November 1, 2022
Kevin Burke will perform at Fiddle Hell, November 3-6 in Westford, MA.
A sampling of this month’s Irish/Celtic music-related events in, or slightly beyond, Greater Boston.
•At last, at last: Fiddle Hell, one of the area’s most popular traditional/folk music festivals, is back on an in-person basis for the first time since 2019, November 3 to 6 at the Westford Regency Inn in Westford, in the Route 495/Route 2 vicinity.
Massachusetts Fiddle Hell has been going in one form or another since 2005 (inspired by a similar event conceived by Missouri fiddler Dale Hopkins, one that has taken root in other parts of the world), and encompasses performances, workshops, and both planned and spontaneous jam sessions, and attracts musicians of all levels interested in Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, American, Scandinavian, Cajun, blues, and other traditions or styles. Yes, fiddles rule supreme at Fiddle Hell, but guitars, banjos, cellos, accordions, mandolins, flutes, string basses, and other instruments are in abundance.
There’s always an impressive line-up of musicians, some local to Boston/New England, who teach and perform at FH, and among the Celtic-oriented faculty this year are Kevin Burke (who’ll also be at The Burren; see below), Katie McNally, Frank Ferrel, Louise Bichan, Flynn Cohen, Becky Tracy, Ellery Klein, Paul Harty, Lissa Schneckenburger, Matt Heaton, Janine Randall, Eamon Sefton, Jeremy Kittel, McKinley James, Laurel Martin, Neal Pearlman and Jenna Moynihan.
The complete list of instructors/performers, schedule of events, as well as Covid information, is available at fiddlehell.org.
•So, yes, Kevin Burke. The man who helped bring Sligo’s storied fiddle tradition to a world-wide audience will be stopping in at The Burren Backroom series on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. just before his appearance at Fiddle Hell (see above). Burke became a mainstay in London’s Irish music community as a teenager, but a chance meeting in 1972 with Arlo Guthrie brought him to the US, where he wound up on Guthrie’s “Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys” album; but while in York City, he befriended Irish ex-pats Joe Burke and Andy McGann, among others, who inspired him to take up music full-time. He eventually wound up in Dublin’s fertile folk/trad scene, and became a member of the groundbreaking Bothy Band, going on to equally rewarding stints with Patrick Street and the Celtic Fiddle Festival. A resident of Portland, Ore., since 1980, he released his most recent album, “Sligo Made,” in 2019.
The Backroom series will present a quite different music tradition on Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m., when the Danish duo Gangspil comes to Davis Square. Sonnich Lydom (accordion, harmonica, vocals) and Kristian Bugge (fiddle, vocals) don’t focus on one aspect of their national music, though; they give an overview of tunes and songs just about everywhere across Denmark, from cosmopolitan Copenhagen to the islands of Læsø and Fanø, with its popular Sønderhoning dance. Lydom and Bugge were in the first cohort to be given the official title of National Danish Folk Musicians. In 2019, the two released a double album of 28 tunes and songs.
In addition to the Backroom events, the Burren also features a concert on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. by the quartet Corner House, whose multifaceted sound developed while its members lived in the Boston area. 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 brought together their range of musical interests encompassing Irish, Scottish, Appalachian string band, New England contra dance and bluegrass, combining traditional and original material for an easygoing, groove-centric demeanor. They’ve appeared at BCMFest, the Middle East in Cambridge, and the Grey Fox and Falcon Ridge festivals, among other places, and earlier this year released their first full-length recording, “How Beautiful It’s Been.”
Opening for Corner House is Micha A. John, a Boston-based multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and singer-songwriter who plays old-time songs and tunes, bluegrass, folk, country and Americana.
Tickets and information about all Burren shows available at burren.com/music.html.
•A long-time local locus for Celtic events, the Canadian American Club in Watertown, has a big weekend coming up Nov. 11-13. On Nov. 11, the club will host a Friday night square dance at 8 p.m. with fiddler Richard Wood, guitarist Keelin Wedge and Boston-area pianist Janine Randall.
Then on Sunday is the club’s annual gala/fundraiser from 1-7:30 p.m., featuring Cape Breton, Scottish, Irish and Quebecois music, as well as participatory Cape Breton dancing. Among those slated to appear include Jackie O’Riley School of Irish Dance, Adrienne Howard and Friends, Gordon Aucoin with Lloyd Carr, the Boston Uilleann Pipers Club, Katie McNally, Rachel Reeds, Boston Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, Ken Perlman, Leland Martin, Planet Banjo, and Malka Pomerantz with Terry Traub.
