Old sounds from the young

And now, the gajillion and 11th in a continuing series of posts waxing fervently on the abundance of fine young Celtic musicians we have here in the Boston area. But just ’cause it’s said a lot doesn’t make it any less so.

This weekend will feature a pair of performances that showcase four of these talented youthful folk, none of whom is past the mid-20s mark (and all of whom, incidentally, have been part of BCMFest). Tonight at the Westford Museum will be the fiddle-guitar duo of Katie McNally and Eric McDonald. Katie and Eric began playing together regularly a few years ago, and have amassed a repertoire rooted in Scottish tradition, but with distinctly modern sounds.

Katie and Eric

Katie was a mainstay in Boston’s Celtic music scene even before she began attending Tufts (she’s a senior there now), performing with the all-girl band 5 AM, competing in the New England Scottish fiddle competition (which she won in 2009). The past couple of years she’s toured with Childsplay, the All-Star fiddle ensemble. And Katie has also made a special contribution to BCMFest by organizing and playing in the “BCMFest Goes West(ford)” benefit concert, which has been going strong for five years. (She, along with Hanneke Cassel, has the honor of being the namesake for one of Jerry Bell‘s prized goats.)

We’ve lost track of how many bands Eric appears in, but certainly among the most notable are the contra dance trio Matching Orange and Scottish super-group Cantrip. Eric’s also been active in the traditional English morris and sword dance world, as a musician for Orion Longsword and for Great Meadows Morris and Sword (he’s danced with them, too). And he’s fit comfortably into the contemporary folk/acoustic side of things, as a member of the Dave Rowe Trio.

Tomorrow night, notloB Folk/Parlour Concerts will present another twosome, Julie Metcalf and Andy Reiner, at the Loring-Greenough House in Jamaica Plain. There’ll be fiddles, violas, harmonicas, banjos, octave mandolins, and a bunch of tunes and songs — “delicate and raging, familiar and foreign,” as they describe it.

Julie and Andy

Worcester native Julie began playing the violin at age 4, and studied classical violin at BU’s College of Fine Arts, but we know her very well as a musician in the Celtic and Appalachian vein. She was a founding member of the Folk Arts Quartet, a pioneering “Chambergrass” group, and the Paper Star Trio, and has been a welcome addition to the area contra dance circuit. Julie also has one of the best, most luminous “stage smiles” around.

Like Julie, Andy came from a very musical family — the Reiners are famous for putting together “Fiddle Hell” every November, with jam sessions, workshops and concerts covering just about every folk/acoustic brand of fiddle. Some of us remember Andy back when he was rocking out with a Celtic “speed metal” band called Devil in the Kitchen, but he’s probably most familiar as a member of the impossible-to-define Blue Moose & the Unbuttoned Zippers (Scandinavian polskas, English folk songs, old-timey roof-raisers, and very original compositions). Andy spent part of last fall traveling through Southeast Asia with the Earth Stringband, so who knows — maybe there’ll be a Thai tune or two in the mix.

[Note: If you miss Katie and Eric, by the way, they’ll be appearing in the notloB series on March 2. And if you’re suspecting that “notloB” might be a meme from a certain comedy sketch, you’re right.]

Young people are bound to wander, but here’s hoping that these four (and their many quite talented colleagues) never stray too far away from Boston.

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