A sampling of Irish/Celtic and related events in Greater Boston for October:
• Another busy month for The Burren Backroom series, beginning on Oct. 3 with a CD release concert by local sextet Night Tree. Its uniquely original material is centered on Irish/Celtic and Scandinavian music while also incorporating classical, classical, jazz, klezmer and Afro-Cuban influences, and features individual improvisation as well as ensemble playing from Lily Honigberg, violin; Chris Overholser, violin, viola and mandolin; Zach Mayer, saxophones, vocals; Sunniva Brynnel, accordion, vocals; McKinley James, cello; and Julian Loida, percussion. The band’s new CD, its second, was produced by Seamus Egan of Solas.
The harp/guitar duo of spouses Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman comes to the Backroom on Oct. 10. Ní Chathasaigh, from a celebrated Irish music family, is widely hailed as an innovator of the Irish harp technique; English native Newman has performed throughout the UK and beyond both as a soloist, as a member of The Boys of the Lough, and with a lengthy list of collaborators ranging from jazz violin legend Stéphane Grappelli to Northumbrian pipes virtuoso Kathryn Tickell to Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa. Since teaming up in 1987, Ní Chathasaigh and Newman have taken their blend of traditional Irish, jazz, baroque and bluegrass, along with original compositions, far and wide while recording seven albums – and a pair with Ní Chathasaigh’s sister Nollaig Casey and Casey’s husband Arty McGlynn as the Heartstring Quartet.
Opening for Ní Chathasaigh and Newman will be Boston-area trio Ceol Corvus, whose members (Emily Peterson, concertina, whistle; Steve Levy, vocals, bouzouki, mandolin, tenor banjo; Sean Smith, vocals, guitar, bouzouki, bodhran) have long been active in the local music scene. Their free-reed/fretted-string dynamic combines the spontaneity and spirit of the Irish session with latter-day influences and arrangements inspired by the modern Irish folk revival.
Two inimitable, and very Galway, singer-songwriters, Padraig Stevens and Leo Moran, team up for an Oct. 12 show. Moran is well known as a co-founder of the much-loved band The Saw Doctors, of which Stevens was also a member; The Saw Doctors have had three number one singles in the Irish charts. Stevens and Moran’s previous collaborations have included “The First Fifteen,” a collection of songs that celebrated the Galway football team in the wake of its success in the 1998 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. Their most recent endeavor is the album, “News from the Old Country,” which reviewers have praised for its wit, charm, and nostalgia, as well as its realistic views of Galway life.
On Oct. 17, the Backroom will feature Andrew Finn Magill, a two-time All-Ireland fiddler who has branched out to explore old-timey and bluegrass, as well as music from Brazil and Malawi. He’ll be joined by multi-instrumentalist Alan Murray, a native Glaswegian who has played with Niall and Cillian Vallely, Eileen Ivers, Colin Farrell, and the Battlefield Band.
Guitarist-mandolinist-vocalist Flynn Cohen and fiddler Duncan Wickel will appear on Oct. 24. Cohen has continually explored the connections between Appalachian and other American traditional music with that of Ireland, Scotland and English, as a soloist and in his bands The Deadstring Ensemble and Low Lily (formerly Annalivia), as well as with performers like Aoife Clancy, Cathie Ryan and John Whelan. Wickel has been similarly versatile, hailed for his mastery in jazz, bluegrass and old-timey while also playing with eminent Irish/Celtic musicians such as Liz Carroll, John Doyle and Cara Dillon. Also appearing is guitarist Scott Nygaard, who has been equally adventurous and wide-ranging in his choice of music, including bluegrass, jazz, Cajun, old-time, western swing and rock and roll, and in recent years traditional Swedish and Irish music.
Rounding out this month at the Backroom on Oct. 31 will be fiddler Liam O’Connor and multi-instrumentalist John Blake. O’Connor, in addition to winning five All-Ireland fiddle titles and junior and senior Oireachtas fiddle competitions, is an accomplished classical violinist. The 2002 TG4 Young Musician of the Year, O’Connor earned another honor in 2017 when his solo album “The Loom” was voted Trad Album of the Year by the Irish Times; critics praised “The Loom” – which includes a duet with his father, noted flute player Mick O’Connor – for its showcasing of O’Connor’s technical ability as well as his imagination and expressiveness. Blake, who appears on “The Loom,” is not only a much-in-demand accompanist on guitar and piano but an accomplished flute player, and was a member of the band Téada.
All above events begin at 7:30 p.m. For other details and links to tickets, go to burren.com/EventsCalendar.html.
