August 31, 2022
The Irish Cultural Center of Greater Boston will host bohola, the duo of Jimmy Keane, left, and Pat Broaders, on September 24.
A sampling of this month’s Irish/Celtic music-related events in, or slightly beyond, Greater Boston.
•The Burren Backroom series begins this month with an appearance by The Alt (Nuala Kennedy, John Doyle, and Eamon O’Leary) on Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Click here to read an interview with Kennedy.
On Sept. 11 at 3:30 p.m., the series will present a special collaboration featuring fiddler Jamie Laval, vocalist Amber Rose, and harpist Liv Castor. The three will perform instrumental music and songs from the Irish, Scottish, and Breton traditions, with an emphasis on the ancient, the rustic, the mystical – and on love and romance.
Laval is a former US National Scottish Fiddle champion who plays a passionate, virtuosic brand of traditional music that brings in styles and influences ranging from jazz to classical and elsewhere. Rose has an extensive background in opera and classical music, performing as part of the Greensboro Opera, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, NC Summer Opera, Miami Music Festival and Opera Fusion. Castor, whose family roots in northern Scotland originally sparked her musical inspiration, studied classical harp for many years before returning to the Scottish harp (clàrsach) and now draws upon her interests in early and traditional music as well as her own compositions.
If you’ve ever seen or listened to Karan Casey – who’ll be at the Backroom on Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. – you know you can expect a performance packed with passion and engagement, whether she’s singing a traditional Irish ballad, a contemporary song, or one of her own. The Waterford native will be on her first US tour since before the pandemic, highlighting her recent work, including her 2018 album, “Hieroglyphs That Tell the Tale,” and new, as-yet-unreleased material, accompanied by guitarist Sean Óg Graham and fiddler Niamh Dunne (both members of Beoga).
A leading advocate for gender balance in the folk and traditional music scene, Casey uses the vehicle of song to express her interest in and concern for the lives and struggles of women in Ireland, and elsewhere.
Go to burren.com/music.html for links to these events.
UPDATE: Karan Casey's show at The Burren has since sold out, but she has added a concert for Sept. 5 at the Payomet Performance Center in Truro. Go to payomet.org for tickets and information.
•One of the folk music revival’s most revered and influential figures, British guitarist/singer-songwriter Richard Thompson, will play at The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN) on Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. Thompson’s rock-n-roll credentials – especially his energetic, hybrid-picking style of guitar – are unimpeachable, but he has a longstanding connection to folk and traditional music, notably as co-founder of the groundbreaking band Fairport Convention, his decade-long partnership with then-wife Linda Thompson, and his lengthy solo career that has seen him collaborate with a multitude of musicians, among them Cathal McConnell (flute/whistle player and vocalist of the Boys of the Lough), accordionist John Kirkpatrick, and Fairport colleague fiddler David Swarbrick. Many of Thompson’s songs have become fixtures in the folk/acoustic music scene and covered by numerous performers: “Beeswing,” “Waltzing’s for Dreamers,” “From Galway to Graceland,” “The Poor Ditching Boy” and “1952 Vincent Black Lightning.”
Tickets, information at natickarts.org.
•Boston College’s Gaelic Roots series hosts The Murphy Beds – Jefferson Hamer and Eamon O’Leary – on Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Theology and Ministry Library Auditorium (117 Lake Street) on the Brighton Campus. Hamer, who grew up in Massachusetts, and Dublin native O’Leary crossed paths in New York City more than a decade ago and began performing as a duo a few years later. The appeal of The Murphy Beds lies in an often intricate, intense yet engaging interplay between their respective instruments – O’Leary on bouzouki and nylon string guitar, Hamer on acoustic guitar and mandolin – that weaves riffs and motifs behind exquisitely matched close harmony vocals. Though much of their repertoire draws on Irish, American, Scottish, and English folk traditions, O’Leary and Hamer have shown a proclivity for branching out into more contemporary material, as demonstrated on their second album, “Easy Way Down,” released in 2021.
For more on Gaelic Roots, see events.bc.edu/group/gaelic roots series.
