The Special Consensus guys – Greg Cahill (banjo), Rick Faris (guitar), Dan Eubanks (bass) & Nick Dumas (mandolin) – were in fine form in Dublin tonight, bringing their celebrated mix of classic yet modern-tinged bluegrass to the sizable and appreciative audience that had assembled in Dún Laoghaire’s Pavilion Theatre. Their biennial tour to these shores is something of a constant on the Irish bluegrass scene, something that’s now almost expected. Sitting in the front row, I was reminded throughout the performance that we were treated to as to why we started this little endeavour of ours in the first place. We would love more of this kind of awesomeness in Ireland. Yes please.
Pulling from their extensive catalogue of material, the 2-hour-long intermission-interrupted set contained many a highlight: the harmonies; the a cappella Gospel numbers; and the instrumentals, especially the bass solos (who doesn’t love a good bass solo or two?) & the instrumental-heavy encore (only one mind). All were outstanding, or of a standard one might expect from this polished quartet. Even the comedic banter being bandied about between songs, when the band seemed to constantly grapple with their instruments in an ultimately successful bid to get them in tune, was a highlight.
There was, of course, more than one shout-out to their latest, 2018 release, Rivers And Roads, their 19th album since their first in 1979, 4 years after Greg Cahill co-founded the band in 1975, he been the only Special C. constant since day one. The winner of the 2018 IBMA award for Album of the Year, Rivers And Roads contains the IBMA’s pick for 2018 Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year, ‘Squirrel Hunters’, another highlight of the evening, the absence of the fiddle notwithstanding. The album is also a GRAMMY nominee for Best Bluegrass Album. Yes, it’s good. Possibly even GRAMMY good.
The 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards are on Sunday, February 10th, only some 48 hours after the band windup their 2019 Ireland & UK tour on February 8th in the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul, north Co. Dublin. Nick mentioned to us how he’s looking forward to the awards ceremony, but how he could do without the 8-time-zone-scramble required to get from the east coast of Ireland to the west coast of the US, via New York, to enable him to arrive at the Staples Center in LA where the ceremony will be held. He also said he’s looking forward to getting back to Ireland in two years’ time, hopefully as a GRAMMY winner. And after tonight’s effort we too are looking forward to the band’s next return.
The Special Consensus Ireland & UK Tour 2019
Tonight’s performance was the second of 15 Special Consensus
performances on the island of Ireland between now and February 8th (the full punishing schedule, with a further 8 performances in England & Wales, can be found on their website here
). Suffice it to say, if you have a chance to catch these guys live we recommend you don’t pass it up. It’s the sort of offering that has us were we are, striving to bring more of the same to an Irish audience.