A look at Irish/Celtic music events this month in Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts:
• Boston-based fiddle ensemble Childsplay has announced its 2017 fall tour schedule, which includes a stop in Somerville Theater on Nov. 19, where they will play shows at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Childsplay comprises two dozen or so musicians – many from Boston or elsewhere in New England – performing fiddle music mainly from Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, Scandinavian, French Canadian, and American folk traditions. All the fiddlers use violins created by Cambridge resident Bob Childs, who also plays in the ensemble and serves as artistic director as well as its namesake.
Last year, Childsplay introduced Ireland’s Karan Casey as its newest lead singer, joining stalwarts such as Laurel Martin, Sheila Falls, Shannon Heaton, Mark Roberts, Hanneke Cassel and Keith Murphy. Casey will return for this year’s tour, and dancers Kieran Jordan and Kevin Doyle will be in the cast as well.
Childs has announced that this tour will kick off a three-year period in which Childsplay will record a new album and then, in 2019, embark on its farewell tour.
For information and links, see childsplay.org.
• Singer and harpist Moya Brennan, a member of the groundbreaking internationally renowned Irish folk-rock band Clannad, will give a concert at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Brennan, a native of Donegal, helped put Irish music on a global stage through Clannad’s string of hit singles and albums during the 1980s and ’90s, culminating in a 1999 Grammy Award. She also has collaborated with numerous figures in rock and folk – including Shane McGowan, The Chieftains, Michael Crawford, and Robert Plant – and more recently with fellow harpist/vocalist Cormac de Barra.
Go to irishculture.org for event details.
• Maine quartet The Press Gang will play at Boston College’s Gaelic Roots series on Nov. 2 at 6:30 p.m. (they’ll be at The Burren Backroom the night before). Christian “Junior” Stevens (accordion, concertina), Alden Robinson (fiddle), Owen Marshall (guitar, bouzouki) and newest member Hanz Araki (flute, vocals) form one of the most compelling Irish trad bands to have emerged in New England during the past several years. They recently completed work on their third album, “Fortune It May Smile.” The concert will take place at the Theology and Ministry Library on BC’s Brighton Campus. See bc.edu/gaelicroots.
• At The Burren Backroom this month will be the duo of Maeve Gilchrist and Keith Murphy, on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Gilchrist (harp, vocals) and Murphy (guitar, mandolin, vocals) represent an intriguing blend of music from Scotland, New England, Ireland, Quebec, Acadia, Newfoundland, and Cape Breton, among other places, and their own creative minds. Both are also highly praised for their skills in composing and arranging – Murphy with Childsplay and as music director for “St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn,” Gilchrist as assistant music director for “A Christmas Celtic Sojourn.”
A progressive force in traditional music for 15 years, Quebec’s Le Vent du Nord – Nicolas Boulerice (hurdy-gurdy), Olivier Demers (fiddle), Rejean Brunet (accordion, bass) and Simon Beaudry (guitar, bouzouki) – comes to the Backroom on Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. The band’s resume includes tours across five continents, collaborations with performers such as The Chieftains and Dervish, and two Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammys). Their most recent album, “Têtu,” shows the band incorporating contemporary material – some of it their own compositions – alongside the traditional.
Sharon Shannon, who has taken the Irish accordion to far-off lands and multiple music genres, will play two afternoon shows in the Backroom on Nov. 13, at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Shannon’s work has included explorations of Appalachian, country, rock, hip-hop, reggae, classical, French-Canadian, African, and Portuguese music, and a supporting role on Steve Earle’s Irish-American anthem “Galway Girl.” Her most recent album, “Sacred Earth,” continues her global journey.
Ushering in the Thanksgiving holiday break will be fiddler Jamie Laval, on Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. A Pacific Northwest native now living in North Carolina, Laval has been active in several genres of music, from Scottish trad to classical to ethnic jazz to pop (including a collaboration with Dave Matthews, and his composing the Emmy-nominated theme song for the TV show “Everwood”). This wealth of experience has enabled Laval to bring a wider dimension to his renditions of Celtic music, along with his highly praised command and technique. His 2012 album “Murmurs and Drones” won “Best World Traditional Album” honors in the Independent Music Awards.
For tickets and other information on Backroom series events, go to burren.com/Backroom-Series.html.
• The Canadian American Club will hold its annual Club Gala Benefit on Nov. 12 from 1-7 p.m., featuring a performance by Cape Breton fiddler Andrea Beaton. A native of Mabou, Beaton comes from a distinguished musical family: Her fiddle-playing father Kinnon and pianist mother Betty are both acknowledged as among the most influential Cape Breton musicians of their generation; Beaton’s lineage also includes grandfather Donald Angus Beaton and grandmother Elizabeth Beaton, and uncle Buddy MacMaster and cousin Natalie MacMaster, all of them revered in the Cape Breton music tradition. Her album “Branches” earned the East Coast Instrumental Recording of the Year in 2010; her newest release features Beaton accompanied by her mother and guitarist Dave MacIsaac. Accompanying Beaton at the benefit will be pianist Janine Randall, a mainstay of the local Celtic scene.
Go to canadianamericanclub.com for more details.
• Greater Boston native Emerald Rae, a fiddler and vocalist of wide-ranging, tradition-influenced styles, will perform at the Gore Place Carriage House in Waltham on Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Rae started out playing Scottish and Cape Breton music, winning the US Scottish Fiddle Championship at age 18, then moved into Irish and American old-timey, as a member of the band Annalivia (now the trio known as Low Lily) and in her solo work; she also took up the medieval Welsh fiddle the crwth. Her more recent projects have included her album of original songs, “If Only I Could Fly,” and “Artifact,” a collaboration with accordionist Somer O’Brien that features Celtic, European and Quebecois music.
See goreplace.org for information.
• The third annual Lexington Family Ceili will be held on Nov. 5 at 4:30 p.m. in the First Baptist Church, 1580 Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington. Irish social dances like “The Walls of Limerick” and “Shoe the Donkey” will be taught and called; all ages are welcome and no experience is necessary. Live music will be provided by Nora Smith (fiddle), Natasha Sheehy (accordion) and John Coyne (bouzouki). Admission is $10 per person, $20 per family.
– SEAN SMITH