BIR’S Calendar- upcoming Irish/Celtic music events

A look at some of this month’s Irish/Celtic music-related doings in the area:

• The first week of June offers an opportunity to see a dynamic new Celtic band with ties to the Boston area – and to support a good cause – when Fàrsan comes to the Parish Center for the Arts in Westford on June 2 at 7:30 p.m. The quartet performs instrumental and vocal music and dance from Scotland and Cape Breton, marrying the traditions embodied by fiddle, pipes and whistle, and Gaelic-language songs, to contemporary-minded accompaniment and arrangements. The members are Boston-area native Katie McNally, who has become one of the highly regarded young fiddlers in the US; Neil Pearlman, known for his innovative, enervating piano and accordion accompaniment; Elias Alexander (pipes, whistle, percussion), a member of the Celtic-Afro-Caribbean fusion band Soulsha and an occasional resident of Boston; and Màiri Britton, an Edinburgh native now living in Nova Scotia who sings in the Gaelic tradition and shares step dancing duties with Pearlman.
Donations from the concert will go to the American Diabetes Association. Go to for further details.
• It may not officially be a Bloomsday event, but the Summer Céilí at The Milton Club does happen to take place on June 16, so perhaps you can hold a thought or two for James Joyce in your heart as you make the trek out to the festivities – the club is located at 193 Central Ave. in Milton. The céilí runs from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is hosted by Boston area dancers Kristen Kelly, Jackie O’Riley, and Kieran Jordan, with live music provided by uilleann piper Joey Abarta and friends. Admission is $20, free for children under 12; and there will be a free beginner céilí dance lesson at 1:30 p.m.
•The Glory Reel, a trio of accomplished New England Irish musicians with a particular fondness for the traditions of North Connacht and Ulster, will launch its debut album of the same name at the Canadian American Club in Watertown on June 8 at 8 p.m. The members are Will Woodson (flute, uilleann pipes), who also plays in the trio Daymark; Chris “Junior” Stevens (piano, melodeon, button accordion), like Woodson a resident of Portland, and a co-founder of the acclaimed Maine band The Press Gang; and Caitlin Finley (fiddle), a mainstay of the Irish music scenes in Philadelphia, New York City and now Boston who has been a student of Rose Flanagan and Brian Conway.
For more information, see
The Canadian American Club also will hold a concert and dance on June 15 with Cape Breton fiddle-piano duo Ian MacDougall and Janine Randall. More details at the Canadian American Club website [].
• Nationally renowned Celtic rock band Gaelic Storm comes to The Cabot Theatre in Beverly on June 29 at 8 p.m. Although their legendary cameo appearance in the 1998 film “Titanic” is still recalled, the band – Steve Twigger, Patrick Murphy, Ryan Lacey, Pete Purvis, and Katie Grennan – has built its success through good old-fashioned work, touring as much as 125 days out of the year to perform its crowd-rousing mix of Celtic, country and rock/pop. With 13 albums to its credit, Gaelic Storm has regularly placed high in the Billboard World Music albums chart and appeared on the same bill with such acts as the Zac Brown Band, the Goo Goo Dolls, Emmylou Harris, and Lyle Lovett, and at various events and venues including the Boston Irish Festival, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and Milwaukee’s Summerfest.
Tickets, information available at
• The Burren Backroom schedule for the month kicks off with South Kerry-born singer Clare Horgan on June 2 at 4 p.m. Horgan has sung in a variety of genres, including jazz (which she studied at the University of Leeds), gospel, bluegrass, and swing, but has never strayed far from the tradition of her childhood, and current, home. Her most recent project involves delving into archival recordings of traditional seán-nos singing of her native Iveragh, and she has been granted funding for research and teaching activities related to preserving and passing on the music. Her two recordings showcase her wide-ranging musical interests: collaborations with British and Irish jazz musicians; covers of Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart’s “The Tennessee Waltz,” Hank Williams’ “You Win Again” and George Gershwin’s “But Not for Me”; and traditional and contemporary Irish songs such as “An Leanbh Si (The Fairy Child),” Sigerson Clifford’s “Boys Of Barr Na Sráide” and “The Road from Killorglin to Cahersiveen.”
