March 28, 2022
Oisin McAuley will appear at Boston College's Gaelic Roots series on April 21
All subject to change pending possible Covid-related developments
•Club Passim in Harvard Square this month will feature a pair of acts that blend Irish, Scottish, and other Celtic-related traditions with Americana sounds. First is the Boston-born quartet Corner House, which performs on April 10. Louise Bichan (fiddle, vocals), Ethan Setiawan (mandolin, vocal), Ethan Hawkins (vocal, guitar) and Casey Murray (cello, vocals) met through the Berklee College of Music and cultivated their easygoing, groove-centric sound – encompassing Irish, Scottish, Appalachian string band, New England contra dance and bluegrass, and combining traditional and original material – through many get-togethers at the Brighton House, a hub for young Boston-area roots musicians. They’ve appeared at BCMFest, the Middle East in Cambridge, and the Grey Fox and Falcon Ridge festivals, among other places, and have two EP albums.
One of the Corner House gang will return to Passim later in the month, as Casey Murray and Molly Tucker play on April 21. Tucker, a fiddler from California, and Rochester, NY, native Murray – who also plays guitar and banjo – bring together Celtic, New England, and old-time elements in a way that is as danceable as it is listenable (they’ve played in both kinds of settings). The duo is set to release their debut album, “After the Sky Weeps.”
Hanneke Cassel brings her distinctive take on the Scottish and Cape Breton fiddle traditions – one which incorporates components of American fiddle and includes many of her own compositions – to Passim on April 25. Cassel, a mainstay of Boston’s Celtic music scene for some two decades, will be accompanied by Jenna Moynihan, herself an accomplished fiddler whose musical ventures include her EP “Five Songs” and dueting with Scottish harpist Máiri Chaimbeul, and multi-instrumentalist Keith Murphy, a highly regarded singer of many traditions who is equally lauded for his dynamic rhythmic accompaniment on guitar, piano, mandolin, and foot percussion.
All shows begin at 7 p.m. Tickets, other information available at passim.org.
•Ye Vagabonds make a somewhat belated but welcome return to the area with a stop at The Burren Backroom series on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. (they were supposed to appear as part of “A St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn” last month, but they were waylaid by visa processing delays). The duo of Carlow brothers Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn are known for their subtle, pastoral take on folk music (both traditional and contemporary, including their own material), accompanying their harmonized, soft-hued vocals. Their second album, “The Hare’s Lament,” is all traditional songs in both English and Gaelic, including one taken from an archival recording of their late grandfather – whom they never met.
See burren.com/music.html or 24hourconcerts.showare.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=840.
•Last month’s Sean O’Riada/Ceoltóirí Cualann tribute presented by Boston College’s Gaelic Roots series included Oisin McAuley, a fiddler in the western Ireland tradition regarded as among the finest in recent generations of Irish musicians. If you attended and wanted to hear more of McAuley – or if you missed out and are cursing your luck – you’ll get a chance to hear him perform solo on April 21 at the final Gaelic Roots event of the spring. The concert, which is free and open to the public, takes place at 7 p.m. in the Gasson Hall Irish Room on BC’s main campus. A Donegal native now living in the Greater Boston area – and director of summer music programs at the Berklee College of Music – McAuley began traditional music at age nine but in subsequent years studied classical violin and took an interest in other kinds of music, including jazz and bluegrass. He is a longtime member of acclaimed band Danú, with which he has recorded seven albums; he also has a solo album, “Far from the Hills of Donegal.”
Links to Gaelic Roots events are available at bc.edu/irish.
•Emerald Rae, a one-time Boston-area resident now living in the Vermont wilderness, will appear with The Bombadils at Old Sloop Coffeehouse in Rockport on April 9 at 7:30 p.m. As a teen, Rae was immersed in the Scottish/Cape Breton fiddle styles (she won the US Scottish Fiddle Championship at 18) but over time has greatly broadened the scope of her musical interests; she has increasingly focused on song writing and using the fiddle’s full range of rhythmical possibilities to accompany her singing. The Bombadils – the Nova Scotia-based spousal duo of Canadian Luke Fraser (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and American Sarah Frank (fiddle, banjo, vocals) – offer up a smooth, seamless union of Celtic/bluegrass/Quebecois/Appalachia that, in combination with their songwriting, is unfailingly warm, sometimes dreamy but always fully present.
Go to oldslooppresents.org for tickets and information.
•A pair of long-running, much-loved folk music events are in virtual format this month. Fiddle Hell Online is back April 7-10 – it’s the cyber version of this popular annual fall festival, which began in 2005 but had to go over the ’Net in November 2020. The first FHO proved to be such a winner that organizers staged another in April of last year, and when that proved equally popular, they decided to keep it for the foreseeable future, even with the anticipated return of the in-person Fiddle Hell this fall.
FHO boasts 35 live concerts, 35 live jam sessions, and 180 live workshops, not only for fiddle but also for mandolin, banjo, cello and vocals, among others. For those with an Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton or other Celtic inclination, the festival faculty/performers include Kevin Burke, Lissa Schneckenburger, Matt Cranitch, Marla Fibish, Jenna Moynihan, Andrea Beaton, Alasdair Fraser, Katie McNally, Alasdair White, Becky Tracy and Barbara McOwen.
You’ll want to go to the festival website at fiddlehell.org to see what’s on when with whom.
The New England Folk Festival Association annual festival, better known as NEFFA, is online for a third year, April 22-24. NEFFA began in 1944 and has taken place in a number of locations, notably Natick (for 32 years) and most recently Mansfield. Although centered on New England folk and cultural traditions, its offerings have always included Irish and Scottish music and dance. According to the NEFFA website, the 2022 festival will feature 11 virtual halls of live events and special online programming like commissioned videos for a massive asynchronous jam and a virtual pub sing, video partnerships with regional organizations like Young Tradition Vermont, and the launch of the NEFFA video archive.
You can find information for the 2022 NEFFA Festival, including the Zoom link, by going to the main website at neffa.org.