His audience-pleasing marriage of the troubador’s people skills and the novelist’s power have made him a celebrity in Europe and beyond. His intimate yet anthemic songs of the conflict and tragedy in his native Northern Ireland place him at that junction where journalism and poetry meet. And, he’s surely got no less a legend than Pete Seeger on speed dial.
Tommy Sands is well known in folk and world music circles as that rare artist for whom social activism is part and parcel of his craft – a commitment to music’s healing power that reverberates long after the cameras switch off. The veteran musician who played venues from Carnegie Hall to Moscow’s Olympic Stadium as a member of the influential Sands Family band has also seen such compositions as “Daughters and Sons” and “There Were Roses” recorded by Joan Baez, Kathy Mattea, and many others.
On the evening of March 4, 2013, Tommy Sands takes to the stage of one of the area’s premier venues for acoustic music – the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University – for the inaugural date of his Spring 2013 tour, a rare Monday night concert event that’s being presented in conjunction with Monmouth’s new Irish Studies Program.
Produced as part of the 2012-2013 Performing Arts Series by the Center for the Arts at Monmouth, the 7 p.m. event finds the singer from County Down joined on stage by his son Fionan on mandolin and banjo. Audiences can expect material from Sands’ most recent albums Let the Circle Be Wide and the new Arising from the Troubles – as well as traditional Irish classics, his signature tunes, and perhaps even a tribute to contemporary folk’s founding father Seeger. The songs on the program will be complemented by Sands’ narrative of his first-hand experiences in this sometimes sad, sometimes hopeful time in Northern Ireland.
Whatever the musical mood of the moment, a performance by Tommy Sands is infused with a sense of social justice that speaks not only to his homeland’s stormy history and unflagging tenacity, but to any place on Earth where the human spirit rallies around words and music. It’s a personal vision of “a land of dreaming” – a mission that’s seen him workshop with Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren on summoning their lives in song – and travel to Reno, NV, for an acclaimed project designed to draw out the poet and songwriter in convicts from impoverished backgrounds.
Visit the artist’s Web site at tommysands.com for more information on the Northeast tour, as well as books, recordings, and DVDs by Tommy Sands and the Sands Family available for purchase. Visit the Monmouth University Web site at www.monmouth.edu for additional information on the Irish Studies Program on the West Long Branch campus, a place that’s brought Coastal New Jersey audiences access to the best in Irish music (Cherish the Ladies, Len Graham), theater (works by Martin McDonagh and more) and letters (Colm Toibin).
The Performing Arts series continues into Spring 2013 with concerts by Red Horse (March 23), John Hammond (April 5), Step Afrika (April 12), and Roger McGuinn (April 19). For additional information on these and other events, or to purchase tickets, please contact the Monmouth University Performing Arts Box Office at 732-263-6889, or online at www.monmouth.edu/arts. To schedule an interview, please contact Eileen Chapman at 732-571-3512.