September 23, 2021
A look at live, in-person Irish/Celtic events in Greater Boston/Eastern Massachusetts for September. Please note that details may have changed, or the events may have been postponed or cancelled, since press time.
•The Lowell Irish Festival got off to a promising start in 2019, headlined by The Young Dubliners and featuring local acts such as The Gobshites and The Joshua Tree. Now – finally – the festival is ready to hold its sophomore edition on Sept. 18, on the grounds of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
This year, the festival will host performances on two stages throughout the day by Boxty, Devri, Irish Whispa, Shelagh O’Brien, Rare Ould Times, and Erin Og, highlighted by an evening concert with Ian Millar, a founding member of the internationally famed band The Irish Rovers. The Heavey Quinn Dance Academy from Chelmsford also will present four dancing sessions on the main stage. And there’ll be food trucks, arts and crafts tents, family activities, and craft beer. Details at lowellirishfestival.com.
•Harvard Square’s Club Passim has ramped up its live-show schedule over the course of the summer, and this month will feature three popular Celtic acts, beginning on Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. with transatlantic Scottish trio Cantrip. Originating from the Edinburgh folk scene of the 1990s, the band underwent a significant change several years ago and emerged with a leaner yet still powerful sound. Boston native Eric McDonald (guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, vocals); Dan Houghton (bagpipes, flute, whistle, guitar, bouzouki, vocals), a former Scottish resident now living in Vermont; and Edinburgh’s Jon Bews (fiddle, vocals) have brought other elements to Cantrip’s trad Scottish roots, such as funk, metal, bluegrass, swing, and even klezmer. They are hard at work on a new album, “Undark.”
On Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., it’ll be Kittel & Co. – the most recent collaboration masterminded by genre-busting fiddler Jeremy Kittel. A versatile musician who imbues his forays into Irish and Scottish music with jazzy, improvisational riffs as well as bluegrass, classical, and other styles. He has worked with a wide range of artists, including local American Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel, Boston native singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, and celebrated cellist Yo Yo Ma; he also was a member of the Grammy-winning quartet Turtle Island. His “company” includes Berklee College of Music grad Quinn Bachand (guitar), Josh Pinkham (mandolin), Ethan Jodziewicz (bass), and Simon Chrisman (hammered dulcimer), who for a while resided in the Boston area. In 2018, the band released its debut album, “Whorls,” which included “Chrysalis,” nominated for a Grammy (Best Instrumental Composition).
One of Boston’s most beloved Irish duos, Matt and Shannon Heaton, makes a long-awaited return to Passim on Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. In the two decades they’ve lived here, the Heatons have made an indelible impression with their top-quality prowess and well-deployed passion in playing music from the Irish tradition, whether instrumentals (Shannon on flute, whistle and accordion; Matt on guitar and bouzouki) that are equally powerful and graceful, or songs sensitively rendered with sublime vocal harmony. Their own compositions sit comfortably alongside centuries-old tunes and songs, and often offer glimpses into an array of interests that include Thai music, bicycling and surf rock. For tickets and information, go to passim.org.
•Not so much a concert as a good-natured frolic, the trio New Potatoes will present its delayed celebration of St. Patrick’s Day 2020, or its “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day 2022” fete – or both – on Sept. 19 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Canton Town Club, southwest of Boston. Area musicians Theresa Owens, John Owens, and Joe Greaney will hold forth with plenty of Irish and Celtic favorites, plus some Americana, pop and old-timey for good measure. Information and updates at: facebook.com/events/320219919740464. Directions to Canton Town Club available at cantontownclub.com.
UPDATE: New Potatoes has announced that, due to Covid concerns, the above event has been rescheduled for next March 17 (St. Patrick's Day) from 6 p.m. at the same venue.