History is full of characters who were too beautiful, too intelligent or too delicate for this world. Ireland's Guggenheim Grotto appears ready to join those ranks. Kevin May, Mick Lynch and Shane Power — all versatile multi-instrumentalists — create soul-shuddering tunes that grip the heart with cold comfort and worldly wisdom. Like the meditative rains that moisten Ireland's verdant, rolling hills, the trio's infectious melodies and May's insightful lyrics pour over a doleful yet placid landscape with a relentless candor that is both reward and punishment. Guggenheim Grotto lightens the load of its parsimoniously profound musings with enough pop hooks and lilting rhythms to keep even the most casual listener engaged. Though hardly a folk act, the group's sincerity and simplicity should serve it well as it shares the stage at the Folks Fest with some very different artists, such as Peter Himmelman, Richie Havens and Chris Isaak, among others, in a setting that mirrors the beauty of its own music.
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