The next several weeks’ worth of Irish/Celtic events in Greater Boston (and slightly beyond) sees the revival of a concert series in a new location, a visit by a “supergroup” of recent vintage, and appearances by several local performers.
• After a 10-month hiatus, notloB Music is returning to the folk/acoustic scene with an April 27 concert that features one of the Scottish music revival’s foremost bands, The Tannahill Weavers, and Massachusetts fiddle/cello duo Elizabeth and Ben Anderson. This event, which takes place at the Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church at 7:30 p.m. – doors open at 7 – will inaugurate notloB’s new base of operations in Harvard (the town, not the university); since its creation in 2007, notloB has presented nearly 200 concerts of Celtic, old-timey, bluegrass, folk and world music at venues in Arlington, Somerville, Jamaica Plain, Newton, and elsewhere in Greater Boston.
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).
The Andersons bring forth both the intensity and grace in Scottish and Cape Breton music, mixing traditional styles and modern ideas. Having built a solid foundation of admirers locally, through performances at The Burren (where they opened for another legendary Scottish group, the Battlefield Band), BCMFest, and the Club Passim Campfire Festival, last year the duo made their international debut with shows in Scotland and France.
Further details are available at notloBMusic.com.
• One of the more intriguing blends of personalities and styles in Irish music, The Gloaming, makes a rare area appearance on April 22 at 8 p.m. in the Berklee Performance Center. The quintet features Martin Hayes, a master of the lyrical East Clare fiddle style; guitarist/mandolinist Dennis Cahill, who frequently collaborates with Hayes; Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh, whose fiddling reflects the Sliabh Luachra tradition but also his own experiments in Scandinavian and American music; sean-nos singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, formerly with groundbreaking Irish/world-fusion group Afro Celt Sound System; and Thomas Bartlett AKA Doveman, a Vermont-born pianist who has played in numerous folk, contemporary and other musical genres.
This concert is presented through World Music/CRASHArts. For tickets and other information, go to worldmusic.org/content/event_page/5176/the-gloaming.
• The special dynamic between musician and dancer will be the focus of “The Next Step,” a showcase of solo, duet, and group choreography presented by advanced students of Irish dance teacher Jaclyn O’Riley on April 7 at 7 p.m. in the Canadian American Club in Watertown. Working with live rather than pre-recorded music in class greatly enhanced the students’ experience, according to O’Riley; accompanying the dancers here will be Joey Abarta, Nathan Gourley, and Dan Accardi. For tickets and more information, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following night, April 8, at 8 p.m., the Canadian American Club will host a concert with Benedict Koehler (uilleann pipes) and Hilari Farrington (harp), presented by the Boston Uilleann Pipers Club. The duo is widely known across North America as teachers as well as performers of Irish traditional music, and founded the Vermont School of Irish Traditional Music. Their presence has helped create a vibrant Irish music scene in Vermont, one that accentuates older traditional styles. Go to bostonupc.wordpress.com for more details on the concert.
• The Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton will host a dinner and dance event on April 6 at 7:30 p.m. with the “Kings of Irish Country,” Mick Flavin and John Hogan. A Co. Longford native, Flavin recorded his first album 30 years ago, and within a few years was sharing a concert bill with Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, and Boxcar Willie. He was the first Irish country music performer to be nominated for a Global Artist Award in Nashville, and to receive a Living Legend Hall of Fame Award. Hogan, from Co. Westmeath, was working as a supervisor in a peat briquette factory in 1988 when he used his mortgage money to record the song “Brown Eyes” – which wound up at no. 1 hit in the Irish country music charts. He left his job to become a full-time performer, branching out as a songwriter as well; his album “My Feelings for You” became the best-selling country album ever released in Ireland.
For ticket and other event information, go to irishculture.org.
