Sharon Shannon will be at the Burren this month as part of her farewell tour in the USA. Photo credit: Sean Smith
*[UPDATE: The Frankie Gavin-Catherine McHugh shows have once again been postponed, and are being rescheduled for a later date.]
After having to cancel their planned American tour earlier this summer, fiddler nonpareil Frankie Gavin and pianist Catherine McHugh will finally make their appearance in Boston this month: Sept. 6 at The Burren [burren.com/music.html]; Sept. 9 at the Irish Cultural Centre of Greater Boston [irishculture.org]; and Sept. 14 at the Boston College Gaelic Roots series [bc.edu/irish]. A co-founder of the iconic band De Dannan, Gavin has been one of the foremost performers of Irish traditional music over the past five decades. He also has shown a great respect for and interest in the Irish/Irish-American styles of James Morrison and Michael Coleman, as well as the different routes Irish traditional music has taken down through time, notably in 1920s America (hence his founding of the Roaring Twenties Irish Orchestra). And his collaborations span all along the musical spectrum: Stéphane Grappelli, Yehudi Menuhin, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello. McHugh, like Gavin a Galway native, is a multiple All-Ireland champion who has drawn on some of the foundational Irish pianists like Charlie Lennon and Carl Hession to develop an approach that goes well beyond simply playing rhythm.
Newfoundland singer/guitarist Matthew Byrne will be among the performers at this month's Rockport Celtic Festival.
•Meanwhile, the Burren Backroom series produced by Brian O’Donovan will have a milestone event – albeit a bittersweet one – on Sept. 12 and 13 (with two concerts on each day), as virtuoso accordionist Sharon Shannon comes to town as part of what’s being billed as her farewell US tour; she’s also playing at City Winery Boston on Sept. 15. Shannon has been a leading innovator for the Irish accordion, bringing it into the realms of Appalachian, country, rock, hip-hop, reggae, African and Portuguese. She has also performed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Jackson Brown, Willie Nelson, The Chieftains, Christy Moore, and many other luminaries, including Steve Earle, most memorably on his hit song “Galway Girl.” Her most recent album, 2020’s “The Reckoning,” is characteristic of her wide-ranging musical interests and general joie de vivre: Featuring all Shannon originals, the recording includes guest appearances by, among others, Donal Lunny, Jim Murray, Quebecois band La Vent du Nord, Scandinavian trio Dreamer’s Circus, and guitarist Justin Adams – with whom she plays the North African-flavored “Unlocked” – and even spotlights Shannon on electric guitar.
In addition to the rescheduled Frankie Gavin-Catherine McHugh concert [see below], this month the Backroom will host Scottish quintet Heron Valley (Abigail Pryde, fiddle, vocals; Keith Morrison, keyboards; Nick Hamilton, banjo, guitar; Alastair MacLean, bagpipes, whistles; Callum Cronin, bass, guitar), on Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. The band plays music of their native Scotland, as well as of Ireland, while also integrating country, bluegrass, and contemporary folk. Much of their 2019 EP, “Erie Storm,” was inspired by their US tour – which also included a stop at the Burren. They also have a penchant for high-concept music videos: “Pressed for Time” captured their excursion, by water as well as land, to a gig and some of the performance as well; for “Home,” they climbed a steep hill on the west coast of Scotland, with instruments in tow, and played at the top.
Tickets and information at burren.com/music.html.
•The Irish Cultural Centre of Greater Boston will host Derek Warfield and The Young Wolfe Tones, on Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. Warfield was co-founder in 1963 of the original Wolfe Tones, who over the next four decades went on to earn acclaim for their fiery Irish patriotic and traditional songs. That sound lives on, drawing a new generation of listeners as well as older fans, through Warfield – who continues to sing, compose, tell stories, and record – and his bandmates including Damaris Woods (tenor banjo), Andreas Durkin (keyboards, vocals), Cormac McGuinness (guitar, vocals), Wayne Brereton (vocals), and Eddie Kane (guitar, vocals). Warfield – author of “The Irish Songster of the American Civil War” – and the Young Wolfe Tones also frequently provide a historical aspect to their performances, presenting lectures and songs that reflect the Irish experience in the American Revolution and Civil War.
