DENVER | Sometimes tradition can stem from unlikely places.
Avourneen (pronounced a-VORE-neen), a Denver-based trio that specializes in Irish folk, doesn’t have direct geographic ties to Ireland. The band is composed of guitarist/vocalist Adam Goldstein, a Denver native; violinist CL Morden, an import from California; and Kenny Martinez, a longtime Colorado resident and talented bassist. Together, they play a brand of Celtic music that’s both timeless and innovative, a take on the genre the Celtic Connection calls “unique in Colorado – and perhaps in the country.”
The three members of Avourneen boast long résumés playing Irish, Scottish and Breton music. Before forming in 2014, Adam and CL were playing age-old tunes from Ireland professionally, while Kenny had built a vast repertoire of pop, jazz and folk music playing in a diverse set of bands. Goldstein (who claims the of moniker “Denver’s Favorite Irish Jew”) has long been a fixture at Denver’s Clocktower Cabaret and other local venues, where he plays Irish folk songs for the club’s popular burlesque and variety shows. Morden, a classically trained violinist who earned a bachelor’s from the prestigious Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, has experience as a member of the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra and other orchestral ensembles. Martinez, meanwhile, is a veteran of area rock, pop and jazz bands.
It was the music of Ireland that brought the three together, and they’ve made impressive strides in their time together.
Avourneen started out as the house band at Katie Mullen’s, which was the largest Irish pub and restaurant in downtown Denver, for more than two years. During St. Patrick’s Day weekend within three months of their official launch, Avourneen shared the stage with Pinch of Snuff, a quintet straight out of County Leitrim. The band’s version of the Pogues’ classic “Fairytale of New York” even earned a shout-out from the Pogues themselves on Facebook. In 2014, Goldstein and Morden embarked on a trip to Ireland to study the music at its source. In the past six years, the band has played high-profile festivals across the West, including the Colorado Irish Festival, the Cheyenne Celtic Festival, the Elizabeth Celtic Festival and the Celtic Harvest Festival. The band has also appeared on Celtic radio programs across the state, including appearances on KRFC, KRCC and Radio 1340. What’s more, they’ve become one of Colorado’s go-to live bands for contra dances, a traditional dance form that draws participants of all ages.
The trio also plays regular gigs at weddings, professional theaters (they’ve become a featured band at Denver’s Swallow Hill music), folk dances and private events.
In 2014, the band released its first independent album, a full-length record titled Beloved. That title comes from the Irish root of the duo’s official name. Avourneen literally means “dear one” or “beloved” in Irish. In 2020, the band released their first full-length album “Sparrow,” titled after one of their original compositions. It’s an album that earned praise from Irish Music Magazine out of Dublin, which noted, “If you enjoy your Irish music, with a little bit of an original twist, this is the CD for you.” Both albums, as well as Adam Goldstein’s solo album “Old Love Songs and Other Unhealthy Fixations,” are available in the “Store” section of the website.