Uilleann piper and whistle player Cillian Vallely will team with Worcester natives David and Patrick Doocey on June 5 at 7:30 p.m. Vallely, who plays in super-group Lúnasa, has collaborated with performers such as fellow Lúnasan Kevin Crawford, Tim O’Brien, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Bruce Springsteen and has recorded a solo album, “The Raven’s Rock,” which included appearances by his brothers Niall and Caoimhin. David Doocey, winner of All-Ireland medals on both fiddle and concertina and the inaugural World Fleadh fiddle championship, has played in the band Gráda and with Mayo accordionist David Munnelly, while guitar-playing brother Patrick, also a member of Lúnasa, has recorded with Crawford and fiddler Dylan Foley as The Drunken Gaugers and toured with Irish-Americana singer-songwriter Ashley Davis.
Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna bring their innovative project “The Coral Suite” to the Backroom on June 12 at 7:30 p.m. Fiddler-composer-arranger Lyn, who has played with traditional Irish musicians like Mick Moloney, Kevin Burke, and Martin Hayes, has a strong classical background, and guitarist Sanna has equally wide-ranging interests. “The Coral Suite” is a musical evocation of a coral reef and the diversity of life in its ecosystem, drawing on traditional and classical pieces as well as original works, and complemented by light boxes and projections featuring illustrations by Lyn.
The New England Irish Harp Orchestra appears on June 15 at 7 p.m. NEIHO is a multi-generational group of harpists who play – in various combinations as well as a full ensemble – Irish traditional tunes, slow airs and songs, and snippets from other music genres as well.
Making its Burren Backroom debut on June 19 at 7:30 p.m. will be young Connemara trio HighTime. Ciarán Bolger (vocals, guitar), Séamus Flaherty (vocals, harp, bodhran, dance) and Conall Flaherty (vocals, flute, whistle) bring together diverse elements in their sound, from sean-nos songs to classic tunes of the Atlantic coast to traditional and contemporary folk songs animated by three-part harmony. HighTime released its first album, “Sunda,” last year [see this month’s album reviews].
One of Ireland’s most distinguished singer-songwriters and social activists, Tommy Sands, performs in the Backroom on June 26 at 7:30 p.m. A native of County Down with a rich family legacy of music, Sands played with siblings Ben, Colum, Eugene, and Anne as The Sands Family in the late 1960s, then began a solo career that saw him write songs decrying the violence of The Troubles and expressing hope for peace and fellowship, such as “There Were Roses” and “Your Daughters and Your Sons.” Praised by Nobel Poet laureate Seamus Heaney and folk music legend Pete Seeger, his compositions have been covered by Joan Baez, Kathy Mattea, The Dubliners, Frank Patterson, and Cara Dillon, among many others, and “There Were Roses” was translated into German and included in the English syllabus for German secondary schools. In 1986, Sands organized a “Citizen’s Assembly” in Belfast that included many of Ulster’s top artists and literary figures. He was named an honorary doctor of letters by the University of Nevada for his work as musician and ambassador for peace and understanding.
Information on, and links to tickets for, Burren events available at
• Fiddle music representing several traditions will be in the spotlight when Brookline’s High Street Concert Series presents the duo of Kyra Davies and Sean Smith on June 14 at 8 p.m. Widely recognized for her work in contemporary classical music, Davies (fiddle and vocals) has become a devotee of traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, Shetland, and Cape Breton, with occasional excursions into Breton and Galician traditions as well, influenced by her years surrounded by the New England folk music scene. Smith (guitar, bouzouki, vocals) has been playing traditional folk music from England, Ireland and Scotland since high school. His instrumental style reflects contemporary fashions and tastes that have emerged in the past few decades and taken traditional music in new and innovative directions.
Tickets and other details at