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Linen Building
Boise, ID
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Irish-American folk traditionalist Sarah McQuaid brings 'sparkling guitar and compelling alto voice' to LINEN BUILDING for first-ever Boise performance


Live at the Linen presents Irish-American folk singer Sarah McQuaid at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Linen Building, 1402 W. Grove St. in Downtown Boise's Linen District. Joe Baldassarre will open. $15 advance, $18 or at the door; advance tickets available at and The Record Exchange (1105 W. Idaho St., Boise). All ages, full bar (I.D. required), Pie Hole pizza. Plenty of free, off-street parking is available at the Linen Building.

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, McQuaid was taught piano and guitar by her folk-singing 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 12, she was embarking on tours of the United States and Canada with the Chicago Children's Choir, and at 18 she went to France for a year to study philosophy at the University of Strasbourg.

McQuaid moved to Ireland in 1994 and three years later released her debut solo album, When Two Lovers Meet. "Sarah's voice is both as warm as a turf fire and as rich as matured cognac ... An astonishing debut by a unique talent," wrote the Rough Guide To Irish Music. Despite the critical acclaim, a long break from the music scene followed, during which McQuaid married Feargal Shiels and had two children, Eli and Lily Jane.

When Two Lovers Meet was re-released in Ireland and the United Kingdom in 2007, the year also saw McQuaid touring as a solo artist for the first time and moving with her family to Cornwall in the southwest corner of England. The following autumn she released her second album, I Won't Go Home 'Til Morning, which like its predecessor was recorded in Trevor Hutchinson's Dublin studio and produced by Gerry O'Beirne.

McQuaid 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.

Crow Coyote Buffalo, an album of songs co-written by McQuaid with fellow Penzance resident Zoë (author and performer of 1991 hit single "Sunshine On A Rainy Day") under the band name Mama, has also been garnering rave reviews since its January 2009 release; one critic described the pair as "Two pagan goddesses channelling the ghost of Jim Morrison."

In 2010, McQuaid re-released her first two albums in a double-disc package for the North American market to coincide with her first U.S. tour. The double CD became the No. 1 album, and McQuaid the No. 1 artist, on the chart (based on playlists from 195 DJs) for February 2010 (; 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.

Now spending approximately six months of each year on the road in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA, McQuaid was an official showcase artist at the International Folk Alliance conference in February 2011. She returned 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.

The focus this time around is on McQuaid's own songwriting: nine of the 13 tracks on the album are self-penned, three of these as co-writes with Gerry O'Beirne. O'Beirne also guests on the album, alongside Hutchinson on double bass, Bill Blackmore on trumpet and flugelhorn, Rod McVey on keyboards, violinists Máire Breatnach and Rosie Shipley, and percussionists Liam Bradley and Noel Eccles.

Title track "The Plum Tree and the Rose," one of two tracks performed solo by McQuaid on vocal and guitar, sets the twin themes of spiritual questioning and the relationship between soul and place  themes that are developed in a trio of songs inspired by buildings: "In Derby Cathedral," "Hardwick's Lofty Towers" and "Kenilworth."

Other originals include "Lift You Up and Let You Fly," a poignant ballad about the pain of letting go, "The Sun Goes On Rising," a bluesy rumination on hard economic times, "What Are We Going To Do," a song whose old-school structure hearkens back to Golden Age songwriters like Rodgers & Hart and Cole Porter, the wistful "So Much Rain" and the six-part canon "In Gratitude I Sing," on which McQuaid is joined by a chorus of guest vocalists  among them well-known Irish singer Niamh Parsons.

Canons are another running theme of the album: "In Derby Cathedral" has a canon by way of a postscript, and one of the album's four non-original tracks is "New Oysters New," a three-part canon published in 1609 by Thomas Ravenscroft in his Pammelia: Mvsicks Miscellanie and sung here by McQuaid, Parsons and baritone Tom Barry.

Also on the menu are 16th century Elizabethan composer John Dowland's "Can She Excuse My Wrongs," which like the title track is a spare voice-and-guitar-only arrangement, "S'Anc Fuy Belha Ni Prezada," a 13th century "alba"  or dawn song  in Old Occitan, and a cover of John Martyn's "Solid Air." The album is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2012.


"Sparkling guitar and compelling alto voice ... reminiscent of Pentangle's best efforts ... a gentle and magical recording that I will return to time and again."  Sing Out!

"Likely to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck."  Aled Jones, BBC Radio 2

"Folk music as it should be sung  warm, gentle and real."  Alf McCarthy, Late Date, RTÉ Radio 1

"An unreserved thumbs-up. Captivating performance, great songs, playing and singing. Sarah was also totally professional, charming and low maintenance. What more could you ask for?"  Gerry Evans, TwickFolk, London

"She sings with so much beauty  and with utmost respect for the folklore behind each song and ballad."  Gene Shay, WXPN, Philadelphia

Joe Baldassarre ( was doing studio work from age 13 to 24 in Cleveland. He pursued the academic route, receiving a Master's Degree in Medieval Music History and a Doctorate in Classical Guitar. Most of his professorial career was spent at Boise State University while he continued to gig in rock, classical, folk and jazz. In the last decade, he has been musical director and lead guitarist for Idaho's legendary rock band, The Chancellors, while putting out a solo folk CD Young Jane and a medieval music CD Luter.

For interviews, images or more information, contact Chad Dryden with Bandwagon PR, 208.284.0355 or



Linen Building
1402 W. Grove St
Boise, ID 83702
United States

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Music > All Ages
Music > Folk

Kid Friendly: Yes!
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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