• Among other Irish/Celtic events of note this month, the Burren Backroom series will present a double-duo show on May 3: Matt and Shannon Heaton, with their flute/whistle-guitar/bouzouki instrumentals and richly harmonized songs, grounded in Irish tradition but also drawing on other sources, and Natalie Haas and Yann Falquet, whose repertoire includes Scottish, American, Scandinavian, and Quebecois music.
Highly praised Newfoundland-born singer and guitarist Matthew Byrne comes to the Backroom on May 10. Byrne – who appeared in last year’s “St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn” – has fast become known for his sensitive vocals and interpretations of traditional songs from Irish, British, and Canadian folk traditions, and contemporary songs in the traditional mode. His most recent album, “Hearts & Heroes,” was selected as the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards “Traditional Album of the Year.”
On May 17, the Backroom will feature legendary accordionist John Whelan – who is in the midst of departing New England for the Pacific Northwest – with fiddler Dylan Foley and guitarist Flynn Cohen. Whelan grew up outside London in the heavily Irish community of Dunstable, won seven accordion competitions and – at age 14 – recorded his first album. Moving to the US in 1980, he formed a hugely popular partnership with fiddler Eileen Ivers, and went on to play with other major figures of Irish and Irish-American music like Seamus Egan, Tim O’Brien and Kathy Mattea. One of his most celebrated projects was the 2001 album “Celtic Fire,” in which he collaborated with a number of young American musicians who went on to become well-established in the Irish/Celtic scene, including Paddy League, Patrick Mangan, and Elliott Grasso.
Also on the bill that night are Nova Scotian sisters Cassie and Maggie MacDonald, who have brought a contemporary perspective to their island’s celebrated music tradition. Cassie’s fiddle-playing, Maggie’s piano and guitar accompaniment, and their singing – in Gaelic as well as English – have won them numerous honors, including “Female Singer of the Year” and “New Group of the Year” (Live Ireland), and “Emerging Artist Album of the Year” (Chicago Irish-American News), as well as nominations for the Canadian Folk Music Awards and East Coast Music Awards.
All Backroom shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Go to burren.com/Backroom-Series.htm for information and tickets.
• At the Canadian American Club in Watertown, local band Tin Can Hooley will perform its special tribute to St. Brendan on May 13 at 8 p.m., celebrating the fabled sixth-century explorer-monk who, some believe, discovered North America well before the Vikings or Columbus. Appropriately enough, the concert will include maritime and sea-faring songs, traditional and contemporary, performed by the band and special guests.
On May 27, the club will host a dance and concert with Cape Breton fiddler Andrea Beaton beginning at 8 p.m. Beaton is part of a distinguished family musical heritage that includes her fiddle-playing father Kinnon and pianist mother Betty – both acknowledged as among the most influential Cape Breton musicians of their generation – and her cousin Natalie MacMaster. She has built up her own impressive resume, with five solo recordings – one of which, “Branches,” won the East Coast Music Awards “Instrumental Recording of the Year.” Tickets will be available at the door or in advance at: brownpapertickets.com/event/2932715.
For more about the Canadian American Club, see canadianamericanclub.com.
• Daniel O’Donnell, a popular Irish singer and entertainer for more than three decades, will take the stage at the Schubert Theater in Boston on May 16. The native of Donegal has enjoyed considerable success with his renditions of Irish, country and pop songs: 20 UK Top 40 albums and 15 Top 40 singles, 18 albums in the Billboard “World Music Chart,” and more than 10 million records sold overall. He’s also appeared regularly on TV in Ireland and the US, including several concert specials on PBS.
For tickets and other information, go to bochcenter.org/buy/show-listing/daniel-odonnell.
• Irish Mythen, an Irish-born singer-songwriter from Canada’s Prince Edward Island, will perform at the Me&Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead on May 12 at 8 p.m. Her edgy humor, powerful voice and stage presence have won her many fans at the various concerts and festivals where she’s appeared, along with notables like Rod Stewart, Gordon Lightfoot and Lucinda Williams. For more information, go to meandthee.org.
– SEAN SMITH