Summer BCMFest hits 10-year mark with full day of music


Eight Feet Tall will be among the performers at this year's Summer BCMFest.


Summer BCMFest will mark its first decade when it takes place on July 7 at Harvard Square’s Club Passim, with music from late morning into the evening from talented performers in Boston’s Celtic music community. 

This year’s Summer BCMFest kicks off with a live music brunch inside Club Passim from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the Carroll Sisters, accompanied by guitarist Adam Hendey. The last half of the brunch will be an open jam session. There is no admission charge.

Then the action shifts outdoors to Palmer Street, with a free concert from 3-5 p.m. First up will be a group of young Irish-style fiddlers led by their instructor, Cliodhna Field. Closing out the afternoon is Mrs. Wilberforce, the duo of Kyra Davies and Sean Smith, playing a variety of music within – and sometimes just outside of – the Celtic tradition. (In case of rain, the concert will be held inside Club Passim.)

Summer BCMFest concludes that evening with a ticketed performance in Club Passim starting at 7 p.m. Performers include the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and high-profile local session participant Elias Cardoso and friends; the Adam Hendy Band, featuring one of Boston’s most sought-after guitarists; and Eight Feet Tall, the quartet of Dan Accardi, Armand Aromin, Jackie O’Neil, and Rebecca McGowan, which offers an intriguing mix of music and dance.

Summer BCMFest is the warm-weather version of the Boston Celtic Music Fest (BCMFest), a multi-day festival held in the winter to celebrate the richness and diversity of Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, and other Celtic music and dance in the Greater Boston area. BCMFest is a program of Passim, a Cambridge-based non-profit that supports a vibrant music community through Club Passim, music school, artist grants, and outreach initiatives. 

“Over this past decade, Summer BCMFest has established its own identity as a mid-year celebration of our local Celtic scene,” says BCMFest Director Summer McCall. “While associated with the winter BCMFest, it also brings a certain special summer energy to the table. In particular, with the free outdoor events, Summer BCMFest offers an opportunity for people to get a taste of Celtic music in Boston and to learn about Passim.

“Most of all, Summer BCMFest is a reminder that this Celtic music community is a constant, year-round happening, one that pulls together multiple generations and an array of musical styles and interests.”

Here’s a closer look at the Summer BCMFest performers:

The Carroll Sisters are fiddlers Emilie and Nora, who began playing Celtic music in early elementary school. While a lot of their style and repertoire comes from Scotland and Cape Breton, the sisters have had a considerable immersion in the Irish tradition. Natives of northern Connecticut, the Carrolls have long been active in Boston’s Celtic community, whether performing at BCMFest and Club Passim, attending local music camps, or sitting in on sessions and forming ties with local musicians – among them Adam Hendey, who’ll be accompanying them at the live music brunch. They released an album in 2022, “Daybreak.”

“Emilie and Nora have a very distinctive sound, with arrangements that include beautiful harmonies and intriguing counterpoints,” says McCall. “In addition to traditional tunes, they also play tunes they composed themselves. They have formed very strong ties to the Boston community, and we’re always pleased to have them at BCMFest.”

Cliodhna Field, a native of County Meath in Ireland who moved to the Boston area in 2012, has been a regular presence at many local Irish sessions, well regarded as much for her good cheer as her fiddling talents. Field has an equally lofty reputation as a fiddle teacher, and in particular for her work with elementary- to high school-age musicians. In recent years, she has arranged sessions and performances for her young students – at venues such as the Irish Cultural Centre of Greater Boston in Canton, The Burren, The Cottage Bar in Weymouth, and The Dubliner in Beacon Hill – to not only get them used to playing in public but also as a means to build camaraderie and community. In addition to leading her students, Field will play some sets on her own at Summer BCMFest, accompanied by Elias Cardoso.

“Cliodhna is passionate about getting her students to enjoy being musicians. And, of course, she’s doing something very important: making sure that this traditional music is passed along to a new generation,” says McCall. “Who knows? Maybe in the not-too-distant future, we’ll see some of these same young musicians performing at BCMFest on their own.”

