BCMFest (Boston Celtic Music Fest) will feature renowned fiddlers Liz Carroll from Chicago and Scotland’s Kevin Henderson when it takes place for the 16th year from Jan. 17 to Jan.20. The two will perform at the BCMFest Nightcap concert on Jan. 19, and hold workshops on the festival’s final day.
While the presence of Carroll and Henderson as headliners represents a new direction for the Harvard Square-based all-ages festival, organizers say BCMFest will continue its longstanding mission of showcasing the Greater Boston area’s rich trove of music, song and dance from Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and other related traditions.
The 2019 BCMFest lineup shows a diversity of sounds in Celtic music, whether strongly rooted in traditional styles or reflecting contemporary influences and perspectives. Among the other acts confirmed to appear are: Laurel Martin with Mark Roberts and Jim Prendergast; Katie McNally and Yann Falquet; Joey Abarta; The Bywater Band; Scottish Fish; Rakish; Pumpkin Bread; Kieran Jordan; The Fens; Yann Falquet and Friends; Adam Agee and Jon Souza; Fade Blue; Boys on the Hilltop; Michael O’Leary with Bob and Jen Strom; Elizabeth and Ben Anderson; Wooden Nickels; Cape Breton Showcase; Yaniv Yacoby and Eric Boodman; Colleen White and Sean Smith; Molly Pinto Madigan; Celtic Roots; Leland Martin; Hornpipalooza; and Live at The Druid. [Information and updates on BCMFest 2019 performers will be available via the BCMFest website, passim.org/bcmfest]
BCMFest will be centered around Club Passim (47 Palmer St.), with evening concerts on Jan. 17 and 18 — each followed by a late-night “Festival Club” — and a marathon “Dayfest” on Jan. 19; performances also will take place that day 19 at The Sinclair (52 Church St.) including BCMFest Nightcap, the festival’s traditional closing event. Also on the schedule is BCMFest’s perennially popular Celtic dance party, The Boston Urban Ceilidh, on Friday night, (Jan. 18), and participatory sessions in Harvard Square locations late the following afternoon The final day, will be devoted to workshops with Carroll and Henderson, as well as other BCMFest performers, at the Passim School of Music.
Carroll is one of the most influential Irish fiddle players of her generation, with five solo albums to her credit and eight others in collaboration, including two with guitarist John Doyle — one of which, “Double Play,” was nominated for a Grammy Award. A past recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award, she also is known as a composer of tunes in the Irish tradition. She has appeared locally as part of “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn” and the 2008 ICONS Festival, among other events, and at The Burren.
Henderson is a native of Scotland’s Shetland Islands, which has a distinctive fiddle tradition. He was a founding member of the acclaimed Shetland group Fiddler’s Bid and, more recently, the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc. Henderson has served as a faculty member of the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School, and performed with the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc at “Christmas Celtic Sojourn.”
BCMFest organizers say the idea to invite Carroll and Henderson builds on some innovations and changes of the past few years, such as expanding the festival’s Friday night/Saturday footprint and adding The Sinclair as a venue, to help both broaden and strengthen BCMFest’s community-oriented focus.
“We asked ourselves ‘What else can we do to support this incredibly rich music community? How can we make BCMFest not only an opportunity to share and showcase local music but also to inspire our local community?’” explains BCMFest co-founder Laura Cortese. “We reached out for input and critique, considered a lot of options, and decided to make a few changes. So for the first time ever, we are inviting two ‘mentors’ whom the community feels a strong connection to – musicians who, though not from Boston, have contributed to our scene in a lasting way. We expect this vibrant exchange of music and ideas to make a lasting impression.”
BCMFest is a program of Passim, a Cambridge-based non-profit that supports a vibrant music community through Club Passim, music school, artist grants and outreach initiatives.
Festival details, including ticket information, will be available at passim.org/bcmfest.