Burning Bridget Cleary
With 20% of the
region claiming Irish or Scottish ancestry, Celtic festivals have long been a
staple of the region’s summer music season.
Add to that Canadian and American music, and you’ve got a full schedule
of music, dance and cultural activities to suit everyone.
Kicking off this year’s schedule on June 6-7 is the Irish Cultural Centre’s annual Irish Festival taking place in
Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Black 47, Devri and Comhaltas
Ceoltoiri Eireann are some of the headliners, a fitting spectrum of Irish
fusion, rock, ballads and traditional music.
Larry Kirwan of Black 47 says “
Boston audiences are amongst the most
demonstrative in the country, and right from the opening chord,” for the band’s
high-energy, politically informed music, though this was not always the
case. “There was a time when I’d have to
warn (the band) that Boston
audiences typically don’t show their appreciation until the end of the
show.” Kirwan credits the Dropkick
Murphys for helping local audiences open up.
Following the festival, the Centre is hosting a feis dance competition the following Saturday, June 14. Organized by the Harney Academy of Irish Dance, the all-day feis will bring dancers from all over
New England to
On Saturday, June 21, the Blackstone River Theatre presents its 4th annual Summer Solstice Festival, taking place at
Park in . Russell Gusetti, executive director of BRT
and festival producer, says the festival line-up typically includes top local
and regional bands alongside two or three groups from outside the area. Cumberland, RI
This year, Burning Bridget Cleary from the
area, is a headliner. “They have a new
fiddler/singe and a great new CD since we heard them last, and are one of the
hottest young bands out there, though they don’t get to New
Another festival highlight is Panache Quartet, featuring
fiddler Andrea Beaton, Franco-American fiddler Donna Hébert, Southern-style
fiddler Jane Rothfield and Québecois fiddler Véronique Plasse. Cape Breton
“Unlike a lot of Celtic festivals, I don’t book Celtic rock bands or serve alcohol, so I pick the performer solely on the strength of their performance,” he says. Gusetti’s own band, Pendragon, is performing, along with local favorites Laurel Martin, Mark Roberts & Kieran Jordan, Robbie O’Connell, and the Heatons.
Also on June 21, traditional duo John Blake and Ruairi McGorman perform at the Chatham Fiddle Company in
On Saturday, July 19, the 21st annual Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival takes place at
Look Park in . The festival features
Albannach, Prydein, Charlie Zahm and the Bell Family, plus clan gatherings,
Scottish games, food courts, vendors and spinning and weaving demonstrations. Florence,
Peter Langmore, chairman of the festival, describes the event’s appeal. “With the diverse population we have in the
US, people find it very important
not to lose their ethnic roots,” he says. “Plus, many people are interested in
learning about other cultures, or like to travel to other countries, or just
want to have fun.”
On July 25-27, the 28th Lowell Folk Festival runs in downtown
National Park. This year’s festival showcases Irish traditional band James
Kelly, Donna Long & Sean Kean, along with various performers representing
dozens of cultures.
South of Boston, two great outdoor summer venues are presenting an Irish Music Festival: the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset on August 21, followed by the Cape Cod Melody Tent in
Hyannis on August 22. The music line-up at
both venues includes fiddle star Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, the
Fighting Jamesons and Celtica: Pipes Rock.
Also on August 22, check out the Irish Rovers at the
in Hyannis, on their
‘Farwell to Rovin’ tour.
On August 23, the 16th annual Newport Waterfront Celtic Rock Festival opens at the
Newport Yachting Center
in downtown . It features Gaelic Storm, Eileen Ivers,
Black 47, Tartan Terrors, Celtica: Pipes Rock, the Fighting Jamesons and more. Newport, RI
North of New England, the 8th annual Quebec Celtic Festival takes place on September 3-7 at the
Center in .
Expect to hear terrific Canadian Irish and Celtic bands, plus a showcase of
Gaelic games, a parade and family activities throughout the week. Quebec City, Canada
On September 19-21, the 39th annual New Hampshire Highland Games take place at
popular duo, Alastair Fraser and Natalie Haas are headliners. Loon
iFest Wraps Up the Season
And finally, on September 26-28,
is excited to welcome a major new festival called iFest (ifest.ie), at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.
Described as a premium showcase of
contemporary Irish culture, entertainment and innovation, iFest features an
all-star cast of culinary masters, leading musicians and dancers, fashion
designers and athletes to present a taste of modern Ireland.
iFest is sponsored by Tourism
the dynamic agency that markets the island
of Ireland in North
As always with an Irish gathering, there is plenty of music at iFest. On the traditional side, uilleann piper Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains performs along with accordion maestro Damien Mullane.
Indi-Pop band Heathers, featuring twin sisters Louise and Ellie Macnamara, is
performing, plus the break-out rock band Riptide Movement.
The Irish Food Board and Culture
Ireland are iFest participants, so expect
cooking demos and food displays, along with literary events, genealogy classes
and an art display from Irish museums. The
Gaelic Athletic Association has a traveling exhibit and film highlights of some
classic matches over the years. Fashion
designer Louise Kennedy and Chef Darina Allen are attending, along with an
assortment of Irish writers, athletes and dancers.
Find more about Irish activities at irishmassachusetts.com.
(This story appeared in the Irish Echo Newspaper)