Mrs. Wilberforce (Kyra Davies, fiddle, viola, vocals; Sean Smith, guitar, bouzouki, tenor banjo, vocals) features a repertoire from Ireland, Scotland, and Cape Breton – but also farther afield, like Shetland, Brittany and Galicia, among other places. Although their sound is rooted in tradition, they readily draw upon classical and contemporary folk/folk-rock domains, bringing out the distinctive qualities of each tune or song for the enjoyment of their audiences. The pair has appeared at BCMFest, Newton PorchFest, and The BeBop. 

“Kyra and Sean are an example of how people from different generations and backgrounds can find enjoyment together in playing Celtic music,” says McCall. “Kyra is a gifted concert violinist who performs with a symphony orchestra one night and the next will be sitting in at an Irish or Scottish session. Sean began playing folk and traditional music in his late teens and has made it the focus of his experiences as a musician. They’re a lot of fun.” 

Elias Cardoso, a Boston native and 2019 alumnus of Berklee College of Music, is a familiar figure at Boston-area Celtic music events, whether held in pubs or parlors, playing an array of instruments including fiddle, guitar, accordion, and bodhran. In addition to appearing at BCMFest and the Burren Backroom, Cardoso also has extensive performance experience in the US and Europe, touring with notable artists like Old Blind Dogs, Mari Black, the Strawberry Hill Band, and his own group Glenville. He’ll be joined at Summer BCMFest by guitarist Adam Hendey and fiddler Katie Knudsvig.

“Elias is part of this emerging generation of musicians, mostly in their 20s, who have really made an impact on Boston’s Celtic scene,” says McCall. “Elias is not only exceptional as a musician, and as a singer, he has a keen sense for arrangement – what brings out the best in a set of tunes or a song.”

The Adam Hendey Band spotlights a much-in-demand accompanist who also excels in a lead role. Since moving from the West Coast to the Boston area a few years ago, Hendey – a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s traditional music program – has made himself quite at home, whether helping lead sessions or performing in a variety of settings. While his prowess on guitar tends to get most attention (he’s known as “Mr. DADGAD,” in reference to the guitar tuning he uses), Hendey plays whistle, mandolin, and bouzouki and is an accomplished singer of traditional ballads and folk songs; he also complements his expansive traditional repertoire with his own compositions. His portfolio includes an album as part of Scottish band The Fire and last year’s “Breathe Blue,” that was recorded with whistle player Eliot Grasso. Accompanying him at Summer BCMFest will be Brendan Hearn (cello), Erin Hogan (vocals, harmonium) and Clara Rose (fiddle).

“Adam has fit in so well here in Boston, it’s like he’s been around for decades,” says McCall. “He has a simply wonderful touch on guitar – one that he built, by the way – whether for epic instrumental sets or for gentle, heartfelt songs.”

Read a Q&A with Adam Hendey here.


•For Eight Feet Tall, there is no distinction between music and dance. Jackie O’Riley and Rebecca McGowan’s rhythmic steps, Dan Accardi’s accordion, and Armand Aromin’s fiddle and vocals all occupy the same territory, whether performing traditional Irish instrumentals or songs. Together, they create complex sonic textures and vibrant visual interplay which sit firmly within the bounds of tradition while continually testing those bounds. O’Riley is an original member of the touring sean-nós dance show Atlantic Steps and teaches non-competitive Irish dance for children; McGowan, co-founder of the contemporary step dance company Rising Step, has performed and taught at numerous events and festivals in the Boston and Washington, DC, areas (O’Riley and McGowan also collaborated on “From the Floor,” a “visual album” of Irish music and dance); Aromin and Accardi are former members of the traditional Irish music quartet The Ivy Leaf, and Aromin is one-half of the irrepressible duo The Vox Hunters.

“Eight Feet Tall is an absolute joy to watch as well as listen to,” says McCall. “These are all top-notch performers, and they bring together the elements of music and dance in a fascinating conversation.”

For details about Summer BCMFest, see