in creating the musical star role of Riverdance.
Her own work has led her to dig deep into Irish and Celtic sounds, tracing connections between continents and scattered Celtic communities, sharing how these connections reverberate in American roots music, delving into jazz sensibilities and Grappelli-esque improvisations, and incorporating her trademark effects with her eye-catching (and ear-catching) electric violin.
Her fellow members of Immigrant Soul enrich Ivers' open-minded, open-bordered innovation and share her passion for performance. Lead singer, percussionist, and former Blues Brother Tommy McDonnell is equally at home with the congas and the bodhrán (Irish frame drum), while bassist Leo Traversa, when not teaching at NY's Columbia University, can be found backing Afro-Cuban and Brazilian masters. Acoustic guitarist Greg Anderson has worked with folk legend Pete Seeger, as well as classical icon Itzhak Perlman. All-Ireland accordion champ Buddy Connolly has worked with American roots music greats Tim O'Brien and Kathy Mattea.
By diving into diverse projects with multifaceted musicians, Ivers continues to blend Celtic soulfulness with a well-honed sense of showmanship. The show can bring even the most staid audience to its feet. Ivers frequently gets listeners dancing in the aisles and often leaps into the audience to join them. She has gotten symphony patrons dressed in furs and jewels singing a hearty round of "May the Circle Be Unbroken," part of a program she has performed with over forty major orchestras. She gets hugs from fans of all ages as she and the band chat in the lobby after shows-a favorite way for Ivers to end an evening-and promises from kids to finally start practicing their violins.
Regardless of the group's embrace of the audience and their sparkle on stage, Ivers explains, "The music is always the star, but we're performing artists. It's a balance we've learned to strike. It's a privilege to be up there on stage, and we love it."
"A sensation" Billboard Magazine
"The Jimi Hendrix of the violin" The New York Times
"At the center was the brilliant fiddler, Eileen Ivers ...no wonder the audience loved every minute" The Los Angeles Times
"She electrifies the crowd" The Irish Times
"She suggests the future of the Celtic Fiddle" The Washington Post