Have some ragtime with your Irish jigs

2014-02-20T00:00:00Z Have some ragtime with your Irish jigsBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 20, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Southern Arizona was new territory for the six-piece ensemble FullSet when it made its debut at the Berger Performing Arts Center in 2012.

Now it will serve as a familiar stop on a tour that will take the Irish band deep into the unfamiliar.

The group has a slew of new cities scheduled this time around, including a series of California stops from San Francisco to San Diego, after its return to the Berger this Saturday.

“We are excited about new places, but you never know who is going to show up until you get there,” said fiddle player Michael Harrison. “We are looking forward to getting reacquainted with the audience that we have built in Tucson.”

FullSet is bringing a couple of new things to town on this visit.

First and foremost is their new uilleann pipe player, Martino Vacca.

Vacca hails from Italy but attended the University of Limerick in Ireland, where he first met FullSet singer Teresa Horgan and bodhrán player Eamonn Moloney.

Vacca graduated from the university with a master’s degree in traditional Irish music performance in 2011.

When pipes player Seán McCarthy left the band to pursue other projects, Vacca was brought on board.

“He is one of us now, I suppose,” Harrison said. “He has a good sense of humor and has really mastered one of the most complex and more traditional instruments in Ireland. He comes from such different influences. It is good for the band to have those influences available.”

In addition to the change in personnel, FullSet also has a new album to promote.

The group’s sophomore release, “Notes After Dark” was released independently last July.

The album keeps to the formula of the band’s first recording, “Notes at Liberty,” with a healthy helping of original and adapted jigs and reels, and a few American pieces thrown in for fun.

Amid the 11 tracks, you’ll find “The Roseville Fair,” a folk song by New England songwriter Bill Staines and “Reindeer Rag,” a ragtime recording by composer Joseph Lamb.

Harrison said the band loves to blend genres, especially when it comes to ragtime.

“We liked the sound of it,” Harrison said. “The range was perfect. The structure was lovely. We thought it would fit in perfectly with the rest of the album.”

Harrison believes the audience in Tucson will appreciate the new material that FullSet is bringing.

“It has been a long time since we were there,” he said. “It will be nice to be back.”

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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