Ennis trio Socks in the Frying Pan will be at the Center for the Arts in Natick on August 19.
A look at upcoming Irish/Celtic events in Greater Boston:
One of the most compelling figures to emerge in the 1970s Irish music scene, concertina player Noel Hill, will be at the Burren for a 4 p.m. show on Aug. 13. At a time when the Irish folk revival was fairly dominated by instruments such as fiddle, flute, and uilleann pipes, Clare native Hill was a revelation with his masterful concertina playing – notably his brand of ornamentation and variations, influenced by uilleann piping – as displayed on his 1979 album with fiddler Tony Linnane and his performances and recordings with the band Inchiquin (whose members also included Luka Bloom, then known as Barry Moore); his later recordings included “The Irish Concertina 1,” named Irish Folk Album of the Year in 1988, and 17 years later, “The Irish Concertina 2.” A traumatizing episode of violence left Hill unable to play for some years, but he gradually recovered enough to perform again; in 2017, he released “The Irish Concertina 3: Live in New York.”
Iona Fyfe, who comes to the Backroom on Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m., isn’t just a highly acclaimed Scottish singer (the first to win the prestigious MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Musician of the Year honor) but a most passionate advocate for official recognition of the Scots language – thanks to her, Spotify added it to its list of languages, no small triumph. Her early recordings, notably “Go From My Window” and “Dark Turn of Mind” (the latter focusing on ballads and songs found in both Appalachia and her native Aberdeenshire) showcase her enthralling voice and her modern treatment of old songs and new in a traditional style. More recently, she’s taken to translating contemporary songs into Doric Scots, including Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” and Richard Thompson’s “Poor Ditching Boy.” She’s active off the stage, too, as a member of the Musicians Union and director of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland. For her Burren show, Fyfe will be accompanied by Boston-area guitarist Adam Hendey.
Reverie Road, which made its Burren debut last fall, makes a return appearance on Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. Any band that has the twin fiddles of Winifred Horan and former Gaelic Storm member Katie Grennan and the accordion of John Williams – who along with Horan helped co-found Solas – has already got a lot going for it. But then there’s former New England Conservatory student Utsav Lal, dubbed “the raga pianist,” who skillfully intertwines Dhrupad and Indian classical music with other genres, from jazz to Irish and Scottish music. You can read more about Lal and how he wound up as part of Reverie Road in this Q&A .
For tickets and information on Burren events, see burren.com/music.html.
•Coming to the Center for the Arts in Natick on Aug. 19 is Socks in the Frying Pan, a trio from Ennis in Co. Clare (Aodán Coyne, guitar; Shane Hayes, fiddle, banjo; Fiachra Hayes, accordion) that has built a strong following through not only their considerable musical ability but also through their polished, sweet-voiced singing and a good-natured stage presence which enhances their connection with the audience. Their repertoire encompasses material well beyond the Irish trad realm to Scottish, Cape Breton, and American folk, and to songwriters ranging from Guy Clark to Charlie McGettigan to Phil Ochs. The trio has released four albums, including a live recording "Raw and Ríl" (2019).
See natickarts.org for more.
•As befitting its littoral location, the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport will host Boston-area singer and folklorist David Coffin for "Sea Chanteys and Mayhem" on Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. Coffin has been a local favorite for years through his appearances at Revels and other maritime-related events, and participation in numerous recording projects as a singer and instrumentalist, playing music of North America, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany. His rendition of “Rolling Down to Old Maui” on TikTok – which got 46,000 “likes” in the week after he posted it in early 2021 – helped spur a sea chantey “craze” on the video platform. He has also gained further exposure through his sea chanteying cameo in the Amazon Prime movie “Blow the Man Down.”