•Harvard Square’s Club Passim welcomes the piano-fiddle duo of Neil Pearlman and Kevin Henderson on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. A native of Maine who lived in the Boston area for a spell, Pearlman’s innovative, dynamic piano playing has brought a fresh outlook to Scottish, Cape Breton and other Celtic music accompaniment, adding jazz, Latin, and other modern elements to nudge, push, lead, or gently entwine as necessary. Pearlman, who is part of several ongoing collaborations and directs the Boston Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, recently released his first solo album, “Refractions.” Henderson is a leading exemplar of the Shetland fiddle, which incorporates elements of Scottish as well as Scandinavian styles, and a member of bands like the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, Blazin’ Fiddles, and the Boys of the Lough. The pair have recorded an album, “Burden Lake,” comprised mainly of original tunes that are nonetheless strongly tied to tradition.
Another innovator of Celtic fiddle, Boston-area resident Hanneke Cassel, comes to Passim with her band on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. For more than two decades, Cassel has infused her fiddle music – whether interpreting from Scottish, Cape Breton or other traditions, playing her own material, or covering other contemporary fiddle tunes – with a singular passion as well as technical brilliance, from soulful slow airs to boisterous strathspeys to exuberant reels. Earlier this year, she released her seventh album, “Infinite Brightness,” a collection of mainly original pieces that express elements of just about the full spectrum of human experience: birth, death, faith, fellowship, love, endurance, and so on. Cassel will be joined at Passim by fiddler Jenna Moynihan and guitarist-vocalist Keith Murphy.
Scottish fiddler Ryan Young comes to Club Passim on September 18.
And then there’s Ryan Young, part of the vanguard of pioneering Scottish fiddlers, who’ll be at Passim on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. Young got turned onto fiddling at age 10 after watching Shetland’s Aly Bain (“I was inspired by the way he seemed to ‘speak’ through an instrument,” he recalled in an interview. “I was a fairly quiet child and loved the idea that something could speak for you”). An accomplished graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Young infuses his interpretations of Scottish tunes – including some long-neglected ones – with fresh melodic ideas, rhythmic drive and an impressive combination of dynamics and precision. He’s had some memorable collaborations over the years – some of them captured on YouTube, fortunately, such as his appearance with Dennis Cahill – and his first album to date, released in 2017, was produced by Grammy winner Jesse Lewis.
Tickets and information for Passim shows at passim.org.
•Somebody’s Child is the stage name for Dublin indie rocker Cian Godfrey, and of the band he’ll be fronting when they perform their first-ever US headline show at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Godfrey took up music as a five-year-old playing piano in the family apartment when they lived in Paris, but his songwriting reflects more his formative years growing up in Dublin. In interviews, as in his songs, Godfrey has put forth a less romanticized but, to his mind, more realistic view of Ireland – a place where many of his generation can barely afford to live now. “We Could Start a War,” a featured track on the band’s recently released debut album, expresses this mix of emotions, as does the accompanying video which, he explained, captures “the juxtaposition between beauty in tradition, and the ugly face of gentrification – of which both are in abundance” in Ireland. Another single, “I Need Ya” – highlighted by a classic ’80s-style guitar riff and a throbbing bass line set against Godfrey’s vocals – is spare in its lyrics but abundant in emotional vulnerability; this song’s video references Ireland’s “drift culture,” a phrase that necessitates a Google search to fully appreciate.
Tickets and information at mideastoffers.com/tm-event/somebodys-child.
•The Gore Place concert series in Waltham will present a local ensemble, the Moody Street String Band, on Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The group musters fiddle, banjo, guitars, bass, mandolin and accordion for its rendition of Irish, Scottish, English, American, and New England traditional music. Depending on the weather, the show will be in the “Event Tent” or the Carriage House (which is an attraction all by itself).
•Los Angeles septet Flogging Molly will bring their brand of Celtic Punk to Citizens House of Blues Boston on Sept. 20 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dubliner Dave King formed the band in 1994, marrying his poetic lyrics to hard-edged melodies and rhythms, and drawing on legendary Irish bands like The Dubliners, The Pogues, and Horslips but also with a nod to the likes of Johnny Cash and English punkers The Clash. In addition to King, who plays acoustic guitar, bodhran and banjo, the band includes Bridget Regan (fiddle, whistle, vocals), Dennis Casey (guitar, vocals), Matt Hensley (accordion, concertina), Nathan Maxwell (bass, vocals), Spencer Swain (mandolin, banjo, guitar, vocals), and Mike Alonso (drums, percussion). Last year, saw Flogging Molly put out their seventh studio album, “Anthem.”
Tickets, details at houseofblues.com/boston.