More at canadianamericanclub.com.
•Matt and Shannon Heaton play at the Harmony on the Green Coffeehouse series in Lexington on Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. In the two decades they’ve lived here, Matt (guitar, bouzouki) and Shannon (flute, whistle, accordion) have made an indelible impression with their top-quality prowess and well-deployed passion in playing music from the Irish tradition, whether or songs sensitively rendered with sublime vocal harmony. The Heatons have five albums to their credit and a distinguished resumé of concert and festival appearances around and well beyond the US. An emphasis on fostering and maintaining community also has been a staple of the Heatons’ modus operandi over the years, through teaching, a healthy social media presence, and projects such as Shannon’s “Irish Music Stories” podcast.
For concert details, go to hancockchurch.org/coffeehouse.
•Club Passim in Harvard Square will host a pair of native Cork singer-songwriters on Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. Mick Flannery was influenced by the likes of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan in cultivating a very personal, honest and lyrical storytelling style. At 19, he became the first Irish winner of the Nashville-based International Songwriting Competition, and shortly after released his highly acclaimed and successful album “Evening Train.” He’s become ever more ambitious in his projects: making a stage adaptation of “Evening Train” and, earlier this year, releasing the album “Night at the Opera,” which depicts some of history's most famous chess games – its songs are structured by following the moves of these games, each piece having a corresponding musical chord; the lyrics of the songs deal primarily with the often complex lives of the grandmasters.
Opening act Niall Connolly – now Brooklyn based – is nothing if not prolific, having released eight studio albums in two decades; his brand of folk-pop has drawn plaudits for its intelligence and wide range of subjects, including a tribute to 1916 martyr James Connolly.
French Canadian trio Genticorum comes to Passim on Nov. 19 for two shows, at 5 and 8 p.m. Pascal Gemme (fiddle, foot percussion, vocals), Nicholas Williams (flute, accordion, 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. Among their recordings is a suite of four autumnal EPs originally released in late 2020, “Septembre,” “Octobre,” “Novembre” and “Décembre.”
On Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. is a special concert, Windborne’s “Music of Midwinter,” featuring the New England-based a cappella quartet of Lynn Mahoney Rowan, Will Thomas Rowan, Lauren Breunig, and Jeremy Carter-Gordon performing songs from numerous folk traditions around the world. The four grew up in the tight-knit New England folk and traditional music scene, participating in such events and activities like Revels, contra and morris dance, Village Harmony, and the Country Dance and Song Society, and are as much folklorists and teachers as they are folk singers. Windborne also upholds folk music’s longtime association with social activism, in particular its ties to the labor and civil rights movements and others that champion the poor, the working class, and the disenfranchised. The quartet has appeared locally at Club Passim, the Rockport Celtic Festival and “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn,” and has two albums to its credit.
For tickets and information on Club Passim shows, go to passim.org.
•Five years after passing through the area on his debut North American tour, popular Irish country singer Nathan Carter returns to Greater Boston with a show at the Cary Memorial Hall in Lexington on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. Carter, who started out playing with the Liverpool Ceili Band as a pianist and accordionist, has recorded six No. 1 albums in Ireland and hosted his own TV series on RTÉ; his most recent album, “Little Old Town,” features eight tracks written or co-written by Carter, who is back in the studio working on a new recording.
For links to tickets, go to caryhalllexington.com.
•Salem’s diverse musical history – which, of course, includes Irish and other traditional music – will be the focus of a Nov. 12 concert at 7 p.m. in Tabernacle Congregational Church. Among the performers will be Michael O’Leary, Larry Young, Cindy McIntire, Jen Strom and Daisy Nell & Captain Stan.
For directions, go to tabernaclechurch.org.
•Irish indie-pop trio The Coronas plays at The Sinclair in Harvard Square on Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. Guitarist-vocalist Danny O’Reilly, bassist Graham Knox and drummer Conor Egan began playing together almost 20 years ago. Since then, they’ve achieved a decent amount of success, releasing multi-platinum-selling albums – including “Tony Was an Ex-Con,” which beat out U2’s “No Line on the Horizon” for Best Album at the 2010 Meteor Ireland Music Awards – and a couple of Top 20 singles, plus opening for Paul McCartney and Justin Timberlake, among others. Heading into their third decade, The Coronas continue to hold forth their arena-ready, pop-rock-with-weight sound to acclaim, having just released their seventh album, “Time Stopped,” about which Hot Press declared “[There’s] a sense of conviction in the songs; and it all hangs beautifully and positively together. A winner.”
Tickets at sinclaircambridge.com.