I’ve just come from the Boston Celtic Music Fest (BCMFest) this past weekend. BCMFest is as much a party that Boston musicians throw for themselves as it is a music festival for the public. Fortunately their definition of ‘Boston musicians’ is loose enough to allow expats like myself and singer/fiddler Liz Hanley, who now lives in Brooklyn, to perform.
The weekend started with a spirited and occasionally rambunctious ceilidh. I was safely behind the piano, sitting in since half of the Boston Urban Ceilidh Band were delayed by snow. Oddly, I had previously met most of the other band members in Copenhagen during their tours with their individual projects. It was great to have a chance to play with them.
The day concerts on Saturday had the musicians playing in various combinations and performing music of various degrees of seriousness, as often less as more. Liz and I played a set of traditional songs, sharing the stage with two delightful singers, Liz Simmons and Hannah Sanders. We were also scheduled to contribute two songs to a session titled ‘Celtic Journey: Power Ballads”. Three days before the concert we found out the this was not meant to be long laments about the Irish diaspora. ‘Journey: Power Ballads’ was meant literally, as in Don’t Stop Believing. That meant three days of rehearsing Styx, REO Speedwagon, U2 and, or course, Journey. Laura Cortese emceed with a performance that should earn her a VJ slot on VH1. Our band also included Matt and Shannon Heaton, Flynn Cohen, Liz Simmons and Mariel Vandersteel, the world’s only 80’s cover band that had 5 singers, 2 guitars, 2 fiddles and a piano.
The day concerts ended with a So You Think You Can Sing parody that featured Celtic Women vs. Enya vs. Celtic Thunder. Words cannot do justice to this performance. The brave can view it on YouTube, though the names have been removed to protect the guilty. Halali and friends played a wonderful concert on Saturday night. Their final encore was a tour-de-force that displayed the many facets of the weekend; fiddles, fun, cover tunes, and still more fun and fiddles.
The organizers, Laura Cortese, Shannon Heaton, Emerald Rae and Sean Smith, and all the volunteers deserve a big round of kudos. It was as fun a weekend of music as I’ve had in a long time.