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As days get longer, the music heats up

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, February 7, 2013

BY SEAN SMITH
SPECIAL TO THE BIR

While it may have only 28, or sometimes 29, days, February (along with the early part of March) can seem like the longest month: closer to spring than January, but often with cold, wintry weather and days that gradually but oh-so-slowly get longer. Fortunately, the Greater Boston area has plenty of Irish and Celtic music events this period to brighten spirits. Here’s a sampling:

• Boston College’s Gaelic Roots series [bc.edu/gaelicroots] will present the trio of Kathleen Conneely, Dan Gurney and Eamon O’Leary on Feb. 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Gasson Hall Irish Room. Conneely is a widely respected musician and teacher who has often appeared at BC, and last fall released her first album. Gurney, who lived in Boston while attending Harvard University, came out with a well-received solo album in 2011. Dublin native O’Leary has been part of the thriving New York City Irish music scene for the past two decades.
• The young up-and-coming singer-songwriter Sean Og, American-born but Clare-bred, will perform on Feb. 16 at The Skellig in Waltham [theskellig.com] and on Feb. 17 at The Burren [burren.com] in Somerville’s Davis Square. Both shows begin at 8 p.m. and are free.
Og was born into a family of musicians and, at age 17, gained international attention in 2010 with the release of his debut single, the fiddle and banjo-flavored “I Still Love You Without Your Car” – it hit no. 1 on the Irish iTunes charts – and its accompanying humorous video. Since then, Og has achieved success with his pop-driven, romance-themed singles “Promises We Held,” “The Answer,” “Dreaming,” and most recently “You’re So True,” which reached the Irish charts top 20 and accumulated more than 40,000 YouTube views in a short time.
• Three events being organized by notloB Parlour Concerts over the next few weeks showcase a blending of Celtic music with other folk music influences. On Feb. 18, sisters Brittany and Natalie Haas team with Lily Henley and Kellen Zakula for a house concert in Watertown [information available via e-mail at notlobreservations@gmail.com].
Cellist Natalie Haas is well known for her partnership with Scottish fiddle master Alasdair Fraser but also has played with the likes of Irish super-group Solas and Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster. Brittany Haas’s musical development has been rooted in American/old-timey/bluegrass, and she performed as a member of groundbreaking Boston-based Crooked Still as well as with Bruce Molsky and Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings, among others. More recently, she played fiddle on Steve Martin’s Grammy Award-winning CD “The Row” and appeared with his band on “David Letterman” and “Saturday Night Live.”
Fiddler-singer-songwriter Henley, a native of Boston, has drawn praise for the passion and diversity in her music, a result of time spent in more than 20 places around the world – from Chicago to Cape Breton to Israel to Romania, and elsewhere. Zakula, a multi-instrumentalist grounded in traditional Appalachian music, has likewise integrated a contemporary sensibility in his playing and songwriting.
Also performing at the February 18 concert will be guitarist Rene Del Fiero, who was influenced early on by the blues and began exploring other genres as well. He has performed and/or toured with such acts as Santana, Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Berrington Levy.
• The Celtic quartet Fellswater will perform on Feb. 23 at the Loring-Greenhough House in Jamaica Plain. Based in Massachusetts, the band plays traditional tunes as well as modern compositions that reflect the heritage of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and Canada. Fellswater, whose past appearances include BCMFest, the Blackstone River Theatre and the New Hampshire Highland Games, is comprised of Betsy Ketudat (fiddle), Jim MacConduibh (guitar, bouzouki), Sarah MacConduibh (flute, whistle) and Matthew Phelps (bagpipes).
Also at Loring-Greenhough will be the fiddle-banjo duo of Bronwyn Keith-Hynes and Catherine Bowness, on March 9. Keith-Hynes, who recently performed at the 10th BCMFest, has traversed the Irish, Cape Breton, and American traditional music scenes under the tutelage of such musicians as Beth Telford, Jerry Holland, Cleek Schrey, Matt Glaser, John McGann and Darol Anger. The winner of numerous Irish and Scottish-style fiddle competitions, Keith-Hynes is part of the group Atlantic Seaways, a collaboration of young traditional American and Scottish musicians.
Bowness, from New Zealand, studied banjo with Tony Trischka, Alan Munde and Bill Evans and at age 15 won the Uncle Dave Macon banjo competition in Tennessee. She has toured with several acts and, in 2010, she recorded her debut album, “Village Green,” which features original compositions and collaborations.
In addition to the concert, Keith-Hynes and Bowness will offer separate-admission workshops on Irish fiddle and bluegrass banjo. For more details on this and other notloB events, go to sites.google.com/site/notlobmusic.
• The Burren’s “Backroom” series will sponsor two shows in the upcoming weeks. On Feb. 27, the series welcomes Sean Tyrrell – celebrated as singer, songwriter, storyteller, commentator, poet and gadfly – and opening act The Deadstring Ensemble. A native of Galway whose career spans more than four decades, Tyrrell has crafted his art through exposure to the experiences of different cultures, musical genres and literary heritage. In addition to his well-received solo albums of his own candid, forthright – even pugilistic -- songs as well as traditional material, he has taken part in such musical projects as “Songs of Peace,” commemorating the life and work of Francis Ledwidge, who died in the First World War, and “A Necklace of Wrens,” a documentary on the life and poetry of Michael Hartnet.
The Deadstring Ensemble performs original acoustic music that encompasses Irish, Appalachian, bluegrass, folk-rock and early music influences, led by guitarist-mandolinist Flynn Cohen with Matt Heaton (guitar, bouzouki, mandolin) and Danny Noveck (guitar, fiddle) as well as frequent guest singer Liz Simmons.
For tickets and other details, see brownpapertickets.com/event/320203.
March 7 will see a rare appearance of Sliabh Notes, a trio of distinguished musicians who have each cultivated a following throughout, and beyond, their native Ireland. Sliabh -- pronounced “Sleeve” -- Notes is fiddler Matt Cranitch (who was a member of another celebrated trio, Na Fili), accordionist Dónal Murphy (a founder of Four Men and a Dog) and guitarist-vocalist Tommy O’Sullivan, who focus on the storied music tradition of the Sliabh Luachra region of Ireland that is centered around Limerick, Cork and Kerry. The band has recorded three albums; Irish Music Review hailed their 2008 CD, “Along Blackwater’s Banks,” as “scintillating” and “unquestionably, the strongest yet.”
For tickets, seebrownpapertickets.com/event/320214.

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