BY SEAN SMITH
SPECIAL TO THE BIR
Appearances by distinguished performers with lengthy and accomplished careers are a staple of Irish/Celtic events in Greater Boston/Eastern Massachusetts, and these next several weeks are no exception.
•Kevin Burke, one of the Irish folk revival’s most skillful fiddlers, will be at Club Passim in Harvard Square on April 28 at 7:30 p.m. Born in London but with family ties to Sligo and its storied fiddle tradition, Burke became a mainstay in London’s Irish music community as a teenager. Moving to New York City, Burke befriended such musicians as Irish ex-pats Joe Burke and Andy McGann, who inspired him to take up music full-time. He eventually wound up in Dublin’s fertile folk/trad scene, and became a member of the groundbreaking Bothy Band, going on to equally rewarding stints with Patrick Street and the Celtic Fiddle Festival. A resident of Portland, Ore., since 1980, Burke released his solo album, “An Evening with Kevin Burke” last year.
The trio of Haas, Haas & Falquet performs on April 21 at 8 p.m. This combo of the Haas sisters, Natalie (cello) and Brittany (fiddle), and Natalie’s husband Yann Falquet (guitar, vocals) represents a blend of musical styles and interests spanning continents: Natalie is perhaps best-known for her lengthy partnership with Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, but she also has played with Irish acts like Altan and Solas, Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster, and explored folk traditions of Scandinavia, Spain, and France; Brittney has been one of the more exciting young fiddlers to emerge on the American folk/roots scene, as a member of pioneering string band Crooked Still and in collaboration with Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, and Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin); Falquet is renowned as one of the better Quebecois musicians and singers in the past decade or more, especially as part of the trio Genticorum, but more recently he has branched out to play with Cape Breton fiddler Katie McNally and Irish musicians Shannon Heaton and George Keith, as well as The Friel Sisters.
Scotland’s Tony McManus brings his mastery of the finger-style guitar to the stage on May 1 at 8 p.m. McManus, who is self-taught, renders the complex ornamentations of traditional music associated with fiddle and pipes, and the effect is spellbinding and often emotionally powerful. He has also teamed with an array of celebrated performers like Dougie McLean [see below], Phil Cunningham, Liam O’Flynn, Martin Simpson, Kevin Burke, Alison Brown, Natalie MacMaster, The Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Catriona Macdonald, and Andy Irvine. In recent years, McManus has branched out into classical and baroque, which resulted in his 2013 album “Mysterious Boundaries.”
For tickets and other information on Passim shows, see passim.org.
•The Berklee Performance Center will host a concert by The Gloaming, whose fusion of traditional Irish music with elements of contemporary classical, jazz, and other modern sounds has attracted great interest on both sides of the Atlantic, on April 7 at 7:30 p.m. The quintet’s membership reflects a solid footing in traditional styles combined with a willingness to explore and experiment: Martin Hayes, a master of the lyrical East Clare fiddle style; guitarist/mandolinist Dennis Cahill, who frequently collaborates with Hayes; Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, whose fiddling reflects the Sliabh Luachra tradition but also his own experiments in Scandinavian and American music; sean-nos singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, formerly with revolutionary Irish/world-fusion group Afro Celt Sound System; and Thomas Bartlett AKA Doveman, a Vermont-born pianist who has played in numerous folk, contemporary, and other musical genres. The Gloaming’s most recent album, the much-acclaimed “Live at the NCH,” effectively captures its virtuosity and creativity.
The concert is sponsored by World Music/CRASHarts; for tickets and other information, see worldmusic.org.
•Another World Music/CRASHarts presentation this month is Quebecois powerhouse Le Vent Du Nord, at the City Winery on April 30 at 8 p.m. A leading force in Quebec’s progressive francophone folk movement for the better part of two decades, the band has continually shown energy and inventiveness in incorporating contemporary material – some of it their own compositions – alongside the traditional, and with an awareness of global influences. The line-up of Nicolas Boulerice (hurdy gurdy), Oliver Demers (fiddle), Simon Beaudry (guitar, bouzouki) and Rejean Brunet (accordion, bass) has recently expanded to include Rejean’s brother, Andre, a leading fiddler in the Quebecois style. Le Vent du Nord released its latest album, “Territoires,” earlier this year.
Tickets are available via the City Winery website at citywinery.com/boston.
