☼ ☼ ☼ Sarah McQuaid | Nelson Town Hall



Sarah McQuaid brings her sparkling guitar playing and compelling alto voice to the Nelson Town Hall on Friday, September 9 for an 8:00 PM concert. Admission is $15/$12(senior, youth)

Renowned for her warm, engaging stage presence, Sarah McQuaid is a versatile and beguiling performer. In addition to her own elegantly crafted originals, she interprets traditional Irish and Appalachian folk songs, Elizabethan ballads, 1930s jazz numbers, surprise covers and lively guitar instrumentals with panache and poignance.

Her deliciously earthy voice delivers a powerful emotional punch that’s matched by her distinctive, eloquent guitar style. Add this to a real rapport with her audience, and you have all the ingredients of a great night out.

Born in Spain, raised in Chicago and holding dual Irish and American citizenship, Sarah spent 13 years in Ireland and now lives near Penzance, Cornwall, in the southwest of England.

As might be expected of one who has led such a peripatetic existence, Sarah developed a taste for the road early on: From the age of twelve she was embarking on tours of the US and Canada with the Chicago Children’s Choir. At eighteen she went to France for a year to study philosophy at the University of Strasbourg, and in 1994 Sarah moved to Ireland.

In February 2010, Sarah re-released her first two albums in a double-disc package for the North American market, to coincide with her appearances at the Folk Alliance conference in Memphis and her first US tour, which immediately followed the conference.

The double CD became the No. 1 album, and Sarah the No. 1 artist, on the folkradio.org chart (based on playlists from 195 DJs) for February 2010 (http://folkradio.org/airplay/feb10.html); the final tally at year’s end saw the double CD in the No. 6 slot for the year, beating powerful competition from far more established artists.

In February 2011, Sarah was invited back to the Folk Alliance conference, this time for an official showcase – a significant honour that’s only extended to 20 overseas artists each year. Immediately following the conference, she traveled to Nashville to co-write with industry heavyweights Peter Cronin and Thomm Jutz. Now spending approximately six months of each year on the road in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the USA, Sarah will be returning to the studio in June 2011 to record her third solo album, provisionally titled The Plum Tree And The Rose, once again with Gerry O’Beirne producing and Trevor Hutchinson engineering.

Sarah is also slowly but surely working on a novel for which she’s received two Irish Arts Council Bursaries in Literature. She hopes to finish it one of these days.

Dancing on the Fourth of July

Yes, we will dance in Nelson on the Fourth of July. And here’s a story about another Independence Day dance, thanks to folklorist Fred Field.


The anniversary of our national independence was not forgotten by the early dwellers here, and although at the above date no very extensive “celebration” could be held, yet the scattering population met for a royal good time at the then infant village, and enjoyed themselves to the utmost. A dance was held at Jones’ tavern—the old “Fayette House,”—and from far and near came the patriotic settlers to indulge in the pleasures of the occasion. A certain man, who lived eleven miles away, was there with “his girl,” anticipating a rare treat in measuring time with their feet to the tones of dulcet music which was to be furnished by parties who had been especially engaged to play here on that night. To the disappointment of everybody, the expected musicians failed to put in an appearance, and “gloom was depicted on every countenance.” By some mysterious legerdemain, however, a violin was unearthed, and it was known that our eleven-mile man could play it. Then the faces in the assemblage brightened; the hero of the bow and rosin mounted a chair-back in order to have plenty of elbow room, and the fun began. The well-known notes of ” Money Musk,” “Scotch reel,” ” French four,” and other lively airs, swelled forth upon the summer air as with magic touch the musician plied his bow, and “joy was unconfined.” The feet of the dancers were light, their hearts ditto, and with the passing hours the assemblage continued their evolutions till the gray dawn bade them desist and seek their homes.