There’ll be a last hurrah from Black 47, plus return engagements for Irish-world music fusion act Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul and indie folk-pop crossovers The Screaming Orphans when the Boston Irish Festival’s music weekend takes place June 6 and 7 at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton.
The following Saturday, June 14, will see some of New England’s best Irish step dancers flock to the ICCNE for the second annual Boston Irish Festival Feis (BIFF), a daylong competition for all ages and levels.
The Feis, co-organized with the Walpole-based Harney Academy of Irish Dancing, will cap the first year of a new format for the Boston Irish Festival, with events taking place across three weekends instead of one (the festival began on May 31 with a day of sporting events and children’s activities).
Kicking off the music weekend on Friday, June 6, will be an evening concert with the Screaming Orphans and Black 47. The four Diver sisters, natives of Bundoran in Co. Donegal, make up the Screaming Orphans, whose tagline is “where honey and gravel collide.” Over nearly two decades, the band – which has 10 recordings, eight of them full-length, to its credit – has combined traditional Irish material with its own melodic pop-flavored songs, touring extensively throughout the US and Europe. They’ve worked with the likes of Sinead O’Connor, The Chieftains, Afro Celt Sound System, and Peter Gabriel, and appeared on soundtracks for the films “Magdalene Laundries” and “All the Little Animals.”
Following the Screaming Orphans, Black 47, which last fall announced that it will retire this November, makes its farewell appearance at the Boston Irish Festival. Since its founding in 1989, the New York City-based group has been at the forefront of Irish/Celtic rock, mixing not only traditional elements but influences from hip-hop, reggae and jazz; their repertoire delves into social and political issues – in the US, Ireland and the world – as well as Irish historical events and figures like Michael Collins and Brendan Behan, but also is full of romance, humor and cheekiness. [An interview with Black 47 co-founder Larry Kirwan appears elsewhere in this month’s Boston Irish Reporter.]
Highlighting the Saturday schedule will be an afternoon concert by Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul. A Grammy-winning, nine-time All-Ireland fiddle champion who was part of the original “Riverdance” production, Ivers has long been an enthusiastic explorer of Irish/Celtic music in the context of multiple genres and cultures including those of South America and Africa. The Immigrant Soul ensemble represents an outgrowth of Ivers’s childhood in the Bronx, where her exposure to other kinds of music proved to be as significant as her involvement in the Irish traditional music scene.
Saturday will see numerous music acts on multiple stages during the course of the day. Other performers slated to appear as of press time include: Inchicore; the Alfie O’Shea Band; Yokeshire; the Step About Boston dancers; Norman Payne; Erin’s Melody; Cat & The Moon; Tommy Byrne and Denis Curtin; The Gobshites; Erin’s Guild; The Auld Locals, and the Tom Lanigan Band.
In addition to music, there will be stepdancing shows from local performers; vendors and exhibits; and food and drink.
The June 14 Boston Irish Festival Feis will be exciting and enjoyable “for anyone who likes Irish dancing ”ºº whether as a dancer or a spectator,” says Liam Harney, founder of the Harney Academy and co-chair of the feis. Hundreds of dancers, ranging in age from as young as four years old to adult, are expected to attend.
What makes the event appealing to dancers, he explains, is the opportunity to meet counterparts from elsewhere in New England, see different styles and approaches, and make a friend or useful contact.
“There will be a wide selection of adjudicators from outside the state, which is a good experience for dancers to have, and we’re bringing in musicians from different areas as well. It’s just a way of getting the dancers more stage experience, and exposing them to more of the Irish dance world.
“We’re happy to support the Irish Cultural Centre, and Irish dance.”
Check the festival website [bostonirishfestival.info] for updates and other information. Tickets can be purchased online at brownpapertickets.com/event/699984.