Photo by Shalyn Smith
Music from Ireland, England, Scotland and sometimes elsewhere
of us are born to greatness, some of us have greatness thrust upon
them...and me, well, I just play music. I do this on guitar, bouzouki,
bodhran, mandolin and Anglo concertina (the latter mainly for morris
dancing), and I've been known to sing as well. Most of my repertoire
comes from the folk traditions of Ireland, England and Scotland -- stuff
I've heard from other musicians and singers or found in books or other
publications, and occasionally tinkered with to suit my particular
needs, abilities and whims.
Nowadays, I frequent sessions here and
there in the Boston area and am in a trio with Emily Peterson and Steve Levy called Ceol Corvus. Other collaborations have included my contra dance band Third Reel, and a trio with fiddlers Doug Lamey and Katie McNally.
You can listen to some samples of my music here.
In the spring of 2014, I started a home recording project, "The Steadfast Sessions." Check it out here.
Among the venues and events where I've appeared, solo or in
collaboration of some fashion, at one time or another are: Club
Passim, Boston Celtic Music Fest, Irish Heritage Festival, Boston
Irish Festival, The Press Room, Oasis Coffeehouse, The Mill, New England
Folk Festival Association (NEFFA), Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival,
Nameless Coffeehouse, Boston College Arts Festival and J.P. O'Hanlon's
Pub. I've been fortunate enough to play with such folks as Seamus
Connolly, Laurel Martin, Heather Cole-Mullen, Robin Kynoch, Oisin
McAuley, Dan Houghton, Emerald Rae & Eden Forman, Doug Lamey, Flynn
Cohen, Jimmy Noonan, Amelia Mason, Emily Troll, Kristin Sherwood, Eugene
Rothman, Abbie MacQuarrie and -- well, the list goes on.
The social amenities are a big part of
what draws me to the music, whatever its point of origin. Playing a
toe-tromping reel at a packed-to-the-rafters Irish ceilidh, backing a
brisk 6/8 march at a convivial Scottish fiddle session, belting out a
chorus at an English-style pub-sing -- put me in any of those settings
and I'll be happy beyond description. But I also enjoy the performance
aspect, and so I try to arrange songs or tunes creatively and
imaginatively, so they will (hopefully) be pleasant for the listener to
To make matters worse, I once used to indulge in the ancient English tradition of morris
dancing, and over the course of three decades or so performed with several teams, the most recent one being Commonwealth Morris Men.
In addition, I'm involved in the organizational, behind-the-scenes end of folk music and dance, including events such as the Boston Celtic Music Fest, and BCMFest's monthly "Celtic Music Monday" series at Club Passim. Sometimes I even write about these activities: I'm currently free-lancing for The Boston Irish Reporter; Here's an article I did about The Ginger Ale, a children's morris dance event held in Boston; and some of the work I did for the ICONS Festival.
by frequent, regular doses of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, the Clancy
Brothers, Theodore Bikel et al during childhood, and then inspired by
annual visits to the Fox Hollow Festival in Petersburg, NY, I began
playing traditional music in my teens. During college, I spent a year in
Ireland and the UK doing an independent study of the folk music
revival, which gave me the opportunity to go to numerous folk clubs,
festivals and sessions. In 1980, I joined a short-lived band called
Invermark, and was a back-up musician on a recording of bagpipe music by
two of the group's members ["Land of My Youth," Front Hall Records, released 1981].
to Boston in 1981, I co-founded a trio, Dark Eyed Sheep, which for
several years performed at coffeehouses, festivals and other venues in
New England, such as Club Passim, NEFFA, Transfigured Night Coffeehouse,
The Press Room, The Village Coach House and the Acadian Folk Festival
in Maine. We also appeared live on WERS-FM and recorded a cassette
After a lengthy period of musical inactivity, a few years
back I started inflicting myself once again on local musicians,
sessions, pubs and dances. I can only speak for myself, but have to say
I've enjoyed the reimmersion.
Questions? Comments? Reasonable offers? Drop me a line.
Ceol Corvus at St. John's Coffeehouse, Arlington, Mass., Oct. 2013 (Photo courtesy St. John's Coffeehouse)
"And even I am forced to raise my croaking voice and sing" --A glance at some, but by no means all, of the songs in my repertoire.
"...You may ask yourself, 'Well, how did I get here?'"--Like
many a red-blooded American boy, I set out to be a dynamic,
iconoclastic rock'n roller. So what happened? (Note: Guaranteed
"...Like many links of gold"--Friends, acquaintances, occasional accomplices, venues, resources. If I've neglected anyone, for Heaven's sake, let me know.
Upcoming Performances*Sept. 20, 2014: Ceol Corvus performs at Newton City Hall, details TBA
*Dec. 31, 2014: New Years Needham with the West Newton Ceili Band, time and location TBA, Needham, Mass.
Where Have I Been All the Day? A Sampling of Past Performances, Events, etc.
*BCMFest, Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass.
*Irish Heritage Festival, with Ceol Corvus, Dorchester, Mass.
* St. John's Coffeehouse, with Ceol Corvus, Arlington, Mass.
*Club Passim 2013 Labor Day Campfire, with Ceol Corvus
*Feile Cheoil Boston, with Ceol Corvus, Melrose, Mass.
*Boston Irish Festival, with Ceol Corvus, Irish Cultural Centre of New England, Canton, Mass.
*New England Folk Festival Association (NEFFA), with Ceol Corvus, Mansfield, Mass.
*Boston College Arts Festival, with Seamus Connolly and BC Irish Studies music faculty and students.
