Folk legends The Wolfe Tones and renowned Irish tenor John McDermott return to the annual Irish Fest Boston, which takes place June 3 and 4 at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton. Other acts to appear at the festival include the Cillian Vallely Band – featuring Lunasa piper, flute and whistle player Cillian Vallely – veteran ballad/folk band Dublin City Ramblers, folk and country singer Louise Morrissey, Dublin rockers The Stunning, singer-songwriter Mundy, Kerry-based rebel/ballad band Dreams of Freedom, and Ishna, which blends Irish and Celtic music with classical, rock and, contemporary styles.
As always, performers from the Greater Boston area and elsewhere in Massachusetts will be on the schedule, among them Devri, Boston Erin Og, Boxty, Jinty McGrath, Silver Spears, Tradition, The Fenian Sons, Curragh’s Fancy, Erin’s Melody, Cliodhna & Trad Ash Heads, House DJ Sean O’Toole, and the Noel Henry Irish Showband, as well as musicians from the Boston branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Irish Fest Boston also will feature other entertainment and attractions –including the Irish Wolfhounds Association, an encampment of the Viking Irish (recreating Hiberno-Norse Viking culture from the ninth and 10th centuries), hayrides, and games and activities for children and families – a food court and various vendors and exhibitors. Festival information is available at irishfestboston.com.
The Wolfe Tones, a highlight of last year’s festival that saw their tribute to the 1916 Easter Rising centenary, will again bring to Canton their extensive repertoire of traditional, historical, topical, and rebel songs, and humorous ditties. The trio of co-founders Brian Warfield and Noel Nagle, and longtime member Tommy Byrne has played at venues and festivals around the world for more than five decades, and compiled a discography of 16 studio albums, three live albums, and 40 singles, among them “Flight of the Earls” and “Streets of New York,” which were No. 1 hits in Ireland.
Born in Scotland and raised for most of his childhood in Canada, John McDermott has furthered the legacy of the Irish tenor in popular music throughout a long career that stretches back to the early 1980s. With the success of his 1992 album “Danny Boy,” McDermott became a full-time singer, beginning as an opener for The Chieftains before touring as a solo act. In 1998, he, along with Anthony Kearns and Ronan Tynan, formed The Irish Tenors, which was featured regularly on PBS. Since leaving the group, he has continued to perform with his own band as well as various symphony orchestras while also working in support of veterans. A double DVD set that includes an unaired PBS special on McDermott will be released this year.
Raised in a quite active musical family – his parents were key figures in the revival of traditional music in his native Armagh – Cillian Vallely is acknowledged as one of the finest uilleann pipers and whistle players of his generation. In addition to his work as a member of Lunasa, Vallely has collaborated with performers such as fellow Lunasan Kevin Crawford, Tim O’Brien, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Bruce Springsteen. Last year he released his first solo album, “The Raven’s Rock,” which included appearances by his brothers Niall and Caoimhin.
The Dublin City Ramblers started out in the mid-1960s, albeit under a different name – they became the Dublin City Ramblers in 1970 – and had a top 10 hit album in 1972, “A Nation Once Again.” They recorded a string of popular songs, such as “The Ferryman,” “John O’Dreams,” “The Rare Ould Times,” “The Punch and Judy Man” and “The Ballad of Bobby Sands, MP,” and even an anthem in honor of the Irish national football team, “We Are the Boys in Green.” In recent years, the Ramblers have played as a trio, with founding member Sean McGuinness, Pierce Plunkett and Tom Miller.
Louise Morrissey began her musical career as a member of The Morrisseys Folk Group, which included her brothers Billy and Norman. Since then, she’s performed throughout Ireland, the UK, the US, the Middle East and other parts of the world. Morrissey has toured with artists such as Foster & Allen, Charley Pride and Dominic Kirwan, and opened for Kris Kristofferson; in Ireland, she’s been part of a “Queens of Country” showcase with Philomena Begley, Billie Jo Spears, Lynn Anderson and Jeannie Sealy, and “The Irish Queens,” featuring Sandy Kelly, Philomena Begley, and Gloria, Margo and Kathy Durkin.
Formed 30 years ago in Galway, The Stunning enjoyed initial success with their debut 1990 album, “Paradise in the Picturehouse,” which was no. 1 on the Irish charts for five weeks, and their song “Brewing Up a Storm,” which proved to be a crowd favorite in stadiums, pubs and clubs around Ireland. Deciding to go their separate ways in 1994, the band reformed nine years later with the re-release of “Paradise in the Picturehouse” and one of the highest grossing tours in Ireland that year. Although its members all have cultivated busy individual careers (Steve Wall is an actor whose credits include “Moone Boy” and “Vikings”), The Stunning reunites for a handful of shows every year.
Links to profiles and websites of other 2017 Irish Fest Boston acts are available at the festival website, irishfestboston.com.