The Mari Black Trio returns to the Shalin Liu on Aug. 18 at 8 p.m., with a concert titled "Celtic Soul." Black, also a Boston-based musician, has distinguished credentials that include fiddling competition championships in Scottish and Canadian Maritime traditions. Her repertoire spans not only Irish and Scottish traditions but also American folk music, Argentine tangos, and even classic swing tunes, to name a few. Among her projects and collaborations was the 2020 album "Unscripted," with three-time world accordion champion Cory Pesaturo. Locally, Black has appeared at BCMFest and the Burren Backroom.
Tickets, other details at rockportmusic.org.
•The Kings of Connaught, a trio from Galway on its first US tour, will make its Boston-area debut at the Irish Cultural Centre of Greater Boston in Canton on Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. The three all work at tried-and-true "day jobs" – Liam O'Grady (vocals, five-string banjo) is a software engineer, Mark Costello (vocals, guitar) a teacher, and Thomas Ryan (whistle, harmonica, guitar) a biomedical engineer – but have fashioned a very winning sound in the ballad-band mode, with classic songs like "The Rocky Road to Dublin" and "The Irish Rover" alongside instrumentals ("Planxty Irwin" and Finbar Furey's "Lonesome Boatman") and covers of contemporary numbers, from Richard Thompson's "Beeswing" to The Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling."
Irish American singer Andy Cooney will be at the ICCGB on Aug. 27 for his now-almost-annual combination dinner-and-show extravaganza that begins at 3 p.m. A Long Island native with Irish ancestry and a catalogue that extends to country as well as traditional, folk, and contemporary Irish music, Cooney has recorded 19 albums and a raft of singles, including “Come Tennessee Me Tonight” with country singer Larry Gatlin. Cooney got his big musical break more than 30 years ago when he toured as the vocalist with bandleader Paddy Noonan. Cooney has since led a highly successful solo career for more than two decades that has included collaborations with the likes of Ronan Tynan, Crystal Gayle, and the RTE Orchestra, as well as with Phil Coulter and, more recently, as one-third of the New York Tenors with Daniel Rodriquez and Christopher Macchio.
For more, go to irishculture.org.
Early August events included:
•Somerville’s Center for Arts at the Armory – a valuable community hub for artistic expression across many genres – will present the “Feet Keep the Beat Festival” from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4, an offering of classes and workshops in several forms of dance that will culminate in the final day’s festival showcase that includes local Irish dance performers, choreographers, and teachers Jackie O’Riley and Rebecca McGowan. Individually and together, O’Riley and McGowan have been at the forefront in preserving traditional Irish dance with a particular focus on the intricate movements and musical connections of the dance. In 2019, they released a visual album, “From the Floor,” that was screened at numerous film festivals, including the St. Patrick’s Film Festival in London; last year, they were recognized as 2022 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellows in Choreography. They’ve performed in the “Christmas Celtic Sojourn” Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day productions, Boston Celtic Music Fest, and the Catskills Irish Arts Week, among others. Their most recent collaboration has included the album “Eight Feet Tall” with Dan Accardi and Armand Aromin.
Seeing O’Riley and McGowan on their own is a treat, of course, but “Feet Keep the Beat” offers the opportunity to consider Irish in a larger context that includes Flamenco, Kathak (from India), and tap/body percussion dance.
Details and registration at artsatthearmory.org/events.
•Another busy month at the Burren Backroom series produced by Brian O’Donovan gets under way on Aug. 9 at 7:30 p.m. with Scotland’s Old Blind Dogs. The group last year began its fourth decade with the release of its 14th album, “Knucklehead Circus,” continuing to display a boundless energy and a rootsy yet cosmopolitan sound that is definitively Scottish but at various times has mingled with Breton and hints of African, Caribbean, and American/old-timey. OBD’s long-time core is fiddler Jonny Hardie, an original founding member, and guitar/bouzouki player and vocalist Aaron Jones (in his 20th year with the band), with Donald Hay on percussion; they’ll be joined by bagpiper and multi-instrumentalist Mike Katz, a Los Angeles native who has played with the Battlefield Band and Ceolbeg.