• Club Passim in Harvard Square will present a pair of highly distinguished singer-songwriters, Archie Fisher and Garnet Rogers, who are touring together for the last time, on Oct. 4, with shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Fisher, from one of Scotland’s foremost folk families, has been a mainstay at festivals, clubs and coffeehouses for decades – many of his original songs, such as “Witch of the Westmorland,” have entered the popular folk repertoire; he also served as host of BBC Radio Scotland’s “Travelling Folk” for more than 25 years and at one time performed with the duo Makem and Clancy. Born in Ontario, Rogers began his musical career accompanying his well-known brother, the late singer-songwriter Stan Rogers, playing fiddle, flute, guitar and mandolin. Following Stan’s death in 1983, he became a performer in his own right, penning songs such as “The Outside Track” and “All That Is.” Fisher and Rogers started their collaboration in the mid-1980s and recorded an album, “Off the Map,” in 1986.
A more recently formed duo, Maeve Gilchrist and Keith Murphy, will be at Passim on Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. Gilchrist (harp, vocals) and Murphy (guitar, mandolin, vocals) play music from Scotland, New England, Ireland, Quebec, Acadia, Newfoundland and Cape Breton, among other places, and are both highly praised for their skills in composing and arranging – Murphy with Childsplay and as music director for “St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn,” Gilchrist as assistant music director for “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn.” The pair also are teaching a workshop on group singing and arranging from 2-4 p.m.
The Katie McNally Trio performs on Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. McNally, a Westford native whose fiddle-playing is grounded in the Scottish and Cape Breton traditions, has been on the concert stage since her early teens, performing and touring on her own and as a member of Childsplay and Long Time Courting, and in collaboration with Galician bagpiper Carlos Nunez. Her more recent musical project is a trio with genre-crossing keyboardist Neil Pearlman and violist Shauncey Ali. Their 2016 album, “The Boston States,” is a collection of tunes that draw inspiration from mid-century recordings of Cape Breton fiddlers both in Nova Scotia and Massachusetts.
For tickets and other information on Passim events, go to passim.org.
• Only two days after the Archie Fisher-Garnet Rogers concert at Club Passim [see above], another pair of venerable singer-songwriters will be in town, as Jez Lowe and James Keelaghan play at the Somerville Museum on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Lowe’s songs – by turns sensitive and somber, light-hearted and downright funny – are centered on the history, lore and most of all, the people of his native northeastern England: miners, farmers, sailors, heroes, ne’er-do-wells, and anyone else trying to make a life and perhaps find love along the way. His work has been covered by the likes of The Dubliners, Fairport Convention and The Duhks, among others. This year has seen him publish his first novel, The Dillen Doll, with an accompanying CD featuring a “suite” of traditional songs inspired by the story within it. Keelaghan, from Calgary, bridges traditional folk with roots revival and Celtic music, and in his songwriting has frequently turned to historical events for inspiration, notably “Cold Missouri Waters,” about a tragic Montana wildfire; other subjects include the Dunkirk evacuation (“Fires of Calais”) and the World War II interment of Japanese Canadians (“Kiri’s Piano”). He also has begun leading “musical tours” of Ireland. The pair first began playing together some two decades ago, and have often meshed their songwriting talents.
The event is organized by Music for Billie; for information, see musicforbillie.org.
• Co. Armagh-born Jarlath Henderson, who’s drawn raves for both his singing and uilleann piping and whistle playing, brings his band to The Rockwell in Davis Square on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Henderson is a three-time All-Ireland champion who has played with Paddy Keenan, LAU, Michael McGoldrick and Salsa Celtica, among others, and was even featured on the soundtrack for the Disney/Pixar film “Brave.” His singing is rooted in tradition while also showing an awareness of pop/contemporary inflections, as demonstrated on his debut solo album from 2016, “Hearts Broken, Heads Turned,” which features electronica and jazz elements alongside pipes, fiddle and other acoustic instruments.
Henderson’s concert is organized by World Music/CRASHarts – for tickets, see
• Gore Place in Waltham will be the setting for an autumnal feast of fiddling, when “Fiddlers on the Farm” takes place from 2-5 p.m. on Oct. 21. Featured will be The Boston Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, led by Neil Pearlman, the performance group of the Boston Scottish Fiddle Club, consisting of some two dozen musicians who along with fiddle also play cello, guitar, mandolin, flute, keyboards and other instruments, their repertoire focused on traditional and contemporary Scottish and Cape Breton tunes. Also performing will be the traditional Irish fiddle duo of Nathan Gourley and Laura Feddersen, native Mid-Westerners who have become fixtures of Boston’s Irish music scene. Gourley has been a member of Chulrua, the Doon Ceili Band, the Two Tap Trio, and the Máirtín de Cógáin Project, was a finalist in the Sean O Riada fiddle competition in 2014 and won Boston’s Fiddler of Dooney competition in 2013. Feddersen began her musical odyssey by playing for square and set dances in her hometown of Bloomington, Ind., before taking a strong interest in Irish and Irish-American music; since then, she’s traveled extensively throughout the US as a performer and teacher. Gourley and Feddersen have fashioned a distinctive approach to twin fiddling that encompasses chordal harmonies and rhythmic and melodic variations as well as strict unison. In 2016, the two released a well-received album, “Life Is All Checkered.”
— SEAN SMITH