October 31, 2019
In addition to the Childsplay farewell tour (see separate story in this edition), here are some other Irish/Celtic music happenings in greater Boston this month:
•The annual Massachusetts Fiddle Hell, which takes place Nov. 7-10, at the Westford Regency Inn in Westford, offers not only mini-concerts and evening performances but workshops that showcase numerous fiddle styles, among them Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, Appalachian, and Scandinavian; instruments such as guitar, mandolin and cello also are featured. This year’s line-up includes Andrea Beaton, Barbara McOwen, David Surette, Eamon Sefton, Elizabeth and Ben Anderson, Ellery Klein, Flynn Cohen, Frank Ferrel, Janine Randall, Jenna Moynihan, Laurel Martin, Mark Simos, Paul Harty and Rose Clancy. Numerous sessions, planned and spontaneous, spring up at Fiddle Hell. For complete details, go to fiddlehell.org.
• The Irish singer, music scholar, and author Dan Milner will give a lecture and concert at Boston College on Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m., sponsored by BC’s Gaelic Roots series. Born in England of Irish and English parents, Milner has amassed a diverse repertoire that includes traditional, music hall, Fenian/Nationalist, maritime and Tin Pan Alley songs. He has made six recordings, including one as a member of the band The Flying Cloud and others featuring performers such as John Doyle, Joanie Madden, Mick Moloney, Brian Conway, and Robbie O’Connell. He has written extensively for several publications, including Irish Music magazine and The Journal of New York Folklore, and has just published his second book, “Unstoppable Irish: Songs & Integration of the New York Irish, 1783-1883,” which he will discuss during his BC appearance. In “Unstoppable Irish,” Milner contends that Irish Catholics integrated rather than assimilated into the New York populace, and he examines how traditional, street and early popular songs can enhance historical knowledge by commenting on events from a street-level perspective.
The lecture and concert, which will take place at Connolly House (300 Hammond Street), is free. Go to bc.edu/irish.html for information on other Irish-related events at BC.
•The Canadian American Club of Massachusetts’s annual fundraising gala will feature Cape Breton, Scottish, Irish,and Quebecois music and dance from early afternoon to early evening on Nov. 3 at the club, located in Watertown. Performers will include Michael Kerr, Ken Perlman, Boston Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, Planet Banjo, Malka and Terry Traub, Adrienne Howard and friends, musicians of the Boston Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann branch, the Jackie O’Riley Dancers with uilleann piper Joey Abarta, and a Cape Breton fiddle-pipes-Gaelic song mini-concert led by Katie McNally and Neil Pearlman. There also will be four Mabou sets with music provided by Maggie MacPhail, Gordon Aucoin, Rachel Reeds, and Jake Brillhart and Leland Martin.
The club also hosts a concert and dance with Cape Breton fiddle-piano duo Wendy MacIsaac and Mac Morin on Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. MacIsaac is highly regarded for her devotion to the Cape Breton “old school” fiddle style, and for her piano-playing and step dancing. She has performed with The Chieftains, Capercaillie, and Ashley MacIsaac, and records and tours with Mary Jane Lamond and Cathy Porter. She also is part of the band Beolach, as is Morin. His other collaborations include Natalie MacMaster, Allison Kraus, and even Yo-Yo Ma and Art Garfunkel.
For more information, see canadianamericanclub.com.
• Singers/entertainers/raconteurs Tom Comerford and Andreas Durkin will give a matinee performance at the Irish Cultural Center of New England in Canton on Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. Comerford, a former member of the Irish American band The Whole Shabang who began playing solo 20 years ago, has released seven albums, including “Galway Girl” and “Songs and Stories Live,” which feature his renditions of many popular Irish favorites (“Star of the County Down,” “Long Way to Tipperary,” “Black Velvet Band,” “Leaving of Liverpool”). In addition to solo touring, Comerford has been a regular participant – along with Ronan Tynan and Andy Cooney, among others – on the annual Cruise of Irish Stars. Durkin, who’s also been on the Cruise of Irish Stars, plays with Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones as well as in his own band Cheap Whiskey and in a duo with his mother, country singer Kathy Durkin. Last year, he released his third album, “The Cowboy Rides Away.”
For ticket information, go to irishculture.org.
• The Burren Backroom series will welcome New England-based quartet Fàrsan on Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. Its members (Katie McNally, fiddle; Neil Pearlman, piano, accordion, mandolin, step dancing; Elias Alexander, pipes, whistle, percussion, vocals; Màiri Britton, lead vocals, step dancing) present song, dance, and instrumental music from Scotland – particularly the highlands and islands – and the closely related traditions of Cape Breton, their arrangements providing a New World feel to Old World folklores. Fàrsan released its debut album last year and recently appeared as part of the Celtic Colours International Festival in Nova Scotia.
Opening for Fàrsan is the Zeichner Trio, siblings Yasi, Oliver and Louli Zeichner from central Vermont, who play a combination of traditional Irish and old-timey/Appalachian music on fiddle, uilleann pipes, tenor and five-string banjo, whistle and harp. Their gig history includes the New World Festival in Randolph, Vt., and the Big E in Springfield.
Innovative fiddler, composer and arranger Jamie Laval returns to the Backroom on Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. A former US National Scottish Fiddle champion, Laval has performed and taught in a variety of settings, from festival stages to small workshops, presenting a passionate, virtuosic brand of traditional music that brings in styles and influences ranging from jazz to classical and elsewhere. He has also taken his music to other realms, including movie and TV soundtracks and the Dave Matthews Band. His most recent album, “Murmurs and Drones,” won the popular vote for “Best World Traditional Album” in the 2012 Independent Music Awards; a new album, “Celtic Christmas: Music for the Deep Midwinter,” is nearing completion.
Two of New England’s finest folk/traditional guitarists, Flynn Cohen and Matt Heaton, join forces with local fiddler Natalya Kay on Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Cohen, also a talented mandolinist, and Heaton – who plays bouzouki, too – have been involved in numerous collaborations, including with one another; Cohen is part of the roots/Americana trio Low Lily, while Heaton and wife Shannon perform Irish and Irish American music. Kay, a Boston area native, studied under Laurel Martin and as a 17 year old won first place for under-18 solo fiddle in the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh Cheoil. She has become a regular at many local sessions and Irish music events.
For links to tickets and information on all Burren Backroom events, go to burren.com/music.html.
• In celebration of St. Andrew’s Day, a Scottish Ceilidh will be held on Nov. 2 from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Irish Social Club, 119 Park St, West Roxbury. It is being sponsored by the Scots’ Charitable Society, Boston Scottish Country Dancers, and Highland Dance Boston. The event features performances by Celtic Beats, New Hampshire Pipes and Drums, Highland Dance Boston and the Boston Scottish Country Dancers, plus ceilidh dancing (with callers) with music by A Parcel of Rogues. See scots-charitable.org/st-andrews-ceilidh.
*•The local trio Ceol Corvus comes to the Gore Place Carriage House in Waltham on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. The band’s 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.
Ticket information and other details available at goreplace.org/programs/concerts-music.