CORNELIUS – Less than a month before his show at the Warehouse Performing Arts Center, Jamie Laval was curious how the venue could accommodate everyone who was interested in his show, given the amount of tickets that had been sold at that point.
Laval, a resident of Tryon and U.S. national Scottish fiddle champion, will perform Friday, June 21 – the first day of summer and longest day of the year – with vocalist Megan McConnell for the Celtic-based Summer Solstice Celebration Concert. And due to the high demand for the 50-seat venue, a second show was added that night.
Herald Citizen: How significant is it to perform at the more-intimate venues?
Jamie Laval: One of the hardest issues is smaller venues are vanishing. An independent artist like me isn’t going to be touching those spaces. What about this whole wave of emerging artists? Where do they play? If there’s no place to perform, where do these emerging artists perform? But the Warehouse, they decide, “We’re going to open up a venue but were not going to overreach.” They found this little space.
HC: How did you and Megan start touring together?
JL: In the last six years, I’ve had this Christmas tour I take around North Carolina in four cities. It’s six people on stage and three people backstage, and it has gotten a lot of good attention and has grown quite a lot. The singer for the Christmas tour is Megan. We just admire each other’s music, it’s such a great stylistic fit. Her voice can just do everything. She’s got this personality that’s really engaging. We’ve got to do something more than just once a year. On Jan. 1, we started this new direction of doing just a duo. I love it, it is so interesting and inspiring and also extremely challenging.
HC: How would you describe your show?
JL: It’s a really intriguing challenge, and I love the results. There’s love songs, atmosphere music, toe-tapping. All types of things are possible with this combo. ... Meagan can sing in multiple languages – a lot of our materials are in Gaelic – and its working so well.
HC: What’s the history behind the summer solstice show?
JL: The whole concept of a summer solstice is a 5,000-year tradition. There are direct and understandable links to Celtic music. It’s an oral tradition, passed down generation to generation. Celtic music is like a conduit into the past. That’s the background style. Furthermore, with midsummer solstice, you have all the celebrations that took place during that time. It’s the longest day of the year. People would stay up to midnight and have bonfires and celebrations. … It’s not only ancient music but ancient mythic stories, the old pagan stories and Irish tales.
HC: What was it like performing on Dave Matthews’ 2003 solo album, “Some Devil?”
JL: There is some really good string writing on that album. We all collaborated. I was there with Dave in the recording studio, so that was super fun, so that was a great collaboration.