The Boston Irish Calendar of Celtic Music/Dance Events April 2020: A sparse collection that comes full of ‘maybes’

Fiddle-cello spousal duo Hanneke Cassel and Mike Block will be part of a double bill with Cape Breton fiddler Mairi Rankin at the Burren Backroom on April 29.

Not surprisingly, what would normally have been a robust calendar of Irish/Celtic/traditional music-related events in Greater Boston last month was decimated by the coronavirus crisis. Here’s what is scheduled for April, with the obligatory “check the venue for updates” disclaimer.

•Club Passim in Harvard Square plans to host French Canadian trio Genticorum for two shows at Club Passim on April 11, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Pascal Gemme (fiddle, foot percussion, vocals), Nicholas Williams (flute, accor-dion, piano, vocals) and Boston-area resident Yann Falquet (guitar, jaw harp, vocals) present a polished yet potent sound, fully rooted in the instrumental and song traditions of Quebec while also mindful of North American and European folk influences. The band has released six recordings, including a live album.

Tickets and other information available at

Ronan Tynan, acclaimed as “America’s Irish Tenor” as well as a symbol of the triumph of faith and human spirit, is slated to appear at Cary Hall in Lexington on April 26 at 3 p.m. A Dublin native raised in Kilkenny, Tynan overcame numerous health problems in his childhood to
become a medal-winning athlete in the Paralympics, then became the first disabled person ever admitted to the National College of Physical Education, starting his career path as a full-fledged medical doctor. Though he didn’t start formal voice training until his early 30s, Tynan quickly blossomed as an operatic/classical-style singer and in 1998 co-formed the Irish Tenors, which enjoyed international success. Since then, Tynan has toured around the world and sung at such landmark events as the state funeral for Ronald Reagan, the Belmont Stakes, benefits and memorial services for 9/11 first responders, and the inauguration of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. In addition to a number of audio recordings, Tynan has released a DVD of his motivational speaking.


•The Tigh Na Coille youth folklore troupe, with some of the finest young traditional Irish musicians from County Clare, is scheduled to be on hand April 6 at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton, where they will present a concert from 7:30-9 p.m.; a ceili will follow. Mustering fiddle, flute, accordion, harp, concertina and banjo, the members of Tigh Na Coille – who range in age from 14-18 – are all accomplished competitors in the All-Ireland Fleadh who have learned the music completely by ear.

The ICCNE has also become a frequent venue for other brands of artistic expression, notably theater. From April 2-5, the center has been planning to stage “The Two Loves of Gabriel Foley,” Jimmy Keary’s three-act comedy about a middle-aged, unlucky-in-love bachelor farmer who – much to his surprise – suddenly finds more romance than he bargained for. On April 18 at 8 p.m., award-winning Dublin playwright, director and comedian David Gilna is on tap to present his one-man show “A Bolt from D’Blue,” in which he reveals how a one-in-a-million event – being struck by lightning – changed his life. The story is currently being adapted into a feature film. 

For tickets and other information, see 

•A compelling partnership of sounds and sensations, fiddle-cello duo Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas originally scheduled at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport on April 17 has since been postponed with details to follow at a later date. Fraser and Haas, who have recorded five albums together, are known for their distinctive “ducking and diving” duets, in which they exchange riffs, trade off melody versus rhythm, and otherwise converse in various tones of emotion and intensity. They draw on Scottish and other Celtic traditions, but also elements of Scandinavian, Breton, American, classical, jazz, and other music forms. Their nearly two decades-old collaboration also has helped establish the fiddle-cello combo as a common feature in contemporary Celtic music.  

More at

•The Burren Backroom Series has on the schedule an improbable but exhilarating meeting of two vibrant music traditions, Irish and Indian, on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. with “Ragas to Reels” featuring Utsav Lal and Sam Comerford. Known as the “raga pianist,” Lal – who studied at the New England Conservatory – has been widely hailed for his imaginative blending of Dhrupad and Indian classical music with other genres, from jazz to Irish and Scottish music. Comerford, a native of Salem who grew up in Dublin, played tin whistle and Irish flute from a young age and, inspired by the music of Charles Mingus, took up saxophone and focused on studying jazz. In 2009, the two debuted “Ragas to Reels” at Dublin’s National Concert Hall, mixing jigs and reels with jhala patterns and fusing slow airs with alap phrases, all to great fanfare; they released an album version of the project in 2014. Accompanying them at this concert will be Mir Naqibul Islam on tabla. 

Will Woodson and Caitlin Finlay, who are slated to open the show, are firmly grounded in the Irish-American brand of traditional music that grew out of the 1920s and ’30s, and have a deep appreciation for the first generation of recorded Irish musicians. Among their various projects and activities, Woodson (flute, uilleann pipes) and Finley (fiddle) recorded the album “The Glory Reel” with accordionist-pianist Chris “Junior” Stevens. 

Scottish and Cape Breton fiddling could be in the spotlight at the Backroom on April 29 at 7:30 p.m. with a double bill: Mairi Rankin and Eric Wright and Hanneke Cassel and Mike Block. Rankin is one of Cape Breton’s best known fiddlers, incorporating the island’s distinctive style with influences from her Scottish roots; Wright – part of “chambergrass” quartet The Fretless – is an innovative cellist who has imaginatively incorporated the instrument in American and Irish traditional music. Cassel has become a prime exponent of the American-Scottish fiddle style: the elegant, sometimes flamboyant grace that is the mark of classic Scottish fiddle, blended with rhythmic briskness and bluegrass or even jazz-inspired improvisational runs; her cellist husband Block is part of the Grammy-winning Silk Road Ensemble, and has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, among others.

For tickets and information on all Backroom events, see

House of Hamill, the duo of Brian Buchanan (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Rose Baldino (fiddle, vocals), plans to play at the Cherry Bridge House Concert series in Bridgewater on April 17 at 7 p.m. Equally talented as classical violinists as they are traditional-style fiddlers, Buchanan – a member of the popular Canadian Celtic rock band Enter the Haggis – and Baldino, who played in the now-defunct Burning Bridget Cleary, 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.

For information and reservations, send e-mail to

•The notloB Parlour Concerts series is on the schedule to present the Scottish music duo of Elias Alexander and Alasdair White on April 25 at 7:30 p.m. in Fivesparks art gallery, located in Harvard. Alexander – a vocalist who plays multiple instruments ranging from bagpipes to fiddle to guitar to whistle – has a longstanding connection to the Boston-area Celtic scene, having performed at BCMFest, Club Passim, and the Burren Backroom, among other places, as a member of bands such as Soulsha, Cat and the Moon, the Bywater Band and Fàrsan. A native of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, White is regarded as one of Scotland’s finest fiddlers – as performer and teacher – and well-known as a member of the Battlefield Band, an institution in the Scottish folk music revival with whom he’s recorded seven albums; White also is part of traditional Irish music band the Alan Kelly Gang.

For tickets and information on other notloB Parlour Concerts events, see