Here’s a look at some of the Irish/Celtic music and dance happenings around the Greater Boston area this month:
• The Burren Backroom series will feature The Truckley Howl, a trio of local fiddler/guitarist Nathan Gourley with concertina player Mairead Hurley and guitarist/pianist/flutist John Blake for a matinee performance at 3 p.m. on April 2. Gourley, who has played with the likes of Paddy O’Brien (Chulrua) and Brian Miller (Bua), has more recently been in a duo with another local musician, fiddler Laura Feddersen, with whom he recorded the CD “Life Is All Checkered.” Hurley, a former All-Ireland champion, has appeared on numerous Irish TV shows and at several major festivals. Blake is an ex-member of Téada and has been an accompanist for many prominent musicians, including Boston native Colm Gannon.
On April 20 at 7:30 p.m., legendary Scottish band The Tannahill Weavers will come to the Backroom stage. The “Tannies,” whose origins go back to the late 1960s, was the first professional Scottish band to incorporate full-sized Highland bagpipes in performance, and over the course of the 1970s built a following not only in the UK but Europe and the US as well. Co-founders Roy Gullane (vocals, guitar) and Phil Smillie (flute, whistles, bodhran, vocals) continue to hold forth, with John Martin (fiddle, viola, cello, vocals) and Lorne MacDougall (Highland bagpipes, small pipes, whistle). Opening the concert will be Boston-based Fresh Haggis, whose members (Elias Alexander, border pipes, vocals; Eamon Sefton, guitar, vocals; Kathleen Parks, fiddle; Patrick Bowling, flute, whistles, vocals) combine Irish and Scottish traditional music with exuberance and passion.
Closing out the Backroom schedule for the month will be the duo of Mick McAuley and Colm O’Caoimh on April 27 at 7:30 p.m. McAuley (accordion, whistle, vocals) is a longtime member of Irish-American supergroup Altan, and has toured and/or recorded with Niamh Parsons, Karan Casey, Patti Griffin and Susan McKeown, among others. O’Caoimh – a native of Kilkenny, as is McAuley – is known for his innovative guitar backing, which includes elements of jazz and swing, and a deft finger-picking style. McAuley and O’Caoimh have been part of a trio with McAuley’s Solas bandmate fiddler Winifred Horan.
For tickets and updates on Backroom events, see burren.com/Backroom-Series.html.
• Genre-hopping musicians Flynn Cohen (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Duncan Wickel (fiddle, cello) will present a concert at Harvard Square’s Club Passim on April 3 at 3 p.m. Well-known for his work in Appalachian, old-timey and other American music styles, Cohen – co-founder of string and vocal trio Low Lily (formerly Annalivia) – has been equally at home in the Celtic domain, playing with John Whelan, Aoife Clancy, Cathie Ryan, and Women of Ireland. Wickel has been similarly versatile, hailed for his mastery in jazz, bluegrass, and old-timey while also playing with eminent Irish/Celtic musicians such as Liz Carroll, John Doyle, and Cara Dillon. Among his many projects and collaborations, he recorded an album as a member of the traditional Irish trio The Red Wellies.
On April 10 at 7:30 p.m., Passim will feature a double bill of Celtic duos Will Woodson and Eric McDonald and Joey Abarta and Nathan Gourley. Woodson (border pipes, flute) and Boston-area native McDonald (guitar, mandolin, vocals) focus on traditional Scottish and Cape Breton tunes – the primal-force beauty of pipes set to bassy tone and pulse of guitar – as well as songs presented in emotive, serene fashion. On the Irish side is Abarta, widely acclaimed as one of the best young uilleann pipers around, and fiddler/guitarist Gourley [who’s playing at The Burren Backroom series as part of The Truckley Howl, as noted above], who together play in the “pure drop” traditional style.
For tickets and other information, go to passim.org.
• A warm welcome to spring is the theme of “The Flowers of the Forest,” a program of traditional Irish, Scottish, and English folk songs by the Berklee College of Music Anglo-Celtic Vocal Ensemble on April 4 at 2 p.m. in the David Friend Recital Hall (921 Boylston Street in Boston). Under the direction of Berklee faculty members Didi Stewart and Alizon Lissance, the ensemble will present ballads, work songs, sea chanteys, and songs of “off-color humor,” in the manner of popular folk revival groups like Pentangle and Steeleye Span. The concert is free. See berklee.edu/events/anglo-celtic-vocal-ensemble-flowers-forest.
• Boston College’s Gaelic Roots series will welcome Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely, two members of pioneering Irish band Lúnasa, on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the Cadigan Alumni Center on BC’s Brighton Campus. Two of Ireland’s most influential and active traditional musicians, Crawford (flute, whistles) and Vallely (uilleann pipes, flute, whistles) also have many other successful pursuits: Crawford has released four solo albums and in recent years has teamed up with fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist John Doyle as the trio The Teatotallers; Vallely toured with the show “Riverdance” and has accompanied Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Merchant, Tim O’Brien and Mary Chapin-Carpenter. Crawford and Vallely also released the album “On Common Ground.”
The concert is free, but registration is requested. Go to the Gaelic Roots website [bc.edu/gaelicroots] to register and for other information.
• Fresh off the release of her new solo recording, “In the Magic Hour,” Boston-area native Aoife O’Donovan will perform on April 13 at The Sinclair in Harvard Square (doors open at 7:30 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m.). O’Donovan, although with considerable experience in the Irish/Celtic genre – including appearances in “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn” and with Karan Casey and Seamus Egan, among others – is well-known as co-founder for the progressive bluegrass/string band Crooked Still. In recent years, she has embarked on a career as a singer-songwriter, touring around the US, Ireland, and the UK; earlier this year, she performed on “CBS This Morning.” The show, which is for persons 18 and over, will open with New York City-based songwriter Cassandra Jenkins. For ticket information and other details go to sinclaircambridge.com.
• A concert by Boston-area band Boxty will take place on April 23 at 1 p.m. at the Endicott Estate in Dedham, presented by notloB Music in association with the annual James Joyce Ramble road race. Boxty features Cormac Marnell (vocals, five-string banjo, whistle, harmonica) and Dave Bowman (whistle, mandolin, octave mandolin, tenor banjo, vocals), who play classic traditional Irish and popular folk songs and tunes. The concert is free; donations will be accepted. For more information, see sites.google.com/site/notlobmusic.
• The Canadian American Club of Massachusetts in Watertown will host the trio of Joe Deleault (accordion), Jordan Tirell-Wysocki (fiddle) and Janine Randall (piano), along with special guest Cam MacMaster (guitar, vocals) on April 23 at 8 p.m. in the club’s downstairs pub. Deleault is a pianist and composer who has played with pop music luminaries such as Jon Bon Jovi and Carly Simon, but he’s also well-versed in Canada’s East Coast music traditions. Purchase tickets at brownpapertickets.com/event/2509064.
On April 30, the club will hold “Ceili(dh) for a Cause,” an Irish and Scottish dance evening that will benefit two community cancer support agencies: The Childrens Room, which provides caring support for grieving children, teens, and families [childrensroom.org] and The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden, a therapeutic environment for those affected by cancer [healinggarden.net]. Musicians will include Laurel Martin, Mark Roberts, Helen Kisiel, Ed Pearlman, and various guests, with Kieran Jordan and Laura Scott calling and teaching the dancing. Suggested donation is $25, $10 for children under 12. Tickets available at ceiliforacause.brownpapertickets.com.