•Club Passim in Harvard Square will present Nic Gareiss, a pioneering figure in folk and traditional dance, on Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. For years, Gareiss has been a one-man percussion dance revolution, blending numerous influences and styles from Ireland, Appalachia and elsewhere, imbued with expression and ebullience; he has performed with The Chieftains, Dervish and Liz Carroll, among many others, in collaboration with Natalie Haas, Maeve Gilchrist and Yann Falquet and as part of the band This Is How We Fly, and appeared locally at such events as “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn” and BCMFest. Not to be overlooked is Gareiss’s sensitive, clear singing voice, which he’s showcased on an album with Emma Beaton and, more recently, “Portmanteau,” a queer folk song EP.
Those who incorporate Scandinavian music into the Irish/Celtic domain will have two events to consider attending at Club Passim later in the month. Kolonien, a unique and visionary Swedish band, performs on Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. Brothers Erik and Arvid Rask (guitars), their cousin Anna Müller (fiddle) and long-time neighbor Mischa Grind (percussion) are a self-described “family band” – Erik and Mischa, they explain, performed a ritual hand-cutting ceremony as kids that, according to Viking tradition, made them “blood brothers” – for whom their country’s folk tradition is simply a starting point. They mix in rootsy acoustic pop and world-music influences, contemporary vocal harmonies, and brisk rhythm lines wrapped around Nordic fiddle passages.
Kardemimmit, which comes to Passim at 7 p.m. on Sept. 25, leans to a great extent on the folk tradition of their native Finland, as well as others from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, in creating original music. Maija Pokela, Jutta Rahmel, Anna Wegelius, and Leeni Wegelius utilize the Finnish reki-singing style as well as runo-singing, often to the accompaniment of Finland’s national instrument, the kantele – a zither or psaltery-like instrument with a resonant sound. They’ve released five albums, including “Autio huvila,” selected as the Finnish Folk Album of the Year in 2012. And lest you think they take themselves too seriously, they point out that their name is a play on the words kardemumma, a spice used in sweet baking, and mimmit, girls that have a bold nature – “That means,” they explain, “Kardemimmit is actually the Finnish Ethno Spice Girls.”
Kalos, who comes to Passim on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m., is the trio of Ryan McKasson (fiddle), Jeremiah McLane (accordion), and Boston-area native Eric McDonald (guitar, vocals). Their specialty is, as they put it, to purposefully explore the "dark edges" floating on the edges of tradition, including those of Scotland, Ireland, and New England. In addition to leading the band The McKassons, McKasson – the youngest ever to win the US National Scottish Fiddle Championship – has appeared on three albums by local fiddler Hanneke Cassel. He also has played in a duo with McDonald, a member of acclaimed bands Daymark and Cantrip who has performed with Katie McNally, The Outside Track and Andrea Beaton, among others. McLane explored several genres of music before immersing himself in Celtic and French traditions; he also co-founded the much-loved trio Nightingale, a force in New England folk music for a decade.
For tickets and other details for Club Passim shows, see passim.org.
•Irish American singer Andy Cooney will be at the Irish Cultural Centre of Greater Boston on Sept. 18 for his now-almost-annual combination dinner-and-show extravaganza that begins at 3 p.m. A Long Island native with Irish ancestry and a repertoire that extends to country as well as traditional, folk, and contemporary Irish music, Cooney has sold out Carnegie Hall 9 times and recorded 19 albums and a raft of singles, including “Come Tennessee Me Tonight” with country singer Larry Gatlin. Cooney’s professional career took off more than 30 years ago when he toured as the vocalist with bandleader Paddy Noonan. Cooney has since led a highly successful solo career for more than two decades that has included collaborations with the likes of Ronan Tynan, Crystal Gayle, and the RTE Orchestra, as well as with Phil Coulter.
On Sept. 24, at 7 p.m., there’ll be an all-too-rare opportunity to catch one of the great Irish acts to come out of Chicago: bohola, the duo of Jimmy Keane and Pat Broaders (originally a trio with fiddler Sean Cleland). Keane is a powerful piano accordion player who has collaborated with the likes of Mick Moloney and Robbie O’Connell – releasing three foundational albums in the 1980s, including “Kilkelly,” and Liz Carroll; Broaders is known for his fine singing and touch on the bouzouki, whether as a soloist or as part of Open the Door for Three (with Liz Knowles and Kieran O’Hare). As bohola, their sets – sometimes lasting for as much as 10 minutes, changing tempos and time signatures, even interpolating songs – have an effect that is by turns pulsating, energetic, and mesmerizing. (This concert is co-presented by the Irish Cultural Center of Greater Boston and Boston’s chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.)
See irishculture.org for ticket information.