Agee & Sousa - Celtic Music Comes Alive at Otero College

Description: Adam Agee on fiddle and Jon Sousa on guitar just have to get up and dance as they play in the last numbers on Sunday afternoon at the Ed Stafford Theatre, Otero College campus, in La Junta. (Photo Credit: Bette McFarren)

Published: 01/17/2022
Byline: McFarren

Agee & Sousa - Celtic Music Comes Alive at Otero College

By: Bette McFarren 

Ed Stafford Theatre AVCCA Irish Duo Adam Agee and Jon Sousa tuned carefully and played together faultlessly in a wonderful Irish music presentation on Saturday afternoon at the Ed Stafford Theatre on the Otero College campus in La Junta.

A whole lot of foot-stamping was going on as Adam Agee and Jon Sousa belted out Irish reels in their Sunday afternoon performance at the Ed Stafford Theatre. They finally had to get up and dance in their final number. The audience had begun clapping along in time and gave them great applause and a standing ovation at the end of the program.

Agee, who plays fiddle, did most of the announcing, and couldn’t keep his feet still on the reels and jigs. Sousa sang the ballads in Gaelic, but told the audience the story of the song.

Ed Stafford Theatre AVCCA Irish DuoJon Sousa, right, handled most of the singing on Sunday afternoon in the Ed Stafford Theatre in La Junta. Sousa sang in Gaelic, but explained the meaning of each song before he sang. Left to right: Adam Agee (fiddle and back-up vocals), Jon Sousa (vocals, guitar, banjo).

In “Casadh an tSugain” (Gaelic neither looks nor sounds like English) Sousa tells the story of the twisted rope. The mother of the girl who is the object of the balladeer’s affection gives the singer the end of a rope to unwrap from a reel, and he must back up out the door to the very end of the rope; in other words, “Get lost!” In the same song, he has told the girl, “I love you so much I would block the wildest horse.” Sousa said he would look at the audience and wiggle his eyebrows when that phrase was sung, and he did, much to their delight.

Comments heard after the performance were: “I didn’t know I liked Irish music!” “Live music is the best.” The performers were probably delighted with how well their albums sold, considering all the lyrics are in Gaelic. So far as we know, Agee and Sousa will be returning in the fall for their scheduled performance.

The LJ7, under the direction of Al Guadagnoli, were unable to play their Jan. 16 scheduled concert with the Arkansas Valley Community Concert because of the serious illness of one of its members.

Judy Hensley, Chair of the AVCCA, was able to contact Adam Agee and Jon Sousa to change the date of their concert, which is scheduled for the fall, to Jan. 16, to cover that date in the concerts scheduled. The Celtic duo played the 2 p.m. matinee at Otero College’s Ed Stafford Theatre. “We are happy to have a concert in the off-season,” said Agee.

Adam Agee and Jon Sousa began playing together in Boulder in 2005. Agee plays fiddle and Jon Sousa plays guitar and banjo. They moved to Ireland in 2008 to immerse themselves in the music, land and culture of Ireland. They lived in Ennis, county Clare, taking part in the community session there. Returning to Colorado in 2009, they continue to perform as a duo.

They tour the United States as well as the international scene. They teach Irish tunes and technique at music camps, festivals and international schools across the world.

Local people have become familiar with their music through the Celtic Music Festival at La Veta. With over 42,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, their most popular track has reached well over three-quarters of a million plays.

Agee’s fiddle music ranges from driving dance tunes to whispering laments. He was raised in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California, and Boulder, Colorado. He first traveled to Ireland in 2004, when he based himself in the richly musical town of Ennis, where he and Sousa would return in 2008. He has now been teaching and performing for more than 20 years.

Sousa fell in love with music early, listening to his parents’ 70’s folk albums in his mother’s record collection. He started on rock music, went through electronic dance music, became interested in African percussion, and finally landed in the world of traditional Irish music. He studied in France with master finger style guitar player Pierre Bensusan, and in Senegal, West Africa, to learn Sabar Drumming. He refined his Irish music skills with Adam Agee in Ennis, County Clare, in 2008. He earned his Master of Arts degree in Traditional Irish Music Performance at the University of Limerick.

Ed Stafford Theatre AVCCA Irish Duo Bette McFarren After the concert, Jon Sousa and Adam Agee are pleased to shake hands with Ed Stafford, namesake of the Ed Stafford Theatre, where they had just performed.

Other concerts in the 2021 concert Season include the New Odyssey Guy, Gary Todd, who plays familiar songs on ten different instruments with lots of comedy.

New Odyssey will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22. A matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 27, features musicians well known to the valley, including James Lind on trumpet and pianists Mary Belew, Mark Hensley, Sally Kappel and Dean Rees.

The 2021-2022 season will close on Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. with Sundae & Mr. Goessl. They perform blues, swing, country and Latin on guitar and melodia with vocals.

All concerts will take place in the Ed Stafford Theatre on the Otero College campus.

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