One of the many things that keeps me returning to New Harmony from north Vanderburgh County (can I coin the term NorVanCo?) is the fantastic Under the Beams concert series, now in its fifteenth season. Every year this series brings remarkable musical talent to our little corner of Indiana, and this year my sweetie Steve bought us season tickets as a Christmas gift — maybe just to save himself the trouble of asking me before every concert if I want to go. I tend to be more of a homebody on winter evenings, but these concerts, without fail, are so very worth getting out for.

And I’m really loving the Murphy Auditorium as a concert venue. Perhaps that’s partially because it’s where I first saw Pokey LaFarge, last February, who immediately became my favorite musician in all the world, but it really is a wonderful place to hear live music. The sound, the seats, the whole experience are pretty much perfect.

Often I go to Under the Beams concerts “cold” — without having heard the music of the group, or even reading about them. But I’ve been listening to Solas a bit this week, mostly watching YouTube. And I’ve discovered that they are way more than a Celtic band. Their ethnic heritage is their foundation, of course, and essential to their sound; but to that foundation they add a folky, Appalachian, bluegrassy dimension, which is really appealing to me these days. (I started life as a Beatles fan, then big band swing, and finally, with the help of “O Brother, Where Art Thou” and Alison Krauss, got to bluegrass.)

Just as appealing as their sound are their thoughtful lyrics and their social/cultural sensibilities. Their current tour is a multimedia show that brings to life their Shamrock City album, an exploration of the immigrant experience a century ago in Butte, Montana. So it sounds like this concert will be an immersive experience, in addition to being simply lovely music.

Buy your tickets at and, if you want to add a few other stops to your time in New Harmony, plan your visit at