Performances by Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Black 47, and Atlantic Steps highlight this year’s Boston Irish Festival, which will take place June 7-9 at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England in Canton. The traditional fiddle-accordion duo of Oisin Mac Diarmada and Seamus Begley and Celtic-pop Canadian band Searson also are on the bill.
In addition, the annual festival will include its customary roster of local and regional music and dance acts, as well as various events and activities, among them a 5K road race, Irish football and hurling competitions, an Irish bread baking contest, children and family amusements, genealogy consultations, and appearances by authors of books related to Irish and Irish-American history, culture and literature.
This year also will see the inaugural Boston Irish Festival Feis, a partnership with Liam Harney, founder and owner of the Walpole-based Harney Academy of Irish Dance. The Irish dance competition will take place on five stages all day on Sat., June 8, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Participants of all ages and experience levels are welcome. The Boston Irish Festival Feis is registered, sanctioned and governed by rules of An Coimisiun, North American Feis Commission and NAFC New England Region President Pat Watkins.
Kicking off the festival on Friday evening, June 7, at 8 o’clock, will be Grammy winner and nine-time all-Ireland fiddle champion Eileen Ivers, whose resume includes appearances with the Boston Pops, The Chieftains, Sting, and Paula Cole, and stints with Cherish the Ladies and “Riverdance.” Ivers will be performing with her Immigrant Soul ensemble, a blending of Celtic, pop and world music instruments and influences.
For almost 25 years, New York City’s Black 47 has played its sometimes gritty, sometimes saucy, sometimes angry, always loud’n proud version of Irish rock, flavored with folk as well as reggae, jazz, and hip-hop to create an unabashed working-class urban sound. Black 47 will play at the festival on Saturday at a time to be announced.
Boston-area dancers Kieran Jordan and Jackie O’Riley are among the cast of Atlantic Steps, an international-touring adaptation of sean-nos, Ireland’s oldest dance form, portrayed through the music, song, dance, and energy of the Connemara region. The production will be staged at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 9. Oisin Mac Diarmada and Seamus Begley are members of Téada, one of the best traditional bands to emerge from Ireland this century, and are acclaimed musicians in their own right. They will appear at 11 a.m. on June 8. Searson, which performs June 8 at 7 p.m., is spearheaded by sisters Erin, Heather and Colleen Searson, who play a variety of instruments — they are especially noted for their Ottawa Valley-style fiddling — and are all expert step dancers.
Other acts slated for the festival as of press time include Philadelphia’s classic Irish pub band The Shantys; the family band The Rebel Kellys; local favorites Devri, Erin’s Guild, and The Auld Locals.
contemporary Tom Lanigan Band from Rhode Island; and The Ivy Leaf and Corvus, two Boston-based bands playing a strongly traditional Irish instrumental and vocal music repertoire and style.
An always-popular feature of the festival is the tent manned by Boston’s Reynolds-Hanafin-Cooley branch of the worldwide Irish music and cultural organization Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. The Comhaltas stage offers virtually non-stop traditional Irish music and dance all day June 8 and 9. Once again, the festival’s Grafton Street Marketplace will be chock full of Irish and local crafts, artwork, jewelry, knit wear, apparel, pottery, ornaments and more. The “Kids Village” features children/family activities such as free face painting, amusement rides, field games, arts and crafts, music, Irish dancers, Gaelic games, and Irish wolfhounds and setters. And for festivalgoers with hair of a certain hue, once again there’ll be an opportunity to set a world’s record for the largest number of redheads in one area. A photo will be taken on Saturday at 2 p.m. as the Festival attempts to beat last year’s total of more than 300 redheads. All information about the 2013 event is available at bostonirishfestival.info.