Last year’s inaugural Summer BCMFest was so much fun, we decided to do it again — July 3, to be precise.
This time around, we’ve added a bit of a street festival vibe to the proceedings. Beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Palmer Street — right outside Club Passim — there will be a free outdoor concert, featuring the traditional Irish music duo of Armand Aromin and Dan Accardi. If you’ve frequented the Boston Irish session scene the past several years, you’re bound to have seen at least one, if not both, of these guys — they’re quite devoted to the tunes, and they know this music inside and out. Or perhaps you’ve seen them perform as part of that exquisite quartet The Ivy Leaf. In any case, you can count on hearing lots of fine Irish jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas and all manner of things, played in impeccably trad fashion.
And then it will be time for Soulsha.
Soulsha celebrates — there really is no other word for it — a joyous bond between Celtic and African music, with some funk, jazz and afrobeat in the mix as well. Scottish bagpipes and fiddle intertwine with pulsing electric bass and percussion, and a nifty horn section, and then there’s their passionate, expressive singer/frontman Elias Alexander — who, one year at BCMFest, duct-taped himself into a pair of stilts and paraded into Harvard Square for a jam session. Soulsha, invariably, incites people to dance, so be prepared.
At 7 p.m., Summer BCMFest will move indoors to the comfy confines of Club Passim for a ticketed evening concert that begins with the Coyne Family: Lisa (flute, whistle) and John (bouzouki) and their children, Josie (fiddle) and Rory (accordion). We often hear the phrase “roots and branches” associated with Irish/Celtic music, describing how its core traditions have, over time and distance, taken on new influences and styles to become something that might seem different yet still retains connections to the original. Well, in this case roots and branches refers to a family tree — John and Lisa are accomplished musicians in the Irish tradition, and have instilled a love and respect for the music in Josie and Rory, who in turn have fashioned their own identities and interests.
Capping off Summer BCMFest will be fiddler Mariel Vandersteel, who has connected with folk and traditional music in many ways, shapes and forms. Suffice it to say that Mariel has traveled great distances, musically and geographically, whether playing fiddle tunes from the Appalachians, studying the hardanger fiddle in Norway or traveling through countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India and Bangladesh (via the State Department-sponsored American Music Abroad tour, as a member of BCMFest co-founder Laura Cortese‘s band The Dance Cards).
Playing traditional tunes or her own fine compositions, Mariel melds the styles and sounds of the various fiddle communities in which she’s traveled. She’ll be accompanied by guitarist Owen Marshall, who’s played at BCMFest in many different collaborations; Owen, among his many other activities, is a member of the excellent Maine-based traditional Irish trio The Press Gang.
Summer BCMFest is supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Tickets for Summer BCMFest are $18 for the general public, $10 for Passim members and students. For reservations and other information, go to passim.org/bcmfest.