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Arts and Entertainment

‘Christmas Revels’ sets sail with Irish bent on a better life

By R.J. Donovan, special to the BIR, November 30, 2012

Symbolizing the holiday season as indelibly as the welcoming fragrance of evergreen, “The Christmas Revels” returns to historic Sanders Theatre in Harvard Square from December 14 - 27. This year, the participatory theatrical solstice celebration that is filled with joyful music, dance, comedy and carols will focus on Irish immigration. Read more

Childsplay en route to Lexington this month

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

Childsplay, the all-star fiddle ensemble featuring many musicians with ties to the Boston area, makes its annual visit later this month to the National Heritage Museum in Lexington and perform three concerts.

The group – whose repertoire is taken mainly from Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, French Canadian, Scandinavian, and American folk traditions – will appear at the museum on Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m., then return on December for two shows, at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Read more

Cathie Ryan’s time to look within

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

It has been an eventful last few years for Cathie Ryan. Among other developments, she moved back to the US after living for nine years in Ireland, got inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame in her native state of Michigan, was named as Irish Female Vocalist of the Decade by, and recently released “Through Wind and Rain,” her first album since 2005 – all of this taking place in the 25th anniversary year of her debut as lead singer with Cherish The Ladies, which put her firmly in the spotlight as one of the Irish music scene’s most endearing and talented performers. Read more

Playing the Grinch at the Wang

By R.J. Donovan, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

When “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” brings its tinsel and bows into The Citi Wang Theatre for a two-week run (November 23-December 9), it’s unlikely you’ll recognize Jeff McCarthy in the lead role.

It’s not that you haven’t seen the six-foot-two baritone before. He’s got 250 theater productions under his belt, eight starring roles on Broadway – including “Les Miserables,” “Chicago,” “Side Show” and “Urinetown” – six feature films, and almost four dozen TV appearances to his credit. Read more

Lehane takes on the Roaring Twenties in new novel

By Bill Forry, Managing Editor, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

“South Boston punk becomes a Florida crime boss.” That’s how one newspaper boiled down Dennis Lehane’s latest novel. Sure, that’s one way of summarizing “Live by Night,” the Roaring Twenties gangster page-turner that will also be a big-studio film some day soon, but any sting that Lehane might suffer from the blunt summary is soothed by the source: The New York Times Book Review noting that his latest novel has debuted at No. 8 on the paper’s bestseller list. Read more

Remembering Larry Reynolds, fiddler: ‘He never, ever got tired of the music’

By Sean Smith, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

Larry Reynolds: Photo by Bill BrettLarry Reynolds: Photo by Bill BrettHe was the big, amiable fellow from Galway who worked with wood in his profession and in his music, and who seemed to know, personally, just about anybody who’d ever so much as touched a fiddle, accordion or flute, or sang an Irish song.
In fact, Larry Reynolds knew, and touched the lives of, so many people that there was literally no room for all of them to come and say goodbye to him.
Reynolds died on Oct. 3, leaving behind an extraordinary six-decade legacy as musician, organizer, and pioneer in the Boston Irish music scene. The Waltham resident, a carpenter by trade and fiddler by inclination, was 80 years old. Read more

Five years out, Annalivia adopts new persona: Celtic-Americana

By Sean Smith, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

Few bands go looking for the metaphorical crossroads, but once they encounter it, there’s no turning back. So was the case last year with Annalivia, the Greater Boston-based group that since its beginnings five years ago has drawn plaudits for its intelligent union of Irish and other Celtic and British Isles traditions with American roots music, plus a gradual incorporation of original material.

The band underwent a membership change, as fiddler Brendan Carey Block and string bassist/banjo player Stu Kenney departed, and fiddler-vocalist Mariel Vandersteel, with solid foundations in Celtic and old-timey/Appalachian as well as Scandinavian music, joined co-founders Flynn Cohen and his wife Liz Simmons, and fiddler-vocalist Emerald Rae. With a string of performances this year that includes New Bedford Summerfest, BCMFest, One Longfellow Square in Portland, Me., The Basement in Northampton, and the New Haven International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and now, their brand new CD (and third overall), “The Same Way Down,” Annalivia has moved well along from the crossroads of 2011. Read more

Introducing ‘Trad Kids’

By Sean Smith, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

For Boston-area Irish musician Shannon Heaton, invention was the necessity of motherhood. In the first weeks after her son Nigel was born two years ago, Heaton – like many a new parent – often found herself up at all hours for feeding, changing, and comforting. To help herself stay awake, Heaton made fanciful sketches of frogs and toads, and invented little stories about them for her own amusement. Read more

‘A Broth of a Boy’

By R. J. Donovan, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

The life and times of Brendan Behan, one of Ireland’s most colorful writers, are in the spotlight this month in “A Broth of a Boy.” The one-man show, starring Danny Venezia, is being presented from Sept. 25 to Oct. 7 at The Arsenal Center for the Arts in Waltham.

Aside from being a gifted poet, novelist and playwright, Behan is renowned for having joined the IRA. at the age of 16. His play “Borstal Boy” tells the autobiographical story of his time in a youth prison in England following his mission to blow up the Liverpool docks. Read more

Tommy Fleming to sing at City Hall in Peabody Sept. 7, 8

By Sean Smith, Special to the Reporter, special to the BIR, August 3, 2012

Tommy Fleming, whose powerful, passionate interpretations of songs old and new, traditional and contemporary, have made him one of Ireland’s most popular vocalists, will perform two shows next month at Peabody City Hall.
Fleming will give concerts on Sept. 7 and 8, both at 7 p.m., in city hall’s Frank L. Wiggin Auditorium. Tickets for the shows are $30 (orchestra tables), $25 (balcony tables) and $20 (balcony seats). For information, call the Office of the Mayor at 978-538-5704. Read more