That Cape Breton Sound

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.

That Cape Breton Sound -- The song and instrumental traditions of Cape Breton will be the focus of this month's BCMFest Celtic Music Monday concert at Club Passim in Harvard Square, Aug. 10, at 8 p.m.

"Cape Breton Traditions" will feature Weymouth resident Kyte MacKillop, who is one of the Greater Boston area's most renowned Gaelic singers and speakers, and boasts a distinguished academic background that includes a certificate in Celtic studies as well as numerous immersion courses at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton and St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He has appeared frequently at BCMFest and performed as part of a 2008 Celtic Music Monday concert featuring Cape Breton music.

Also at the Aug. 10 show will be Tri, the trio of Doug Lamey (fiddle), Matt Phelps (Scottish bagpipes and small pipes), and Cliff McGann (guitar, vocals, mandolin, tin whistle). Tri — pronounced "tree," translated from "three" in Scots Gaelic – deftly shows the connections between the Scottish and Cape Breton music traditions, as well as the elements that are unique to both.

The trio's members all have strong ties to Celtic music. Lamey is the grandson of Bill Lamey, one of Boston's most celebrated Cape Breton fiddlers, and has been a student of such fiddling masters as Buddy MacMaster, Alasdair Fraser, and Seamus Connolly. Lamey's long-time collaborator McGann has Irish and Nova Scotia family roots and like MacKillop has been a scholar as well as a performer – he holds degrees in Celtic Studies from St. Francis Xavier and in folklore from Memorial University in Newfoundland. Phelps has been playing the bagpipes since the age of eight and studied under some of the most influential pipers of the day, including John Walsh, Fred Morrison, and R.S. MacDonald, among others.

Tri's resume includes appearances with the likes of Liam Clancy and Paddy Keenan, and performances at festivals throughout North America, and on the "Boston Sessions" series broadcast as part of the "Celtic Sojourn" show on WGBH. This month they expect to release their first CD, "A-Measg Chairdean (Among Friends)," with guests Kimberley Fraser, Keith Murphy, and Eric Kilburn.

Included in the show will be a tribute to Cape Breton fiddling legend Jerry Holland, who died last month [see separate stories in this section].

Opening the show will be Amanda Cavanaugh, a Tufts University sophomore who even before she entered high school was considered one of the Boston area's most talented young fiddlers. Cavanaugh has appeared at the ICONS Festival and performed as part of the "St. Patrick's Celtic Sojourn" production, and earlier this year released her first CD, "Comb Your Hair and Curl It." She will be accompanied by guitarist Max Newman.

Tickets for Celtic Music Monday are $12, $6 for members of Club Passim, WGBH and WUMB. For reservations, go to or call 617-492-7679.

Past the Halfway Point – Last month, at almost exactly the six-month mark since BCMFest 2009, the BCMFest Board met to begin selecting performers for BCMFest 2010, to be held Jan. 8 and 9. The board received some 50 applications from bands and soloists as well as for special collaborations, likely the most ever in the festival's history. Once all applicants have been contacted, BCMFest will announce its line-up in September.

Board members expressed their appreciation for the overall high quality of the applications, and the enthusiastic support for BCMFest this response indicated.

For more information on BCMFest, see; you can also sign up for the BCMFest e-mail list via the Web site.