January 26, 2022
From left: Kathleen Conneely, John Coyne, and Sean Clohessy will launch their album this month at The Burren.
By Sean Smith
Boston Irish Correspondent
A look at some upcoming Irish/Celtic events in the Boston/Eastern Massachusetts area (subject to change pending Covid-related developments)
As late January rolled around, the Omicron outlook seemed to be improving in Greater Boston, which is certainly good news where live events are concerned. Hopefully, February will see thumbs continuing to point up.
•You can tell that we’re approaching some degree of normalcy in the area music scene by the burgeoning events calendar at The Burren in Davis Square. While its Backroom series, a touchstone for Irish/Celtic performances, is still getting back on track, on Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. that location will host a greatly anticipated show: a concert by local Irish music denizens Kathleen Conneely, Seán Clohessy, and John Coyne to celebrate the release of their CD, “All Jokes Aside.” Conneely, born In England to Irish parents, is an accomplished tin whistle player and a highly respected teacher whose resumé includes the Boston Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann music school, Boston College’s Gaelic Roots program, the Catskills Irish Arts Week,and the Swannoa Gathering in North Carolina. Clohessy is a brilliant fiddler and pianist with a similarly distinguished reputation as teacher and mentor. Coyne – a Limerick native like Clohessy – is a highly respected bouzouki player and singer well beyond the confines of Massachusetts. If you’ve been to a session in Boston any time in the last decade or so, chances are you’ve seen at least one of them.
The concert is free, so you can save your dollars for the album. Look for the listing at burren.com/music.html.
•Club Passim in Harvard Square has a Celtic-infused line-up for the first three days of February. Maeve Gilchrist kicks off the shortest month on Feb. 1 at 8 p.m., bringing her assortment of stylings and sounds to the Celtic harp, including jazz and world music. She’s become a fixture in Boston, not least throughher annual appearance at “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn” (of which she is assistant music director). She has also performed in a variety of performance contexts, including the Silkroad Ensemble with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Tanglewood Jazz Festival,and, last month, with fiddler Eileen Ivers and the Cape Symphony in Barnstable.
The following night, Feb. 2, is the CD release concert by Rakish, the duo of fiddler Maura Shawn Scanlin and guitaristConor Hearn — you can read all about it at bit.ly/rakish-new-CD.
Massachusetts ensemble Fellswater comes to the club on Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. Founded in 2008, the band – originally a quartet, now an octet — is known for its scrupulously arranged sets of Scottish, Irish, Breton, and other Celtic-related music for instruments such as fiddle, viola, Celtic harp, cello, nyckelharpa, Scottish small pipes and border pipes, flute, acoustic bass, whistle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and percussion. Fellswater(Elizabeth Ketudat, Sarah MacConduibh, Jim MacCondiubh, Dave Cabral, Kyle Forsthoff, and Andrew McIntosh) also has a vocal component in husband-wife duo Chris and Diane Meyers.
For tickets and other information, go to passim.org.
•Boston College’s Gaelic Roots series begins its spring semester schedule on Feb. 17 with uilleann piper Jerry O’Sullivan, at 6:3 p.m. in the McMullen Museum of Art room 111 on BC’s Brighton Campus. The New York City native is one of the most eminent American-born pipers – equally proficient on highland and Scottish small pipes as well as uilleann, with a mastery of both the technical and the expressive aspects – and a fine player of tin and low whistle. O’Sullivan has toured throughout much of the world, including the Middle East and Asia, and has performed with luminaries ranging from James Galway and the Boston Pops to Dolly Parton; he also was among the musicians who performed and taught at BC’s Gaelic Roots summer program. He has recorded four solo albums but has appeared or been featured on more than 90 others, with film soundtracks (including “Far and Away” and “The Long Journey Home”) and numerous TV commercials to his credit.
The concert is free and open to the public. See bc.edu/irish for information.
•Marking its 20th anniversary year with a just-released new album, Le Vent du Nord, one of the more transcendent acts in Quebecois folk music, will play in the Crystal Ballroom at Somerville Theatre on Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. Throughout its two decades, the band (Nicolas Boulerice, hurdy gurdy; Oliver Demers, fiddle; Simon Beaudry, guitar, bouzouki; Andre Bruent, fiddle; and Rejean Brunet, accordion, bass) has continually shown energy and inventiveness in incorporating contemporary material – some of it their own compositions – alongside the traditional, and with an awareness of global influences.
You can find information about the concert at the Global Arts Live website, globalartslive.org.
•Kyle Carey, a singer-songwriter who describes her style as “Gaelic Americana,” will make three stops in Eastern Massachusetts during the next few weeks: at Brockton Library on Feb. 12; Thomas Crane Library in Quincy on Feb. 13; and Duxbury Library on Feb. 20. Carey has spent time in Ireland, Cape Breton, the Isle of Skye, and a multitude of other places, including Boston and Gloucester, drawing on music and literary traditions – Coleridge, Dickens, and Yeats are among her sources of inspiration – as well as more contemporary sources and vantage points. Her albums have featured guest appearances by Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker, Rhiannon Giddens, Katie McNally, and Liz Simmons.
Carey’s website is at kyleannecarey.com.
•The Pure Dead Brilliant Fiddle Weekend, which began life 15 years ago as a small retreat/workshop for advanced Scottish-style fiddle players and has since morphed into a major winter-time event, will take place over President’s Day Weekend, Feb.18-21, at Grotonwood Camp and Conference Center in Groton (a little northwest of the Route 495/Route 2 intersection). But if you can’t, or don’t want to, do the whole weekend, you can go to the pre-camp concert, on Feb. 17, 8 p.m., at Indian Hill Music in nearby Littleton. The line-up includes Hanneke Cassel, Natalie Haas, Keith Murphy, Jenna Moynihan, Katie McNally, Neil Pearlman, Rakish, and Keith Murphy.
The Pure Dead Brilliant website [pdbfiddleweekend.com] includes a link for concert details/tickets as well as information about the camp.
Postscript: If you missed any, or all, of BCMFest (Boston’s Celtic Music Fest), which, due to Omicron-related concerns,took place in virtual format January 13-16 through Club Passim, you can check out the performances via YouTube [youtube.com/ClubPassim/videos]. This year’s acts included Matt and Shannon Heaton, Hanneke Cassel and Mike Block, Rakish, Joey Abarta and Nathan Gourley, Molly Pinto Madigan, The Treaty Trio, Jenna Moynihan, and Glenville, among many others. And think (really think) about taking a little side trip to the BCMFest website [passim.org/bcmfest] and making a donation to support the festival.