A column of news and updates of the Boston Celtic Music Fest (BCMFest), which celebrates the Boston area’s rich heritage of Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton music and dance with a grassroots, musician-run winter music festival and other events during the year. - Sean Smith
BCMFest 2011: “Words and Music” –Since it began in 2004, the Boston Celtic Music Fest (BCMFest) has always made room for all types of Celtic performers, whether singers, dancers and instrumentalists. So for its eighth annual festival, which takes place Jan. 7-8, 2011, BCMFest will affirm the interrelationship of the song and instrumental traditions in Celtic music.
Festival organizers say BCMFest 2011 will be an opportunity for those musicians who have devoted their talents to tunes to explore the richness of traditional songs and ballads; for those who relish singing all those verses and choruses to lend an ear of appreciation for the jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas, marches, strathspeys and airs; and for dancers to discover the joys of dancing to songs, as well as tunes.
The festival begins on the evening of Fri., Jan. 7, with a concert in Club Passim in Harvard Square and the ever-popular Boston Urban Ceilidh – a Celtic dance party – at a location to be announced. On Saturday, BCMFest will present a day-long offering of performances on four different stages in Club Passim and nearby First Parish of Cambridge. The festival will conclude Saturday night in First Parish with a finale concert organized and led by Boston’s legendary fiddle band Halali (Laura Cortese, Hanneke Cassel, Lissa Scheckenburger, and Flynn Cohen) with many special guests.
As always, BCMFest will feature its inimitable brand of fun and good cheer with special events, including showcase of a Celtic-style rock “power ballads” and “Lift Every Voice,” with songs for all to sing along with, as well as the Artie Flynn Open Stage – an opportunity for acts or individual performers to get some live-performance experience, or to introduce themselves to the BCMFest community.
This year’s line-up includes Long Time Courting, Matt Heaton & Flynn Cohen, Lissa Schneckenburger & Bethany Waickman, Highland Soles, Tri, Bob Bradshaw, Feargal Ó Béarra, Lindsay Straw & Armand Aromin, Susie Petrov & Reinmar Seidler, Hannah Sanders & Liz Simmons, the StoneyBatter Band, Liz Hanley & Michael Rose, the trio of Andy Reiner, Stash Wyslouch & Mariel Vandersteel, Plaiditude, Ari & Mia Friedman, the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society of Boston, Michael O’Leary & Steve Levy, the Boston Scottish Fiddle Club, Kyte MacKillop & Friends, and Adam Cole-Mullen & Armand Aromin. [Additions and changes will be announced via the festival website at bcmfest.com.]
Tickets for the festival can be purchased through Club Passim, at clubpassim.org. Information about festival events and performers will be posted at the BCMFest website, bcmfest.com, and via the BCMFest e-mail list [sign-up is available at the website].
Musical swap – A Celtic music concert based on a reality TV show?
Well, something like that.
The Nov. 8 edition of BCMFest’s monthly Celtic Music Monday series at Club Passim will be “Celtic Wife Swap,” for which prominent Boston-area Celtic music couples are split up and paired with different partners. These swapped-off duos will work together prior to the concert and come up with songs or tune sets to perform that evening.
While the concept is all in good fun, fiddler-vocalist Laura Cortese, the concert’s organizer, says “Celtic Wife Swap” also can provide an insight into the creative process.
“When you’re in a long-term duo, it’s easy to get comfortable with your strengths and weaknesses, both individually or collectively,” explains Cortese, who is married to bass guitarist Matt Malikowski. “But if you’re suddenly partnering with someone else, you get a chance to work in a different way, because the mix of personalities, styles, and temperaments isn’t the same. So perhaps you find yourself playing a role you haven’t before.
“And maybe, when it’s all over, you might have an idea you can bring back to your ‘other’ partnership.”
Cortese says the “Celtic Wife Swap” performers — their names will be announced on the BCMFest website, bcmfest.com — also will take part in a Q&A session to discuss what it was like to collaborate, a segment Cortese thinks “could be quite comedic.”
“It will be a different kind of concert, but there will certainly be some great music and a few laughs as well.”
Tickets for the Nov. 8 concert, which starts at 8 p.m., are $12, $6 for members of Club Passim, WGBH and WUMB. For reservations and other information, see www.clubpassim.org.
For more information on BCMFest, see bcmfest.com; you can also sign up for the BCMFest e-mail list via the website.