•Scottish vocalist, guitarist, and fiddler Dougie MacLean, composer of iconic songs like “Caledonia,” “Broken Wings,” “Feel So Near” and “Ready for the Storm,” will be at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport on April 11 at 8 p.m. MacLean’s songs have been covered by performers like Ronan Keating, Mary Black, and American country singer Kathy Mattea, and his music has been featured in film (“The Last of the Mohicans”) and television (BBC’s “A Mug’s Game”). For the past decade, he has organized a 10-day acoustic music festival in Perthshire to celebrate the region’s history and culture. In 2011, he was honored with an OBE.
Grammy Award-winning fiddler Eileen Ivers, who has been instrumental in forging connections between Irish and Celtic music with that of other cultures and genres, comes to Shalin Liu on April 13 at 8 p.m. Born of Irish parents in New York City, Ivers grew up immersed in the Irish tradition – she would win nine All-Ireland fiddle championships – but also found inspiration in the music she heard on and around the city streets, including African, Latin, jazz, and rock. So it was that she not only co-founded the ahead-of-its-time all-women Irish music group Cherish the Ladies, but also wound up as a featured musician in the original “Riverdance,” leading the intercultural band Immigrant Soul, and collaborating with luminaries such as Sting, Hall & Oates and Patti Smith, as well as the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Tickets, details at rockportmusic.org.
•The Burren Backroom series will host singer-songwriter Jim Malcolm, another prominent figure in the Scottish folk/traditional scene for the last couple of decades, on April 3 at 7:30 p.m. Malcolm was for seven years a member of Old Blind Dogs, one of Scotland’s most cosmopolitan folk/trad bands, where he showcased his expressive voice and nimble guitar and harmonica-playing. Over the past dozen years or so, he has built a successful solo career on his own material as well as his highly regarded interpretations of songs by Robert Burns, among other Scots literary giants.
April 7 will see a return appearance by Massachusetts ensemble Fellswater, known for its meticulously arranged sets of Scottish, Irish, Breton, and other Celtic-related music for instruments such as fiddle, Scottish small pipes and border pipes, flute, whistle, guitar, bouzouki, and percussion. The band (Elizabeth Ketudat, Sarah MacConduibh, Jim MacCondiubh, Kyle Forsthoff, and Andrew McIntosh) also has a vocal component in husband-wife duo Chris and Diane Meyers. Fellswater’s most recent album is “Skipping Stones.”
Also visiting the Backroom again will be House of Hamill, the duo of Brian Buchanan and Rose Baldino, on April 17 at 7 p.m. Buchanan (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, vocals) is known for his long association with Canadian folk-rockers Enter the Haggis, while Baldino (fiddle, vocals) was a member of the now-on-hiatus-or-defunct Celtic folk band Burning Bridget Cleary. Equally talented as classical violinists as they are traditional-style fiddlers, the two combine original and contemporary material with tunes and songs from the folk tradition, bringing with them rock, pop, and other influences cultivated over the years.
Kicking off the Backroom’s May schedule will be guitarist-vocalist Donal Clancy, on May 1 at 7:30 p.m. A founding member of the band Danú, he has played with The Chieftains and fiddler Eileen Ivers [see above], collaborated with numerous other musicians and singers, and released three solo albums, including one devoted to solo guitar. In recent years, he has devoted time to honoring the repertoire and tradition of the Clancy family, notably his father, the late Liam Clancy; Donal has occasionally joined forces with Rory Makem, the son of Liam’s longtime partner, Tommy Makem, to perform the songs their fathers made famous.
Opening will be the duo of Chris Overholser and Sunniva Brynnel. Overholser (fiddle, mandolin) and Brynnel (accordion, vocals), former members of the group Night Tree, explore the connections between Celtic and Scandinavian music while also presenting their highly original works.
For links to tickets and other details about the Backroom series, go to burren.com/EventsCalendar.html.
•The 19 Carter Music Series in Berlin will feature Massachusetts fiddler-vocalist-songwriter Emerald Rae on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. Rae has been active in traditional music, particularly that of Scotland and Cape Breton, since her childhood, playing in many collaborations – including as part of the “alt-trad” band Annalivia – as well as a soloist. In recent years, she has turned her attention to American folk music and songwriting. Her newest release focuses on her vocal-fiddle synergy for traditional, contemporary and original songs.
See 19carter.org for more details.
•If you have a hankering for a U2-type evening, the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton presents The Joshua Tree on April 13 at 8 p.m. The Boston-based band has developed a national reputation in evoking the magic and majesty of U2, and prides itself on reproducing the legendary Irish rockers’ distinct sound – covering the very early years up to the present – while maintaining artistic integrity.
For information, go to irishculture.org.
BY SEAN SMITH