• Local fiddler Hanneke Cassel will mark the release of her new album at Harvard Square’s Club Passim on April 29 at 5 p.m. Cassel is a highly acclaimed practitioner of the “American-Scottish” style, combining techniques and influences from Scottish and Cape Breton traditions with innovations from the contemporary bluegrass and Americana domains. In addition to her solo act – in which she’s accompanied by distinguished musicians such as her cello-playing husband Mike Block and guitarist Keith Murphy – Cassel has also appeared with Boston-based fiddle ensemble Childsplay, Irish singer Cathie Ryan, and Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser.
Also at Club Passim – on April 25, at 8 p.m. – is harpist Maeve Gilchrist, who interpolates Scottish and Irish traditions with jazz, folk and world music, her technique encompassing distinctive harmonies and improvisations. She has played locally at The Burren, BCMFest and “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn,” and at major international venues and events like Tanglewood and Celtic Connections. Accompanying Gilchrist is Viktor Krauss, who plays electric and double bass and has made forays into rock, soul, jazz, R&B, and progressive bluegrass, with more than 400 album credits as producer, musician or composer/songwriter.
Sixteen-year-old Cape Breton/Acadian-style fiddler Gus La Casse will be the opening act for an April 22 concert with multi-faceted guitarist/songwriter Lloyd Thayer. A Maine native, La Casse traveled to Ireland last year as part of the Young Tradition Vermont touring group and in January performed for the second time at BCMFest.
For tickets and information about all Club Passim shows, go to passim.org.
• Celtic folk-rockers Burning Bridget Cleary come to OCC Music in Wrentham on April 8 at 7:30 p.m. A 2013 nominee for the Irish Music Association’s top live traditional music act, the band’s high-energy personality derives from the twin fiddles of Rose Baldino and Amy Beshara, and is further enlivened by Baldino’s charismatic lead vocals; adding guitar and vocal harmonies is Lou Baldino, while Peter Trezzi supplies the percussive force.
See musicatocc.org for more details.
• There will be two opportunities this month to catch Prince Edward Island’s Ten Strings and a Goat Skin: on April 5 at 6:30 p.m. as part of Boston College’s Gaelic Roots series, at the Cadigan Alumni Center on BC’s Brighton Campus [go to bc.edu/gaelicroots to register for the concert, which is free]; and on April 12, in the band’s return appearance at The Burren’s Backroom series. The young trio of Jesse Périard and brothers Rowen Gallant and Caleb Gallant – on fiddle and guitar (the 10 strings) and bodhran (the goat skin) – has garnered critical and public acclaim for its mix of traditional Irish, Acadian, and French music with original creations, which they flavor with modern and world rhythms. Last year saw the release of their new album, “Auprès du Poêle,” which further expanded the band’s artistic vision.
• The Burren Backroom series hosts a double bill of trios on April 19: Boston/Portland-based Fódhla (Ellery Klein, fiddle; Nicole Rabata, flute; Bethany Waickman, guitar) infuses its brand of Irish music with a wealth of tastes and experiences, from American to contra dance to classical and more. Cantrip (Dan Houghton, pipes, flute, whistles, guitar, bouzouki, vocals; Jon Bews, fiddle, vocals; Eric McDonald, guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, vocals) originated from a session in Edinburgh some years ago, and over time settled into a transatlantic roster, with a bold sound rooted in Scottish tradition that has branched into other European cultures and contemporary influences.
Next month, the Backroom series begins on May 3 with another double bill, this one comprising a pair of Boston-area married couples. Matt and Shannon Heaton are highly admired for their deft flute/whistle-guitar/bouzouki instrumentals and richly harmonized songs, grounded in Irish tradition but also drawing on other sources, including Thai music. Natalie Haas and Yann Falquet is a union of some impressive resumes – Haas as a highly sought-after cellist not only in the domain of Scottish music (notably in her duet with fiddler Alasdair Fraser) but also in American, Scandinavian ,and other traditions; Falquet as an exponent of Quebecois vocal and instrumental music, solo and in collaborations such as the trio Genticorum.
All Backroom shows begin at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and other information, go to burren.com/Backroom-Series.html.
– SEAN SMITH