MANHATTAN, NY—Transatlantic Sessions is the collective title for a series of live musical collaborations begun in 1995 by musicians from both sides of the North Atlantic, playing folk music from Scotland, Ireland, England and North America. Under the musical direction of Scottish fiddler Aly Bain and American guitarist Jerry Douglas, the performances have been recorded and filmed intermittently for six series of half-hour television episodes shown in Great Britain and North America. Transatlantic Sessions also were made available as in DVD and CD formats.
After more than 20 years, the live Transatlantic Sessions finally came to America for a brief tour, including tonight’s performance at the Town Hall. Douglas acted as master of ceremonies, and he and Bain were joined by Scottish musicians Donald Shaw on accordion, John McCusker on fiddle, and James Mackintosh on drums, English musician Michael McGoldrick on pipes, Irish musician John Doyle on guitar, and American musicians Russ Barenberg on guitar and Daniel Kimbro on upright bass. On this date, American vocalists Rosanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sarah Jarosz, John Paul White, and Aoife O’Donovan, along with Irish vocalist Declan O’Rourke and Scottish vocalist Karen Matheson, were invited to sing.
Led by Douglas on resonator guitar, the orchestra played instrumentals, including American bluegrass, Irish jigs and Scottish reels, and allowed for the musicians to showcase their contributions via improvisational solos. When Douglas invited the guest vocalists to the microphone, they explored various realms of folk-styled acoustic music, from Cajun to Celtic and back to country. The set consisted of both traditional and original compositions.
The first-ever Transatlantic Sessions Tour of the United States began on April 27 as part of MerleFest 2017 at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The five-date tour concluded on May 4 at the Town Hall in New York City.