12th BCMfest gathering impressive lineup for Jan. 9-11 production

Boasting a line-up of familiar favorites, new faces and sounds, and creative collaborations, BCMFest (Boston’s Celtic Music Fest), presented by Passim, will once again warm up the winter in celebration of the Boston area’s abundance of Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, and other Celtic-related music and dance traditions.

The 12th annual BCMFest, which takes place this coming January (9-11) in the heart of Harvard Square, will be a gathering place for local musicians, singers and dancers of all ages. This family-friendly, grassroots festival features performances as well as participatory music and dance events, starting with the Friday night “Roots and Branches” concert at Club Passim and the Boston Urban Ceilidh – BCMFest’s popular Celtic dance party – just around the corner at The Atrium, 50 Church Street.

The BCMFest 2015 party continues on Saturday with “Dayfest” – more than seven hours of events at Club Passim and nearby First Parish Church, Cambridge, including children’s and family entertainment in the morning – before concluding with Saturday evening’s “BCMFest Nightcap” finale concert at First Parish Church. 

As a bonus, this year also will see the debut on Sunday of the BCMFest Academy at the Passim School of Music, an afternoon of one-day classes taught by BCMFest performers on a number of traditional Celtic instruments and styles. 

BCMFest is a program of Passim, a Cambridge-based non-profit seeking to build a vibrant music community through its legendary listening venue, music school, artist grants and outreach initiatives. 

At press time, performers confirmed to appear at the festival include: Flynn Cohen & The Deadstring Ensemble; Jenna Moynihan; Laurel Martin, Mark Roberts & Kieran Jordan; Joey Abarta & Jackie O’Riley; Cat and the Moon; Patrick Hutchinson; Soulsha; Fódhla; Alba’s Edge; Molly Pinto Madigan; The Coyne Family; Fresh Haggis; Bridget Fitzgerald; Ceol Corvus; the Vox Hunters; Oran Mor; Lindsay Straw; Nancy Bell; Scottish Fish; Elizabeth & Ben Anderson; Adrianna Ciccone; Laura Cortese & the Boston Urban Ceilidh Band; Mad for Trad Ensemble; the Jackie O’Riley School of Irish Dance; Highland Dance Boston; Audrey Budington & Clayton Clemetson; Liz & Dan Faiella; Will Woodson & Eric McDonald; Jigs & Saws (comprised of students from the Passim School of Music’s Celtic Ensemble); the O’Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance; Colleen White & Sean Smith; the Rushy Mountain Oysters; Hayley Hewitt; Boston Scottish Fiddle Club; and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society of Boston.

In addition, the all-female Celtic band Long Time Courting (Shannon Heaton, Liz Simmons, Val Thompson, and Katie McNally) will present a dynamic and engaging BCMFest Nightcap finale concert, “Women in Trad.” This show features Long Time Courting as house band with an assortment of special guest musicians, dancers and storytellers performing selections that speak to the experiences of women through the ages. With songs and tales of love and heartbreak, heroines and villains, daughters and mothers, supernatural beings and poets, and much more, “Women in Trad” will captivate long-time Celtic music lovers and general music enthusiasts alike.

A look at some highlights of BCMFest 2015:

• Friday night’s “Roots and Branches” concert at Club Passim offers a sample of the innovative, dynamic sounds to be heard in Boston’s Celtic music community today. This year’s performers are the trio of Laurel Martin, Mark Roberts and Kieran Jordan, Flynn Cohen & The Deadstring Ensemble, and fiddler Jenna Moynihan.

• The Boston Urban Ceilidh features participatory and social dances from the Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton traditions, all with live music. No experience is necessary – all dances will be taught. This event sold out early last year, so advance ticket purchase is suggested.

• BCMFest’s Saturday “Dayfest” begins in the morning at Club Passim with songs, storytelling and other entertainment geared toward children and families.

• “Dayfest” also includes participatory events in The Attic of First Parish Church, such as Irish and Scottish music sessions and instruction in Scottish country dance.

• BCMFest is noted for its special collaborations and workshops, in which performers often unite around a particular theme or focus. Among the showcases planned for BCMFest 2015 are: “After the Morning,” newly composed and traditional songs for each month of the year for voice and traditional string quartet, presented by Shannon Heaton with Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards; “Songs of Staying and Straying,” tales of love – both true and false; “Hold Me Closer, Tiny Instrument,” with full-size musicians playing half-size instruments; “No Bow Zone,” capturing the felicity of the fretted string (guitars, mandolins, banjos, bouzoukis, and maybe even ukuleles); and a bit of Celtic soul with “Ain’t No Whistle High Enough.”

Ticket information, performer updates and other details about the festival – including offerings at the BCMFest Academy – will be available at passim.org/bcmfest.