What: Ímar

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Sisters High School auditorium, 1700 McKinney Butte Road, Sisters

Cost: $20 plus fees in advance, $10.50 plus fees in advance for ages 18 and younger ($5 more at the door)

Contact: sistersfolkfestival.org or 541-549-4979

Ímar would have been a very different band if Adam Brown remembered to bring his guitar to the group’s first jam session.

The other four members of the traditional Celtic band — concertina player Mohsen Amini, uilleann piper Ryan Murphy, fiddler Tomas Callister and bouzouki player Adam Rhodes — were informally jamming together at a weekly residency at a bar called Sloans in Glasgow, Scotland. Amini, Rhodes and Murphy had known each other as teenagers, but reconnected performing at traditional Irish-music Fleadh competitions organized by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, where they also met Callister. The musical chemistry was immediate.

“Every night out, we’d be like, ‘We should make a band. This would be a great, great idea. We should make this happen; let’s make a band,’” Amini said recently from Glasgow. “And every day, we’d wake up after putting it all in our calendars in our phone, and then just mute the alarm and forget about it. It went on for months and months and months.”

Murphy finally paid heed to one of those notifications, and began working up some traditional arrangements with Callister. When Amini and Rhodes came on board, the musicians felt they were missing a guitar-playing frontman. Brown was soon invited to a jam session.

“So we asked Adam to come to the rehearsal to do that, and he turned up without any voice, without any guitar, and just turned up with a bodhrán (a traditional Irish drum),” Amini said. “And from then on, he just played bodhrán in the band, and we just skipped the idea of having a singer.”

Three years later, and Ímar — which makes its Central Oregon debut at the Sisters Folk Festival’s Winter Concert Series at Sisters High School on Monday — has grown into its role as a defender of Celtic instrumental traditions, while expanding those sounds at the same time. Sisters audiences may remember Amini from his appearance with Scottish folk trio Talisk at last year’s folk festival, but Ímar is a much different band.

“It’s like a turbo-charged trad session, is probably the best way to describe it,” Amini said.

The band’s sets are rooted in music from Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, with the band often blending the three very similar styles and highlighting the shared history among them.

“You probably wouldn’t pick up on the differences between the different traditions listening in because it’s hard enough to pick up on them even for us, and we’re playing it,” Amini said. “The music is that similar. From Isle of Man, they’ve got a heavy tradition of slides (a type of traditional tune) and the rest of it, and then over in Kerry … over in Ireland, they have the exact same style of tune that is heavily prominent there. … There is small differences. Scotland’s more driving, and Ireland’s maybe a bit more laid back — and it’s not laid back in any way, shape or form, but Scotland seems to play a little bit faster than Ireland.”

The band’s members certainly have the chops to present these traditions. Its members collectively have won nine All-Ireland titles and eight All-Britain titles at the Fleadhs, according to the band’s online biography. Amini was named BBC Radio 2 Musician of the Year in 2018 and BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2016, according to the bio.

This musicianship is on display on the band’s second album, “Avalanche,” released last year. Whereas 2017 debut “Afterlight” featured many of the traditional songs the band started out playing alongside original music, “Avalanche” is dominated by the band members’ compositions.

“We have a Beatle process in the band where if one of us isn’t happy with how it sounds, we will change it and do it until everyone’s happy,” Amini said. “… If you don’t like it, we’ll change it, and we’ll just keep working at it until we’re all happy with it, which I think is a really good way to do that. So that’s what we did when we arranged things — all five of us would just sit in a room, and we’d just riff off of each other and see what comes of it.”

The band’s energetic take on traditional music seems to have come out at the right time, at least for U.S. audiences.

Amini said he’s noticed a strong stateside appetite for Celtic music, and he’s more than happy to oblige.

“Everyone in America really appreciates it, and will be really happy,” Amini said. “There’s a lot of different ways people come to gigs. My experience of America is people have came to the gigs, they’re like, ‘I’ve paid my money, and I really want to get my money’s worth. I want to have the best time possible, and I’m going to be on board with the band right at the start.’ They just want to have a really good time, which is the best sort of reaction you could ever ask for from an audience member.”

22726969