October will be busy for The Burren Backroom series, with six events scheduled, including performances by John Doyle, Celtic Fiddle Festival and Boston-area native Katie McNally. Other Irish/Celtic happenings this month include appearances by former Celtic Thunder member Paul Byrom and local fiddler Mari Black.
• The Backroom will start off on Oct. 5 with the Nordic Fiddlers Block, a trio that explores the ties between Celtic and Scandinavian music. Shetlander Kevin Henderson, Olav Luksengård Mjelva from Norway, and Anders Hall from Sweden are fine exponents of their respective fiddle traditions, with which they create a fascinating synthesis of styles and sounds while upholding the distinctive flavor of each element. The three were featured performers at the 2015 edition of “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn.”
A similar melding of styles and traditions is the hallmark of Celtic Fiddle Festival, which comes to the Backroom a week later, on Oct. 12. Formed in 1993, the band has represented three branches of Celtic music – Irish, Scottish, and Breton – at concerts and festivals and on seven recordings, including their newest, “Storm in a Teapot,” which features their most recent addition to the line-up, Scotland’s Charlie McKerron, a member of Capercaillie. He joins co-founders Kevin Burke of Sligo – formerly with The Bothy Band and Patrick Street – and Christian Lemaitre, a founding member of the Breton-Scottish group Kornog, and guitarist Nicolas Quemener, who’s played with many Irish and Breton bands including Kornog and Arcady.
Arriving the next night in the Backroom will be Quebecois trio De Temps Antan, with André Brunet (fiddle), Éric Beaudry (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki), and Pierre-Luc Dupuis (accordion). All three were members of legendary Quebecois “big band” La Bottine Souriante (Brunet also is familiar to many as a charter member of the original Celtic Fiddle Festival), and expertly and enthusiastically bring to life the infectious Quebecois instrumental and song tradition.
The Katie McNally Trio will come to the Backfroom the following night (Oct. 14) to mark the release of their album, “The Boston States.” A native of nearby Westford versed in the Scottish and Cape Breton fiddle styles, McNally 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; in 2013, she released her first album, “Flourish.” Her more recent musical project is a trio with genre-crossing keyboardist Neil Pearlman and violist Shauncey Ali. Their album is a collection of tunes that draw inspiration from mid-century recordings of Cape Breton fiddlers both in Nova Scotia and Massachusetts.
On October 16, John Doyle – one of the more influential Celtic guitarists of the last couple of decades – returns to the Backroom. Doyle was a co-founder of the groundbreaking Irish-American group Solas and his current bands include The Alt (with Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’Leary), Usher’s Island (with Andy Irvine, Donal Lunney, Michael McGoldrick and Paddy Glackin) and The Teetotallers (with Martin Hayes and Kevin Crawford). He has collaborated far and wide – with performers ranging from Joan Baez to Tim O’Brien to Kate Rusby to Alison Brown – but also has cultivated a successful solo career, broadening his repertoire from traditional songs to original compositions, notably on his 2012 album “Shadow and Light.”
Oct. 19 will see a double bill, beginning with multi-instrumentalist John Carty, a former “Traditional Musician of the Year” as selected by Irish TV broadcaster TG4. Although perhaps best known for his excellent fiddle-playing, Carty has shown himself equally adept on banjo, flute, and guitar. In addition to his solo work, he has performed and recorded with luminaries such as Arty McGlynn, Andy Irvine, Kevin Burke, Alec Finn, Johnny McDonagh and Matt Molloy, and been a guest performer with The Chieftains and De Dannan.
Following Carty will be Bonhomme Setter, whose musical reach extends from Ireland and Scotland to Spain and even the Middle East. The band’s core is flute player and founding member Sylvain Laberge, with Marie-Noëlle Harvey (violin, viola), Marie-Pier Gagné (cello) and Stephane Desbiens (guitar). While most of its repertoire is traditional, Bonhomme Setter’s arrangements draw on classical and contemporary influences, with improvisational interludes and an overall atmospheric, even mesmerizing quality.
All Backroom shows start at 7:30 p.m. except for the John Doyle concert, which takes place at 4 p.m. For more information and links to buy tickets, see burren.com/Backroom-Series.
• In addition to their Burren Backroom appearance, Katie McNally and Neil Pearlman also will perform along with Jenna Moynihan on Oct. 5 at Gore Place in Waltham. Moynihan, who first came to Boston as a student at Berklee College of Music, has established herself as an inspired innovator who integrates traditional Scottish fiddle styles with her own works. She has played regularly as a member of Laura Cortese and the Dance Cards and in a duo with Scottish harpist Mairi Chaimbeul, and has a solo album, “Woven,” to her credit. For tickets and other information, go to mcnally-pearlman.bpt.me.
•T he Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton will present two special events this month. The first will be a dinner-and-dancing evening on Oct. 8 with T.R. Dallas, a Westmeath native who is one of Ireland’s most popular country singers. With a career spanning more than three decades, Dallas – who has appeared locally at the Dorchester Irish Heritage Festival and other venues – has made numerous radio and TV appearances and toured with such notable performers as Johnny Cash, Boxcar Willie, Don Williams, and Foster and Allen.
On Oct. 22, the ICCNE will host Paul Byrom as part of his “Thinking of Home” tour. A Dublin native who recorded his first album at age 14, Byrom was an original member of Ireland’s internationally renowned pop sensation Celtic Thunder. After leaving Celtic Thunder in 2010, he released the CD “This Is the Moment” and a DVD of his PBS special of the same name; his latest album, “Thinking of Home,” reached the top of the iTunes, Amazon and World Billboard Charts.
For ticket information and other details about these events, see irishculture.org.
• Sligo native Tommy Fleming, whose powerful, passionate interpretations of songs old and new, traditional and contemporary, have made him one of Ireland’s most popular vocalists, comes to the Norwood Theatre on Oct. 15. Chosen as Irish Music Magazine’s “Best Irish Male Singer” in 2005, Fleming – who had a stint with the traditional band De Dannan back in the 1990s – has played in sold-out concert halls around the world and made frequent radio and television appearances, including on PBS. For ticket information and other details, see Norwoodstage.com.
• On October 2, Mari Black will bring her multi-style violin talents to Club Passim in Harvard Square. A Boston native, Black – who has appeared locally at The Burren Backroom series and BCMFest – has distinguished credentials that include Glenfiddich Scottish Fiddle Champion, Canadian Maritime Fiddle Champion, and US National Scottish Fiddle Champion. Her repertoire includes not only Irish and Scottish traditions but also American folk music, Argentine tangos, and even classic swing tunes, to name a few.
For tickets and other information, go to passim.org.