*Annual Midwinter Coffeehouse, with Ceol Corvus, West Newton, Mass.
*"Urban Barn Dance" benefit dinner and contra dance for Mass. Farmers
Market, with Cammy Kaynor, David Titus and Debby Knight, Dante Alighieri
Center, Kendall Square, Cambridge, Mass.
* Club Passim 2010 Labor Day Campfire, with Ralston, Michael Troy and John Gerard.
*"All Chorus Songs, All the Time," with Liam Hart, Jerry Bell and Nancy Mulrey, BCMFest Celtic Music Monday Club Passim, Harvard Square.
*2010 Marlboro Morris Ale, with Commonwealth Morris Men, Marlboro and Brattleboro, Vt.
*MIT Contra Dance and Boston Gender-Free Contra Dance with Third Reel.
*With Doug Lamey and Katie McNally, Oasis Coffeehouse, Waltham, Mass.
May 30, 2009--Third Reel with Emerald Rae at the Elysium Arts Folk Club, Rollinsford, NH, 8 p.m.
May 22, 2009--Cafe Luna, Central Square, Cambridge, Mass. Half solo, half with Third Reel
May 16, 2009--With Katie McNally and Doug Lamey, 7:30 p.m., Notlob "Kitchen Concerts," Jackson Homestead, Newton, Mass.
May 10, 2009--Performed with Commonwealth Morris Men, Lilac Sunday Celebration, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, Mass. Photos.
*April 23, 2009--With Boston College Irish Studies Program faculty and students at the BC Arts Festival.
*March 17, 2009--With Armand Aromin, at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, Canton, Mass.
*January 17, 2009--With Janine Sirignano, "Concerts at the Captain's House" series, Agawam, Mass.
*January 9-10, 2009--With Janine Sirignano, Sixth Annual Boston Celtic Music Fest, Cambridge, Mass. Details TBA.
*December 8, 2008--Boston Celtic Music Fest "Celtic Music Monday," Club Passim. With Robbie O'Connell, Michael O'Leary and Kate Chadbourne.
*October 24, 2008--Urban Barn Dance and Harvest Supper benefit for
Federation of Mass. Farmers Markets, George Dilboy VFW Hall, Davis
Square, Somerville, Mass. With David Titus and musicians Cammy Kaynor,
Pan Chan, Peter Buchak, Eric Eid-Reiner and Dan Salomon..
*October 17, 2008--"Fall Free-for-All," Oasis Coffeehouse, Waltham, Mass.
*September 12-14, 2008--ICONS Festival, Irish Cultural Centre of New England, Canton, Mass. Appeared as part of the BCMFest Bard Squad.
*August 30, 2008--Cutting Edge of the Campfire Festival, with Flynn Cohen and Matt & Shannon Heaton, Club Passim
*June 14, 2008--With Janine Sirignano, Emerald Rae, Eden Forman and others, BCMFest Cruise, Gloucester Harbor.
*May 26, 2008--With Janine Sirignano , Cutting Edge of the Campfire Festival, Club Passim
*May 17, 2008--With Dan Houghton, Echo Lake Coffeehouse, Leverett, Mass.,
*April 24, 2008--Boston College Arts Festival, with Boston College Irish Studies Program music faculty and students.
*April 14, 2008--With Janine Sirignano, Boston Celtic Music Fest "Celtic Music Monday," Club Passim. Appeared with Aoife Clancy, Mairin Ui Chiede, and Susie Petrov & Dan Houghton.
*March 22, 2008--With Janine Sirignano, and Avi & Celia, SoniYoga, Cambridge, Mass.
*March 17, 2008--with Oisin McAuley and Meredith West, private function.
*Jan. 12, 2008--With Janine Sirignano, Boston Celtic Music Fest
*Dec. 8, 2007--PWith Prairie Wolfe and Colleen Hanlon as Nora's Holiday, Newburyport Maritime Museum, Newburyport, Mass.
*Sept. 21, 2007--With Janine Sirignano, "The Last Breath of Summer" Celtic Festival, Oasis Coffeehouse, Waltham, Mass.
*Sept 11, 2007--With Doug Lamey, Barbara and Robert McOwen, Barbara Magone, Ellery Klein and Abbie MacQuarrie, Boston Celtic Music Fest "Celtic Music Monday," Club Passim.
*Sept 1, 2007--With Doug Lamey and Abbie MacQuarrie, The Mill, Bristol, NH.
*May 13, 2007--Performance with Commonwealth Morris Men at annual Lilac Sunday event, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, Mass. Photos
*May 10, 2007--With Amelia Mason, The Devens Grill, Devens, Mass.
*April 28. 2007--Performance with Commonwealth Morris at annual Gore Place Sheepshearing Festival. Photos
*April 26, 2007--Performance with Boston College Irish Studies Program faculty and students, Boston College Arts Festival.
*April 22, 2007--Performance with Commonwealth Morris Men, NEFFA, Mansfield, Mass. Photos
*Jan. 13, 2007--Boston Celtic Music Fest: with Katie McNally, and with Tooremoor.
*Dec. 13, 2006--Mid-Winter Celebration with Commonwealth Morris Men, 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Society of Newton, West Newton, Mass. Photos
*Sept. 30, 2006--Ha'Penny Morris Harvest Tour, with Commonwealth Morris Men, Concord, Mass. and vicinity. Photos
*Sept. 2-5, 2006--On staff at Pinewoods Labor Day Weekend Camp, Plymouth, Mass.