October 20, 2010
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
Coming closer to January -- The BCMFest Board is currently confirming its performer selections for the 2011 festival, which takes place Jan. 7 and 8, and will announce the line-up shortly. Once again, there were many outstanding submissions this year, and the board wants to thank all who applied.
Chilling out -- Ordinarily, you might have to wait until the end of October for Halloween-related activities, but BCMFest is getting an early jump on the spooky season with its Oct. 11 Celtic Music Monday concert at Club Passim in Harvard Square.
“Whistling By the Graveyard: Ghost Songs and Murder Ballads" will feature the scary, supernatural side of the folk song tradition, presented by some of Greater Boston’s most splendid songsters:
•Fiddler/singer Lissa Schneckenburger, accompanied by guitarist Bethany Waickman, has become a veritable fount of New England folk music, both vocal and instrumental, combining traditional and contemporary styles.
•The duo of Hannah Sanders and Liz Simmons blend guitars and timeless-sounding, yet quite modern, vocals in their renditions of ancient ballads from Celtic traditions as well as latter-day and original compositions.
•Laura Cortese (fiddle) and Jefferson Hamer (guitar) bring intensity and verve to their song and instrumental performances, weaving complex rhythms from riffs and melodies.
Schneckenburger, the concert’s musical organizer, says songs like “The Cruel Mother,” “Polly Vaughn” and “Two Sisters” can still capture people’s imaginations, even in an era of over-the-top entertainment.
“There's no substitute for the power of a really good story, no matter how it's told,” says Schneckenburger. “You don’t need a big-budget production with incredible special effects; a song — even one that’s hundreds of years old — with riveting imagery and strong emotion can put you under quite a spell.
“I often read through old song books looking for cool stories. I feel like I’m reading a novel, or a collection of short stories, as I piece together the narrative of each song. And it can be just as gripping as a modern murder mystery, as I read each stanza and realize what's happening to the characters.”
To really get into the mood for “Whistling in the Graveyard,” Schneckenburger suggests audience members consider wearing an appropriate costume for the occasion. The person with the best costume, she says, will get two tickets to the Oct. 25 concert at Club Passim for her new CD “Dance.” [Additional details on the costume-ticket giveaway will be available at bcmfest.com.]
Tickets for the Oct. 11 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.